We have on average about 4,9 million hair on our entire body. Some you see and some you don’t, yet with their purpose and size, they can make or break your emotions on a daily level.
If you are like me, you probably through your ages have hit very high’s and extreme lows with the hair on your body. I’ve been through puberty, with hair it was an emotional disaster because I had an uncomfortable form of hirsutism, understanding now that it wasn’t the most extreme form, but felt my life was over because I was “different” from my friends. Then I went through 2 pregnancies, both bringing 2 very different forms of hair growth changes – my son had me develop hair on the sides of my face (forcing me not let hurtful comments in and keeping them untreated, knowing they will disappear after the pregnancy) and then had a daughter who made some facial hair lighter and both times I had a head of shiny, amazing, super voluminous hair. Proving through my phases that hormones have a huge influence on hair, so I’m curious to see what my (hopefully still in the far future) menopause will bring. Regardless, I know I’m armed with the “know how to sort it out” knowledge.
To understand hair better and to help any mom help her teen (a luxury my mom didn’t have), let’s look at hair as a topic before we get to solutions.
Hair is made of keratin, a strong, hard protein that is also present in fingernails and toenails. Hair grows from under the skin, starting its growth in the hair follicle, repeating a 3-phase growth loop. Hair needs iron, biotin and folate to grow (amongst other vitamins and minerals) and takes about 2 – 3 weeks for hair to regrow.
There are 2 types of hair on our body:
Vellus – baby hair as you may call it. They are light in colour, short and soft. Woman find these mostly on their face, chest and back. Their function is to offer a steady body temperature (when you’re cold they stand up to form insulation). In darker skin they might be more visible.
Terminal – these are dark, coarse and longer. The same type that grows on your head. They are the ones mostly influenced by hormones. During puberty they will start to grow under your arms, pubic area, legs and (generally for boys) the face. The function of terminal hair is to offer protection and cushioning for the more sensitive parts .
When there is a hormonal dysfunction or change, in even the slightest way, you can develop hirsutism which is an overgrowth of hair in a normal hair growth pattern on the body. In girls it can be due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or other conditions that causes an imbalance in the sex hormones especially androgens.
Our body just do what our body does, following instructions from our brain and never consider our emotions. Luckily, we have developed methods of removal over the ages, some more permanent than others. Let’s explore the different ways, grouped as temporary, semi-permanent and permanent options, none are 100% but they do serve their purpose.
Shaving – Easy, effective, quick and an anywhere DIY method. You use a razor, shaving cream or conditioner works brilliantly to cut the hair off from above the skin. The effect generally lasts about a day or so, depending on your hair growth.
Never dry shave, it can cause skin irritation and ingrown hairs.
For very coarse hair, shave with the hair growth, not against it to prevent irritation and ingrown hair.
Men’s razors are just the same as women’s but we get charged more.
Depilatory creams –
Easy and effective method for more sensitive areas like bikini, underarm and face.
Chemical cream, dissolving the hair from the skin surface.
Hair grows back within 1-2 days, depending on hair growth. Not suitable for very sensitive, sunburned and broken skin.
Waxing, sugaring – A sticky formula is used to stick to the hair and pulled very quickly to remove the hair from the root out. Sugaring is a traditional method and both methods can be done DIY (strips or microwaveable pots) or by a professional in a salon. Regrowth happens after 2 – 4 weeks, depending on hair growth. Hair needs to grow out for about 2 – 3 days for effective waxing/sugaring.
Plucking, threading -
Same as waxing, the hair is removed from the follicle by a tweezer (plucking) or thread. This is more time consuming and best for small areas like face (eyebrow, lips, sides, chin) or to remove an odd hair here and there during waxing/sugaring.
Laser hair removal –
This method is a long-term option done by a trained professional where a laser light is used to hinder the growth of the hair, making it much softer and lighter and in some cases stop the hair growth all together. Laser works best on light skin with dark hair as the laser light seeks out colour.
You generally might need around 6 – 8 session on an area to achieve desired outcome Home laser machines have been developed, safe and easy to use, but it will take many treatments to get the same result.
(all again depending on how well your hair reacts to the laser light).
This is the most permanent method, probably most expensive and most time consuming. A single treatment can take a longer as each hair is treated individually. The life of the hair is completely destroyed by an electric current with no chance of growing back. This treatment is suitable for anyone, regardless of hair or skin colour. Smaller areas like face is much faster to show results.
Depending on your pain threshold and your time available, your method of removal will differ. Regardless, choose something that fits your personality and desired outcome and enjoy.
Oh, and a little Fun fact to end with:
Natural blonds have the most hair on their head – on average about 150 000, brunettes/dark hair 100 000 and redheads somewhere in the middle with around 90 000 hairs.
I’m not sure how true this is, ask around?