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Basics of Hair Removal

Tweezing generally doesn’t make hair grow back darker, and it’s a perfectly adequate method of hair removal if you have only a few stray hairs on your chin. However, it can be tedious and time-consuming if you have a lot of ground to cover. To make it easier, invest in good tweezers and a high magnification mirror. Tweezing is easiest after a hot shower or bath. If the growth is a little heavier, you might try other temporary methods. (Shaving is effective on your legs, but not a good choice for your face.)

In addition to plucking, your options include waxing, bleaching, and chemical depilatories. Waxing keeps hair at bay four to six weeks. Plucking, bleaching, and depilatories last about two to three weeks or less. Each method has pros and cons. Waxing removes hair quickly and smoothly but can be painful and expensive if you get it done in a salon. You also run the risk of damaging your hair shafts and getting ingrown hairs. Bleaching is pretty easy, but it can burn and sting if you leave it on too long. Be sure to use a product made especially for the face, not the arms or legs. It’s a good option if your hair color contrasts with your skin color. The day before, test a patch on your inner wrist to make sure you don’t get redness or swelling. You should do a patch test with depilatories as well. These products, which come in aerosol, lotion, cream, and roll-on preparations, contain a chemical that dissolves the surface of the hair, separating it from the skin.

Read instructions very carefully; leaving a depilatory on too long can irritate your skin. Also, make sure you get a preparation made specifically for the part of your body you’re targeting. A product aimed at hair on your legs could well be too strong for your face. In any case, you shouldn’t use depilatories around your eyes or on inflamed or broken skin.

For longer-term hair removal, you can hit hair follicles with the more expensive options of lasers or electrolysis. Lasers work best when you’re attacking dark hair on pale skin; however, some newer methods target other skin and hair combinations. It usually takes several treatments to get at hair in different stages of growth. Electrolysis also takes several treatments and can be painful; if your technician isn’t properly trained, you could get an infection from an unsterile needle or even scarring. And both of these procedures can be costly. For either, be sure to check the credentials of the operator. Most states require people to be specially licensed to perform these procedures. If you can, get a recommendation from a dermatologist or your physician.

You may have seen ads for face creams and moisturizers that claim to slow hair growth. Try these products and see if you notice a difference. They may not actually slow growth but rather make it less obvious. That could be enough for you. If it isn’t, you might ask your doctor about prescription medications to slow hair growth. One of the newest is Vaniqa (eflornithine HCl). After about eight weeks, you may find that you need to tweeze or wax less frequently.