Hair Removal Method No. 2: Electrolysis continued...
The process can be uncomfortable, but local anesthetic creams can help.
Best For: Like other forms of hair removal, it is safe to do electrolysis anywhere on the body, though Kirby says the most popular place for women is the face.
How Long It Takes: Though the system requires that the removal be done hair-by-hair, Kirby says it's not as daunting a task as it might seem. "It can take up to 25 sessions, depending on how much you need removed, but each session may only be 5 or 10 minutes long," says Kirby.
Cost: Costs run between $40 and $90 per treatment, with 10 to 25 treatments (or more) sometimes necessary for permanent, lasting results.
Potential Drawback: Electrolysis can cause tiny scars where the needle is inserted. Though for most people they heal unnoticed, for blacks it means an increased risk of hyperpigmentation and formation of keloids. Thus, it's not recommended for this skin type.
Hair Removal Method No. 3: Vaniqa
What It Is: This topical prescription cream, also known as eflornithine 13.9%, works by blocking an enzyme that would otherwise stimulate hair growth. Without the enzyme, hair growth is retarded in that area, and eventually may stop.
Joel Schlessinger, MD, president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, says Vaniqa is not a hair remover, so it is best used in conjunction with other methods, particularly lasers.
"If you apply it after laser treatments as an adjunct, it can help retard and then stop hair growth," says Schlessinger.
Other experts say treatment can also work on its own, but requires a patient commitment of 8 weeks to 6 months before full results are seen. Studies show that the longer the cream is used, the better results will be. Vaniqa is applied twice daily.
Best For: Vaniqa works best for facial hair growth on the upper lip, chin, and cheeks.
"Because of the cost, and difficulty and feasibility of applying it to large areas, it's not recommended for hair removal in large areas of the body, such as the legs or arms," says Schlessinger.
Schlessinger says it is, however, an effective way to remove white or non-pigmented hair, which does not respond to laser treatment.
Studies show Vaniqa is safe to use in combination with birth control pills and other hormone treatments when the cause of unwanted hair stems from reproductive problems such as polycystic ovaries. It is also safe for all ethnic groups and skin types.
Cost: Vaniqa costs between $80 and $225 per tube.
Hair Removal Method No. 4: Waxing
What It Is: It's been around for centuries, but today's waxes are far different than the sticky honey treatments of the past.
"Today we use a soy-based compound that does not stick to the skin, bonding only to the hair," says waxing technician Michelle Serniuk of Beyond Day Spa at the Hackensack University Medical Center.