What frequent hair removal does to your body

By Mita Majumdar | Updated:Mon, July 24, 2017 2:55pm

Which hair removal method should you opt for?

Historically, the more skin women were allowed to reveal, the more body hair they were expected to remove. Now, women all over the world do it not just for fashion, but for hygiene as well. In modern times, there are many options to choose from.

Here s a 101 on some of the methods.


Wet shaving with razors is, perhaps, the most popular hair removing technique till date. Razors available commercially have 2 to 5 sets of blades that glide smoothly over the wet skin and remove unwanted hair. You need to lather the area or use a shaving gel before you start shaving. Shave in the direction of the hair growth and then against it for a smooth finish. Shaving is best suited for removing hair from the armpit, arms and legs, and the bikini area.

Electric razors and epilators also function in the same way. The only difference is that you don t wet or lather your skin before using the razor. When you run the razor over your dry skin, the machine traps the hair and the moving (rotating) blades cut off the hair. Read here Does shaving cause ingrown hair? (query)

Disadvantages: The problem with shaving is that it may cause ingrowth of hair, especially if the hair is coarse, say, in the bikini area. Another problem is you have to do it pretty frequently or even daily if you have to.

Advantages: On the flip side, it is safe to use a razor daily or as frequently as you wish. It is a low cost, easy to access method that you can do at home. Another advantage is that shaving can reduce the bad odour from your underarms. For example, a study found that shaving with a razor blade improved the immediate odour reducing the effectiveness of soap washing for at least 48 hours after hair removal when compared with soap washing alone. But this benefit was not seen when hairs were just clipped to skin level with scissors. [1]


Waxing is another common method of hair removal methods. Two different kinds of wax hard and soft are used depending on the area that you are waxing.

Hard wax is generally used in the smaller area such as the nose, underarms, and the bikini area. Hot wax is applied in the direction of hair growth and allowed to cool and harden. Cloth strips are used to pull the wax off in the other direction. The wax comes off along with the hair. Caution: Do not use hot wax if you are using anti-aging creams containing retinoids, since it can cause skin cells to peel off and become susceptible to burning and excess exfoliation.

Soft wax is used for larger areas such as legs, arms, and the back. Soft wax is cold and is thinner than hard wax, so it spreads easily and is better at removing finer hairs. The hair is removed by the same process as in hard wax. Read more about Tips to soothe irritated skin after waxing

Waxing allows you to stay smooth for at 2 to 6 weeks depending on how fast your hair grows and how hairy you are.

Advantages: Waxing can keep your hair free longer than some other methods of hair removing, say, shaving or depilatories, as the hair is ripped off from the roots.

Disadvantages: Sometimes if you are allergic to wax, you may experience side effects such as redness, itching, blisters and swelling of the area waxed. Waxing is not exactly pain-free, so if you have a sensitive skin you may have to rethink using wax.

According to the dermatologists at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, folliculitis caused by waxing is a common problem. The infection /inflammation is more frequent in thighs and upper arms rather than distal parts of the extremities. In one-third of the cases, post-waxing folliculitis is due to foreign body reaction to hair shaft or keratin. [2]


Threading is a very popular method of removing facial and eyebrow hair, especially in India. This ancient Eastern method involves holding one end of a cotton thread in the mouth and the other end is looped around individual hair shafts, which are then pulled out. The process involves repeated, quick, successive movements. You can do it yourself, but if you are an amateur, it is best you get it done professionally.

Threading is best done for eyebrows and upper lips. Find an experienced beautician, especially for eyebrows, since shoddy work can result in uneven brows, hair breakage, ingrown hairs, or unnecessary pain and other complications. Read more about Read this before you try any facial hair removal technique

Since the hair is plucked out from the roots, threading can last 2 to 3 weeks depending on your hair growth.

Advantages: It is one of the most inexpensive and easy methods of facial hair removal. It is one of the best ways to get the precise shape of the eyebrows you are looking for. As opposed to waxing, the top layers of skin are not peeled or traumatised in the process. Also, complications are minimal.

Disadvantages: Side effects include pain, redness or rash during or after the procedure, hyper- and hypo pigmentation, inflammation of the follicles (folliculitis), bumps called molluscumcontagiosum, and flat warts (verruca plana). [3]

Hair removal creams

Depilatory creams are chemicals that dissolve the hair at the skin surface. Apply a thin layer of the cream over the area where you want the hair removed. Wait for 3-5 minutes or as per the instructions given on the product. With a spatula or a wet cloth, remove the cream using a downward motion. Rinse and dry your skin.

Hair removal creams can be used anywhere in the body, but they are best used on upper lip, underarms, and bikini region.

You may need to use the cream once a week as the hair is not uprooted . Wait at least for 72 hours before using any other hair removal method.

Advantages: It is a very popular hair removing technique because first, it is painless; you can do it yourself; no nicks or cuts.

Disadvantages: Depilatory creams can cause allergic reactions in many people. Symptoms include swelling, redness, pain or burning sensation. So, do a patch test for at least 24 hours before actual application, especially if you are using the product for the first time. Although it is not a side effect, depilatory creams have an unpleasant odour and the odour remains on the skin for a few hours to a day or so after treatment.


If you are looking at long term results, laser-assisted hair removal (LHR) would be the most efficient method. This cosmetic procedure is performed by dermatologists, physicians, or non-physicians, with variable final results.

Laser hair removal works on the principle of selective photothermolysis, which is a technique that targets tissue in a specific area destroying it with a laser without damaging the surrounding tissue.

Although LHR is most effective in fair skinned people with dark terminal hair, laser treatment can today be successfully performed in all skin types. It, of course, depends on the type of laser used ruby laser, alexandrite laser, diode laser, intense pulsed light source and the neodymium:yttrium-aluminium-garnet (Nd:YAG) laser. For example, Nd:YAG laser is more suited to people with darker coloured skin but is less effective on others.

You will require multiple treatments to achieve satisfactory results. After repeated treatments, you can expect hair clearance of 30 to 50 percent, six months after the last treatment. [4]

Side effects include

Thankfully, most complications, other than eye complications, are generally temporary.


  • Lanzalaco A, Vanoosthuyze K, Stark C, Swaile D, Rocchetta H, Spruell R. A comparative clinical study of different hair removal procedures and their impact on axillary odour reduction in men. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 2016;15(1):58-65. doi:10.1111/jocd.12197.
  • Khanna N, Chandramohan K, Khaitan BK, Singh MK. Post waxing folliculitis: a clinicopathological evaluation.Int J Dermatol. 2014 Jul;53(7):849-54. doi: 10.1111/ijd.12056.
  • Gupta S, Chaudhry M, Mahendra A, Kaur S. EYEBROW THREADING: A BOON OR A BANE. Indian Journal of Dermatology. 2011;56(6):715-717. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.91835.
  • Liew SH. Laser hair removal: guidelines for management. Am J ClinDermatol. 2002;3(2):107-15.
  • Karabela Y, Elia k M. Anterior uveitis following eyebrow epilation with alexandrite laser. International Medical Case Reports Journal. 2015;8:177-179. doi:10.2147/IMCRJ.S89965.
  • Lolis MS, Marmur ES. Paradoxical effects of hair removal systems: a review. J CosmetDermatol. 2006 Dec;5(4):274-6.
  • Published:Mon, July 24, 2017 2:49pm | Updated:Mon, July 24, 2017 2:55pm


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