Our experts help you to choose your best hair removal option.

14 07 02 fuzzfree

With the onset of bikini season upon us, it’s time to take a closer look at a topic that may have been under wraps during the winter: hair removal. Whether you’re in need of a touch-up or a complete deforestation, we spoke with four hair removal professionals to guide us through popular hair removal methods and help you choose the ideal one for your needs.

1. LASER HAIR REMOVAL

With so many laser hair removal systems available, we explored three: the Alma Soprano XL, LightSheer by Lumenis and GentleLase Pro by Syneron Medical. With the three systems, a laser heats up and destroys each targeted hair follicle. “Generally, the darker the hair, the better the results because lasers are attracted to dark pigments,” advises Allie Slutsky, a medical esthetician at Infuse Med Spa in Toronto, who uses the Alma Soprano XL system. “However, the darker the skin’s pigment, the more it attracts the heat of the laser, which can cause the skin to burn if not done properly.”

The Alma Soprano XL is a leading-edge technology using a diode frequency, along with dual cooling and heating, to protect the skin while targeting and comfortably killing off only the hair follicle, while the LightSheer allows a practitioner to choose between two handsets, depending on the stage of the hair reduction process. “One LightSheer handset has vacuum-assist technology to bring the follicle closer to the laser, so less power needs to be used and less skin is exposed, which reduces pain while increasing efficacy,” explains Dr. Ashraf Badawi, PhD, medical director or Clarion Medical Technologies, “Once the hair becomes thinner, another handset is used to better target those follicles.”

In contrast, the GentleLase Pro allows the practitioner to choose between two different light wavelengths, the Nd:Yag and the Alexandrite, depending on the client’s rating on the Fitzpatrick Scale (the scale measures the level of melanin and pigment in the skin). When applied to the skin to prevent burning, it first pumps out a cooling spray and then fires the laser. The spray is similar to the idea of freezing in order to help with comfort and is a unique mode of cooling compared to other laser technologies.

Laser hair removal requires a number of treatments, usually from seven to 10. The number of treatments also varies with the area of the body. “Hair grows in cycles ranging between four and six weeks,” explains Slutsky, “so we can only guesstimate when each hair is in the specific cycle of growth, which is needed to kill the follicle.”

Suited to: Dark hair on light skin

What to expect: After each session, hair will grow back thinner and in a reduced quantity; the area may swell slightly after treatment

Do: Shave the area before treatment (except prior to your consultation); exfoliate body areas not the face) three to five days after treatment to encourage hair loss.

Don’t: Sunbathe or expose the treatment area to sunlight for at least two weeks before and after a session; wax or pluck hairs between treatments, which will remove hair follicles so they can’t be targeted next time.

Cost: Depending on the size of the area, the cost for a single treatment can range from $20 to $400; most clinics and med spas offer packages that include a set number of treatments.                                   

Results: After the initial treatment regimen is complete, there will be a reduction of up to 80 per cent in the amount of hair; the area will require one to two touch-up annually to maintain results.                                

2. ELECTROLYSIS

Unlike laser hair removal, electrolysis uses electric energy through a tiny probe to target and kill the hair follicle and the regenerative cells surrounding it. Although the process may sound painful, Silouet-Tone has introduced the Evolution 5HD, an innovative electrolysis system that uses the fastest modulations on the market—2/1000 of a second—and a greater wavelength to optimize energy transfer. This allows the Evolution 5HD to deliver increased efficiency while improving comfort. Due to the cycle of hair growth, multiple treatments will be required, ranging from ten to fifty, depending on the area treated.

Suited to: All hair and skin colours; particularly suited to treating patients with frequent ingrown hairs.

What to expect: For best results, you must commit to a regular treatment regimen over a period of time, ranging from six months to two years.

Do: Keep the area cool and clean after treatment.

Don’t: Shave, wax or pluck between appointments; if you must, trim the hair instead.

Cost: Usually based on a period of time, such as 15 minutes; the cost for a single treatment can range from $25 to $100.

Results: The closest to permanent hair removal that you can achieve.

3. WAXING

Waxing comes in two forms: “Soft wax is when you apply the wax and then you use a strip to remove the wax and the hair,” explains Jessica Frampton, co-Owner of Fuzz Wax Bar, “and hard wax is a gel-based wax that is removed without a strip—you just pull the wax.” Surprisingly, a soft wax treatment can be the more painful of the two. “Soft wax can pull on the skin, while hard wax only pulls on the hair,” she adds. The type of wax used depends on the sensitivity of the area being treated.

“A huge misconception that people have about waxing is that they have to let their hair grow to great lengths between appointments,” says Florence Gaven-Rossavik, Fuzz Wax Bar’s other co-owner. “For effective waxing, the hair only needs to be a quarter of an inch in most areas and as little as an eighth of an inch on the legs.” People also assume that waxing will hurt every time. “In fact, the more you wax, the less pain you’ll experience with each visit,” adds Frampton.  

Suited to: All hair and skin colours.

What to expect: Hair will grow back thinner and, in some cases, in reduced numbers.

Do: Take an aspirin or use a numbing gel before treatment if you like;moisturize and dry-brush the area a day or two after treatment.

Don’t: Apply deodorant, lotions or gels right away; shave—that will increase the coarseness of the hair.

Cost: It ranges from as little as $10 for an upper lip to $45 for a Brazilian bikini; for savings, see if the spa or wax bar offers a membership or discount package.

Results: It last up to a month, depending on the area.