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Hair Removal: For Men Only

Is your body hair growing out of control? Hair removal experts discuss the best solutions for men.

Hair Removal Option No. 4: Back Shavers

What It Does: With blades as wide as an inch and a half, and hinged handles as long as a foot, these specialty straight razors allow you to literally shave your back and shoulders, in much the way you use a back scrub brush during a shower.

Best For: Any area of the back, shoulders, or buttocks. Shaving the genital area is possible, but not recommended since a cut in this region could have serious complications.

How Long It Takes: Anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

Cost: Under $40, plus additional blades and shaving creams.

Lasting Result: A few days, at most.

Expert Comments: Dermatologist Bruce Katz, MD, reminds us that while shaving is fast and easy, it can increase the risk of ingrown hairs, which occur when cut hairs curl back into the skin instead of growing outward. This can be a particular problem for African-American men, who are more likely to develop infections caused the by ingrown hairs. To help avoid problems, Katz says, make sure that the hair you will be shaving is wet - you might want to try back shaving in the shower. He also recommends shaving in the direction the hair grows, and lathering up beforehand to make hair removal easier. Contrary to popular opinion, shaving does not cause hair to grow back thicker or coarser.

Hair Removal Option No. 5: Depilatories/cream hair removers

What It Does: A chemical compound suspended in a gel or cream base, it attacks the proteins in hair and dissolves them. This causes the hair to loosen and fall out instantly.

Best For: Back, chest, arms, and legs. Skin around the brow and the genitals may be too sensitive for this hair removal treatment.

How Long It Takes: 30 to 60 minutes, though the compounds sit on the skin about 5 minutes.

Cost: $10-$20 with a home kit; $25-$50 or more for a salon treatment.

Lasting Result: A week to several weeks.

Expert Comments: Because some chemicals used in depilatories can be extremely harsh, particularly on sensitive genital skin, Janet Fairley, MD, professor of dermatology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, suggests always doing a patch test on a small area of skin. If you have any type of reaction - burning, redness, blisters, or itching - wipe it off immediately and don't use it. Since every formulation is slightly different, you may want to try a different brand before giving up on this method.

Reviewed on January 01, 2007

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