Although it can be upsetting, superfluous hair is a natural phenomenon – whether it’s a faint moustache on the upper lip or stray hairs around the bikini line. If you believe you have a problem it will be reassuring to know that nearly all women believe they have some kind of problem with unwanted hair. A grown woman has something like 36 million hairs on her body, all perfectly natural. Unwanted hair only occurs when some hairs strengthen beyond the standard we set for femininity.
Is a medical condition which results in a woman’s body growing excessive hair in places where it’s not normally expected. This excess hair appears in a male pattern and includes the upper lip, chin, chest, upper thighs, arms and back. This excess hair growth is stimulated by naturally occurring male sex hormones called androgens which are active at the root of the hair – so there may be an over activity of hormones or over sensitive hair follicles which cause the problem.
Hirsuitism may be genetic or a side effect of a number of prescription drugs used for a range of unrelated medical conditions including blood pressure, seizures or endometriosis. Sometimes it can be the result of an underlying medical condition such as polycystic ovaries disease which may require special treatment.
There is also the fact that hormonal changes in a woman’s life cycle bring about increased hair growth – this is usually during puberty, pregnancy or menopause but this is usually temporary and if left alone will eventually disappear.
Stages of Hair growth
Anagen – fully grown hair
Catagen – hair is starting to loosen and ready to drop out – most difficult stage to treat hair as it moves away from the papilla and the heat can’t get to it easily
Telogen – resting stage of the hair – can be inactive for weeks months or even years – new hair gradually grows along side of the old hair
Permanent Hair Removal
Electrolysis has always been the only “medically approved’’ method of permanent hair removal. It was discovered in 1875 when a doctor used this method to treat an ingrown eyelash and discovered it never grew back.
The current used for hair removal evolved over the years from electrolysis to short wave diathermy to a combination of both currents.
This involves inserting a fine needle into the hair follicle which disperses a small amount of current into the hair root. When successful the hair root is destroyed and the hair can be lifted out of the follicle.
Electrolysis – is achieved by the chemical decomposition of the hair as a direct electric current passes through and creates sodium hydroxide
Thermolyis – is achieved by the heat created with an alternating electric current which changes direction rapidly
Temporary Hair Removal
Cutting – coarsens and blunts the hair but is the only method recommended between electrolysis treatments
Waxing – there are two types of waxing used – hot waxing and strip waxing – neither are recommended for facial hair
Plucking or tweezing – individual hairs are removed one by one. Usually lasts from between one – six weeks. Roots may get distorted and grow back thicker and stronger. Continuous plucking may eventually damage the skin and enlarge pores.
Depilatory Creams – cause the hair to break off at skin level. The hair root is unaffected and may cause skin irritations from the harsh chemicals used in the cream. Hair will usually grow back within days.
Shaving – contrary to popular belief does not cause hair to grow back thicker however shaving off the hair a skin levels allows stubble to grow back within a few days and feels coarse and stubbly due to all the hairs being cut off at the same level.
Bleaching – only effective on fine downy hair growth – may irritate the skin and cause hair to turn yellow
What About Laser?
Laser hair removal today is standard procedure in cosmetic surgeries and beauty salons that offer hair removal treatments. The reality of never having to shave, wax or use depilatory cream again seems to be fast becoming a reality. However contrary to what many manufacturers may want us to believe the FDA has not approved any laser machines for “permanent hair removal” – even though some machines are allowed to claim “permanent hair reduction”
“Permanent hair reduction is defined as the long-term, stable reduction in the number of hairs re-growing after a treatment regime, which may include several sessions. The number of hairs regrowing must be stable over time greater than the duration of the complete growth cycle of hair follicles, which varies from four to twelve months according to body location. Permanent hair reduction does not necessarily imply the elimination of all hairs in the treatment area”
Never pluck or wax facial hair and always visit a reputable salon that specialises in hair removal. They will give you the best advice as to what is right for you
Laser treatments can be very effective especially for body hair even if it doesn’t permanently remove the hair – treatments are getting cheaper and if your salon visits are 2-3 times per year for maintenance then this should be acceptable. The IPL laser doesn’t seem to be so effective on the face especially on the upper lip so discuss with your operator before agreeing to treatment.