Hair removal is a major concern for many people. Some of the most popular forms of temporary hair removal include shaving, waxing, tweezing and using depilatory creams. Two forms of hair removal are considered permanent: laser and electrolysis. Laser hair removal and electrolysis are considered permanent removal methods because one can expect extended periods of nongrowth between sessions, whereas temporary methods require regular maintenance.
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Waxing removes unwanted hair by entangling it in a sticky substance, wax, and ripping it free from the skin, root bulb and all. New growth generally appears after two weeks. Laser removal directs intense heat into the hair follicles, rendering them unlikely to produce new hair. Although laser removal is considered permanent, regrowth usually occurs.
Waxing leaves skin smooth for up to two weeks. Hair grows back much finer and softer after a waxing. Laser hair removal leaves skin smooth for extended periods of time. The amount of time between growth periods varies from client to client. But most clients can get by with a retouch every six months to a year. Regrowth after laser treatment is fine, thin and lighter in color.
Waxing is much more accessible than laser services. The majority of salons offer waxing services, making it possible to obtain waxing services in any town. Home waxing kits, purchased at any drugstore or beauty supply, allow people to wax in the privacy of their homes. Laser hair-removal must be done in a licensed facility by trained professionals. Such facilities are usually in larger cities, which decreases convenience and increases travel time.
Waxing costs less per session, but costs more than laser hair removal over the long run. The average cost for laser hair removal is $429 per session, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Although laser takes several sessions and retouches for successful results, the total investment pales in comparison to the cost of long-term waxing. Over the course of a lifetime, women spend nearly $23,000 on waxing services. The Free Library estimates that women who zap spend $20,000 less over a lifetime than those who wax.
Problems associated with waxing include burns, skin tears, bruising, ingrown hairs, secondary skin infection and pain at the treatment site. Problems associated with laser removal include skin irritation, crusting, scabbing, changes in pigmentation of the skin, blistering, scarring and changes in skin texture, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- MayoClinic.com: Laser Hair Removal
- DocShop.com: Cost of Laser Hair Removal
- The Free Library: Women Squander Time, Thousands of Dollars Removing Unwanted Hair
- "Milady's Standard Textbook of Cosmetology"; Milady, Diane Carol Bailey and Margrit Attenburg; 2008