Attitudes toward body hair tend to be cultural, which is why almost all cultures engage in some form of hair removal.
In some Western countries, for example, most women shave their underarms and legs; in others, they don’t. In some societies, male beards are considered a sign of wisdom, while in other regions of the world men prefer a clean-shaven appearance.
What Causes Excessive Hair Growth?
The amount of hair you have—just like its color and its texture—is determined by genetics. Some women, however, have excessive facial and body hair, a condition known medically as hirsutism. It’s caused when a woman’s body produces too much male hormone (androgen). The condition itself is harmless, but it’s sometimes the result of an underlying medical condition, such as a tumor or Cushing’s disease.
Certain medications can also lead to hirsutism. Any usual hair growth should therefore be discussed with your physician.
Self-Help Ways to Remove Unwanted Hair
People have been removing unwanted hair from their faces and bodies for centuries. Popular methods today include shaving, which cuts off hair at the skin’s surface; tweezing, which pulls hair up from its root; waxing, which does the same as tweezing but over a broader area; and depilatories, which dissolve the hair.
Electrolysis, which burns the hair root with an electric current delivered via a fine needle, is also used. This form of treatment, however, requires many return visits to the electrolysis technician, who may or may not be qualified. (Training and licensing requirements are not standardized.) Electrolysis is also painful and may lead to skin discoloration and scarring.
Lasers: The Modern Method of Hair Removal
Laser treatments offer many people a safe, effective, and long-lasting solution to unwanted facial or body hair. The procedure uses intense pulses of laser light to destroy individual hair follicles, thus inhibiting future hair growth. Different types of lasers are used on different types and colors of hair and skin. Laser hair removal is not a permanent solution, but the treatment can provided extended periods of hair-