It is important to take care of your body, and feel good with what you see in the mirror. One of the obstacles to looking good and feeling fantastic is hair. Body hair is an interesting phenomenon, as women are expected to be free of any hair while men can sport as much as they like. The norms
of a hairless beauty have changed over time and between cultures. Like other gender binary differences, body hair practices are culturally learned behaviour as modern women did not start removing body hair until conservative clothing styles gave way to designs that publicly revealed legs or underarms.
Both men and women have visible hair on the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits, pubic region, arms and legs. These become more visible during and after puberty. Hair does not generally grow on the palms of the hands, the lips, certain areas of the genital structure, or the soles of the feet.
Vellus hair is the fine, light coloured, barely noticeable, short, downy (peach fuzz) hair that covers the body of children and adults. Lanugo hair is a much thicker type of hair that is seen over the skin of newborn babies. Terminal or androgenic hair is that which develops after the onset of puberty in men.
The amount of body hair is largely determined by ethnic or family traits and genetic make-up. Hirsutism is a condition resulting in excessive amounts of coarse and pigmented hair on body areas where men typically grow hair, like the face, chest and back. It is caused by excess male hormones called androgens or from an increased sensitivity of hair follicles to testotesterone hormones. The polycystic ovary syndrome is a common condition in women caused by an imbalance of sex hormones. This is associated with irregular periods, obesity, infertility and multiple cysts in the ovaries.
Excessive body hair can result as a side-effect of some drugs like danazol used to treat endometriosis in women and also due to tumours of the adrenal and pituitary glands. Hence, a consultation with an endocrinologist is recommended for all women with such a problem.
Hairs go through different sequential and cyclical phases. Each cycle involves an anagen phase during which the hair grows at a speed of about 0.2mm per day and the telogen phase during which there is no growth. The time between the
anagen and telogen phases is called ) catagen, which lasts for • approximately two-three weeks. • There is a variation of about 10% in
the duration relative to the various phases due to factors such as sex, age, season etc. Also, the percentage of hairs in the telogen phase increases gradually with age.
Various forms of hair removal are practised in almost all human cultures for cultural, sexual, medical and religious reasons and each one has its own norms with respect to the presence or absence of body hair with different standards applying to either sex. Members whose hair deviates outside these norms may invite adverse comments or even be ostracised from social functions. The methods used to remove hair have varied in different times and regions, but shaving is the most common method.
Ancient Egyptian priests shaved every day in order to present a "pure" body before their gods. Ziryab in AlAndalus introduced chemical depilation in the 9th century. Women in the east removed body hair to appear sleek and attractive using wax since the 18th century. Depilation creams evolved from a 1930s patent awarded for the use of the same chemicals to remove hair from cattle hides.
Electrical epilation was first used in the US in 1875 and laser technology from the 1990s onwards and approved by the FDA since 1997. Crude methods of hair removal can irritate or irreparably damage the skin. Modern techniques are, however, safe, easy and fast, leaving you looking great, without hurting your skin!
FORMS OF HAIR REMOVAL Depilation is the removal of the part of the hair above the surface of the skin. The most common form of depilation is shaving and the use of chemical depilatories. The latter works by breaking the disulfide bonds that link the protein chains that gives hair its strength. When razors or hair removal creams are used no damage is done to the germinative parts of the hair.
Epilation is the removal of the entire hair from the root. The hair regrows after some weeks. Methods
include tweezing, waxing,sugaring, threading, oral drugs, intense pulsed light(IPL), lasers, electrology
Warning: Many products in the market exaggerate the results or ease of use.
Shaving: Prefer a razor with a pivoting head and multiple blades for a smooth, close shave. First take a warm shower or bath to soften the skin and relax the hair follicle. Use a mild exfoliator or your favourite body wash. Dab on some baby oil to act as a barrier on your skin and also help the razor glide easier over the skin surface. Use a fresh blade each time and go in the direction of the hair growth the first time and then in the opposite direction. Don't go over the same area too many times to prevent razor burns, skin irritation and ingrown hairs. In between strokes, be sure to rinse the blade. A clogged razor won't work well. Rinse the area and pat dry with a towel before applying a light, unscented lotion. The Gilette Venus/SatinCare range and Schick Quattro are top-end razors exclusively designed for feminine use.
EPILATION Tweezing: Single hairs are plucked out one at a time. In threading, a thin, twisted cotton thread is rolled over areas of unwanted hair, to pluck hair from the roots in order to remove an entire row of hair for a neat, straight finish.
Newer electrically-powered textured ceramic tweezers (Emjoi, Remington, Braun, VLCC, Philips etc) with an extra-wide head remove more hair at the level of the skin in one stroke.
Waxing: Warm or hot wax is applied to the skin and stripped off after cooling. It is an inexpensive, quick method of epilation. Hair growth starts again in two-three weeks. Constant waxing over several years can, sometimes, lead to complete disappearance of hair growth. The technique is quite painful and unsuited for very short hair. Skin can become blotchy soon after waxing but it usually disappears in three-five days. Diabetics and those with varicose veins are advised against waxing as it can result in skin infections and severe inflammation. Rarely, some women can throw up an allergic reaction to the wax or its ingredients. Commercial wax preparations contain honey, sugar, molasses, lemon juice and biologically-active substances to soothe the skin. It is claimed that the viscosity of white sugar goes relatively deep inside the follicle and enables the epilation of very short hairs (less than 1.5 mm length) with less pain.
Depilatories: Commonly known as hair removal creams, they contain different alkaline chemicals, such as sodium thioglycolate, strontium sulfide and calcium thioglycolate that work by breaking down the hair's protein structure so that the hair comes out of the skin easily when you rub off the cream. They also come as gels, lotions, aerosols or roll-ons and need a contact period of three minutes to remove 90 per cent hair without damaging the underlying skin.
The combination of calcium thioglycolate and sodium hydroxide in most hair removal creams is the main chemical reaction that usually causes such a strong and often unpleasant sulfurous odour. Some creams, however, now contain additional ingredients that mask the sulfuric scent, but it's important to bear in mind that even these fragrances can be chemical irritants. It is recommended that you test a small patch of skin before applying the substance to a large area. In this way, if you do have a reaction, it will be localised and won't affect large areas.
Hair removal creams usually get rid of hair for a week, which is less time than waxing but more than shaving. It is a messy method and results can be patchy and totally unsuited to areas around the eyes. In the event of skin irritation just wash the off the cream, apply a combination of antiseptic and cortisone preparation thrice a day for two-three days to reduce the inflammation and prevent secondary infection. Never apply a depilatory to an area that has any cuts, scratches or other wounds.
Drugs: Vaniga (eflornithine hydrochloride) cream inhibits the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase, preventing new hair cells from producing putrescine for stabilising their DNA. It is useful in women with excessive facial hair. Vaniqa helps slow new hair growth, but doesn't get rid of existing hair. Eflornithine may take up to two months to work, and hair growth returns to pre-treatment levels within eight weeks of discontinuing the medication. Side effects may include stinging, tingling or a skin rash. The cream is available against prescription only.
Electrology: In thermolysis, highfrequency alternate current is used to generate heat in the area of the probe tip, causing coagulation of the growth cells in the follicle. For electrolysis treatment, direct current is used to produce caustic soda in the follicle to chemically destroy the germinating cells. The blend method uses both types of current in combination. This heats up the caustic soda more quickly. Electrical hair removal is extremely tedious and involves certain risks that can result in skin scarring.

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