Hair Removal Products

Hair removal methods include trimming with scissors or a hair clipper, shaving, depilation, waxing, electrolysis, and laser hair removal. Trimming and clipping have few adverse effects as long as they are done carefully to avoid cutting the delicate skin of the vulva. Shaving is easy to do at home but can sometimes leave bumps on the skin. A number of depilatories are formulated specifically for use on the "bikini line." Use on areas outside the bikini line, such as the vulva, can lead to irritation.

Waxing plucks the hair from the root, therefore, the results last longer. Home products contain combinations of waxes and a resin that makes the wax adhere to skin (33). At-home products are formulated for use on the bikini line, and not on other areas of the genitalia.

Electrolysis uses an electric current to destroy the hair root. Each hair is treated individually with either a needle epilator or a tweezers epilator. Home electrolysis devices are available but it may be difficult to apply the device accurately to an area that cannot be seen very easily. Therefore, professional electrolysis is preferable. Adverse effects of electrolysis can include pain during treatment and swelling and inflammation after treatment. Electrolysis can cause scarring and changes in skin color in some people (52).

Laser hair removal is relatively new. As the laser is moved over the skin, the light passes through and is absorbed by the melanin (pigment) in the hair follicles. It is believed that the heat generated by the laser breaks apart the follicle and the hair falls out over a period of approximately two months. The treatment is best suited for fair-skinned people with dark hair. In darker skinned people, the skin pigment can absorb the laser before it reaches the hair follicle, making the treatment less effective. Light-colored hair may not contain enough melanin. Multiple treatments are required to achieve a meaningful reduction in the amount of hair on the area. Adverse effects of laser hair removal include an extreme sensitivity of the treated skin. Rarely, peeling, blistering, and burning of the skin may occur, as well as brown spots or a slight loss of pigment in areas where the laser has been used.

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