Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Hair Today, Gone Tommorrow
Beauty is painful. Have you seen an eyelash curler lately? And let’s not even mention walking a block in stiletto heels. The biggest pain of them all—that is, excluding anything that requires a surgical knife? Hair removal. None of it is pleasant. Still, who wants whiskers or stubble? Here, we compare five ways to rid yourself of unwanted hair for, well, at least a few weeks.
How It Works: Using a tweezer, each individual hair is pulled out from the root
Best Used for: Eyebrows and touch-ups, particularly on the face
Pros: - Great for eyebrows since each hair is pulled out individually
- Gets rid of small, unsightly hair that waxing cannot pick up
- Hair re-growth lessens over time
- Less irritating than waxing, since no foreign substance is used or skin cells removed
- Home maintenance is an option
Cons: - Can cause ingrown hairs (where hair curls back or grows sideways into the skin)
- Can cause nicks, slight bleeding, and scarring
- It is painful and time-consuming to tweeze large areas, such as the back or legs
- Can cause blood-borne infections and diseases such as Hepatitis-C if implements are not properly sterilized
Pain Factor: Kind of like a sharp pinch. Ever have a splinter removed when you were a kid? Holding the skin taut while tweezing will help prevent nicks and cuts as well as lessen pain. Irritation and redness can occur in those with sensitive skin, but putting powder or moisturizers on the area post-tweezing should help minimize it. Also, if maintaining at home, tweeze right after a shower, as steam opens pores, making hair come out with less effort.
Cost and Upkeep: Around $20 to $30 per session; usually lasts 2 to 3 weeks. “Between appointments, women can pluck a little to clean up the area, but they should never touch the top or middle of the eyebrow,” advises Kitty Cao, eyebrow expert at Premier Atelier salon in White Plains.
Where It’s Done:
Addison Street Spa
How It Works: Warm wax is applied with a tongue depresser-type stick directly to the skin and then covered with a strip of cloth, usually muslin, which is quickly removed, pulling hair and dead skin cells along with it. There are different types of waxes that can be used including: traditional hot wax; cold wax (the room-temperature wax is pre-coated on a strip of cloth, pressed into the skin and then quickly removed); stripless (a warm wax that is placed on skin, hardens and then is pulled off without strips); and sugar wax or “sugaring” (a thick, water-soluble, sugar-based paste is spread over the skin and then removed with a strip).
Best Used for: Almost all body parts, including eyebrows, upper lip, bikini area, legs, underarms, and back.
Pros: - Hair does not grow back for a few weeks, and it is softer and finer when it does (since the hair is completely new, having just grown from the root)
- After decades of waxing hair might stop growing back, since the technique damages hair roots
- Leaves the skin very smooth, since dead skin has been removed as well
- Fast, full Brazilian bikini waxing can be done in about 30 to 45 minutes
Cons: - Must allow hair to grow at least one-quarter inch for waxing to be effective
- Can cause redness and irritation, as well as infection if not done properly and hygenically
- Can cause discoloration since pigment from the top layer of skin is released into the tissue beneath it, causing it to be slightly darker
- Can cause minor bleeding
- Not recommended for those with diabetes because the risk of infection is higher or those taking Retin-A, since it can cause superficial burns to the skin
- Can cause ingrown hairs
- Can cause folliculitis, in which small puss bumps appear around each hair follicle
Pain Factor: For most, it is similar to quickly ripping off a Band-Aid. But, notes Cindy Barshop, owner of Completely Bare Spa in Scarsdale, “If you have very coarse hair, it can be very painful, although professionals know how to minimize the pain.” It can also be painful for those with sensitive skin; expect the area to be red for a few hours after waxing. Applying ice or aloe gel to the area as soon as the strip is removed may help lessen the pain. Also, after the strip is removed, soothing creams that hydrate the skin and prevent stickiness can also be applied. Note that since a tweezer is usually used after waxing, this might hurt as well, particularly in the bikini area. And, if bleeding occurs and then an unsterilized tweezer is used, you are more prone to infection.
Cost and Upkeep: Anywhere from $10 for eyebrows to $75 for a Brazilian bikini wax; usually lasts from 3 to 6 weeks; for facial hair, about 2½ weeks.
Where It’s Done:
Shine Salon & Spa
Devra Bader Skin Care & Beauty Spa
Elizabeth Arden Red Door
Salon & Spa
Richard Scott Salon and Day Spa
How It Works: An ancient Eastern method of hair removal that currently is gaining popularity in the US. A basic, 100-percent-cotton string is pulled taut and twisted through the hair, pulling it out from the root. While similar to tweezing, threading removes an entire row of hair at one time, instead of each hair individually.
Best Used for: Eyebrows, upper lip, and face
Pros: - Fast; it takes about 10 minutes to thread eyebrows
- Neat (no messy waxes) and helps create a great, clean eyebrow shape
- Causes less irritation, damage, and infection, since there are no foreign chemicals used and no skin is stripped during the process. “Threading is almost an organic way to remove the hair,” says Renu Bala, co-owner of Renu Beauty Salon in Yonkers
- No nicks and cuts because the technique uses a string and not metal forceps
Cons: - Too painful and time consuming to thread large areas of hair
- Can cause redness and swelling since hair is pulled from the root
Pain Factor: Similar to tweezing, although many say it is slightly less painful
Cost and Upkeep: $7 to $30 for eyebrows; lasts 2 to 3 weeks
Where It’s Done:
Renu Beauty Salon
The Haven of Briarcliff
Berthas European Spa
Technique: Laser Hair Removal
How It Works: Approved and referred to by the FDA as “permanent hair reduction,” laser hair removal uses a laser that is pulsed over the area, targeting the dark hair pigment and destroying the hair follicle in the anagen, or growth stage.
Best Used for: Most body parts, including upper lip, bikini area, legs
Pros: - Minimal upkeep
- Although expensive at first, saves money in the long run
- If hair does grow back, it is usually lighter and finer than before
- Works well for those with very dark hair and very light skin
Cons: - Not effective for people with blonde, red, gray or white hair or tan or dark skin, as the laser needs to detect a pigment. The laser heats up the darkest pigment it finds, which, when skin is light and hair is dark, is usually the hair bulb. If there is little contrast between the hair bulb and the skin, you increase the risk of burning.
- The process is referred to as reduction because re-growth is common
- Time investment
- Can cause ingrown hairs
- Lasers can cause skin discoloration, infection, and swelling if not done properly
- If done on certain areas, such as the back, it has been known to cause acne (it stimulates the oil glands)
- Can cause burns
Pain Factor: Similar to a rubber band being snapped against the skin—that’s how experts describe the experience, including Barshop of Completely Bare Spa in Scarsdale, who says: “It feels like a little snap.” If done incorrectly, the technique can cause burns. An anesthetic can be applied before the process to lessen pain. Most dermatologists agree that a licensed doctor should be on the premisis when performing the procedure to help if mistakes occur.
Cost and Upkeep: Ranges from $87/session to a total of $5,000; Lasts anywhere from 1 to 10 years; due to hormonal re-growth, touch-ups are usually necessary
Where It’s Done:
Park Avenue Medical Spa
SkinCentre Advanced Medical Aesthetics
The Medical Center for Laser Aesthetics
How It Works: A very fine probe is inserted into each hair follicle, where a small amount of electricity is released, damaging the hair follicle and preventing re-growth. Since hair grows in various stages, more than one session is usually required. Electrolysis is the only method of permanent hair removal approved by the FDA.
Best Used for: Most body parts, including face, legs, and bikini area
Pros: - Can be used on every skin type and hair color; however skin type and hair color are the key factors that influence the success of the procedure
- Great for permanently shaping eyebrows
- Recognized by the FDA
- Proven method that has been used for decades
Cons: - Painful
- Often requires multiple sessions to damage hair in all stages of growth
- If done incorrectly, can cause permanent skin damage or spread infection
- If probe not inserted properly, can cause scarring
- For larger areas of hair, it requires a significant time commitment
Pain Factor: Depending on your threshold, the pain can range from feeling like a needle pricking your skin to an intense bee sting. And, since the probe has to be inserted into each follicle, the feeling is continuous. One woman summed it up by saying: “Ouch, ouch, ouch," but Bette DeVito, owner of Bodicures in Mamaroneck, assures that the technique doesn’t hurt any more than any other type of hair removal. Ice or a topical anesthetic can be used to numb the skin prior to treatment to help lessen the pain.
Cost and Upkeep: Anywhere from $30 for 15 minutes to $95 for one hour; usually requires multiple visits because hair has various stages of growth
Where It’s Done:
Hair No More Electrolysis & Laser Center
Diane’s Electrolysis Suite
PHR Center for Electrolysis, Inc