A Guide to Hair Removal

There are 3 main types of hair removal: electrolysis, laser and waxing. Explanations of all three are listed below, but there are two things you need to know before beginning any hair removal procedure:

  1. Your hair grows in 3 stages and there are between 3-7 hairs per follicle. What your technician removes one day is not the hair you may feel the next day or several days later. It is the hair that is coming up behind the hair that was just removed.
  2. All forms of hair removal are going to hurt. The degree of pain will vary on your own pain tolerance, the coarseness and amount of hair, and the skill of the technician.


Electrolysis is the only form of hair removal that is recognized by the FDA as permanent. Electrolysis works by inserting a probe into the follicle, and a quick electrical charge is dispersed thus destroying the hair. This procedure can be tedious for larger areas. The cost for electrolysis is generally sold in 15-minute increments. You can expect to have electrolysis performed every week at the beginning then the time can be decreased based on your hair growth. The amount of time required really depends on the individual, hair growth and thickness. Your technician will be able to give you a better estimate after a few treatments.


Laser hair removal is still rather costly, though the prices are decreasing. This may be a better bet for some that would like to have hair removed from larger areas. Laser is permanent hair reduction NOT permanent hair removal! Everyone’s results will vary. A trained technician will use a trigger to send a beam of light, which will target the hair without harming the skin. The laser is looking for darkness, so you will receive the best results if your hair is dark and your skin is fair. Though new lasers are becoming available for light hair or darker skin tones, the result may not be what you expect. There will also be some pain associated with laser. Some areas will be more sensitive than others and may require a numbing cream. After the laser treatment a cool gel will be applied and directions will be given for proper care of the area.


Waxing also removes hair effectively and for those that do not want to spend the money on laser or electrolysis or who are not candidates for laser, waxing is a great alternative. There are several different types of waxes available but for the ease of this article we will discuss strip wax and hard wax.

Strip wax is the most popular and is where the technician applies wax to an area then places a muslin or non-woven strip on the wax and then quickly removes the hair. This is great for larger, less sensitive areas like the legs, back, chest and arms. However, for sensitive areas like the bikini, underarms, and face, a hard wax may be more comfortable.

Hard wax is when warm wax is applied to the area and shrink-wraps the hair. Once the wax is cooled the technician will quickly remove the wax strip. Because the wax is not lying on the skin, there is less trauma to the area and generally speaking is less painful than strip wax. No matter which wax is used, proper technique is required for optimal results.

In all forms of hair removal the training and skill level of the technician will affect the overall results of the treatment. An unskilled technician can cause skin trauma in electrolysis, severe burns with laser, removal of skin or bruising with waxing. Ask for recommendations from friends and family then call around and ask questions. If someone does not take the time to answer your questions, then you may want to try another technician.

No matter which form of hair removal or combination of hair removal you choose, DO NOT TAN DURING THIS TIME! Please check with your technician for complete details.

Article originally published in Bella Magazine, June/July 2005.


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