Long, short, curly, straight, light, dark, shiny, dull, and on and on…
Hair comes in all shapes, colors, textures, lengths, and styles. It also comes with it’s own challenges! No matter who you are, I feel pretty confident saying that you probably have hair somewhere on your body that you spend a fair amount of time trying to tame.
Whether it’s trimming, tweezing, or waxing, sometimes it can be a hassle to maintain. Some people go to even greater lengths to not have to deal with it, though these processes are not necessarily for everybody. Electrolysis and laser hair removal can be very costly, and not everyone qualifies. These procedures are also normally considered “elective,” and are probably not covered by your insurance, making them a pretty penny out of pocket. I’ll elaborate a little more on how these procedures work shortly.
Luckily, there are several other options to help maintain body hair. Here are the most common:
Shaving is fairly inexpensive, easy to do at home, and effective for large and small areas. However, the results are short-lived, and you may need to shave again the next day. Bummer! The reason for this is because the razor is just slicing the hair right off at skin level, meaning it only has to grow very little before becoming noticeable again.
Tweezing, while also effective, really only works well for very small areas with defined individual hairs, like the eyebrows, or those stray billy goat hairs that show up under our chins every now and then (you know you get them too!). They are not very effective on larger patches of what I loving refer to as peach fuzz, which are short and too fine to really grab ahold of with tweezers.
Of the three, I would consider waxing to be ultimately the most effective. And I don’t just say that out of bias! It is great for grabbing many hairs at once, whether in a small area or a large one. Wax also comes in a few different forms so that you can pick what works best for you, even if you have super sensitive skin. Plus, it pulls out the hair by the root (so the desired smoothness lasts longer), but doesn’t damage any of the structure (so it will still come back!). Best of both worlds!
Now before I get into the details of how laser hair removal and electrolysis work, it might be helpful to know a little about the physical structure of hair and how it grows.
All the hair on your body is structurally the same, and is made up of the hair follicle (which is below the skin), and the hair shaft (what you can see above the skin). The follicle contains cells and connective tissue, while the hair shaft is made up of 3 layers of keratin:
Innermost layer - Medulla
Middle layer - Cortex
Outermost layer - Cuticle
Of course keep in mind that this as a very simplified description of the general anatomy of the hair. There are many fascinating parts, as well as other body systems that work hand-in-hand with the hair. Some of these include tiny muscles (arrector pili) that make the hair stand up when you get goosebumps, sebaceous glands that keep the hair moisturized and lubricated, and nerve endings that transmit sensory information. Blood vessels help to nourish the bulb and deliver hormones that modify the growth rate and structure of the hair.
Fun fact #1: Hair actually works as one of the body’s natural barrier systems to help protect against foreign particles. Even down to the tiny hairs in your nose and ears!
If you’re like me, sometimes a visual representation helps, so here is an illustration.
All of these structures work together to help support the growth cycles of the hair. This is kind of a big deal since your hair is always in various stages of growth and shed at any given time.
Fun Fact #2: The human body sheds approximately 50-100 scalp hairs per day!
Here are the 3 Stages of growth:
Anagen (Active or Growth phase)
Hairs can spend several years in this phase, and normally produce about 1 centimeter of growth every 28 days
Eyelashes, brows, leg and arm hairs have short Anagen phases (which is why they don’t grow long like the hair on your head!)
Some people have trouble growing their hair long because they may naturally have a short growth phase
Catagen (Transitional phase)
This stage normally lasts for 2-3 weeks
Growth slows and the outer root sheath shrinks and attaches to the root of the hair, forming a “club hair”
Telogen (Resting phase)
This stage normally lasts about 3 months
The hair follicle is at rest and the “club” is completely formed
So now that you know the structure of hair, and a little about it’s growth cycle, it will be easier to understand how those expensive procedures like Electrolysis and Laser Hair removal work.
With Electrolysis, a very fine needle is inserted into the follicle and an electrical current is applied, destroying that follicle and preventing new growth.
Laser Hair Removal uses a high energy laser aimed at the cells in the follicle. So once the procedure is done, the follicle is damaged and the hair cannot regrow after it sheds.
To each his own I guess, and if you’ve got the disposable income and the desire (and courage!) to try either of these methods, then more power to you!
As for me, I think I’ll just stick with the lovely ladies down at Sugar Mama’s for all my waxing needs!
If you need a little help taming your hair too, give us a call or book online anytime!
Johnson City 423-928-6262