Getting rid of body hair
hair; follicle; shaving; waxing; plucking; depilatories; razor; shave;
Why remove hair?
For thousands of years people have removed hair from their faces, under their arms, around the genitals and from other parts of their bodies. Some people have even shaved off the hair on the top of their head.
This was seen as a way of keeping the body clean, stopping head and body lice, and being more beautiful!
Over the years, there have been three main ways of doing this.
- Shaving, where the hair above the skin's surface has been cut off.
- Plucking, where the hair has been plucked out of the skin, along with the hair follicle (the 'bulb' that the hair grows from).
- Using depilatories, (say dee-pil-a-tor-eez) where something is put onto the skin that damages the hair so that it can be rubbed off.
Kids don't need to do anything about body hair until they reach puberty, and then it is your choice. There is nothing bad about body hair!
Some boys start to grow facial hair at a fairly young age. It's a good idea to learn how to shave it off by watching an older male shave. Get him to coach you through the first few times rather than starting by yourself, as it could be messy!
As they reach puberty, girls often start shaving their armpits and legs, and sometimes around the bikini line to remove any pubic hair that may show when wearing bathers in the summer.
The smoothness from shaving lasts for one to three days.
Some tips for shaving...
- Some people use electric shavers, while others prefer a razor.
- If you use a razor, always use a clean sharp razor. A safety razor or disposable razor is best, as you are less likely to cut yourself.
- When you are shaving your face, use warm water and shaving gel or cream.
- Go slowly, in the same direction as the hair to avoid cuts and ingrowing hairs.
- Shaving body hair in the shower is good because the hair is softer. (Don't use an electric shaver in the shower!!)
- Girls can use moisturising cream instead of shaving cream. It is kinder to the skin than shaving when your legs or underarms are dry. A cheap one will do.
- Wash the razor often while shaving to get rid of the hair. Change the blade often, before it gets blunt - a blade that isn't sharp is more likely to catch the skin and cause a nick or small cut.
- Putting on a moisturising cream after shaving will soothe the skin.
Plucking out hairs using tweezers takes time but is very effective. People usually only pluck small areas like eyebrows, chins and upper lip. You have to grasp the hair in the tweezers and quickly pull until the hair comes out. Sounds painful? It is, so it's a good idea to check for hairs every day - then you only have to pull out one or two at a time!
Some tips for plucking...
- Wash the tweezers before and after use.
- If you have one, use a magnifying mirror so that you can see what you are doing.
- Get someone to show you how it's done before trying yourself.
- If you have a lot of facial hair, then it is a good idea to talk to a doctor or a beauty professional before you start running amok with the tweezers! They may have better suggestions.
Threading: this is an ancient technique in which cotton threads are used to trap and pull out unwanted hair on the face, eg eyebrows, upper lip and chin. It takes practice to become skilfull so don't try it on yourself! Ouch!
Warm (or sometimes cold) wax is spread over the skin, then clean dry cloth is smoothed over the wax. The cloth is pulled off quickly bringing the wax and unwanted hairs with it.
Sounds painful? It is.
So why do it? Waxing removes hair quickly from larger areas like legs, as well as smaller areas on the face. Waxing is not a good idea to use for removing a beard. Hair takes 3 to 6 weeks to grow back and there may be less than before.
You can do it at home with a waxing kit that you can buy, or you can go to a salon, which is a lot more expensive, but quick and less messy.
A long time ago people sometimes used sugar, lemon juice and butter mixed together to remove hair.
Depilatories (say dee-pil-a-tor-eez) are creams or liquids that will 'melt' the hair off the skin so that it will wash or wipe away.Some can be used on the face.
- You would need to read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly.
- Get an adult to help show you what to do.
- Use a good timer so that you don't have the cream on for too long.
- Use moisturiser afterwards to soothe the skin.
ways to remove hair
- Electrolysis (say e-lek-troll-a-sis) is a way of removing hair for good. It costs a lot of money and is done by a professional electrologist. A special needle is put into the hair follicle and an electric current goes through to kill the hair follicle.
- Laser hair removal uses lasers in a similar way to get rid of hair for up to 6 months.
- Medication might be prescribed by a doctor or skin specialist if hair is a problem. There are different kinds.
- "I've got one giant eyebrow. Some people call me mono-brow and that makes me feel bad. I asked mum to pluck out the hairs but she won't. I'm going to get it done when I'm older." Josh
- "My auntie plucked my eyebrows for me. Mum was mad at first but she's okay now." Serena
- "My mum shaves her legs. I don't have many hairs so I don't need to."
Body hair is natural. Deciding to get rid of some of it is up to you. You should not feel pressured into doing something because 'they' say that it's fashionable. Some cultures think that body hair is beautiful. Think and talk to trusted adults before you decide what you want to do.
The history of hair removal could be a really interesting project for you to research if you are feeling bored one day.
We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.