Women have been removing facial hair since Ancient Egyptian times. ‘Sugaring’, invented by the Ancient Egyptians is still used today to remove unwanted hair, which along with waxing still provides an effective form of hair removal for both men and women. Incredibly however, hair removal has remained unchanged over the centuries until the arrival of Laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). Welcome ‘permanent hair removal’.

So what are the hair removal methods available today and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Laser hair removal

What is Laser Hair Removal?

A flash of light is fired at the skin’s surface. The Light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair, where it heats and destroys it. If the hair is actively growing (anagen), the heat travels down the hair shaft to the base of the follicle destroying the cells responsible for producing the hair. Hair caught in the actively growing stage will not grow again. Several treatments are necessary in order to catch all of the follicles in the anagen stage and thus achieve permanent hair removal.

A course of six to eight treatments is recommended to ensure the follicles are completely disabled and the hair will not grow again.

Skin must be protected from sun exposure for a month before and after treatment to avoid unwanted side effects

Length of Time Before Regrowth:

After a course is completed, hair growth will be permanently reduced – if new growth (not re-growth) appears top up treatments may be required. This could be 6 months after the last treatment, or as long as 5 years after the end of the course and generally only a couple of treatments would be required.

Advantages of Laser Hair Removal:

Long-term permanent hair removal that can be used on any area of the face and body

Disadvantages to Laser Hair Removal:

Initially it is more expensive than waxing for example. (However long term studies show that over a lifetime, waxing is more costly than laser treatment and unlike laser is not a permanent solution to unwanted hair).

It takes time because there needs to be a four to six week gap between treatments. In between, you need to shave or bleach any remaining hair, rather than pluck or wax it.

It is most suitable for dark hair on pale skin (laser energy is absorbed by pigment, so works best when there is a strong contrast between skin and hair colours), though new lasers mean dark-skinned women and those with sensitive skin can be treated in some clinics. It is not effective on blonde, white or grey facial hair. A good practitioner is essential to ensure there will be no burning or hyperpigmentation.

For the widest choice of lasers and IPLs, and practitioners with excellent training visit contact Laser Skin Solutions on 01202 29 69 69 or visit www.laserskinsolutions.co.uk

The cost of Laser Hair Removal:

For upper lip or chin, £50 a treatment or £200 for a course of 5 at Laser Skin Solutions


What is IPL?

IPL — or Intense Pulsed Light — is similar to laser treatment, but uses various light wavelengths (laser uses a single wavelength), which can be more comfortable than laser and can have less side effects like reddening of the skin. Six to eight treatments are needed, with a gap of one to three months between each one depending on body area.

Length of Time Before Regrowth:

As with laser, hair treated in the growth stage (anagen) will be permanently destroyed.

Advantages of IPL:

As well as the permanency of the procedure, it can be a more comfortable option compared to the Alexanderite laser. Treatment is also much quicker as with each flash, an area of 5cm squared is treated, compared with often a 3mm spot size of one laser shot. Lower legs therefore can be treated in less than half an hour, compared with 2 hours of laser treatment.

Disadvantages of IPL:

As with laser, between treatments, you cannot pluck or wax, though you can shave. Initially it is more expensive, but as with laser, in the long term it is cheaper than waxing or shaving.

The Cost of IPL:

For upper lip or chin, £50 a treatment or £200 for a course of 5 at Laser Skin Solutions (tel 01202 29 69 69 or visit www.laserskinsolutions.co.uk)


What is Waxing?

Warm wax is applied to the area with a spatula. Fabric strips are applied and then pulled off, bringing the hair with it.

Length of Time Before Regrowth:

Two to six weeks.

Advantages of Waxing:

Fairly quick, cheap and available in beauty clinics across the country. It can also be done at home by yourself.

Disadvantages of Waxing:

It is not a permanent hair removal solution. Waxing will need to be repeated over an entire lifetime, Not ideal for darker skins because waxing can cause skin discolouration. Regrowth is relatively fast and the hairs must be ½cm long before you can re-wax. It can cause a temporary rash, but will not damage the skin long term. It can, and often damages hair follicles by distorting them, resulting in in-growing hairs. Once in-growing hairs start appearing, you should stop waxing altogether as continuing will only exacerbate the problem. Many people complain of clothes and underwear ‘sticking’ to them after a treatment as it’s not always possible to remove all the wax completely.

The Cost of Waxing:

At ‘Jay Lowe Beauty’ prices start at £7 for upper lip. Treatments both at home and at East Cliff Therapy Centre. Call Jay 07760217880 or visit East Cliff Therapy Centre at www.bournemouthphysiotherapy.co.uk

Depilatory Cream

What is Depilatory Cream?

Hair removal creams which can be applied to the face and body are left on for a few minutes before removing, at which point the hair comes away, too. The chemicals contained within the cream dissolve the keratin in the hair structure.

Length of Time Before Regrowth:

From a few days to two weeks.

Advantages of Depilatory Cream:

Cheap, effective and they are applied at home privately and quickly.

Disadvantages of Depilatory Cream:

Regrowth is rapid because hair is dissolved to just below the skin surface, not at the root. The chemicals can irritate sensitive skin, causing redness. Regrowth is slightly stubbly.

The Cost of Depilatory Cream:

A tube of facial hair removal cream costs £4.50 and can be purchased at supermarkets and chemists.


What is Threading?

Threading is an ancient, natural and eco-friendly method of hair removal that originated in the Middle East and has become increasingly popular in the UK. A cotton thread tied together and then twisted over the practitioner’s hands to make a figure of eight. It is then run over the skin in a scissor like motion, catching and pulling out the hair from the root.

Length of Time Before Regrowth:

Two to six weeks.

Advantages of Threading:

It’s a quick, cheap, effective and safe hair removal method not involving any chemicals. Threading is suitable on very short hair and, over time, the process damages the follicle, limiting regrowth.

Disadvantages of Threading:

Though widely available, it may not be easy to find practitioners who are as expert in threading as other methods of hair removal. As with waxing, it is not a permanent hair removal solution and as with any hair removal methods which involve ripping the hair out of it’s follicle, it can lead to ingrowing hairs.

The Cost of Threading:

Prices start at £4.


What is Electrolysis?

Hairs are given an ‘electric shock’ through a fine, sterile needle that is inserted into each follicle. This cuts the supply of blood and oxygen to the hair, killing it.

Length of Time Before Regrowth:

You might need several sessions, but the result is permanent.

Advantages of Electrolysis:

As with laser, results are permanent.

Disadvantages of Electrolysis:

It’s a time consuming, tedious process thereby only making it a feasible option for small areas like facial hair removal. Clients can need more than a 15 sessions, which can make having this treatment costly. An upper lip could take up to ten hours to clear of hair. It is also painful. Although initially it looks cheaper than laser hair removal, many more sessions are needed and in the long run, it is not as effective as laser treatment. A study conducted at the NHS Withington Hospital, MAnchester by Lynton Lasers concluded that laser was both more effective than electrolysis, much quicker and more comfortable.

Although electrolysis should be permanent, results can also be inconsistent due to practitioner skill and training. Unlike laser where the pigment in the hair grabs the light energy, effective electrolysis relies on the needle being inserted to the correct depth within the hair follicle in order to ensure that follicle is permanently damaged. If the electric current is not delivered correctly, it can be a very ineffective treatment.

The Cost of Electrolysis:

A 15-minute session will set you back approx. £20.

For treatments such as laser and IPL, finding a reputable, well-trained practitioner or clinic is essential.

Poor use of equipment can result in burns and permanent lightening or darkening of the skin (hypo or hyperpigmentation).

They should have full insurance and be happy to show you their certification.

Don’t be afraid to ask what qualifications they hold. The majority of practitioners only receive training from their equipment supplier. Training provided by laser manufacturers can last anything between 2 hours, to 2 days maximum after which they are free to start treating clients. Many clinics advertise that you will be treated by a doctor or a nurse. However unless they have obtained a specific qualification in Laser and Intense Pulsed Light, they will be none the wiser than any beautician who has been trained by the manufacturer.

Always ensure that your practitioner has obtained the BTEC Laser and Light Technology certification which takes a year to complete and requires the candidate to have completed many hours of training and treatments on different lasers and IPLs.

You should also check that your practitioner owns their equipment and is not merely hiring it. Paying for expensive machines indicates a commitment to their profession.

An independent company called The Consulting Room (consultingroom.com) has a list of all insured clinics
and practitioners however they do not distinguish between those clinics who have received basic manufacturer training or those who are BTEC qualified. Always ask before booking a consultation.

Read more at www.laserskinsolutions.co.uk

Book a free consultation with Laser Skin Solutions, Laser Clinic Bournemouth by calling 01202 29 69 69