Tired of constantly having to shave and wax your legs? Well, permanent hair removal seems to be a claim that almost every hair removal gadget has on the market. Can any of these devices actually remove hair forever?
According to the FDA, which regulates hair removal technology, “permanent” doesn’t mean forever; it means “greater than the duration of the complete growth cycle of hair follicles,” which can vary from between four and twelve months. To cause permanent hair loss, devices must epilate, or remove hair by the root. However, not all types of epilation provide long-term hair removal. In fact, many don’t.
Waxing, sugaring, plucking, threading, electrolysis, thermolysis, intense pulsed light (IPL) and laser treatment are all different types of epilation. Both IPL and laser treatments can effectively remove hair and delay and decrease re-growth for months (known as permanent reduction), but they can’t achieve permanent hair removal.
Why? Laser and light treatments depend on the size and color of your hair. When a laser/light is directed at the hair, it’s absorbed by chromophores in the hair, such as melanin. This produces heat which may destroy many, but not necessarily all cells used to regenerate hair. If you have fair skin and dark/thick hair, then you’re the ideal candidate. Just keep in mind: If you’re going to get light-based treatment, permanent reduction is as good as it gets.
If you have lots of patience, other methods to consider which actually provide permanent hair removal are electrolysis and thermolysis. Both can permanently remove hair and can work well regardless of your skin or hair type. How do they work?
First, a needle is inserted into your follicle, which means that treatment can be painful, and is only one hair at a time. During electrolysis, direct electric current travel down the needle and causes sodium hydroxide to form at the needle tip, destroying the follicle and cells in the Dermal Papilla and Bulge, which could otherwise generate new hair.
Similarly, in thermolysis, an alternating current moves through the needle and into your follicle, heating the surrounding regions and thermally destroying them in just a few seconds. In professional settings, these two methods are often combined and if done correctly, can completely destroy the follicle — indefinitely eliminating each hair’s ability to grow, possibly forever.
But here’s the kicker. Most people experience significant re-growth anywhere from 15-50%. This is usually attributed to the proficiency of the electrologist and quality of his equipment. If you’re a do-it-yourself type like me, and just itching to try one of these methods at home, you can easily find home-use devices for electrolysis, IPL and even laser treatment.
However, not all devices are created equal. For example, don’t fall for needle-free electrolysis tweezers, they’re no better than regular tweezers. Here are a few brand names to look for: EvoDerma, Philips, Remington, Rio, Silk’n, VISS and Vector and Tria, which offers the first laser approved for home-use in the U.S. [Make sure to check out BeautyStat‘s review for the Silk’n Flash & Go here!]
It’s worth mentioning, no matter what the treatment is, with enough time, hormones and dormant follicles, our bodies can regenerate hair almost anywhere.
– R. London Griffin, research chemist
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