HELLO!'s beauty editor Nadine Baggott looks into the pros and cons of different hair removal techniques...
You can’t fail to have noticed that body hair is back in fashion. Miley Cyrus, Madonna and Girls star Jemima Kirke have all taken to the red carpet and Instagram with armpit hair, reclaiming their right not to shave, wax or laser and saying, in the Material Girl’s case: "Long hair, don’t care." The body hair debate hit the headlines last year when Cameron Diaz tackled the topic in her The Body Book guide to a healthier lifestyle and put the case for a more natural approach to your bikini line.
"I didn’t say what I prefer, I just said pubic hair has a purpose," she said later, clarifying her stance. "You can do what you want with it, I don’t care. You can shave it off every day, wax it off every day, turn it into a bonsai – I don’t care. I just said consider maybe not removing it permanently and forever with laser treatment. Forever is forever and when we make those choices for our body, we have to live with them forever."
So with some of our favourite A-listers binning the razors, might we see an end to the pursuit of summer-long smoothness? Well, yes and no.
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There are alternative options to shaving for hair removal
Ultimately, the message is that women should be free to do what they want – and for most women, that still means removing hair. According to beauty bookings website Wahanda, the majority of British women prefer to be fuzz-free, with more than 65 per cent having bikini, body or facial hair removal treatments monthly, spending on average £303 per year.
If you’re one of them, your options have never been greater. Whether you want fuss-free but frequent shaves or prefer the long-term option offered by lasers, it is all down to personal preference.
Shaving is quick and easy but the secret to success is to change your razor regularly. The average twin-blade razor will only stay sharp for two underarm and leg-hair removal sessions, so if you shave every other day you need to change your razor or blade at least once a week.
Fail to do so and you’ll be more prone to stubbly patches and those tiny red bumps caused by blunt razors.
Women’s razors are curved to fit bikini lines, but whichever design you choose be sure to team it with a women-specific shaving gel or oil to avoid dehydrating your legs and leaving them looking parched. Shaving oil also helps soften hair, moisturises skin and prevents nicks and cuts.
If you shave make sure to change your razor regularly
For years, the only way to remove unwanted hair permanently was by electrolysis, which was painful, took a long time to work and gave no guarantee hair would not grow back over time.
Lasers have revolutionised the process. They’re programmed to target the melanin pigment in your hair so that the heat travels into the root, killing the blood supply that feeds the follicle and stopping re-growth.
Laser hair removal works but it is not cheap. Prices for one-off treatments start at around £50, which means tackling a top lip can cost around £400, with a further £600 for your bikini line and £2,000 for legs. The trouble is that at any one time, the hair is in one of three phases: a growing anagen phase, where it is still firmly in the root; a transition catagen phase, where it is attached but not firmly; and a resting telogen phase, where it isn’t attached at all.
For hairs to be successfully treated with a laser, they need to be in the anagen phase so the heat can kill the root, which is why clearing an area requires around six to ten treatments.
A more cost-effective solution is to invest in an at-home laser or intense pulsed light machine. Being designed for DIY rather than professional use, they’re calibrated to be less powerful and therefore take longer to work, but you can operate them in the privacy of your own home and they can be used to top up when needed.