Hair removal, also known as epilation or depilation, is the deliberate removal of body hair.

Hair typically grows all over the human body. Hair can become more visible during and after puberty and men tend to have thicker, more visible body hair than women.[1] Both men and women have visible hair on the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits, pubic region, arms, and legs; men also have thicker hair on their face, abdomen, back and chest. Hair does not generally grow on the lips, the underside of the hands or feet or on certain areas of the genitalia.

Forms of hair removal are practiced for various and mostly cultural, sexual, medical or religious reasons. Forms of hair removal have been practiced in almost all human cultures since at least the Neolithic era. The methods used to remove hair have varied in different times and regions, but shaving is the most common method.[Citation needed]

Forms of hair removal Edit

Depilation is the removal of the part of the hair above the surface of the skin. The most common form of depilation is shaving or trimming. Another option is the use of chemical depilatories, which work by breaking the disulfide bonds that link the protein chains that give hair its strength.

Epilation is the removal of the entire hair, including the part below the skin. Methods include waxing, sugaring, epilation devices, lasers, threading, intense pulsed light or electrology. Hair is also sometimes removed by plucking with tweezers.

Hair removal methods Edit

Many products in the market have proven fraudulent. Many other products exaggerate the results or ease of use.

Temporary removal of hair to the level of the skin lasts several hours to several days and can be achieved by

  • Shaving or trimming (manually or with electric shavers)
  • Depilatories (creams or "shaving powders" which chemically dissolve hair)
  • Friction (rough surfaces used to buff away hair)

"Epilation", or removal of the entire hair from the root, lasts several days to several weeks and may be achieved by

  • Tweezing (hairs are tweezed, or pulled out, with tweezers or with fingers)
  • Waxing (a hot or cold layer is applied and then removed with porous strips)
  • Sugaring (hair is removed by applying a sticky paste to the skin in the direction of hair growth and then peeling off with a porous strip)
  • Threading (also called fatlah or khite in Arabic, or band in Persian) in which a twisted thread catches hairs as it is rolled across the skin
  • Epilators (mechanical devices that rapidly grasp hairs and pull them out).
  • Powder (weakens the root ends of hair and halts hair production).
  • Use of thanaka powder along with kusuma oil.
  • Drugs that directly attack hair growth or inhibit the development of new hair cells. Hair growth will become less and less until it finally stops; normal depilation/epilation will be performed until that time. Hair growth will return to normal if use of product is discontinued.[2] Products include the following:
    • The pharmaceutical drug Vaniqa, with the active ingredient eflornithine hydrochloride, inhibits the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase, preventing new hair cells from producing putrescine for stabilizing their DNA.
    • Antiandrogens, including spironolactone, cyproterone acetate, flutamide, bicalutamide, and finasteride, can be used to reduce or eliminate unwanted body hair, such as in the treatment of hirsutism.[3][4][5][6] Although effective for reducing body hair, antiandrogens have little effect on facial hair.[7] However, slight effectiveness may be observed, such as some reduction in density/coverage and slower growth.[8] Antiandrogens will also prevent further development of facial hair, despite only minimally affecting that which is already there. With the exception of 5α-reductase inhibitors such as finasteride and dutasteride,[3][9] antiandrogens are contraindicated in men due to the risk of feminizing side effects such as gynecomastia as well as other adverse reactions (e.g., infertility), and are generally only used in women for cosmetic/hair-reduction purposes.[10]

Permanent hair removal Edit

For over 130 years, electrology has been in use in the United States. It is approved by the FDA. This technique permanently destroys germ cells[11] responsible for hair growth by way of insertion of a fine probe in the hair follicle and the application of a current adjusted to each hair type and treatment area. Electrology is the only permanent hair removal method recognized by the FDA.[12]

Permanent hair reduction Edit

  • Laser hair removal (lasers and laser diodes): Laser hair removal technology became widespread in the US and many other countries from the 1990s onwards. It has been approved in the United States by the FDA since 1997. With this technology, light is directed at the hair and is absorbed by dark pigment, resulting in the destruction of the hair follicle. This painless laser hair removal[13] method sometimes becomes permanent after several sessions. The number of sessions needed depends upon the amount and type of hair being removed. Equipment for performing laser hair removal at home has become available in recent years.
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL)
  • Diode epilation (high energy LEDs but not laser diodes)

Clinical comparisons of effectiveness Edit

A 2006 review article in the journal "Lasers in Medical Science" compared intense pulsed light (IPL) and both alexandrite and diode lasers. The review found no statistical difference in effectiveness, but a higher incidence of side effects with diode laser based treatment. Hair reduction after 6 months was reported as 68.75% for alexandrite lasers, 71.71% for diode lasers, and 66.96% for IPL. Side effects were reported as 9.5% for alexandrite lasers, 28.9% for diode lasers, and 15.3% for IPL. All side effects were found to be temporary and even pigmentation changes returned to normal within 6 months.[14]

Experimental or banned methods Edit

  • Photodynamic therapy for hair removal (experimental)
  • X-ray hair removal is an efficient, and usually permanent, hair removal method, but also causes severe health problems, occasional disfigurement, and even death.[15] It is illegal in the United States.

Doubtful methods Edit

Many methods have been proposed or sold over the years without published clinical proof they can work as claimed.

  • Electric tweezers
  • Transdermal electrolysis
  • Transcutaneous hair removal
  • Photoepilators
  • Microwave Hair Removal
  • Foods and Dietary supplements
  • non-prescription topical preparations (also called "hair inhibitors", "hair retardants", or "hair growth inhibitors")

Advantages and disadvantages Edit

There are several disadvantages to many of these hair removal methods.

Hair removal can cause some issues: skin inflammation, minor burns, lesions, scarring, ingrown hairs, bumps, and infected hair follicles.

Some removal methods are not permanent, can cause medical problems and permanent damage, or have very high costs. Some of these methods are still in the testing phase and have not been clinically proven.

One issue that can be considered an advantage or a disadvantage depending upon an individual's viewpoint, is that removing hair has the effect of removing information about the individual's hair growth patterns due to genetic predisposition, illness, androgen levels (such as from pubertal hormonal imbalances or drug side effects), and/or gender status.

Another disadvantage of permanent (laser, electrolysis) hair removal is a decrease in regeneration ability of human skin, since hair follicles contain stem cells which help with healing.[16]

Footnotes Edit

  1. p. 67 in Victoria Shellow, Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006 (ISBN 0-313-33145-6).
  2. Eflornithine Monohydrate Chloride (Eflornithine 11.5% cream). NHS. Retrieved on 23 March 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedKenneth L. Becker (2001). Principles and Practice of Endocrinology and Metabolism pp. 1004–1005. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  4. Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedCatherine B. Niewoehner (2004). Endocrine Pathophysiology pp. 290–. Hayes Barton Press.
  5. Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedClinical Reproductive Medicine and Surgery: A Practical Guide pp. 120–. Springer Science & Business Media (22 May 2013).
  6. "Update on idiopathic hirsutism: diagnosis and treatment". Acta Clin Belg 68 (4): 268–74. 2013. PMID 24455796. 
  7. Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedRachel Ann Heath (1 January 2006). The Praeger Handbook of Transsexuality: Changing Gender to Match Mindset pp. 152–. Greenwood Publishing Group.
  8. Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedHeinz Duthel (26 July 2013). Kathoey Ladyboy: Thailand's Got Talent pp. 147–. BoD – Books on Demand.
  9. Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedHair Growth and Disorders pp. 36–. Springer Science & Business Media (26 June 2008).
  10. Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedAcne Vulgaris pp. 200–. CRC Press (21 March 2011).
  11. [Citation needed]
  12. Removing hair safely. United States Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved on August 15, 2011.
  13. Painless laser hair removal. Retrieved on 11 March 2016.
  14. Toosi, Parviz (2006-04-01). "A comparison study of the efficacy and side effects of different light sources in hair removal". Lasers in medical science 21 (1): 1–4. PMID 16583183. 
  15. Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedHelen Bickmore. Milady's Hair Removal Techniques: A Comprehensive Manual. Retrieved on 2014-02-10.
  16. Why being hairy can be good for you... whether you're a man OR a woman.

Further reading Edit

  • "Hair removal with the 3-msec alexandrite laser in patients with skin types IV-VI: efficacy, safety, and the role of topical corticosteroids in preventing side effects". Journal of Drugs in Dermatology 6 (1): 60–6. January 2007. PMID 17373163. 
  • Alexiades-Armenakas M (2006). "Laser hair removal". Journal of Drugs in Dermatology 5 (7): 678–9. PMID 16865877. 
  • "Laser hair removal: long-term results with a 755 nm alexandrite laser". Dermatologic Surgery 27 (11): 920–4. November 2001. PMID 11737124. 
  • Herzig, Rebecca M. Plucked: A History of Hair Removal. New York: New York University Press, 2015.
  • "Laser hair removal: a review and report on the use of the long-pulsed alexandrite laser for hair reduction of the upper lip, leg, back, and bikini region". Dermatologic Surgery 25 (6): 425–30. June 1999. PMID 10469087. 
  • Wanner M (2005). "Laser hair removal". Dermatologic Therapy 18 (3): 209–16. PMID 16229722. 
  • "Laser hair removal". Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology 49 (2): 389–400. June 2006. PMID 16721117. 

External links Edit


This page uses Creative Commons licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.