Quackwatch Home Page
Generally considered a "cosmetic" issue, hair removal can be a medical necessity for skin graft preparation, ingrown eyelashes, and various other problems. Changes in hair-growth patterns are sometimes a symptom of serious conditions such as hormonal imbalances or glucose intolerance.
Many cultures have an aesthetic "ideal" amount of hair for males and females. For some of us, unwanted hair that exceeds this arbitrary standard can cause real or perceived problems with social acceptance. Thus managing or removing unwanted hair can go beyond being a simple "cosmetic" problem.
The information I've compiled would fill a book, so if you're researching a specific method, you can go right to that topic. For a more thorough review, I recommend reading the pages in order.
Hair removal can be achieved through depilation (removing part of the hair above the skin's surface) or epilation (removing the entire hair). For many consumers, temporary methods at regular intervals are acceptable.
If you're seeking permanent hair removal, you have several imperfect options. A number of methods have been developed that use chemicals, energy of varying types, or a combination to target the areas that regulate hair growth. Permanently destroying these areas while sparing surrounding tissue is a difficult challenge. I recommend relying on a body of published, peer-reviewed scientific evidence to ensure the effectiveness of a method.
Ms. James is a Chicago-based writer and consumer activist who owns hairfacts.com.