How Does Permanent Hair Removal Work?
Body hair is integral to life. All humans have some. Some individuals will have more than others. Some will be comfortable with their hair, while other will not.
When looking to remove unwanted body hair, you may be presented with a lot of options. However, not all methods are equal. Some remove hair permanently, while others do not.
If you want to be rid of your hair forever, there is just one way possible. Permanent laser hair removal. And this can be achieved with the right hair removal option. But first, how does it even work?
How does hair growth work?
What do you see when you look at unwanted body hair? What shows at the surface, i.e. the hair. However, the process behind hair growth is not as simple.
Body hair plays a vital role in the appearance of men and women. Regardless of gender, it helps transmit sensory information and protect sensitive areas.
Body hair has two distinct structures: the follicle and the shaft. The follicle resides in the skin. The shaft is the visible part of the hair. Many factors determine hair growth: pilosity, genetics, hormones, gender, etc.
Each hair on the body has a life time and goes through three stages as part of the hair growth cycle. Those stages are the anagen, catagen, telogen and exogen phases. At any point in time, a random amount of hair is going to be in any of the four stages.
Those phases can be described as follow:
- Anagen phase: It is the active phase of the cycle. The hair is growing and the root is attached to the follicle.
- Catagen phase: It is a transitional stage. The hair has stopped growing and separates from the bottom of the hair follicle.
- Telogen phase: It is the resting phase. The hair does not grow nor fall. A new hair starts forming in the follicle.
- Exogen phase: It is the shedding phase and an extension of the previous stage. The hair sheds and fall, pushed by new hair growing.
Hair growth is cyclical and a natural function of the body. It cannot be interrupted nor naturally stopped. Factors such as age, weight loss or medical conditions may slow hair growth.
When hair regrows, it is possible to treat it again, so people who want to remove all the hair may need several treatments. In some cases, hair may be too light, too short, or resistant to treatment. In these cases, a person might choose to use other hair removal methods, such as plucking stray hairs.
What are the most common hair removal options?
When it comes to removing unwanted hair, people usually think of three options: shaving, using chemical creams and waxing. They are safe, popular and straightforward methods. Each has its pros and cons.
Shaving is one of the oldest hair removal method. It uses blades to cut the hair at the surface the skin. Cut flat, it looks thicker and darker when it grows back. As the hair is cut, it does not stop growth.
A fast procedure and a low short-term cost are some pros of shaving. However, side-effects include razor burns and cuts, skin irritation and infection.
Is it a permanent hair removal method? No.
Chemical creams use chemical components to dissolve the hair. However, it is a treatment that only works on hair at the surface of the skin. Just like shaving, the remaining of the hair still sits in the follicle. Therefore, hair growth is not impacted.
It is an affordable option in the short-term. Chemical creams are also easy to use and provide fast results. However, they can be very damageable for sensitive skin and lead to irritation and redness.
Is it a permanent hair removal method? No.
Waxing, sugaring and plucking
Sugaring, plucking and depilating are often compared to waxing. Even though the procedure differs, the process and results are similar. The goal is to remove both the hair and the root. Thus, the hair follicle needs to produce a new hair.
This process can take up to six weeks for each hair. Patients are left with smooth skin for several weeks. However, waxing is a painful treatment with side effects such as ingrown hair, red bumps and infection.
Is it a permanent hair removal method? No. However, waxing contributes to hair growth reduction in the very long-term. Indeed, after years of waxing, patients may notice permanent hair reduction.
How does permanent laser hair removal work?
Hair growth is a natural occurrence of the body. It is a process that follows a specific cycle. Specific conditions may slow down growth. However, there is no real way to naturally interrupt the process.
Indeed, hair follicle is programmed to create a new hair once the previous one has stopped growing. Thus, should you want to stop hair growth permanently, your hair follicles would have to stop producing new hair.
This can be done artificially, using specific machines and procedures. To stop hair growth, the procedure will permanently damage the hair follicle. Thus, it won't be able to grow any new hair.
The main goal behind the process is to stop blood from getting to the follicle. Indeed, blood serves as fuel for the follicle to be active and grow hair. If it is no longer fed, it can no longer sustain itself and becomes inactive.
Thus, to remove hair permanently, patients need to find a hair removal method that will damage the hair follicles beyond repair. Fortunately, this is not a difficult task. There are indeed two methods that do just that.
How can I remove unwanted hair permanently?
Shaving, chemical creams and waxing are not permanent hair removal options. Electrolysis and laser hair removal, on the other hand, are.
According to the FDA, electrolysis is the only permanent hair removal method. It works on all skin tones and hair types. Thus, it is a method suitable for anyone.
This method uses a probe to target each hair follicle individually. The probe is inserted in the hair follicle and sends a jolt of electricity. The current will cut the blood flow to the follicle.
The latter being permanently damaged, it cannot grow any new hair. As the probe treats one follicle at a time, a session can be quite long. Thus, one area may be treated over several sessions.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is also approved by the FDA. However, it is a fairly recent hair removal method. Research on long-term results is still on-going. Thus, for now, it is considered a hair growth reduction method.
Laser hair removal works on all skin complexions, including darker skin tones.
Laser treatment use light energy to damage hair follicle. The laser targets the pigments in the hair. Once the melanin has absorbed the light, the later goes down to the hair follicle. There, the energy turns into thermal energy.
The heat damages the follicle which is unable to produce new hair. Laser hair removal relies on the hair growth cycle. It can only target hair in the anagen phase of growth. 20% of hair is in the stage at any point in time.
Thus one laser session can treat up to 20% of hair. This is why patients need several sessions to achieve good results.
Why choose laser hair removal?
Although the procedure is often touted as a form of “permanent” hair removal, laser treatment only reduces the number of unwanted hairs in a given area. It doesn't get rid of unwanted hairs completely.
People looking to remove unwanted hair permanently have two options: electrolysis or laser hair removal. However, it is the latter that is the most cost and time effective.
Indeed, electrolysis is a very painful procedure. A needle is inserted in the skin and electricity sent through. The cost per session is also quite high. One session of 15 minutes for a small area will be around $50.
It is also a long procedure. Each session can only treat so many hair. Thus, large areas will need longer sessions more frequently. The cost will then add up.
On the other hand, laser hair removal feels like pinching. It is also akin to rubber bands snapping at the skin. It may not be uncomfortable, but it is not painful.
Laser hair removal is also very affordable. A package of eight sessions for a small area can be as cheap as $99. Eight sessions are usually enough to treat all hairs on a non-hormonal areas such as the underarms.
Laser hair removal sessions are very fast. Even for larger areas. For example, a lower legs session may take from 15 to 20 minutes. You can easily book an appointment on a lunch break.
To conclude, laser hair removal reduces hair growth by up to 95% permanently. You will be rid of most of your hair after your treatment. It is also time effective, convenient and cost efficient as well as not painful.
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