Not by the Hair of My Chinny, Chin, Chin

Perhaps little piggies think they got problems over a couple of chin hairs! With about 5 million hair follicles covering the human body, we're bound to have a few more stray strands to worry about. In fact, if you're like most women, you wage a battle against unwanted hair on a regular basis. On our lips, legs, bikini lines, eyebrows, chins—all over—we all grab wax, blades, needles, and rays in the war against those never-ending, always-growing follicles. If you've only used a Daisy Shaver since the day Mom presented you with it, take a look here for alternatives to nick-and-cut land. Move over bristly, here comes smooth.

Laser Tag    to top

The light pulses more like a disco strobe than a doctor's instrument, obliterating offending hair from the patient's bikini line. This is laser hair removal, the latest and most technologically updated hair removal method gaining popularity from coast to coast. Zaps of light that feel like a rubber band hitting your skin damage the follicles, thereby disabling them for a long time and slowing growth. Just slowing, however. Laser hair removal has yet to prove permanent, according to Stanford University Hospital dermatologist Dr. Karen Nishimura. Moreover, the treatment should not be performed on dark-skinned individuals, as it can cause pigment imperfections like blotching or mottling. The treatment works best, says Nishimura, "on fair-skinned, dark-haired individuals." Under those circumstances, though expensive, laser hair treatments take less time than the one-hair-at-a-time electrolysis process, actually zapping multiple follicles in minutes, thereby sparing you a hairy area for months and months. But like electrolysis, you can't zap all the follicles at once. Proper hair removal requires several treatments because only about eighty percent of follicles on any given day are actually in a growth stage and receptive to the laser's effects.

Hairy Business
Just how much can laser hair removal treatments set you back? Rates vary with your geographic area and treatment target. Obviously, a set of four armpit treatments will cost less than four upper-thigh appointments. But generally speaking, don't expect to pay less than $700 for the armpits. And the legs? Well, try $2,000! Whatever the cost, make sure you check that the technician is laser trained and/or find a licensed doctor to perform the procedure.

Waxy Ways     to top

Waxing is widely available both in salons and in supermarkets. You can either purchase your own materials and wax away to a smoother you or make an appointment in a salon. Whatever you choose, the procedure is really quite simple: Wax is melted and applied directly to the hair in the direction of growth. Once the strip cools, you pull and (ouch!) the hair lifts from the roots with the wax. In salons, a muslin strip is typically placed on top of the wax strip for easier grip. The truth is, I love this method and use it often. It hurts, but it works. Softer regrowth occurs after waxing, and I can purchase a tub of microwavable wax for a pittance compared to other bank-busting removal options. Moreover, when I don't want to wax myself, I can easily book an appointment at a salon. Depending upon the area you want waxed, fees run anywhere from about $5–$10 for an upper lip or your chin to $60–$75 for legs.

Pour Some Sugar on Me     to top

This hair removal system is by far the yummiest of all strand destructors. Proponents also profess that "sugaring" hurts less than waxing, even if the principle remains the same. In "sugaring" a soft, taffylike mixture of sugar, lemon, and water is applied to the hair and then pulled off much like one would yank off a bandage. Unlike waxing, where melted wax unbeknownst to the waxer may sometimes prove blisteringly hot to the waxee, sugaring uses a technique whereby whoever applies the sweet depilatory first must knead it into a ball and strip, thereby negating any risk of a "yowza!" application that may leave scarring. Sugaring does not result in permanent removal, but hair will grow back slower and finer.

Hairy Business
Sugaring isn't ubiquitous in salons yet, especially in less urban areas. Call around to find an establishment where sugaring services are offered. Be prepared to pay a little more than waxing for the nouveau application.

Who Wears Short Shorts?     to top

We've all seen it–the Nair commercial. So just how do chemical/lotion depilatories, like Nair, actually work? The chemical depilatories or creams are, quite simply, applied to the skin and then dissolve the hair. But don't try this method on coarse hairs. Chemical depilatories work best on soft, fine, peach fuzzlike strands. Moreover, always test a little on your skin first. Nair and like products can cause burning, redness and irritation. In some cases, a serious reaction may occur. Also, the hair does not grow back finer. So what's the up side of creams? It's cheap (costing only about $10 a bottle) and easy.

Hairy Business
When waxing, be sure to test the melted goop for cooldown. From one who knows: burning hot wax on a bikini line bites.

Needling Around     to top

Electrolysis is the only permanent hair removal system so far. In electrolysis, a needle is inserted into each hair pore where a combination of radio energy and heat damage the follicle directly. It stings but works. Keep in mind that just like laser removal, electrolysis requires several sessions for a forever hair-free you. An electrolysist can only zap exposed strands. Dormant strands go undamaged each session. Though less expensive than laser removal—fees start at about $1 per minute—if the technician applies too much heat or your skin is particularly sensitive, scarring may occur. And with a one-hair-follicle-at-a-time pace, you shouldn't underestimate the time commitment. You may spend months on the electrolysist's table to clear an upper lip or bikini line. But again, electrolysis is permanent. Once you rid yourself of all the hair, it won't grow back. That's smooth!

Important!:As with any procedure, always check with your doctor before pursuing treatments. Some illnesses and medications may not be compatible with certain hair removal methods.

So now, armed with an arsenal of hair removal remedies, you'll need to find a new phrase next time the big bad wolf comes knocking. How about "Not by my hairless chinny, chin, chin!"

sales annex

Save 30% off select Idiot's Guides

Click here to see our list of specially priced books in our Sales Annex