Wed | Mar 20, 2019

To shave or not to shave

Published:Wednesday | October 26, 2016 | 12:00 AM
The choice to remove hair is a personal one, as is the method one finds most suitable.

In our last article, we mentioned the huge demand for removing unwanted hair, and we looked at the pros and cons of permanent removal. These include electrolysis, surgical hair removal, and laser hair removal.

Today, we will focus on temporary methods of hair removal, which include shaving, clipping, plucking/tweezing, threading, waxing and chemical hair removal creams. Most of these methods can cause 'razor bumps' (pseudofolliculitis), especially in individuals of African descent.

Shaving is a popular method of hair removal because it is fast, easy and relatively cheap. Electrical clippers are very popular, especially with men, who find them to cause less razor bumps in general than razors. However, clippers can still cause razor bumps and irritation in some persons.

Clipping hairs with a small pair of facial scissors is an option for persons with few unwanted hairs. However, it needs to be repeated frequently, as with shaving.

Chemical depilatories (hair removal creams) are another option for hair removal. They are available in powder, lotion, cream or paste forms. However, their major drawback is that many individuals find them too irritating to the skin, some persons may be allergic to them, and they may not remove all the hairs. Some individuals don't like the smell of some of these products, and others find them expensive to keep up with.

Plucking with tweezers, threading and waxing are often painful and may cause redness, irritation, bumps, scarring, infection and dark spots.

Threading involves pulling a twisted loop of thread across the skin that catches the hairs and either pulls them out or breaks them off. It's a fast method and, over time, it can damage the hair follicle causing hair not to grow back in some areas. It is very therapist-dependant and it may be difficult for some persons to find a skilled therapist.

Waxing entails applying hot molten wax, with or without mineral oils and perfumes, to hairs. Then a strip of material is placed on the area to strip off the cooled wax with embedded hairs. Some persons opt to wax every few weeks, and others find this method unsuitable for them.

The choice to remove hair is a personal one, as is the method one finds most suitable. This may vary depending on the body area being treated and other factors already mentioned. As with many things in life, it's to each his or her own.

Overall, laser has been found to be the best method of hair removal, especially for persons prone to razor bumps.

• Dr Arusha Campbell-Chambers is a dermatologist and founder of Dermatology Solutions Skin Clinics & Medi-Spas. Email: