Natural DIY Hair Removal Methods That Work

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There are many ways to rid ourselves of unwanted hair. Oh yes, you know what I mean.

Most people have unwanted hair, even if it’s only that soft vellus your mother called peach fuzz.

Many methods have been tried including shaving, plucking, depilatory, waxing, threading, sugaring, laser, and electrolysis. Most are temporary and should be done by a professional for the best results.

DIY methods can be more of a challenge than one may think. The wax might not be the right consistency, it can be a struggle to measure ingredients properly, and unexpected hair breakage can cause irritation. That being said, there are ways to rid yourself of unwanted hair at home. You must know that following the directions is imperative to avoid scarring, burning the skin, or wasting resources.

How Fast Does Hair Grow?

Woman shaving her smooth legs.

Woman shaving her legs.

How fast does hair grow? According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, hair grows at about 0.50 inches (1.25cm) per month. This means that the average person can expect to grow 6 inches of hair per year. Typically, that is for virgin hair follicles growing what is known as terminal hairs. These are are thick, strong, pigmented hairs that have fully matured. These hairs are abundant on the scalp, in the pubic region, under the arms, and on the face (males only). The opposite of a terminal hair is called a vellus hair. 

There are differing opinions about the rate of hair growth and the relation to climates. For many people, hair grows faster in the warmer months. This is when the sebaceous glands are producing more oil. The hair thrives on sweat, oil, and increased blood flow.

Hair roots are made up of cells of protein. Blood from the vessels feeds the papilla, which is a muscle that contains many blood vessels that supply nutrients to nourish the growing hair. This then pushes through the skin as the hair grows.

Hair Removal With Sugar Wax

Halved lemons and a cup of lemon juice.

For sugar wax hair removal, mix together some sugar, lemon juice and water.

Hair removal with sugar wax uses an all-natural paste to pull out the hair from their follicles. It’s a 3-ingredient paste that doesn’t need cloth strips. So it’s a great natural and environmentally conscious method.

Generally, you want the hair to be about ¼ inch long for optimal results.

The paste is made using 2 cups of white sugar, ¼ cup of lemon juice, and ¼ cup of water. Mix the ingredients in a heavy saucepan, stirring so that the mixture doesn’t overheat at the bottom. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 25 minutes. When the solution is a dark amber color, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes. Store the mixture in an airtight container.

When you’re ready for removal, apply the paste in the opposite direction of the hair’s growth and pull (like you mean it!) in the direction of hair growth. This method can leave an area hair-free for about 2-4 weeks.

Hair Removal With Turmeric Explained

Turmeric in a bowl.

You can use turmeric to remove fine hairs.

Turmeric, related to the ginger family, is a yellow spice used in cooking. It is native to India and Southeast Asia, and has long been used by women of India in their skin care regimen. Having natural anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is calming for the skin. It reduces acne as well as redness and scars. There are compounds in turmeric that can remove unwanted hair as well as inhibit its regrowth. Let’s set the record straight, though. Removing the unwanted hair is one thing, but inhibiting regrowth is simply impossible.

When a turmeric paste is applied to the skin’s surface, it can stick like a mild glue. Then when scrubbed or wiped off, the hair comes off with it. To make this hair removal with turmeric paste, combine 3 teaspoons of turmeric powder with 1 teaspoon of milk. Mix well until you get a thick paste. Spread it evenly on the desired area, making sure to apply it in the direction of the hair’s growth. Allow it to dry. Then, using a clean washcloth to scrub the skin in circular motions, remove the paste.

Although turmeric is effective in removing fine hairs, it may not be as efficient on dense or heavy hair. Also, when you use turmeric on your skin, it has a powerful staining ability. But don’t worry, that yellow hue is not permanent and you can easily remove it. Use a cotton ball dipped in milk and your regular mild cleanser. Then wash your skin as usual.

Hair Removal With Baking Soda

While not a quick, easy, common, or convenient option for hair removal, many are curious about this natural and economical method. You shouldn’t really have high expectations for hair removal with baking soda for heavier, coarse hair, but you may yield results for some with lighter, more vellus hair.

One recipe for hair removal with baking soda is to combine 2 or 3 tablespoons of baking soda with a bit of warm water to dissolve and a few drops of lemon juice.

Another recipe includes turmeric in the mixture. Using a cotton ball, apply the mixture to the hair that you want to remove, making sure to treat all of the hair. For better results, you should use this method at night before going to bed and wash off with warm water in the morning. Repeat this process 2-3 times per week, or until you achieve your desired results. This method is economic as well as safe, but not the most effective in fully removing unwanted hair. Much of the science behind this method revolves around the idea that the baking soda acts as a drying agent, stripping the hair of its natural oils and thus leaving it over time to wither, break off, and die.

If using it for the hair on your face, you want to be very mindful of the excess drying of the skin. Extra moisturizing for the skin is necessary but counterproductive to removing unwanted hair. It’s a vicious cycle.

The way that depilatory creams work is that they break down the keratin structure -- the proteins -- of the hair. This effectively thins and dissolves the base of the hairs to the point where they are weak enough to be broken off when the cream is wiped away. Even when using “natural” ingredients, you need to watch to make certain that your skin is not reacting badly. If the ingredients can essentially burn off hair, imagine what they can do to your skin. 

What Is Electrolysis Hair Removal?

woman with legs

Woman with smooth legs.

What is electrolysis hair removal? The FDA considers electrolysis a permanent hair removal method because it has the best overall results. This means electrolysis can rid you of superfluous hair for long periods of time -- or even a lifetime. Electrolysis is the only method the FDA and the American Medical Association clear as permanent.

However, like with just about any skilled procedure, electrolysis is only as good as the technician performing it. A good technician will begin with applying alcohol to the area to be treated, keeping you and the equipment being used clean and sterilized. Holding the skin taut, they will insert a small wire filament into the skin along the hair in the direction of its growth. Then heated radio waves from the electrolysis machine travel down the hair follicle to the papilla, rendering it inactive. The papilla lets go of the hair and the technician then slides the hair out. It’s similar to a stun gun effect. It is a slow and tedious procedure. If you feel the hairs being pulled, the technician is not accurate. And that hair will need to be retreated.

Although electrolysis is a permanent method of hair removal, it is a gradual weakening process. It takes several treatments to weaken the hair to the point that it can no longer grow back.
Unless there is a surge or change of hormones (puberty, pregnancy, menopause), a glandular disturbance (thyroid), or certain medication side effects, this method is proven.
Ideally, the higher the heat emanating from the machine, the better. A good technician will start with lower heat to determine the client’s pain and discomfort level and their skin’s tolerance. 

Due to the machine’s radio waves, you should not opt for electrolysis if you have a pacemaker.

Conclusion

We, as mammals, all have hair. Some have too much in certain areas and not enough in others, and the struggle for removal of unwanted hair is as old as time. There are many ways we can remove our unwanted hair ourselves. But as we know from the horror stories, sometimes it is best to leave it to a professional. Some of the DIY methods can leave your skin in worse condition. Much will depend on the method used and the texture of the hair and sensitivity of the skin.

It is important to note that many of the hair removal methods above (aside from electrolysis) claim to be permanent but have no scientific evidence to back that claim. Some do report that there is a reduction of hair and that the regrowth is thinner and finer. Again, there is no scientific evidence to prove this.

 

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