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Healthy Skin Newsletter, Issue #002 -- Feature Article: Hair Removal Methods
June 01, 2006

Issue No. 2 June 2006

Healthy Skin Newsletter Ė Information on skin problems and skin care.
If you like this newsletter and know someone that may benefit from this information, please feel free to pass it along. If this newsletter was passed to you and you find the information useful, please subscribe by clicking here. Issue No. 2, June 2006


  • Whatís New at
  • Feature Article Ė Hair Removal Methods
  • In the News
  • Skin Care Tip of the Month
  • Question of the Month
  • Product of the Month


Various links have been added to the menís skin care page. In particular, the new pages deal with the selection of shaving creams and use of aftershave lotions. This page can be found at:

A back issues page has been added. Here you can scroll through all past issues of the Healthy Skin Newsletter. To access this page you can visit the following url: and click on the back issues link.


For many women and men, hair removal is an important issue. Removing unwanted hair can make the skin and body appear healthier and more attractive. Hair in unwanted places has a psychological impact on individuals. Whether it is because of a feeling of unattractiveness or to gain a competitive advantage in sport (smooth bodies cut down on wind or water resistance or at least the feeling that this is occurring), it is not surprising that this industry is gaining in popularity with both sexes. Yes, even men are increasingly looking for methods that will remove unwanted hair.

Hair removal techniques range from simple and inexpensive that can be performed in the privacy of your own home to more expensive treatments that require a visit to a clinic specializing in such procedures. The effects can be temporary or permanent. Information on the variety of hair removal techniques available is provided below.

Temporary Hair Removal Methods


Plucking, as a hair removal technique is simple, cheap, effective, but very time consuming because hairs are only removed one at a time. It is usually performed with good quality tweezers and involves a sharp yanking motion to remove the hair. If performed properly, this method removes the hair at the follicle and results can last from two to six weeks. The hair to be removed must be long enough that the tweezers are able to firmly grasp the hair. Otherwise, the hair may simply break and not be removed at the root as desired.

Plucking is suitable for shaping eyebrows and for removal of unwanted stray hairs from the face or any area of the body.


This hair removal technique involves the use of a cotton thread. It is quick, inexpensive, and suitable for small areas of the body. The thread is wrapped around the hair to be removed by a rolling motion and then yanked in order to remove the hair out by the root. The procedure can be painful and result in skin reddening or puffiness. In order to get the desired results, individuals skilled in this technique normally perform the threading.

Facial areas such as the upper lip, eyebrows, chin, sideburns, and cheeks are normally treated with this method. These areas can remain free of significant amounts of hair for at least a couple of weeks and up to five or six weeks.


Shaving is the most common hair removal method for men and women. It is also very inexpensive, easy to do, and very temporary because the hair is removed at the skinís surface and not at the follicle. For men, shaving of the face results in the removal of hair for about a day. For men and women, removal of body hair with shaving lasts approximately four days.

Areas commonly shaved are the face for men and the legs, underarms, and bikini/pubic areas for women. However, the desire for hair removal is a personal preference and there are no rules for men and women as to which part of the body should or should not be shaved.

The disadvantage of shaving certain body areas as compared to the face for men is that the skin can be very sensitive and irritation is likely. To minimize this irritation, moisten the area to be shaved with warm water and appropriate shaving cream. This is best performed in the shower. Sensitive skin areas should be shaved in the direction of hair growth to minimize cuts and irritation. Never shave areas that have been irritated by previous shaves until the skin heals. If shaving continues, without proper skin healing then further irritation and infections are possible. Always use a sharp clean blade. A dull blade can lead to ingrown hairs.

Shaving can also be performed with an electric razor or hair can be trimmed significantly with a good quality hair trimmer. However, wet shaving generally results in a closer shave and smoother look to the skin. Selecting the type of razor and foam or gel to use comes down to what works best for you. Experiment with a variety of products to determine which combination is best for your skin.

Contrary to popular belief, this hair removal technique does not result in the hair becoming thicker, darker, or faster growing. However, when the hair starts to grow back (stubble) it is very course and may appear darker.

Mechanical Epilators

This hair removal method uses a mechanical device to pull the hair out of the skin. These devices commonly use a rubber roller or coiled spring, which grab the hair and pull it out at the root. There is some pain associated with this technique and hairs tend to be missed. The hair needs to be at least one quarter of an inch long for the mechanical epilator to function effectively.

The use of this hair removal procedure is not recommended for sensitive skin areas such as the face, genitals, or armpits.

Chemical Depilatories

Chemical depilatories are hair removal gels, creams or lotions containing chemicals that dissolve the protein structure of hair and result in the formation of a jelly-like substance. This method of hair removal is normally used on the legs, arms, underarms, and bikini/pubic area. It is quick (about 10 to 15 minutes are required), painless, and inexpensive and well suited for home use. Different formulations of these depilatory products are available depending on the sex of the individual and which body part the hair is being removed from.

The chemicals used can be quite harsh and may cause a contact dermatitis type reaction. Chemical burns and subsequent scarring or other skin damage can also occur if the instructions are not followed closely. Spot testing is recommended before using any chemical product in large amounts to ensure no allergic skin reaction occurs. Use of chemical depilatories may lead to an increase in acne and ingrown hairs.

Usually the skin will remain hair free from three to seven days.


Technically speaking, bleaching of hair is not a hair removal technique. However, it is a method, which can be used to make unwanted hair less noticeable. The process involves the application of a chemical that bleaches the pigment in the hair. The treatment generally lasts for up to three weeks. Target areas of the body where bleaching is normally used are the arms, face (especially the upper lip), neck, and bikini areas. The method works best when the hair is thin.

The use of this method can lead to some temporary skin discolouration. Other side effects may include skin irritation such as allergic reaction, stinging, redness, burning sensation, a rash, and acne. There may also be some degree of skin damage because of the harsh chemicals that are used. Frequent use, can lead to contact dermatitis type problems or premature skin aging.


This is a relatively inexpensive and arguably the most effective temporary hair removal technique. The process involves placing warm or hot wax on the surface of the skin in the direction of the hair growth and then placing a cloth strip onto the wax. As the wax cools, it attaches to the hair. The strip is then pulled away quickly in the opposite direction of hair growth. This results in the hair being pulled out of the skin from its roots. Cold waxes that are attached to strips can also be used. These strips are placed firmly on the skin and then stick to the hairs. The strip is then removed in a rapid pulling motion. For efficient hair removal, the hair should be at least 1 cm long before using the waxing procedure.

The waxing method may be painful depending on the individual and can irritate the skin for a few days after the procedure. Some waxing kits include pain-reducing gels to ease the discomfort from the procedure. It is a good idea to protect the skin from the sun for at least a couple of days after treatment in order to avoid skin pigmentation type problems.

Test a small area of the skin to check for allergic reaction or other skin sensitivity to the product intended to be used. Do not wax skin that is irritated, sunburned, or broken or being treated with products that weaken the skin such as Retin-A. Avoid body areas such as inside the nose and ears and the eyelashes and areas that contain varicose veins, moles, and warts. Also, waxing is not advisable for individuals with diabetes.

Waxing is usually performed on the legs, arms, underarms, face, and bikini/pubic area, but may be used on others areas such as the stomach, back, and chest. It is a very effective method for removing large amounts of hair all at once. Results can last up to six weeks. With successive waxing treatments, often the hair grows back at a slower rate and becomes finer. In each waxing session, some hair roots are permanently destroyed, leading to less and less hair re-growing in the treated area.

Waxing can be performed professionally or over the counter products are available for home use.


This hair removal technique is very similar to the waxing method. It is fast and cheap and can be performed effectively at home. A warm thick sugary and sticky paste with the consistency of caramel is placed on the skin in the direction of the hair growth. The sugary mixture traps the hair. A cloth or paper strip is then placed on the substance and pulled off in a quick motion that is opposite to the direction of hair growth. The hairs are removed at the root or follicle.

Like waxing, sugaring can be used on the legs, arms, underarms, face, and bikini/pubic area. Some pain occurs as the hair is pulled out of the skin and some skin irritation can occur after the procedure. Hair re-growth can take up to six weeks, but may start to appear in about three weeks. As was the case for waxing, the hair may be finer than it was before the treatment and may eventually reduce in amount.

This method can be more desirable that the traditional waxing method because the clean up is easier. For waxing, any left over wax may need to be peeled or picked off depending on the formulation of the wax, which may add to the discomfort of the procedure. For sugaring, a water rinse is all that is required to dissolve any substance that is left after the hair removal treatment. In addition, it is a suitable alternative for individuals whose skin does not react well to the waxing hair removal method.

Permanent Hair Removal Methods


Electrolysis is the closest that one can get to permanent hair removal. It is a technique that is suitable for hair on all parts of the body.

This hair removal treatment can be performed in two ways. In the needle epilator method, a fine wire needle is inserted into the hair follicle. A low electric current is then sent into the hair follicle to destroy the root and disable any future hair growth. This treatment can be painful and can cause skin damage if not performed properly. Pain numbing gels can be used prior to treatment to ease the discomfort of the procedure.

The other electrolysis method is the tweezer epilator. In this case, tweezers clamp down onto the hair and an electric current is then applied. The current travel down the hair shaft to the root and once again the root is destroyed. This method is less painful because no needle is involved.

Electrolysis is considered a permanent hair removal method unless the root is not completed destroyed. A series of treatments over several months is needed to eliminate hairs in different stages of development.

This hair removal technique is expensive and time consuming. Each hair follicle is treated individually and several minutes per hair may be required. It is recommended that an experienced professional performs this process.

Side effects can include minor swelling, redness, or scarring that usually disappears within a few days. Infection is possible in the needle treatment and skin pigmentation problems can occur. If the process is not performed properly, skin damage and electric shock are possible.

For home use, low voltage machines are available. They are lower voltage than professional machines and are generally less effective.

Laser Hair Removal

Removal of hair with a laser is one of the newer methods. It is effective on all types of body hair, but in particular excellent results are achieved for the face, neck, and armpit areas. Unlike electrolysis, more than one follicle can be treated at a time.

There are a variety of different lasers that may be selected for the hair removal. Which type of laser is used depends on several factors: hair colour, hair type, and skin colour. If using a Nd:YAG laser, the process involves preparation such as pre-waxing the area to be treated and application of a carbon pigment. The pigment is absorbed by the hair follicle and the laser is able to target only the follicle area with laser radiation and not the surrounding skin. The follicle is heated and this leads to a disabling of the follicle, which retards new hair growth. For newer lasers, such as ruby or alexandrite, no lotion or pre-waxing is required. The lasers target the pigment already in the follicle with pulses of intense light to heat and disable it. Once again very little damage occurs to the surrounding skin areas.

Normally a series of treatments (up to six) are required to achieve the desired results. This hair removal treatment is basically permanent although hair can grow back. When it does, it is very light in colour and fine in texture. On average, individuals may have to return for new treatments every six to twelve months.

Laser hair removal works best with individuals with thick body hair and individuals with dark hair on fair skin. It can be more problematic for darker skinned people and individuals with fair, red, or grey hair.

Laser hair removal should be performed by an experienced dermatologist or licensed professional. It is an expensive treatment that can cost up to several thousand dollars for larger areas such as the back. Minor discomfort is usually associated with the treatment, along with possible darkening or lightening of the skin, skin redness and possible scarring. Sunlight should be avoided until the healing is complete.

Hair Inhibition

There are various pharmaceuticals such as estrogens, Lupron/Leuprolide, Cyproterone (Androcur), Diane 35, Flutamide (Euflex, Eulexin), and Casodex that have shown the ability to reduce body hair.

One of the most common hair inhibitors is Vaniqa, which is an FDA approved prescription topical cream. Its main use is to slow down hair growth on the face. The cream is slow acting and requires application twice a day. Results become evident after four to eight weeks, but full results do not occur until about 16 weeks of continuous use. The cream must be used regularly to maintain the effects, although if the use of the cream is discontinued, hair growth will still be stalled for up to eight weeks.

In terms of side effects, allergic reactions are always a possibility and therefore spot testing is recommended. Other problems may include redness, stinging, rash, acne, and increased facial aging since Vaniqa inhibits the skinís repair mechanism.


Various environmental groups in the U.S. are asking the Food and Drug Administration for tighter restrictions and recalls on sunscreens made with sub-microscopic particles. The concern is with sunscreens that contain nano-sized or extremely small particles of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

The claim by these groups is that such small particles pose health risks that include possible inflammatory and immune responses in the human body. The particles are so small that absorption into the body from the skinís surface can occur.

In addition to sunscreens, there is concern with cosmetics that use a similar technology. The concerned groups feel that the FDA is not up to speed on the hazardous effects of substances made with this technology.

FDA meetings in October will take a closer look at products using nano-technologies used in products such as drugs, sunscreens, and cosmetics. An industry spokesman claims there is enough evidence to support the safe use of these products.


An important but often overlooked element in proper and healthy skin care is the process of exfoliation.

The purpose of exfoliation of the skin is to remove dead skin cells from the skinís surface. Regular soaps and cleansers generally do not perform this function unless they contain exfoliating agents.

Why is exfoliation important? Removing the dead skin cells from the surface of the skin exposes newer, healthier, and younger looking skin cells underneath. Exfoliation gives the skin a greater radiance and the appearance of pore tightening and prevents the clogging of skin pores. Over time it can give the skin a smoother appearance by diminishing fine lines on the skin and give the skin a soft feel. Exfoliation also helps moisturizers be more effective because there is no dead skin barrier preventing the penetration of the moisturizer. This process also helps prevent ingrown hairs.

Make sure the exfoliation product you are using is not too harsh on the skin. Use a gentle scrubbing pad (loofah, pouf, etc.) with the product. Exfoliation should be performed at least twice a week, but can be performed on a daily basis depending on the strength of the product being used.


Does smoking cigarettes affect my skin or is this a myth?

Quite simply put, smoking contributes to skin damage. When an individual smokes, the smoke and other toxic elements found in cigarettes cause blood vessels at the outermost layers of skin to narrow and therefore blood flow is decreased. As a result of this poor blood flow to the skin, it becomes deficient in the essential nutrients and oxygen that are necessary for healthy skin.

Smoking generates damaging free radicals that weaken the proteins in the skin matrix (collagen and elastin). Damaged skin proteins result in the appearance of rough skin, wrinkles, sagging skin, and skin with poor texture.

Finally, repetitive facial expressions occur when an individual smokes. These expressions lead to wrinkles on the face, especially around the lips.


Daily Facials Self-Foaming Discs

This product is from Olay Beauty and Skin Care products. This is an effective cleansing product that is worth a try. Each cleaning disc contains two sides: a side with small bumps to gently exfoliate the skin as it is being cleaned and a soft side to be used in more sensitive areas such as around the eyes. You decide the degree of cleansing that is required.

The discs are easy to use. Wet the face with warm water. Remove the disc from the package and rub between the thumb and fingers to create the cleansing lather. Use the textured side to exfoliate the skin or the soft side it you desire a gentler cleaning. Rinse off the cleanser with warm water and pat dry the face. Discard the cleansing disc in the garbage.

The discs are available in moisture balancing formula for normal to dry skin and deep cleansing formula for combination/oily skin. Each package contains 30 discs.

Although a little expensive at 25 to 30 cents per disc, this product does do a very good cleansing job and can be used instead of bar soap, foaming face wash, scrub or toner.

Ingredients are: Water, Glycerin, DI-PPG-2, Myreth-10, Adipate, Sodium Myristoyl Sarconsinate, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Decyl Clucoside, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Disodium Edta, DMDM Hydantoin, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol, PEG-14M, Citric Acid, Fragrance.

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