Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Chore That is: Hair Removal - Saying Farewell to The Fuzz!

Me, preparing for my waxing at the Fake Bake Boutique in Manchester.
I’ve always said that men have it easy. No periods, no child birth, no hair and makeup tasks to deal with (for most men anyway, and as much as I love hair & beauty in their entirety, they can be a bit of a chore at times with how long it takes to get ready), and… no having to religiously remove hair from almost all of their body!! The fact that those few reasons are just the main few ‘perks’ of being a bloke that came to the top of my head prove my point as I’m sure there’s plenty more to boot.

Anyway, how you remove your body hair is a personal choice to each and every one of us, but one thing that remains the same, it’s never, ever enjoyable. It is a chore, there’s no getting away from this fact, AND there is always, always a down side to each hair removal technique. I should know, I've tried most methods in a bid to say a final farewell to the fuzz.

Let’s look at the main contenders, and my view on each one:

Shaving: Well this is a quick fix, cheap, and easily done if in a rush… if the errr need to shave arises unexpectedly, you know what I am talking about girls. Sounds great, but it doesn’t last. The fact that it lasts basically no time at all, the stubble that comes shortly after (sometimes the same day, depending on how unfortunate your hair growth is for you), potential shaving cuts (ouch) and shaving rash definitely put me off using this as my regular hair removal routine – unless as part of a laser hair removal course, which I’ll move onto near the end of this post.

Hair removal creams: Yuck, I hate these. They have never really worked on my hair, so are probably only good for fine/fair hair and not much of it. They’re messy, smelly and again don’t work for long – I also find them time consuming, since you’re supposed to leave the cream on to dissolve the hair which is an arduous task, since you can’t do much else other than wait. This is even worse if you're treating a more delicate, or hidden area that may require you to hold your arms high in the air/above your head, or worse... hold your legs open for the entire time - lovely. The 'rough' stubble isn’t quite as much of an issue as shaving, since the hair isn’t cut off as bluntly, but you will still get a rapid regrowth that you will feel, since the follicle is left intact.

Waxing: This was my choice of hair removal for many years, visiting a salon religiously every 4 weeks to have my body hair ripped from the follicles. I was always happy with the smooth finish that waxing left me with, and the fact that it lasted a good few weeks before I felt like I was getting some regrowth. What I wasn’t happy with was ingrown hairs, the cost of going somewhere decent to get a Brazilian or a Hollywood and the having to leave it until there was enough regrowth to be removed for the smoothness to return. Let’s face it ladies, it’s not ideal to *have* to let your hair grow, when you want to be ‘match fit’ 100% of the time, is it?! It’s also incredibly painful, especially in sensitive areas (armpits and bikini area being the worst culprits). That being said, I did have a couple of waxing appointments (at the Fake Bake Boutique in Selfridges, Manchester) just before my holiday and just after for the immediate and long lasting 'effect' that I required, both of which I was over the moon with (no ingrown hairs etc).

Epilating: In-between waxes, I would often find myself epilating should the need to be fuzz free arise. And, I actually maintained my hair free status for quite some time using epilation. This was actually a godsend, as; with decent epilators you can remove hair as short as a grain of sand, which means you have the benefit of removing the hair from the follicle (and the longevity with the result), with no need to actually grow the hair to a length that you’re not entirely comfortable with.

The downsides to epilation is that I find it a lot more painful than waxing, as you’re ripping less hairs out in one go which is slightly more tortuous – to put it mildly, it’s not something you could do from scratch in sensitive areas (unless you’re a sadist and actually enjoy pain), and it can take a bit of time to get a good result, depending on how good your epilators is. Plus there’s a slightly larger outlay to start with when buying a decent epilator (I recommend the higher end Braun models), which I do think is worthwhile, as they do make the job easier and less painful (ish), but will pay for themselves over time!

Laser hair removal: Now this is a slightly newer kid on the block, and whilst has been done in salons and clinics for a good few years, the at home alternatives have only been around a very short time indeed. It’s not a quick fix either; treatment can take 6 months or more to be successful; however it is the longest lasting hair removal method to date. The laser attacks the hair follicle and effectively destroys it/puts it to ‘sleep’, this method is usually called ‘permanent hair removal’ but actually does require some maintenance to keep all follicles on your body asleep/dead. This upkeep is made easier (and cheaper) by the use of ‘at home’ machines such as the Philips Lumea Precision Plus, Tria, HoMedics me Pro and suchlike (although the outlay on these machines are in the hundreds, but compared to the thousands for salon treatments over large areas do offer value for money).

To prepare for laser hair removal you need to shave the area 24 hours before treatment, and then use the laser on the skin/have it used on you by a therapist (depending on whether you're having it done in clinic or at home). The sensation of laser hair removal isn't entirely painless, but depending on your pain threshold/tolerance shouldn't be too uncomfortable. I liken it to being pinged by a hot elastic band - it's totally bearable for me, anyway.  Over the course of treatments, you'll notice your hair regrowth lessening and getting finer, and patches of hair free areas increasing. This is totally satisfying to see, as you can see the treatment is doing what it's meant to. The finished effect of this is smooth skin, usually without even having little dots where the follicle is/was.

The downsides, as touched on are the cost, the length of time it takes for the treatment to work, the having to shave areas being treated (which means no longevity in hair removal until the treatment has run its course) and for some, the pain. However, all that being said, I do think it's totally worth doing in the long run.

Other methods of hair removal include Electrolysis, sugaring, no!no! Hair PRO and 'sanding hair off' with mitts such as the Silky Mitt but I haven't had as much experience (or any at all in some cases) with these, so I have left them off and focused on the main players. Nor have I spoken about threading, as on larger areas, I don’t think it would work so well and would be faaaar too time consuming.

I think, if push came to shove, and I had to choose my favourite method, I would choose to laser those follicles into submission, over the rest - purely for the longevity, even though it does take longer to get our final smooth result. However I think epilation (as maintenance after waxing) would be my second choice because it's a happy medium between the rest.

How do you prefer to de-fuzz? Do you find it a chore, do you have any tips that you might like to share?

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