Swimmers shave excess hair because it makes them swim faster, while cyclists say hairless legs heal faster from scrapes and cuts. But what if you just want to look less of a primate and more like a man?
From painless treatments with temporary results to stinging alternatives with guaranteed permanent results, here are some of the things that you can do to reduce or remove unwanted hair.
The gooey, sticky honey-based waxes are slowly getting replaced by soy waxes, which are more like creamy lotion applied to the skin but adhere only to the hair. The cream is applied to the area, and a specially prepared cloth is layered over it. Once it dries, the cloth is pulled off, like a bandage, and the hair goes with it.
Waxing is best done on coarse hair because it easily pulls out stubborn hair follicles. It also applies to hair on ears, neck, underarms, arms, and ‘unibrows’ that need shaping. A few men are also going ‘Brazilian,’ although waxing in the genital area can be more painful. (For reference, look at the ‘unsimulated’ waxing scene in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”)
It’s important that waxing be done in a professional salon because using unsterilized materials can lead to skin infections. It’s also not a permanent hair removal method; results only last from 4 to 6 weeks.
For men who use skin-thinning medications or have sensitive skin, threading may be a more suitable option. This is because the thread does not pull on delicate skin; rather, it plucks hair directly from the roots.
Because threading targets individual hairs, it’s ideal to use on stray hairs, eyebrows, and hair on knuckles and toes. It can also be time-consuming. The upside, however, is that threading is not as painful as waxing. Like waxing, however, threading only provides temporary results.
A “wipe on/wipe off” hair removal alternative is to use depilatories, which are chemical compounds suspended in a gel or cream base that break down the protein structure in hair to loosen it and cause it to fall. The cream sits on the skin for 5 minutes, and the resulting jelly-like substance is then rubbed or washed off.
Cream hair removers can contain harsh chemicals that are not suitable for use in sensitive areas such as the brows and the genital skin. A patch test on a small area of the skin is important so if you feel burning, blistering, or itching, you can test another brand and see if that works better. The result usually lasts a week to a few.
One advantage of electrolysis is that it can be used to remove all types and textures of hair on all skin colors. Electrolysis works by inserting an ultra-slim needle to individual hair shaft to deliver tiny shocks of electricity that destroy the hair follicle. A licensed electrologist performs this procedure because there is a potential for infection or scarring. A local anesthetic is applied to reduce pain, especially when the treated area is around the genitals. About four to six treatments may be required to achieve permanent hair removal. But if the treated area is significantly large, it could take a year of weekly treatments to achieve the desired result since each hair is destroyed one at a time.
Lasers, intense pulsed light (IPL), and light and heat energy (LHE) use light and heat energy to destroy the hair root, and in the case of LHE hair removal, the follicle where the hair growth starts. Before, lasers were ideal for use on light skin with dark hair, because there is sufficient contrast that will allow the melanin in the hair to absorb the light from laser. To address permanent hair reduction on darker skin types, LHE is more suited because it uses a low-fluence device.
US FDA considers laser hair removal and IPL hair removal as permanent hair reduction treatments because in their case, hair can grow back in the treated area, although regrowth takes a long time. This makes laser an ideal treatment if you want to thin out certain hairy areas like your chest, back and legs.
Laser and laser-like treatments are popular hair removal methods in laser clinics in Singapore because of their more permanent and guaranteed results. Depending on the size of the treated area, up to 8 treatments may be needed to thin out hair in a particular area.