Whether for cosmetic reasons, hygiene, personal comfort or preference, a record number of Americans in the 21st century have resorted to hair replacement and/or at least one method of hair removal. Most commonly, hair loss is triggered by a combination of
- A hereditary history of baldness
- Hormonal change
- The aging process
The driving reasons for seeking hair restoration treatments are an enhancement of self-confidence and appearance. Sometimes, hair loss is occasioned by trauma or burns, in which case hair restoration is considered reconstructive surgery and thus covered by health insurance.
Modern hair removal products or services offer consumers the opportunity to
- Rid themselves of unwanted or excess hair in a pain-free and expeditious manner
- Boost their self-esteem and sense of attractiveness
- Conform to societal conventions and advertised images emphasizing hairless skin
- Improve their hygiene
Studies show that an overwhelming majority of females and more than half of males desire body hair removal. According to surveys conducted in hair removal salons, an increasing number of men are inquiring about hair removal and between one-third and three-fifths of their clients are males.
Men and women interested in removing hair from their legs, armpits, face, bikini line, or other bodily anatomy have a world of choice available to them. Technological advances have contributed to pubic hair removal techniques that are safe, fuss-free, highly efficacious, painless, and convenient. Because hair removal methods work best on hair that is in its growing phase - anagen hair - a single treatment is often insufficient to treat all of the hairs. Therefore, permanent hair removal necessitates multiple sessions.
Hair Removal Options
The two main forms of hair removal are depilation and epilation. The former involves removal of a portion of the hair that rises above the skin's surface, whereas the latter involves extraction of the whole hair from its root. Individuals should select the method that best matches their skin type, time constraints, budget, and target zone.
The most popular temporary hair removal methods are tweezing, cream depilatories, mechanical epilators, and shaving. Their effects last anywhere from a few hours to several days. Shaving, which eliminates hair at the surface of the skin, is the most common short-term method of hair removal, and it is done either manually or with an electric shaver. The cost of a professional shave ranges from $5 to $30.
Chemical depilatories, which can be purchased in aerosol, lotion, roll-on, cream, or gel form, dissolve the hair at the surface of the skin. Some depilatories may be applied to sensitive areas such as the armpits, face, and bikini line, while others can only be utilized on the legs. The results last usually about a week. Both shaving and depilatories are cheap, extremely safe, quick, and pain-free method that are available everywhere and can be done from the comfort of one's home.
The most common forms of epilation, which boasts effects that generally last a few days to several weeks, are rotary epilators, threading, sugar, waxing, and tweezing. In waxing, a large quantity of hair is removed at once. Hot wax is spread over the skin; once it has firmly grasped the hair, it is plucked out in the inverse direction of hair growth. The result is a smoother, softer skin, and new hair follicles do not surface until weeks after and are less coarse, more sparse, and lighter in color.
Waxing is optimal for the legs, upper lip, brows, and stomach area. This method is low-cost, quick, and can be done at home. A popular form of waxing involves the application of a caramel-like substance to the skin and the stripping away of the hairs from the root by way of a porous cloth. The average cost of a sugar waxing kit ranges from $10 to $20. Sugaring may be used to remove hair off backs, legs, underarms, bikini lines, mustaches, and eyebrows.
With the hair removal technique known as mechanical epilation, a coiled spring or electric roller pulls the hair from the root. It is ideal for arms and legs but should not be used on sensitive skin such as armpits and genitals.
Consumers seeking more permanent methods of hair removal should consider electrolysis and laser hair removal. In electrolysis, a fine metal probe is introduced into the hair follicle, and an electric current is applied to the hair root, thus destroying it. Because this method removes each hair individually, a number of additional treatments are needed. A qualified professional should perform electrolysis, which has a proven track record of successful results.
Laser hair removal is advantageous for large areas such as legs and back as well as for the underarms, neck and face, and is also an efficient and safe method for pubic hair removal. Treatment is fast and results in less discomfort or pain than other hair removal approaches. The majority of laser devices burn structures containing melanin. Once burned, the hair falls out in a few days.
Laser hair removal is optimal for light-skinned individuals with dark hair. Following treatment, patients should avoid the sun. Laser hair removal offers long-lasting results and retards the growth of new hair. When new hair appears, it tends to be sparser, finer, and lighter in color. It is recommended that laser hair removal be performed by a physician such as a plastic surgeon or dermatologist.
The cost for treatment depends on the size of the targeted bodily area and the thickness of the client's hair. Most providers offer a series of treatments at a discounted rate per session.
All methods of hair replacement involve utilization of the patient's own hair. To be eligible, individuals must have a sufficient amount of hair growth on the sides and back of their head. Referred to as donor sites, these represent areas of the head from which flaps and grafts are taken.
Different techniques are employed in hair replacement surgery. A hair loss transplant is usually performed on individuals seeking a moderate improvement in hair thickness. Patients desiring a more drastic change should undergo procedures such as scalp-reduction, tissue-expansion, and flaps.
In hair transplantation, hairs are removed from a donor area and placed into a thinning or balding area known as the recipient area. Typically, a patient must undergo several sessions to achieve a full head of hair and must wait a few months between each surgical session for healing to take its course.
For hair loss caused by infection, an anti-fungal agent or an oral antibiotic is the solution. For individuals with alopecia areata, hair restoration usually takes place by way of a steroid injection (i.e. triamcinolone) into the area in question.
Medication can also serve as an effective hair loss treatment in that it helps to inhibit or slow the development of baldness. The most common medicines are minoxidil (otherwise known as Rogaine), which may be obtained without a prescription and is available to both men and women. This medicine is rubbed on the scalp and produces the best results when the patient has hair loss at the back and top of his or her scalp. Finasteride (better known as Propecia), which requires a prescription, is reserved for males and available in pill form.
[page updated December 2008]