Tackling the taboo: female body hair

Ladies and gents, whether you like it, love it, loathe it – the majority of us have body hair. It may come as quite the shock to any of the male audience out there, but females are not born hair-free. I know. The details they neglect to mention in sex-education eh.

First off, I’m not going to pretend that I’m wholly disgusted by body hair: it’s a natural part of the human body. Yes, that includes females too. While I’ll generally make an effort to remove most of it, I am found on occasions sporting some furry tights – and why on earth not!

I’m not going to try to convince you all to remove or grow your body hair – that’s 100% a personal call, and I trust you to do what’s best. However I would like to share some light on the many methods of hair removal.

I’ve had a slight obsession with hair removal ever since stumbling across my sister’s hair removal cream at the tender age of 12. Being the cunning fox that I was, I figured that I couldn’t use it on my legs as that would use too much of her product so I’d give it a bash on my arm. Yes arm, singular not plural. What a clever cookie I was not.

If you do decide that you want to remove your hair,  here are my dos, my don’ts and my ‘avoid at all costs’.

Hair removal cream: here is an effective method of hair removal if your hair is too long to shave or epilate (hush hush, stop judging – we’re all friends here!). However it is less effective if your hair is in the early phase of in-growth (or to put it less romantically, stubble). I don’t use hair removal cream for two simple reasons: 1) it stinks and 2) it irritates my skin. The smell of hair removal cream is pungent despite the most valiant of efforts to mask it with herbs and other stinkies. If you’re a 12 year old trying to hide your hair removing efforts from you mother, then forget this! An experienced and well-honed nose will detect this stench a mile off. There is always the concern with hair removal cream as to how it may be affecting your skin: everyone is different of course but if this cream can remove hair, I wonder how kind this cream is to our skin. Hair tends to re-grow within the week so not ideal but is cheap and easy to find on the high-street.

Tweezing: straightforward, reliable, relatively pain free and takes a decent time (7-10 days) for hair to return. Tweezing is only really suitable for small areas such as eyebrows or coaxing out any troublesome ingrown hairs. For whatever reason, in my early teens I set it my task to pluck the hair from my entire knee. The result? A bald knee and neck ache. A quick word of caution: avoid getting tweezer happy. Merrily plucking my brows for the first time I ended up with a ‘questioning’ expression after getting slightly carried away. My sister teased me mercilessly at school for the best part of a week for my handy work.

Shaving: here’s an age old method of hair removal that’s probably the quickest and gives the most immediate effect. Shaving gives really great results in just a matter of minutes, but those couple of minutes have to be repeated a few times a week to keep up the hair-free illusion. Forget using women’s razors, they are hopeless: you’re much better to attach men’s blades to your own razor. When hair returns it has a blunt edge and somewhat resembles that of a porcupine: it’s not overly pleasant to touch and seems to appear thicker and more unruly than it was in the first place! Hair regrowth on most body parts isn’t a problem – the occasional cut and slight time constraints are the only real grumbles. However there are parts of the body where one must avoid introducing a razor at all costs – the itching simply isn’t worth it. I’ll leave that one for you to work out.

Epilating: time consuming and very painful to start with but well worth the effort. 40 sets of pincing tweezers on a rotating barrel ripping each individual hair out, sounds gruesome? Initially yes. If you can power through the first 2-3 times epilating then you’re onto a winner. After epilating for a few weeks, hair re-growth is slower (as it’s being removed from the roots) and it grows in all soft and downy – forget porcupine legs! Some brave women can face using epilation as a method to remove their armpit and bikini hair – this is not for the faint hearted! I tried using the epilator on my bikini line: I looked like I’d been attacked by a swarm of bees. Not ideal to explain to your waxing beautician the following day!

Waxing: home or salon waxing are both great. Please be cautious not to overheat the wax though! I still have a battle-scar on my shin where I didn’t let the wax cool enough before application. Pulling a wax strip over a blistered shin was far from fun. Waxing achieves the similar results as epilating but any pain is over much quicker. The more you wax, the less the pain. It really is true! Waxing is truly the only method of hair removal I would recommend for any intimate areas. If you’re brave enough to do it yourself then hats off to you, but most of us will have to slip into a salon. Don’t worry – they’ve seen it all before, stop stressing about it! With both waxing and epilating, be sure to exfoliate plenty to avoid any ingrown hairs.

Threading: threading is mostly used for facial areas. This is hair removal for the brave! Both eyebrow and upper-lip hair removal will have tears streaming down your face. The results? Excellent and longer lasting than shaving, and a cleaner line than tweezing for the eyebrows.

So, all in all there’s plenty of options here to make yourself look like a plucked turkey. My prize winner is definitely waxing, quick and effective and leaves you with downy hair between waxes – perfect if you neglect it for a while. Mix and match different methods to different body areas to find what works for you. Remember, hair removal is a personal choice so if you don’t fancy shaving your legs tonight, then don’t bother: you only live once!

Your lass,
Cat x
– written on 12 July, 2012 – 

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