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What is hair removal?

We live in a culture where woman aren't allowed much body hair at all. Men don't get an easy ride either, and get a lot of stick for back, shoulder and neck hair. But what can we do to get rid of it? And how do we make it as painless as possible?

We once lived in caves and cooked in the open air, so evolution kindly clothed us in lovely soft hair to protect us from the ravages of the weather and life. But now, rightly or wrongly, women have become slaves to the modern social demand to depilate. And, equally rightly or wrongly, the imperative to remove hair from our bodies seems to have spread to men as well.

Our society is so serious about hair removal that we even use medical words to describe it. Hair removal is carried out in "clinics" and involves "consultations", "procedures", "relapse" and most terrifying of all... "regrowth". And, like any clinical procedure, we cannot expect to escape without, at best, mild discomfort, and at worse...? The Brazilian!

What is hair removal good for?

It is generally agreed in the UK that having sleek, soft, hairless skin is a much better look for beach wear than the all-over stubble / body-hair look. Have hair removed properly and you'll probably feel a lot more confident while you're on holiday. In your normal life, it's always better for people to know that that black or tan nylon effect on your legs is in fact down to your tights and not your laziness in the bath.

Before you go

Prepare yourself. Make sure you wash the relevant area so that it's clean. If you're going for a treatment at a spa or salon, this is especially important.

Make sure that you don't have any spots, sores, broken skin or rash before you go, as this may mean that you'd be wiser to wait before having the treatment.

What to expect

Like marriage and surgery, hair removal is not to be entered into lightly. It involves an element of discomfort, commitment, even risk. But hair-shaping and hair-removal costs and here's where you start paying...

Precautions

If you have sensitive skin or any skin allergies, you should check the instructions properly, and do a sensitivity test before putting any product on your skin. Some depilatory products can burn your skin quite badly, particularly if you leave them on too long.

What to expect from hair removal

You can either remove your own hair or get a professional to help you with it. What to expect will depend on whether you do it at home yourself, or have it done by someone else at a beauty salon or spa.

Different kinds of hair removal

You have various "at-home" options...

Shaving

For women, only ever to be carried out with care, cream and a high-quality razor. For women, shaving should only be carried out on legs, and underarm, never EVER on the face! For men, the opposite is true. Shaving is an effective but short-term solution.

Depilatory creams and foams

The coward's first port of call, seeming like the gentlest option. But beware...

  • leave it on for too short a time and you'll have almost as much hair as you started with
  • leave it on the right amount of time, which, incidentally, depends on your skin and the type of hair you have as much as the producer's recommendations, and you'll still have some stragglers that you have to pluck
  • leave it on too long and you may get minor burns.

Plucking

In the category of "mild discomfort", plucking is usually only feasible for eyebrows and stragglers, as it's time-consuming and a bit tricky.

Bleaching

This carries the same risks of mild skin-burning as depilatory creams, and without any promise of hair removal.

Electrolysis

Effective but very time-consuming and potentially expensive. Electrolysis removes hair and discourages it from growing back so quickly. But it does involve mild electricity, a lot of patience and accuracy.

Waxing

The most effective means of removing hair, it is also (in what we'll describe simply as "some areas") the most painful. It is a lot of people's chosen method of holiday hair removal as you can depend on it lasting for a few weeks without embarrassing regrowth. You have a choice of hot and cold, molten and glue-like strips and it mainly involves spatulas: some to apply the wax and another to bite down on hard during the procedure to prevent you from crying out.

Getting professional help

All of the options for hair removal are vastly-improved experiences when carried out by a third party in a professional establishment, particularly if you can follow the hair removal with a soothing body treatment, massage or water therapy.

Many spas can also offer you other hair removal treatments that are at least more interesting and at most more effective. These include:

Sugaring: this sweet-sounding option is similar to waxing but the sugar applied is cooler and sticks to the hair more than the skin so is more comfortable. Some say it is ultimately less effective than waxing, but a good "sugarer" will do as good a job for less pain, and that can't be a bad thing.

Light / laser therapy: the most hi-tech option, this procedure definitely falls into the pseudo-medical category, as it involves a full consultation, a doctor on site and in many cases the wearing of goggles by you and the person carrying out the treatment. It isn't cheap and it is very time-consuming but should give you permanent hair removal .

Courtesy of the Good Spa Guide

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