MUST KNOW: Non-Laser Hair Removal

I am not sure at which point in the history of women’s vanity did girls start caring about their underarm hair (and hair elsewhere). But when I hit adolescence, I automatically had the notion, as I have observed my mom over the years, that I had to keep my underarms hair-free. Well, it is the norm until now, although I am aware that there has been a number of movements for girls to embrace their armpit hair. There are so many revolutions at this time that it gets hard to keep myself updated. Now, look at what I just found…

collage armpit hair
Not only do women let their underarm hair grow… they also dye them! All photos from Refinery29.

I’d say I am still under the influence of the old-age norm (at least, here in the Philippines) and I try to keep my armpits hair-free for the sake of sleeveless tops and dresses. Most of the time, I do plucking, but shaving is definitely the way to go when I am in a rush. Meanwhile, I can’t remember the last time I had my underarms waxed, it’s just too pricey in my opinion.

But, which technique of temporary hair removal does the most damage to the skin? Is it true that we get “chicken skin” when we pluck? Does the skin get darker when we shave? These are some of the questions I have always had in mind so finally, after X years, I finally decided to search for answers. Here they are, mis amigas (and amigos)!

1.   SHAVING

  • Advantage: This technique is easy, fast, painless, and cheap! I can’t make myself pay 500 pesos or more for services (like waxing) to remove my body hair. It’s just too much.
  • Disadvantage: The effect lasts only for about 1-3 days so you’ll have to do this more often. The *possible* adverse effects include the following: skin irritation, cuts in the skin (only if you’re not careful), ingrown hair pseudofolliculitis (growing hair gets stuck inside or underneath the skin thus causing inflammation that may even look like a pimple at times), and stubble (that short rough growth, like in case of a beard). Note that shaving does not result to increased hair growth.

Will I shave my armpit hair again? Definitely, when I have to go out and expose my kili-kili immediately. I also shave my eyebrow (for shaping, not as a whole HAHA) when I don’t want to spend for threading or when plucking can’t do the trick anymore. From what I’ve read, hyperpigmentation (darkening) is not included as a side effect of shaving but make sure to use the razor on a wet skin (using shaving cream or other lubricants), with the razor oriented against the direction of hair growth. If you’re going to shave sensitive areas like the vulva (that area surrounding your vagina), you can orient the razor on the direction of hair growth so as to reduce incidence of cuts. Damage to the skin using the razor may cause hyperpigmentation so make sure you’re doing it right and light, hehe!

2.  PLUCKING aka my favorite

  • Advantage: This is the perfect maintenance technique for my brows! The result lasts longer than shaving and the new growth won’t be coarse or thicker than the usual. Another thing I love about this is that it is free!
  • Disadvantage: This takes a lot of time and effort compared to the others since hair has to be taken out one by one. I also get stiff neck afterwards when I pluck my armpit hair (#tiisganda). Some of the *possible* adverse effects are almost the same as when you shave — hyperpigmentation, scarring, and ingrown hair pseudofolliculitis. Note that with plucking, there’s no stubble, unless you failed to extract the hair from the root. Make sure to buy tweezers that really hold the hair to prevent this.

The article I read has not mentioned the “chicken skin” phenomenon but I think it’s the presence of ingrown hair that makes the skin less smooth afterwards. I pluck more than I have my underarms waxed but I don’t have a chicken skin naman on my underarms. Tip: Do not wet the skin immediately after plucking. Wait for at least 4 hours before taking a bath, just like what they advise you in the salon.

3.  WAXING and SUGARING

I included sugaring in this section since it’s very similar to waxing. The sugar mixture is composed of sugar, lemon juice and water, heated to form a syrup, which will then be formed into a ball-like, clay-like substance that is flattened on the skin and stripped away quickly to remove the hair.

  • Advantage: Both techniques are fast, and hair can take 2-3 weeks to regrow. Stubbles are prevented since the hair are taken from the root. Basically, this is like plucking done simultaneously using a hot or cold wax.
  • Disadvantage: The possible adverse effects are the same as with plucking. Another disadvantage of waxing or sugaring is it being expensive.
I tried buying the cold wax strips before but nobody really does it better than a professional! Hot wax kits are also available at the department store but I haven't tried experimenting on them yet. Have you? How was it?
I tried buying the cold wax strips before but nobody really does it better than a professional! Hot wax kits are also available at the department store but I haven’t tried experimenting on them yet. Have you? How was it?

I haven’t tried removing hair from my legs since I don’t really mind them (they’re a bit fine and light). I was also scared before that the regrowth might be thicker than the usual but now that I’ve learned that this is not really the case, I might try having my legs waxed in the future.

4.  THREADING

The effect is the same as plucking and waxing but I think this is the most painful. I’ve never tried this on areas other than my brows. The possible adverse effects are the same as those with plucking and waxing, and I think this is best technique for shaping your most treasured eyebrows.

It’s been months since my last threading appointment and I have been lazy with maintaining my brows by plucking so I decided to have them tidied a few days ago. I usually go to LayBare (where I also get my underarms waxed sometimes) or Get Polished (since this is near where I live right now). But a few days ago, I went to Brow Lounge (Robinsons Magnolia) as suggested by some of my friends. I’d say all these salons were efficient, it’s just that Brow Lounge has the best interior design compared to the other two. LOL

image
Inside Brow Lounge at Robinsons Magnolia

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Before. Notice my thick brow (which I love) and the scattered hair.

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After. Noticed the difference? Don’t mind the skin color here. This is still my left eyebrow, just with a different lighting. Hehe

In general, waxing, sugaring, plucking, and threading are techniques of EPILATION. This means that the hair shaft is removed from the root. These techniques may result to finer or thinner regrowth, or even reduction of hair regrowth over time since these cause damage to the hair follicles.

5.  DEPILATION

This may sound highfalutin, but lo and behold, this is just synonymous to the use of hair removal cream, lotion, or gel. Does “Veet” cream ring a bell? Depilatories (naks) are recommended for areas such as the legs, bikini line, face (not on eyebrows, be careful if you have sensitive skin), and underarms.

  • Advantage: Non-painful and easy to use
  • Disadvantage: Possible adverse effects are skin irritation, burns, ingrown hairs, folliculitis, and allergic contact dermatitis (or just allergy, to put it simply). Hair would also regrow faster since they weren’t removed from the roots.

I remember using Veet cream for my underarms when I was in college (not a long time ago LOL). It was fine but I think the result was just the same with shaving so nowadays, I usually pluck or shave. What techniques do you personally use for your eyebrows, underarms, and legs?

I hope this post answered some of your questions. I’ll write about hair removal using laser soon!

Your hair-conscious friend,

Rach ♥

Reference: Barba A, Baumann LS, Welsh EC. “Nonlaser Hair Removal Techniques.” Medscape Reference. Retrieved August 10, 2015. 2008. November 11. Available from: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1067139-overview.

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