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Permanent Hair Removal: Which Methods Really Work What?

Shaving is annoying! It costs us time and before you know it, the legs are stubbly again. All that remains is waxing or sugaring. But even here the hair comes back after a few weeks. In addition, the procedure can be quite painful ... So it's no wonder that many women are looking for a method of permanent hair removal. Laser, IPL and electro-epilation are said to be the (almost) definitive solution to our hairy problem.

But what is the longest way to keep legs and bikini area hair-free? And are there methods that REALLY ensure permanently smooth skin?

We introduce you to the most common hair removal procedures - including the chances of success and risks.

Stop it! Final end for the hair follicle

The most common methods that literally fight unwanted body hair at the 'root' are laser, IPL ('Intense Pulsed Light') and electro-epilation. The principle of action is the same for all procedures: An external stimulus is intended to destroy the growth cells in the hair roots.

1. Laser: bundled light energy against annoying hairs

Laser rays have been used to successfully combat unwanted hair growth for a long time. The method is based on a physical trick: the light pulse of the laser sent to the skin reaches the hair root via the hair.

There its energy is converted into heat. What happens then has not yet been fully researched. However, it is believed that the heat destroys the hair-producing cells. The decisive factor: the laser energy is absorbed by the hair dye, the melanin.

The darker the hair and its root, the better. And: a laser needs contrasts. Dark hair on light skin is therefore ideal for laser treatment.

Permanent laser hair removal: This is how the treatment works

The laser is guided centimeter by centimeter over the shaved skin and emits precisely dosed light pulses. The energy strength and pulse duration were adjusted beforehand to the patient's hair and skin type.

During the treatment, the hair "burns up" at the root (you should smell that too) and a slight pinch becomes noticeable. After the treatment, small 'bumps' can be seen where the hair roots are located. It all sounds very uncomfortable, but it is an indication that the treatment was carried out successfully.

2. Permanent hair removal using IPL: light pulses for smooth skin

The IPL procedure has been celebrated in recent years as a further development of laser epilation. Less risks, greater effectiveness - this is how the method is often advertised. The impression of a more harmless variant of permanent hair removal also arises from the fact that IPL devices for home use have been around for some time.

Particularly popular on Amazon: the "Lumea Prestige" device from Philips. With an average of 4.0 stars from over 300 comments, it is also one of the best-rated ILP devices for the home.

The Philips Lumea ILP device is currently particularly cheap at Amazon

But not for all of them, hair removal at home using ILP seems to work. Among the comments are some users who complain that the hair has not disappeared despite regular use. In addition, permanent hair removal with ILP devices is not 100% painless.

Basically, IPL and laser initially have a very similar effect: light energy is sent to the hair roots, where it is converted into heat.

The difference: IPL devices emit a wide range of wavelengths. This corresponds to a xenon lamp, as we know it from cars.

The problem: The large radiation spectrum means that, for example, not only hair roots, but also skin vessels or tattoos can be exposed to the high light energy. Basically nothing should be exposed that is not the aim of the treatment.

Laser and IPL: Who Are Permanent Hair Removal Methods For?

A fundamental problem of hair removal by light - regardless of whether it is laser or IPL: the energy impulses only affect active hair roots; the dormant (60 to 70 percent) are not destroyed by this. In order to capture all hair in its active state, several treatments are necessary at an interval of six to ten weeks.

In addition: only a very small area of ​​skin is reached per laser pulse. This makes the treatment time-consuming and costly. As a rule, you should expect six to eight treatments for the face, eight to ten treatments for the body and eight to twelve treatments for the lower legs.

Laser or IPL hair removal is a lengthy process - one that needs to be well planned. Especially since UV light should be avoided for four weeks before and after treatment.

Who is light hair removal not suitable for?

Light blonde, gray or white hair is not suitable for light epilation. The following applies in particular to IPL: The device's broad spectrum of radiation prevents light from being able to differentiate between the melanin of the skin and hair and from attacking the skin's pigments. This procedure is therefore unsuitable for people with tanned or darker skin.

What are the risks of laser hair removal?

With a laser treatment as with IPL are In principle, burns cannot be ruled out. They occur when the energy of the rays has been too high, but usually do not leave scars. By cooling the skin during the treatment and good follow-up care, the side effects can be kept to a minimum.

How long does the skin stay smooth?

Anyone who spends a lot of money on an IPL or laser treatment wants a lasting result. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that after umpteen sessions there will really be no hair sprouting. Often you have many years of rest, but a few hairs can grow back after six to eight years.

These stragglers are formerly dormant, now active hair roots. Correctly, one does not speak of permanent hair removal, but of hair reduction. It is not about promising the patient smooth skin forever, but about permanently reducing hair growth as far as possible.

More on the subject: IPL Hair Removal: The Best Way to Permanently Smooth Skin?

Laser or IPL: which method is better?

Basically the following applies: The same results can be achieved with IPL as with the laser - if used correctly.

The problem is, however: IPL devices are much more difficult to adapt to the patient's skin and hair type - which reduces the chances of success of the treatment and at the same time increases the risk of pigment disorders.

The greatest risk of hair removal by IPL, however, lies in a legal gray area: The operator of medical lasers, including hair removal lasers, must be a doctor.

It's different with IPL devices: In theory, anyone could buy a device, pretend to be a hair removal specialist and open a studio - without any qualifications. The risk of incorrect treatment is correspondingly high.

Home IPL Devices: Practical or Ineffective?

IPL devices for home use have been available for some time to anyone who wants to depilate themselves at home. But if the treatment with the home device is discontinued, the annoying hairs return.

The reason is a built-in power limitation of the devices: To prevent burns, they do not emit as much energy as professional devices. As a result, there is not enough heat to desolate the hair follicle. The hair is destroyed above the growth cells, falls out and grows back later. If you stay on the ball, you can at least reduce your hair growth with the DIY devices.

3. Electric epilation: hair removal using electricity

Laser and IPL have pushed electric epilation somewhat into the background, but it is still a tried and tested method of permanent hair removal.

This is how the procedure works: A fine probe is inserted into the hair root along the hair. A precisely dosed current surge then destroys them. The hair can then be removed with tweezers. Since each hair is treated individually, this procedure is extremely time-consuming and only suitable for very small areas of skin.

Read also:Waxing legs: how easy and effective is waxing really?

How lasting is the effect of electro-epilation?

The chances of success are good - provided the hair roots are completely destroyed. However, this cannot be guaranteed even with the greatest care. The problem: if the current impulse was not sufficient to destroy it, it can still irritate the hair follicle. The result: the hair grows back stronger than before.

What are the disadvantages of treatment with electricity?

The main disadvantage of electro-epilation is that it is very painful - how much depends on the type of current that is used. In addition, scars can remain, which is of course particularly undesirable when treating the face.

There are almost painless variants in which the hair is only grasped with special current-carrying tweezers. Scars are excluded here, but the hair can grow back bristly due to irritation of the hair roots. The main disadvantage of this depilation method: It is extremely time-consuming, as each hair root has to be treated individually.

Reading tip: Bikini line grow without pain? We'll tell you how to do it

4. Hair removal with an epilator: permanently hairless?

Another popular way to remove hair is epilation. In contrast to the ILP or laser treatment, the hair is not completely and permanently removed here. But with regular epilation the hair grows back more slowly and sparsely. Modern epilators are particularly thorough and remove the hair along with the roots. This allows the legs to remain smooth for up to four weeks.

The Braun Silk épil 9 is one of the most popular epilators. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon.

The Silk épil 9 epilator is currently cheaper at Amazon

In our epilator test, we checked whether the Braun epilator is really as good as the positive reviews suggest.

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