[By Christie Wang]
There’s been this debate about whether women should have their (unwanted) hair removed. First it was down south, but the discussion has switched northwards to the under arms. Many say that the hair in those pits should be allowed to grow long and wild; and if we remember earlier this year, some were even colouring them! I am certainly one who champions women’s rights and gender equality, and I believe no one should be discriminated for their choices. But admittedly for me, on myself, I simply prefer the ‘Bare Look’. I spoke to Dr. Low Chai Ling, medical aesthetics practitioner of The Sloane Clinic one afternoon about her opinion regarding the best ways for hair removal.
RSB: I know it’s a delicate topic, but what is the best way of grooming hair in the more sensitive areas such as the Brazilian and underarms?
Dr. Low Chai Ling: It depends on what ‘best’ means. There are advantages and disadvantages to every method, but one should definitely choose the most appropriate one to meet their needs. Some methods like shaving, waxing and even hair-removal creams are quick and easy, as well as inexpensive techniques. However they do come with their share of disadvantages. While shaving and hair-removal creams are painless compared to waxing, all three methods may cause skin irritation, burns, and rashes, especially if done repeatedly. And while the no-fluff effect lasts longer with waxing than the other two techniques, the process is definitely not for those with a more conservative pain threshold, especially in the more sensitive areas like the Brazilian. The risk of skin damage and swelling is also higher with waxing, and those who have sensitive skin are not recommended to use this method.
RSB: So what is the most effective way then?
Dr. Low Chai Ling: The most effective way is hands down Laser Hair Removal. The major benefit between laser hair removal and the other methods mentioned is that it can remove the hair with long lasting results. With multiple sessions, the effect may even be permanent! Besides that, it doesn’t cause any bleeding or tearing of the skin as a shave or a wax may do. In fact because we have the latest lasers available, we are able to customise the best hair removal treatment to suit different skin and hair types.
RSB: How does Laser Hair Removal work?
Dr. Low Chai Ling: Lasers for hair removal precisely targets the pigments in the hair follicle so that only the hair is burned and doesn’t affect the surrounding skin. The light energy from the laser is converted to heat, and this heat is absorbed by the pigments which damages the hair follicle and retard further growth. It is most effective on hairs which are in the actively growing phase.
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RSB: So will I have ALL of my hair gone?
Dr. Low Chai Ling: Laser hair removal will permanently reduce body hair even after one session. However, there is no scientific evidence that all the hair will be permanently removed. Hair grows in 3 stages, Anagen, Telogen and Catagen. Because the hair being removed needs to be caught during the Anagen stage (actively growing phase) for the treatments to be most effective, it is important to receive laser hair removal treatment in a series of consecutive sessions, spaced between 4-8 weeks apart.
RSB: How many sessions will I require?
Dr. Low Chai Ling: The number of treatments needed depends largely on the hair density, thickness, colour of hair and area you wish to treat. Most patients have permanent hair loss after an average of 4-6 sessions. But as mentioned, after each session, you will notice what we call the 4 ‘F’s; Fewer, Finer, Fairer and Farther intervals. Even with one session, hair will be less, finer in thickness, lighter in colour and regrowth is slower.
RSB: How long is the typical treatment?
Dr. Low Chai Ling: We at The Sloane Clinic understand that time is of essence, and depending on the area being treated, laser hair removal can take anywhere from one minute to 30 minutes for larger areas. For example, a typical treatment for laser hair removal over the underarm may take just 5 minutes, and about 15 minutes for a Brazilian. Plus, there’s usually no down-time involved and you’re able to jump right back to your normal activities.
RSB: Wow! That’s great, but is it painful?
Dr. Low Chai Ling: Your comfort and safety are our utmost importance. With prior application of a numbing agent, the treatment is virtually painless!
RSB: That’s very comforting to hear. Are there any precautions I need to be aware of?
Dr. Low Chai Ling: Basically, avoid shaving, plucking or waxing a few days before you plan to have a laser hair removal done. And absolutely no sun-tanning before or after the treatment, and diligent application of sunscreen to the treated areas. After a week, you may notice that some successfully treated hair “growing” out. This happens as the hair is being pushed out by your skin; you may shave these stubbles off.
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RSB: Thank you, Dr. Low! This has been very educational. One last question, am I unique to prefer hair off?
Dr. Low Chai Ling: Not at all. Everyone has their reasons for keeping their hair on or off. But if you want to have them removed, it’s the method in which you choose to have them removed which requires some consideration. Especially over the genital areas where delicate skin can be damaged easily, hair removal over those areas must be approached with more care. So even if you ask my personal opinion regarding the method, I would certainly choose laser hair removal. Simply because it’s fast and less messy, has less repeated trauma hence less risk of irritation of the skin and scar formation, and it even effectively removes existing ingrown hairs and previous shaving bumps. Keeping those hair isn’t for everyone; so long as you’re careful with the removal process!
RSB: Phew! That’s good to know and thank you for sharing your expertise with us!