[Guide] Removing Unwanted Body Hair April 23, 2015 21:11

Removing unwanted body hair is a challenge for many women - don't worry, no problem - there are many ways to get rid of unwanted body hair, depending on how you want to go about it.


Unwanted hair can grow just about anywhere on your body, but it is most common on the face (upper lip, chin, eyebrows), neck, chest, back, toes and arms. Unwanted facial hair is a particular concern often causing embarrassment, anxiety and insecurity because it is so visible.

Most women use at least one removal method for unwanted hair, but younger women in general, are more likely to pay attention to this, especially those 21 to 30 years of age. What do you think?

Most women start at least some hair removal to conform to social and cultural norms, but continue it for reasons related to femininity, cleanliness and attractiveness. There are cultural and ethnic differences, but the main reasons for good "hair management" are the same as other forms of grooming and personal care - most women want a neat, clean look.

Hair removal may also assist with best female hygiene practices. And at Etiquette, we are all in favor of good hygiene :-).

Ways to remove unsightly body hair

There are many ways to remove unsighlty hair from your body. You may want to use different methods on different parts of your body. There is not necessarily one single best way to get rid of body hair for every part of your body, or for every person for that matter. The different methods vary in:

  • how effective they are
  • how much they may hurt 
  • how much they cost

Current common "physical" methods for removing unwanted hair:

Shaving - using a razor blade and shaving cream or gel

Plucking - simply using tweezers to grasp the hair and pull it from the hair follicle

Threading - using a piece of twisted cotton thread to trap hair in between the twisted part of the thread and lift the hair out of the follicle. This technique takes time to learn and takes some artistic skill to do well.

- Check out the video below if you want to see how this is done - 


Depilatory creams - Chemical depilatories are creams containing a chemcal that acts by breaking down the hair's keratin protein structure so that the hair comes out of the skin easily when you rub off the cream. If you want to use this method, you should think about how often you are willing to apply the cream. Most people need to use depilatories once a week.


Waxing - a wax-like product is applied to the skin. It traps the hair when it drys and is then pulled off removing the hair in the wax. Waxing is probably the most commonly used solution for removing hair for 2-6 weeks at a time.

This method is more effective because the wax removes hairs from the hair follicle, unlike shaving that only cuts hair, leaving hair in the follicle. To use this method, you need to heat the wax at the temperature indicated on the container then apply it as a thin leyer in the direction of hair growth. Apply a cloth strip over the wax righ after you apply it - before it hardens - wait for a few minutes then pull the cloth off in the opposite direction.

There is also "cold wax" available, but it is usually less efficient and more likely to cause irritation as it doesn’t react with the skin as well as warm wax does. Also, it removes skin cells in the top layers in a less gentle manner, so it might be a little too painful for beginners.

More information about the pros and cons of waxing for hair removal here

A natural home method for waxing - sugar waxing

Probably the most popular method used as a solution to permanently remove body hair at home is the sugar waxing technique which works just like regular waxing but uses a sugar paste instead of wax.

This method is very easy to use: you only need to buy some sugar and lemon juice, mix them with water and boil the mixture until it becomes a sticky paste. Apply it in the direction of hair growth on the areas where you want to remove hair. Apply overlying small cloth strips. Wait for 5-10 minutes then pull off the cloth strips in the opposite direction that you applied the wax. 

- Check out the video below if you want to see how this is done - 


Hair removal methods that are more "high tech" include:


  • Electrolysis- Uses an electric current that is applied with a very fine needle-shaped electrode, or metal probe into each hair follicle to destroy the root of the hair.
  • Laser - Uses a very focused beam of light and heat that penetrates the hair follicle at its root to stop hair growth while preserving the surrounding skin.


Using electrolysis to remove hair

Electrolysis has been around for a long time. It has been used to remove hair since the late 1800s. This method uses an electrical current to damage individual hair follicles so they do not grow hair. This method is can be expensive and multiple treatments are needed. Swelling, scarring, and redness of the skin may occur.

remove unwanted facial hair with electrolysis

Hair removal results of electrolysis are improved when:

- There is great attention to proper technique, including accurate needle insertion with appropriate electrical intensities and duration.

- You shave 1 to 5 days before electrolysis

If you find electrolysis uncomfortable, there is a topical anesthetic cream known as EMLA Cream (eutectic mixture of local anesthetics) that has been helpful in reducing the uncomfortable sensations of electrolysis


What About Permanently Removing Body Hair With A Home Electrolysis Machine?

Another alternative for women who have lots of excess, dark hair on their bodies, is an electrolysis machine for home use. Like the commercial machines, this product is commonly used for permanently destroying hair follicles by sending an electrical current to the hairs and zapping them with an electric current. Home electrolysis units can be expensive, and they use a much lower voltage, reducing their efficacy.

remove hair and become a fashionistaThese devices are difficult to operate effectively and many people just end up tweezing instead of zapping the hair.  Another thing you should know about these machines is that they usually require several applications and more sessions for completely eliminating body hair. It’s also not recommended that one remove the hair from an area larger than 1 square inch at one time, so if you have lots of excess hair, this method may be too time-consuming for you. Nevertheless, they can be a helpful.


Lasers for removing hair from where you do not want it to grow:

Laser, and intense pulsed light, use laser light aimed at the dark color (melanin) in the hairs. This method is best if a very large area needs to be treated and only if the hair is dark. Since the laser light needs a darker hair to work, if you have blond or lighter red hair, you are not a candidate for this method of hair removal.

There are several types of lasers you will see used for hair removal. They include: alexandrite, diode, ruby and  Nd:YAG.

Laser hair removal is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to the older, traditional methods we talked about such as shaving, waxing, threading, etc.. 

The use of different types of lasers for hair removal has been shown to be effective and safe on different skin types, but different skin types do react differently to the laser light.  The effectiveness of laser hair reduction or removal depends on many variables, including the skin type of the person seeking laser treatment for unwanted hair.

What do we mean by "skin type?" There are 5 different types of skin that have been defined for medical purposes when a laser is used. These definitions are described by something called the Fitzpatrick Scale.

The Fitzpatrick Scale of skin types:

Skin Type 1: Light or Freckled: Never Tans/Always Burns

Skin Type 2: White: Sometimes Tans/Usually Burns

Skin Type 3: Olive: Always Tans/Sometimes Burns

Skin Type 4:Brown: Rarely Burns/Rarely Tans

Skin Type 5:Dark Brown: Very Rarely Burns/Very Rarely Tans

This scale is important in determining what type of laser is used for a particular person and how much laser light intensity is applied to the skin. Brown and dark brown skin color (Type 4 and 5) can be permanently damaged and scarred if the wrong laser is used or too much energy is applied. People with white or light skin can also experience damage if the wrong laser is used.

A scientific review looked at how effective the different types of lasers can be. It found that:

  • Hair removal with a laser causes a partial short-term hair reduction for up to 6 months.
  • They are more effective when repeated treatments are given
  • They are more effective than shaving, waxing and electrolysis
  • The best results for partial long-term hair removal beyond 6 months happens after repetitive treatments with alexandrite and diode lasers and probably after treatment with ruby and Nd:YAG lasers.

Side-effects are low for all the different types of lasers:

Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence for complete and persistent hair removal for everyone using any laser treatment, however most people are happy with the results of laser hair removal.  One survey study showed 71% of people were satisfied with their treatment.  And most people would recommend laser hair removal to people with unwanted hair. 

Another study survey of 200 people who had hair removal with the Nd: YAG laser found it to be a very safe and effective way to remove or reduce unwanted hair in all skin types.


- How the laser sessions were spaced out really seemed to make a difference in how effective the laser treatments were.

- People got better results with longer gaps between treatments.

- Using adequate cooling and proper shaving were key factors for safety - There are lasers now that spray a very fine mist of water with each pulse of light to provide a cooling effect. 

Although a safe procedure, lasers for hair removal may be associated with some negative side effects including undesired changes in skin pigment, namely decreased skin pigmentation. Although rare and not necessarily long-lasting, before starting a laser hair removal treatment, you should know that temporary, and possibly permanent, skin pigment changes may occur


What About Permanently Removing Body Hair With A Home Laser Device?

Tria home laser hair removalThere are several types of lasers that are available for hair removal through doctors and technicians certified in their use, but going that route can be inconvenient and costly. Most people continue to treat their unwanted hair at home, and there are low-energy pulsed-light devices that are like lasers that have been shown to be effective and safe for removing unwanted hair at home rather than going to the doctor's office.

                    - Tria Home Device - 

Such a home device was tested on twenty women with a wide-range of skin types. The women used the device by themselves at home on dark hair in areas other than the face such as their arm pits, forearms, bikini area and legs. They gave themselves three treatments at 2-week intervals using a handheld device that created an intense-pulsed-light. The results of this test showed reduced hair with a reduction of about 1/3/to 1/2 of the amount of hair after three treatments. The best results were at the lower legs.



A difficult special area - Dealing with dark arm pit hair

In addition to the face being an especially embarrassing area, the under arms can be a challenging area for women with darker color hair because dark the hair can be visible in the hair follicle underneath the surface of arm pit skin even after shaving. Because of this, women with dark hair can be prone to getting a "shadow" under their arms.

Shaving, by itself, usually does not do the job. Recommendations for women with dark unwanted body hair under the arms include:

  • If you have to shave, some people advise not shaving too often (like every day) if you can help it. They belive this may encourage hair to grow back quicker, making the shadow-effect return sooner, however this appears to be a myth
  • Some people have also benefit from exfoliating under their arms. Yes, scrub with a loofah sponge to remove dead skin and loose hairs from the skin surface. This may also help you to get a closer, cleaner shave, or waxing, because all that dead skin and loosened hair are not in the way. Likewise, exfoliation under the arms removes any antiperspirant or deodorant that simple washing may not have removed.
  • And while we are talking about washing, many women shave their under arms in the shower with soap or body wash. That is not a good idea. Using real shaving cream or gel can make a difference because it allows you to get a closer shave without damaging your skin. You should also use a sharp blade for the same reason. If you are over-using disposable razors, throw them away sooner.
  • Some people have also found that the brand of deodorant may also make a difference. Try different brands over time to see if one may work better for reducing any under arm shadow-effect more than another.

    Really Excessive or unwanted hair growth in women

    Even though many women develop unwanted hair from their ethnic or hereditary background, there are also medical causes such as having higher levels of the testosterone hormone that can cause excessive hair growth in areas where women usually would not have to confront this.

    A doctor can help you find out if this may be an issue for you and what you can do about it. This article does not deal with unwanted hair growth due to a medical condition. The information in this post is meant for "normal" unwanted hair growth in women and not the excessive hair growth that can occur as a result of a medical condition or genetics.

    Excessive hair growth in those instances is referred to as hirsutism. In the case of hirsutism, women develop coarse, dark hair above the lips, chin and/or chest due to a hormonal imbalance, medication or other factors. This is beyond the normal fine, short light hair women can have in those areas. If you know someone with this condition, it is best that they consult a doctor to make sure it is not due to a problem that may need treatment.

    And  lastly,  bleaching is another way to deal with unwanted hair, but we did not discuss that here since it does not involve removing or reducing hair growth.

    We hope this was helpful :-)