In this blog post, I will explain in detail eight alternatives to razor shaving. Before you try any of these alternatives, you must read about them, to learn that a razor-free shave can be done in a variety of healthy ways and how each method is carried out. I assure you that all of these hair removal techniques are just as effective as shaving with a razor.
A razor-free shave can be done using two major techniques: chemical depilation and epilation. Chemical depilation removes your unwanted hair temporarily at the surface level of your skin. Epilation completely removes your unwanted hair from its roots and is effective in the long term.
Scroll on to read much more on all of the alternatives to razor shaving. There are two main types of depilation: chemical and non-chemical. Chemical depilation includes hair removal creams and non-chemical depilation includes shaving and trimming.
Epilation is further divided into lasering, IPL, electrolysis, tweezing, waxing, sugaring and threading techniques.
Dr. Lisa D’Onofrio a board-certified dermatologist and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology says that “you want a sharp blade to shave your hair, regardless of the tool being used the result is still shaving.”
Depilatory hair removal/reduction creams:
Dr. Jennifer Reichel, a board-certified dermatologist, and Real Self contributor says that “alternative options include depilatory hair reduction creams, they work to slow down the rate of hair growth on your facial skin. They are best for the fine hairs (fuzz) that ladies tend to have on their facial skin.”
Depilatory hair removal creams are alkaline-based creams. They remove your unwanted hair quickly and painlessly. They can break down the protein bonds of your hair and convert them into a jelly-like substance.
This process needs only three to five minutes. The chemical composition, ingredients, formulation of the cream and the density of your unwanted hair will determine the exact duration of the removal process. The thicker the hair the longer it will take to break down.
You are free to do whatever you want after applying the hair removal cream on your hair. For the next three or more minutes you don’t have to hold a slippery razor or shaver. You don’t have to necessarily be in a shower room or a bathroom. Any dry place is equally ideal for this process.
The only disadvantage of a depilatory hair removal cream is chemical burns, blisters, flaking, peeling, irritation or itching rashes in case you leave the cream on your skin for too long. In case you feel a burning sensation, immediately rinse your skin with cool water as this is the sign that your skin is either allergic or sensitive to the formula of the cream. It is a good idea to stick to the products prescribed by your dermatologist.
The most common ingredients of a chemical depilatory product are the salts of thiolactic acid and thioglycolic acid. These active ingredients break down the bonds of disulfide in keratin. They hydrolyze your unwanted hair so that it is removed easily.
Formerly, sulfides were commonly used but they were soon abandoned because of their unbearable smell. Nowadays, thiols are used instead. In a chemical depilatory cream base, six percent of calcium thioglycolate is found.
The pH level of twelve is maintained due to the presence of strontium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide in these hair removal products. Chemical depilation does not destroy your dermal papilla and your hair regrows later. It is a temporary hair removal and reduction technique.
Nowadays, chemical depilatory products include aerosol sprays, gels, lotions, powder and roll-on excluding the cream.
Epilation hair removal works beyond the surface of your skin in the roots of your hair follicles. Unlike razor shaving, it does not strip your skin of its nutrients along with your unwanted hair. Epilation provides enough protection to your skin cells by removing your hair at their foot.
An epilator simultaneously holds multiple hairs. It will not remove your cells from the epithelium. You don’t have to replace any part of your epilator except for the batteries.
This technique removes hair four times shorter than that removed by any other method, making it gentler to the skin and long-lasting. It is necessary to exfoliate the dead skin cells before epilation to prevent ingrown hair.
The best epilators are cordless, have anti-slip grip and are fully waterproof. The latest models come with a skin stretcher cap to pull your skin taut. You will get the best results if you move it along the direction of your hair growth at a ninety degrees angle.
Laser Hair Removal:
The working principle of laser hair remover is selective photothermolysis (SPTL). In this process, your unwanted hair is removed by exposure to the light of the laser. This light can permanently destroy your hair follicles.
Dr. Jennifer Reichel says that laser hair removers work very well, they reduce the hair growth rate permanently. She adds that a variety of laser hair removers are available in the market. They target your dark hair follicles found underneath your skin.
Laser light causes permanent damage by selectively targeting and heating melanin, dark hair matter. It heats up your basal stem cells in your follicle that is responsible for hair growth. It does not heat up the rest of your skin.
This technique is limited to the removal of only black, brown and dark grey hair only. Laser light cannot target and burn blonde or white hair. To get the best results from a laser treatment light skin tones and darkest hair are an ideal combination.
Some latest models of lasers have the capability to target black hair on dark skin tones as well. This is a permanent hair reduction method, the reduction in hair regrowth rate is stable and long-term. It reduces the total number of unwanted body hair and is not a method of permanent hair removal.
At least eight sessions of treatment are needed to get the desirable results. The skill of the laser operator is the main factor that affects the final results.
The exact number of treatments you will need depends on Fitzpatrick skin types. Fitzpatrick skin types are classified according to color, sensitivity to sun and tendency to tan. i) For Fitzpatrick type 1 and 2 (white and pale) four to six treatments are needed every four to six weeks and after this initial treatment, six to twelve monthly treatments are required for ideal results.
ii) For Fitzpatrick skin type 3 (light brown), six to ten treatments are necessary every four to six weeks. After this initial course of sessions, they may need three to six monthly sessions.
iii) For Fitzpatrick skin type 4 and 5 (brown and dark brown), a set of six to ten treatments are necessary every four to six weeks. Later three to six repeat treatments are required.
The most common mistakes to avoid when you are planning a laser hair removal treatment include:
- Forgetting to shave before the treatment: New York City dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank says that freshly shaved hair is the best for this treatment. A laser heats hair to damage its stem cells. If your hair is too long, there is a risk of the laser burning your skin surface. You must also shave the hair between your treatment sessions.
- Your aesthetician is less experienced: Frank says to make sure that you choose a person who does laser hair removal daily versus once or twice every year. Don’t risk your life by trusting a less experienced person.
- Inconsistency: Frank says you must traumatize your follicle repetitively. Most people disappear after only two or three initial sessions, six months later they are back to make the complaint that they all grew back again.
- You are over-expecting: Frank advises to keep in mind that this treatment is permanent hair reduction, not permanent hair removal. 85 to 90 percent of hair reduction must be satisfactory for a regular customer.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL):
Intense pulsed light is also called photo epilation or phototricholysis. It is a technology that uses a computer-controlled flashgun to deliver a pulse of light with a wavelength from four hundred to one thousand and two hundred nm. This technology has many similarities with laser hair removal. IPL uses a broad spectrum light to target melanin.
The flash of light safely travels through your skin until it strikes, damages or burns your hair follicles or hair shafts. Your hair follicle is found where the maximum concentration of melanin is found. When the light is absorbed, the bulb and your hair shaft are heated resulting in the destruction of hair-producing component, papilla.
This heat conversion actually happens in the dark capillaries that supply blood to your hair follicles. You have active and inactive hair follicles. For the first time, only the active hair follicles are treated, your inactive hair follicles can only be treated after they become active over time.
To get rid of all visible unwanted hair you need IPL treatment at least eight to ten times. Each of the treatment sessions must be at least four or six weeks apart. Sometimes the salon owners are dishonest in marketing their services, by claiming photo epilation as a permanent method of hair removal while it is, in fact, a permanent method of hair reduction.
The factors that affect the results of IPL treatment are skin conditions, health conditions, and medications. Contraindications of this treatment include damaged skin i.e. sunburnt skin and intake of photosynthesizing medications. The best results are specific on light to medium skin tones and darkest hair only.
Electrolysis or electrology is the technique of permanent hair removal from the body using electricity. Electrolysis uses three different methods namely Galvanic, thermolysis and the blend of both methods. A solid metal probe is slid into each hair follicle without damaging the skin.
This probe carries the electricity to the hair follicles, it damages the area that generates hair. The hair matrix cells are permanently destroyed, leaving your follicles unable to grow hair.
In the Galvanic method, the person’s body acts as an electrolytic cell. The ground power supply delivered through the body is between zero and three milliamperes. The cathode of the electrolytic cell is the follicular probe.
Thermolysis is also called diathermy and shortwave radiofrequency. Its results is electrocoagulation. This technique overheats and burns the hair matrix cell.
Skill and care are needed to insert these probes into the skin at the accurate angle that the hair is growing out of the skin. The doctor inserts the probes to the depth of your hair matrix. He starts the intensity and duration of electricity at the lowest setting, then gradually increases it unless the hair comes out.
Permanent removal of male pattern facial hair needs at least four years to complete. The length of the treatment is two years if one session is held per week with a duration of one hour per session.
Electrolysis safely and quickly removes all types of unwanted hair both light and dark-colored, either in male growth patterns or female growth patterns from all skin tones. It permanently damages the growth cells of your unwanted hair both dense and thin ones. This treatment prevents the regrowth of the hair in the treated area.
It is 100% safe for body and facial hair including arms, abdomen, armpits, breasts, bikini line, back, fingers, legs, and toes, beard, upper and lower lip, jawline and eyebrows. You will not have to worry about ingrown hair anymore. The technician will zap each and every hair manually thus guaranteeing accurate results though the technique is somewhat time-consuming.
Dr. Reichel suggests the option of hair tweezing. It is ideal for single hair removal on small areas, but it is not permanent, as it lasts only about three to eight weeks. You will have to be careful about ingrown hair in the meantime.”
To put your best face forward, tweezing of the eyebrows is the most common technique. The experts suggest you keep in mind and follow the following tips and tricks while tweezing your eyebrows:
- Use a concealer or silver eyeliner to highlight the unwanted hair that you plan to tweeze this will help you design the final shape of your eyebrow.
- Never opt for a cheap pair of tweezers as they break hair or keep slipping off instead of removing the hair from its roots.
- You can remove the stray hair from the top of the brow as well to make them both look uniform
- Never stand too close to the mirror or you will not be able to view your entire face which is the most common mistake the ladies make in eyebrow reshaping. To balance the size, length, and thickness of your eyebrows the complete picture of your face should always be visible to you in your mirror. If you like to stick your nose to the mirror you will most likely make them uneven.
- Use of ice will tighten your pores instead of numbing the pain it will increase the pain.
- Always hold your skin taut.
Waxing is a technique of hair removal from face and body using a sticky wax to remove your unwanted hair. When you remove the wax mask after drying, it pulls out all your unwanted hair from the roots. Your skin remains hairless for up to six weeks.
Jessica Wu, a dermatologist in Los Angeles suggests that women avoid waxing just before their monthly menstrual periods because at that time their Prostaglandin levels are at peak, which makes waxing more painful and prone to swelling.
Waxing is done in two different methods namely, strip wax and stripless wax. There is a variety of strip or soft wax, like cold, hot and pre-made. Stripless wax is also called hard wax.
Strip waxing is done by first, applying a paper or a cloth strip to the wax and then applying the wax to your unwanted hair. Then the strip is ripped against your hair growth pattern parallel to your skin. This removes the wax along with your unwanted hair.
Cold wax is thick and difficult to spread evenly on your skin. Hot wax is easy to spread on your skin. Pre-made strips are convenient to use as they are available in different sizes for hair removal from different parts of the body.
Stripless wax is hard wax. It is suitable for people with sensitive skin. The hard wax encapsulates your unwanted hair instead of sticking to your skin. It is less painful and more comfortable.
Another dermatologist Craig Kraffert stresses that if you expose your skin to both retinoids and waxing, use caution, he also advises patients to stop prescription retinoid treatments for at least one week before waxing. He says that Retinoids can lead to increased fragility of the skin. Dr. Jessica Wu also asks her patients to avoid retinoids unless redness has subsided.
Contraindications to waxing include the recent surgical peel, laser skin treatment, cosmetic or reshaping surgery, and sunburn. People taking medications for blood-thinning and autoimmune diseases, steroids or prednisone should never wax their hair. People with eczema, fever blisters, cold sores, Psoriasis and varicose leg veins should never wax either.
Lele Gomes, an esthetician at the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City, found great results with her patients who use a gentle loofah, such as Earth Therapeutics Loofah Bath Pad.
Dr. Jessica Wu says that modern scientific research revealed that a breakdown product found in alcohol called acetaldehyde activates a certain type of your pain receptors, so if you drink right before the treatment, you may be more sensitive to this process that will cause more pain.
Dr. Noemi Grupenmager, the CEO and founder of Uni K Wax Centers says that if you desire to reduce your level of pain during waxing become a more regular waxer. The more regularly you wax, the less frequently you will need to wax, as the waxing process reduces the strength of your hair follicle.
Sugaring is also called sugar waxing. It is one of the most ancient hair removal techniques. Historically, honey was used as a sugaring agent.
A New York City-based dermatologist, Michelle Henry says that a combination of lemon, sugar, and water are mixed to make a sticky paste that clutches your hair, pulling them out without your skin. It is almost the same as waxing but gentler and less uncomfortable.
She explains that it is more affordable than laser hair removal, tweezing and waxing. Always opt for an experienced aesthetician to get the process done because very hot sugar can burn your skin.
Sugaring and waxing are comparable. In this technique, sugar is stuck to your unwanted hair, not the skin. It is applicable at both room temperature and after heating at a low temperature. It is ideal for hair removal from large areas in contrast to waxing.
Another New York City-based dermatologist at Spring Street Dermatology, Sapna Palep says that the process of sugaring effectively works by removing the hair from roots without hurting your surrounding skin. It causes minimum irritation and is much gentler and faster than waxing as a much larger area is covered quickly and cleaned easily. Over time, thin hair can regrow again.
She says that the regular use of the sugaring method will reduce the hair growth and their regrowth takes longer than usual. She further explains that this technique is equally ideal for your arms, back, bikini line, chest, upper lip and legs. It is a temporary hair removal method.
She says that one session can normally last between half an hour to forty-five minutes. She advises avoiding sugaring if you have cold sores, bruises, open sores, rashes, swelling, and sunburn. According to her, some side effects include skin burning, irritation, rashes, folliculitis, and ingrown hair.
Sugar is a hypoallergenic substance. When sold at the commercial level the manufacturers add wax to the sugar. The homemade substance is 100% natural.
Courtney Claghorn the founder of Sugared+Bronzed says that an experienced aesthetician applies the paste against your hair growth direction, allowing the paste to seep into your hair follicle to wrap completely around each hair shaft. Then he uses a flicking movement to pull off the sugar paste along the hair growth direction. This method is most helpful.
Sugaring paste can be made by adding ingredients like cornstarch, honey, molasses, lemon juice, brown sugar, jaggery, and water. The acidity of the lemon juice breaks up sucrose into glucose and fructose. All the ingredients when mixed help caramelize the sugar and create an even, runny, amorphous and non-crystalline, smooth paste.
To get the right consistency, constant practice is needed. If bought from the market the paste will contain essential oils and guar gum. The paste is water-soluble and water-based so you can easily rinse it off with warm water.
The strip method works similar to strip waxing. First of all the area with the unwanted hair is dusted with cornstarch or talcum powder prior to applying the paste. Then the paste is spread evenly over the unwanted hair with your finger or a tongue depressor.
When the sugar paste is applied on your unwanted hair in their parallel direction, a cloth strip or a paper strip is firmly pressed into it and immediately pulled back. Thus pulling out all your undesirable hair. If you rely on sugaring alone, you will have to repeat this process every week.
The stripless method uses a ball of hard sugaring paste. In this method, the paste is applied to an area against hair growth direction. The paste is removed along the hair growth direction, which leads to minimum hair breakage, less pain, and pressure, giving you gorgeous smooth skin.
Threading is also a form of epilation technique as it involves the removal of unwanted hair by plucking them out at the follicle level. In threading, a cotton or synthetic thread is used to simultaneously pull out short rows of unwanted hair. If the right pressure is applied you will experience minimum pain.
There are three different methods of threading. The neck method, the mouth method, and the hand method. The best and the fastest results are obtained by the mouth holding method.
It is the most ideal method for eyebrow reshaping. It is suitable for upper lip and other facial hair removals as well. For the arms and legs, it can be too time-consuming.
To conclude this blog post, I would say that it is the right time to toss away your razors as a razor blade or an electric shaver are not the only hair cutting methods in the 21st century. For a hygienic and safe “shave” you are now familiar with eight alternative methods. All of these methods are as reliable as you would trust your razors.