Hair Removal :: Hair removal methods and Hair removal products

Many products on the market have proven fraudulent. Many other products exaggerate the results or ease of use.


Permanent hair removal involves several imperfect options. A number of methods have been developed that use chemicals, energy of varying types, or a combination to target the areas that regulate hair growth. Permanently destroying these areas while sparing surrounding tissue is a difficult challenge.

a. Permanent hair removal for most
– Electrolysis

b. Permanent hair reduction for some
– Laser
– Flashlamp (also called Intense Pulsed Light or IPL)

c. Lasting hair inhibition for many (requires continuous use)
– Prescription oral medications
– A new method of epilation is to use enzymes that inhibit the development of new hair cells. Hair growth will become less and less until it finally stops, normal depilation/epilation will be performed during that time. Products include the presciption drug Vaniqa (active ingredient eflornithine hydrochloride inhibiting the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase) – effective for 46% of women.


Depilation lasting several hours to several days can be achieved by:

Shaving or trimming (manually or with electric shavers)
Depilatories (creams or “shaving powders” which chemically dissolve hair)
Friction (rough surfaces used to buff away hair)

Epilation lasting several days to several weeks can be achieved by:

Waxing (a hot or cold layer is applied and then removed with porous strips)
Plucking (hairs are plucked, or pulled out, with tweezers)
Sugaring (similar to waxing, but with a sticky paste)
Threading (also called fatlah or khite, in which a twisted thread catches hairs as it’s rolled across the skin)
Rotary epilators (devices which rapidly grasp hairs and pull them out by the root)

Some methods are still in the experimental stage or have been banned for most uses due to adverse effects.

X-ray (banned in the United States)
Photodynamic therapy (experimental)

Doubtful methods

Many methods have been proposed or sold over the years without published clinical proof they can work as claimed.

Electric tweezers
“Transdermal electrolysis”
“Transcutaneous hair removal”
Foods and Dietary supplements
Nonprescription topical preparations (also called “hair inhibitors,” “hair retardants,” or “hair growth inhibitors”)

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