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Removing Unwanted Hair - One Woman's Journey
Hello. My name is Brooke. I’m a single woman in my thirties (or more precisely, 29 again and again and again and…)
Over the last 12 months I’ve tried more hair removal products than I care to remember. Not purposely, mind you – I didn’t set out to evaluate a series of products or write a comparison narrative – I just wanted to find the right product for me. And please don’t think I’m covered in hair. I have simple needs – legs, underarms, touch-ups in certain other areas… As it turns out, my simple goal turned out to be not so simple – and lest my trials go to waste I thought I’d share them with you, gentle reader.
I can only hope that you will learn through my experience.
Probably like many of you, I started off in my hair-removal life by shaving. I shaved all parts that I wanted free of hair. This worked well for years – or so I thought. Somewhere in my post-29 age, I started growing weary of the constant shaving. I needed to shave every day if I wanted to keep it smooth; every other day and I could feel the stubble. My tolerance for the inevitable nicks and cuts had been reached. Sure it was quick, but I finally started wondering if there might be something better.
First, a quick note about waxing. When I was in college, my girlfriends introduced me to this method. Or should I say, this torment? You have to understand, I do not have an exceedingly high threshold of pain, especially when it comes to my own body. Others I can inflict pain on; such as old boyfriends who decide to dally with the short blonde from the corner café, or who have an addiction to watching adult videos over the internet. But when it comes to me, my body is a temple and should be treated as such. Waxing, though effective in removing hair, rips it out like a band-aid on steroids. Plus, it’s messy and smells bad. I soon decided that was not an activity I would subject myself to on a regular basis.
Hair Removal Cream
After I decided that there must be a better option than shaving, the first thing I did was trot right out to my local store to see what products were available. What did I discover, but a cream that touted to remove hair simply by wiping it on, and wiping it off. “Ah-ha”, I thought. Now this is what I was looking for!
I bought the cream and brought it home (I won’t tell you which one, but it’s widely available, begins with an N, and rhymes with “hair”). Following the directions, I wiped it on, let it stand for a few minutes, and wiped it off. Lo and behold, with a little prodding, the hair came off my legs.
The story would end here, except for two things – the smell and the dryness. First, this product smelled bad. I thought I could get past that; after all, it removed the hair, didn’t it? But try as I might, the smell was just too great of a cost for the benefit I received. Plus, it left my legs feeling dry and chaffed. I decided there must be a better solution.
You might recognize this better if I called it “electronic hair pullers”. When I was at the store earlier, I had noticed some of these. When I went back to the store, I decided to try one. They all promised that I could go weeks between uses. I have to admit, the devices themselves looked a little intimidating. Staring at the trimmers made the hair on my legs stand on end. But I was determined to press on, so I purchased one and took it home.
Before I go on, you need to understand that I do consider myself an intelligent person. I have a successful career, get along well with my parents, and can point to several relationships in which my partner was totally at fault for screwing things up. Nevertheless, the only research I did so far in my quest for the perfect hair remover was looking at products on the store shelves.
I didn’t use my epilator when I first brought it home. Instead, I took it out of the package and set it on my bathroom counter. I thought, “I’ll let it get the feel of the place”, like a newborn puppy exploring its new home. “Then perhaps it won’t hurt as much as it looks like it will”.
My kindness was not repaid. By the time I used my new epilator, I had some three-to-four days growth on my legs. The stubble was palpable. And what I learned about my epilator was that it hurt. I’m proud to say that I used it on both legs. But in the interest of being honest, by the time I was done I was in tears. I couldn’t bring myself to repeat the exercise. That epilator sat in a box in my closet until I donated it to charity at the end of the year as a tax write-off.
I now know there are far better epilators available than the one I purchased on that day. However, much as I like the thought of a quick electronic device to remove that hair, I have not been able to bring myself to try another one. Maybe someday, but not today.
Electrolysis… and a friend
Discouraged, but not undaunted, I decided to do some research before my next foray into the world of hair removal. I had heard about electrolysis before, but something about it started to intrigue me more and more. Perhaps it was the claim of “permanent hair removal”; perhaps it was its documented history of success. I decided to give it a try.
After researching online, I determined that home electrolysis products – including RF, ultrasound, etc – are dubious at best. They may be effective, but you need to be careful and know what you’re doing. Better leave it to the professionals, I thought.
While I was doing my research, I shared the story of my quest with a friend. She admitted that she had been looking into laser hair removal. We both agreed to make our appointments with the professionals me, electrolysis, and she, laser), and compare the results.
I made the appointment for my electrolysis treatment session. Now, you have to understand that electrolysis it not cheap. Fortunately I was in a position where I could try it – but I’m well aware that not everyone could afford the thousands of dollars that professional electrolysis can cost you each year.
So what did I learn about electrolysis? First, it’s sloooooow. I mean painstakingly slow. A trained specialist inserts a needle into each individual hair follicle while applying an electrical current to it. The current travels through the needle and kills the hair at its root. Then they pull the hair out with tweezers.
Second, it’s painful. More than I thought it would be. The bad news about my epilator was that it hurt; the good news was it was over rather quickly. Electrolysis hurts too; the bad news is that it goes on for hours. And that’s just for one session. You need to schedule multiple appointments and come back for more sessions for different parts of your body. The solution is permanent – but only after repeated visits. So if you’re serious about electrolysis , you need to be prepared to spend the next 2-3 years minimum undergoing these long, painful, and expensive treatments. I had higher expectations than that. I haven’t been back for my second appointment.
At around the same time, my friend scheduled her appointment for laser treatment. There are a variety of laser hair removal treatments – IPL, Ruby Red, IML, to name a few. They all share a similar approach; a laser beam is applied to the skin which kills the hair.
She had previously undergone electrolysis treatments, so she had a good deal of apprehension related to how much pain would be involved. She was much relieved to find the process relatively pain-free. There is a mild “thumping” on your flesh while the laser is being applied – kind of like a rubber band being snapped on your skin. And, the process was far quicker than electrolysis – it only took a few minutes versus hours with the electrified needle.
Drawbacks? Cost for one. The laser treatments she signed up for cost hundreds of dollars each – well over a thousand in all. Through my research I also discovered that the government recently issued a ruling that laser hair removal is not permanent – so the treatments (and cost) need to be continued indefinitely. For my friend, the benefit of quick and relatively pain-free removal was worth the cost. In fact, she continues her laser treatments to this day, and is quite satisfied. For myself, I decided to continue looking for a solution that would give me similar results but cost far less.
Back to the drawing board
By this time I was feeling very educated about hair removal. But where did that leave me? It seemed I had run out of options. Like any good researcher, I went back over my notes to see if I had missed something. In fact, I closely examined my first option – the hair removal cream. I reflected upon what I liked about it – simple to apply, simple to wipe off. And what I didn’t like about it – primarily the odor. So then I decided to do some research - on the internet, not just on the store shelves. Something I had failed to do the first time around.
After doing some research I purchased a different hair removal cream. And what did I discover? My new cream worked better than my original purchase, plus it supplied my skin with moisturizing nutrients and vitamins. Even better, there was no ugly odor that I had to endure! Soon after I first applied this cream, I discovered that I could go for weeks between applications with no worries of stubble. And the hair that does grow back is finer (not as coarse or rough). I finally found a product that meets my (perfectly reasonable but obviously demanding) needs!
So what product did I settle on? This isn't a sales article, so as much as I’d like to, I won't reveal which product I settled on. It's been months now, and I'm very happy with it. I find it difficult to recommend a product to you, because your pain tolerance or needs may be different than mine. My advice to you is… do just a little research online before your next hair removal product purchase. A great source for independent reviews and product rankings is TopConsumerReviews.com at http://www.topconsumerreviews.com/hairremoval. Their analysis is well thought-out and you can access all their information for free. Take a look at their reviews and see if you can find a product that fits your needs.
I hope you can benefit from my experience without having to spend the next few months (not to mention ,000+) trying all sorts of products to remove your unwanted hair. Good luck and stay beautiful!
About the Author: Brooke DeAngelo is a freelance writer based in New York. An experienced traveler, she enjoys meeting new people and has a passion for the consumer. She has been published in a variety of magazines and periodicals. Her current hobbies include her dog Maggie, and her goldfish Wanda.