There are a number of different ways to remove unwanted hair, and each has its positive and negatives. Shaving, the most traditional method, is often an annoyance because the unwanted hair returns very quickly. The razor can also be damaging to hard to reach places like the underarms and leave nicks and cuts if it's not sharp or the person doing the shaving isn't careful. The commercial market has responded to the desire for easier methods of hair removal by coming up with many alternatives to shaving.
Depilatories, which are creams or lotions, are one method of hair removal that can be much easier than shaving. They include chemicals such as thioglycolic acid that work to dissolve the hair at the skin’s surface. Unless a person has very sensitive skin, this method has an advantage over shaving because it does not irritate the skin or risk cuts as a razor does. Hair removed with depilatories usually stays gone from one to four days, about the same as shaving.
Waxing has a longer lasting effect than shaving or depilatories, because it removes the hair at the base of the hair follicle rather than at the skin’s surface. This method of hair removal lasts about four to eight weeks before hair grows back and the process needs to be repeated. Waxing also leaves the skin softer, and hair re-growth is usually finer. Waxes can be performed at home or at a spa and are available in many varieties. They may be designed to be applied hot, warm or cold, or by using pre-waxed paper strips.
Electrolysis is a technique that is touted as permanent. Using a specially charged needle, electrolysis exposes the hair follicles to an electric current that kills the hair producing cell. This method of hair removal is not always permanent, however, because new hair producing cells are sometimes created to replace the dead follicle.
Laser hair removal is another effective method of removing hair, although it tends to be very expensive. This procedure is performed by either a physician or a salon that is licensed to use the laser instrument. A laser beam is used to damage the hair follicles, slowing down hair growth. The results are often long lasting, but it is not considered permanent.