Hair removal
Overview
Hair removal is the removal of body hair, and describes the methods used to achieve that result.

Hair typically grows all over the human body during and after puberty
Puberty
Puberty is the process of physical changes by which a child's body matures into an adult body capable of reproduction, as initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads; the ovaries in a girl, the testes in a boy...

. Men tend to have more body hair than women. Both men and women tend to have hair on the head
Hair
Hair is a filamentous biomaterial, that grows from follicles found in the dermis. Found exclusively in mammals, hair is one of the defining characteristics of the mammalian class....

, eyebrow
Eyebrow
The eyebrow is an area of thick, delicate hairs above the eye that follows the shape of the lower margin of the brow ridges of some mammals. Their main function is to prevent sweat, water, and other debris from falling down into the eye socket, but they are also important to human communication and...

s, eyelash
Eyelash
An eyelash or simply lash is one of the hairs that grow at the edge of the eyelid. Eyelashes protect the eye from debris and perform some of the same function as whiskers do on a cat or a mouse in the sense that they are sensitive to being touched, thus providing a warning that an object is near...

es, armpits, pubic region and legs
Leg shaving
Leg shaving is the practice of removing leg hair by shaving the hair off using a razor or electric shaver. In addition, some people remove leg hair using waxing, sugaring, depilatories, depilation devices, or lasers, but shaving remains the least expensive method.It is a very common practice among...

; and men also have hair on their face
Facial hair
Facial hair is a secondary sex characteristic of human males. Men often start developing facial hair in the later years of puberty or adolescence, approximately between 17–20 years of age, and most do not finish developing a fully adult beard until their early 20s or even later...

, abdomen
Abdominal hair
The term abdominal hair refers to the hair that grows on the abdomen of humans and non-human mammals, in the region between the pubic area and the thorax . The growth of abdominal hair follows the same pattern on nearly all mammals, vertically from the pubic area upwards and from the thorax...

, back
Human back
The human back is the large posterior area of the human body, rising from the top of the buttocks to the back of the neck and the shoulders. It is the surface opposite to the chest, its height being defined by the vertebral column and its breadth being supported by the ribcage and shoulders...

 and chest
Chest hair
The term chest hair is generally used to describe hair that grows on the chest of human males, in the region between the neck and the abdomen. Chest hair, which is a secondary sex characteristic, develops during and after puberty...

. Hair does not generally grow on the palms of the hands, the lips, certain areas of the genital structure, or the soles of the feet.

Forms of hair removal are practised for a number of reasons, including cultural, sexual, medical and religious.
Encyclopedia
Hair removal is the removal of body hair, and describes the methods used to achieve that result.

Hair typically grows all over the human body during and after puberty
Puberty
Puberty is the process of physical changes by which a child's body matures into an adult body capable of reproduction, as initiated by hormonal signals from the brain to the gonads; the ovaries in a girl, the testes in a boy...

. Men tend to have more body hair than women. Both men and women tend to have hair on the head
Hair
Hair is a filamentous biomaterial, that grows from follicles found in the dermis. Found exclusively in mammals, hair is one of the defining characteristics of the mammalian class....

, eyebrow
Eyebrow
The eyebrow is an area of thick, delicate hairs above the eye that follows the shape of the lower margin of the brow ridges of some mammals. Their main function is to prevent sweat, water, and other debris from falling down into the eye socket, but they are also important to human communication and...

s, eyelash
Eyelash
An eyelash or simply lash is one of the hairs that grow at the edge of the eyelid. Eyelashes protect the eye from debris and perform some of the same function as whiskers do on a cat or a mouse in the sense that they are sensitive to being touched, thus providing a warning that an object is near...

es, armpits, pubic region and legs
Leg shaving
Leg shaving is the practice of removing leg hair by shaving the hair off using a razor or electric shaver. In addition, some people remove leg hair using waxing, sugaring, depilatories, depilation devices, or lasers, but shaving remains the least expensive method.It is a very common practice among...

; and men also have hair on their face
Facial hair
Facial hair is a secondary sex characteristic of human males. Men often start developing facial hair in the later years of puberty or adolescence, approximately between 17–20 years of age, and most do not finish developing a fully adult beard until their early 20s or even later...

, abdomen
Abdominal hair
The term abdominal hair refers to the hair that grows on the abdomen of humans and non-human mammals, in the region between the pubic area and the thorax . The growth of abdominal hair follows the same pattern on nearly all mammals, vertically from the pubic area upwards and from the thorax...

, back
Human back
The human back is the large posterior area of the human body, rising from the top of the buttocks to the back of the neck and the shoulders. It is the surface opposite to the chest, its height being defined by the vertebral column and its breadth being supported by the ribcage and shoulders...

 and chest
Chest hair
The term chest hair is generally used to describe hair that grows on the chest of human males, in the region between the neck and the abdomen. Chest hair, which is a secondary sex characteristic, develops during and after puberty...

. Hair does not generally grow on the palms of the hands, the lips, certain areas of the genital structure, or the soles of the feet.

Forms of hair removal are practised for a number of reasons, including cultural, sexual, medical and religious. Forms of hair removal have been practiced in almost all human culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s. The methods used to remove hair have varied in different times and regions, but shaving
Shaving
Shaving is the removal of hair, by using a razor or any other kind of bladed implement, to slice it down to the level of the skin. Shaving is most commonly practiced by men to remove their facial hair and by women to remove their leg and underarm hair...

 is the most common method.

Cultural and sexual aspects

Each culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 of human society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 has developed social norms relating to the presence or absence of body hair, which has changed from one time to another. Different standards can apply to males and females. People whose hair falls outside a culture's aesthetic standards may experience real or perceived social acceptance problems. For example, for women in several Western societies, exposure in public of body hair other than head hair, eyelashes and eyebrows is generally considered to be unaesthetic, undesirable and embarrassing
Embarrassment
Embarrassment is an emotional state of intense discomfort with oneself, experienced upon having a socially unacceptable act or condition witnessed by or revealed to others. Usually some amount of loss of honour or dignity is involved, but how much and the type depends on the embarrassing situation...

.

With the increased popularity in many countries of shorter dresses and swimsuits during the 20th century and the consequential exposure of parts of the body on which body hair is commonly found, there has been an increase in the practice of removing unwanted body hair, such as on legs, underarms and elsewhere. In the United States, for example, the vast majority of women regularly shave their legs and armpits, while roughly half also shave their bikini lines.

People may also remove some or all of their pubic hair
Pubic hair
Pubic hair is hair in the frontal genital area, the crotch, and sometimes at the top of the inside of the legs; these areas form the pubic region....

 for aesthetic or sexual reasons
Bikini waxing
Bikini waxing is the epilation of body hair in and around the pubic region, commonly by women, by the use of wax. With certain styles of women's swimwear, pubic hair may become visible around the crotch area of a swimsuit. Visible pubic hair is widely culturally disapproved of and considered to be...

. However, some women in Western cultures choose not to remove hair from their bodies, either as a preference or as an act of defiance against what they regard to be an oppressive ritual.

Many men in Western cultures shave their facial hair, so only a minority of men have a beard
Beard
A beard is the collection of hair that grows on the chin, cheeks and neck of human beings. Usually, only pubescent or adult males are able to grow beards. However, women with hirsutism may develop a beard...

, even though fast-growing facial hair must be shaved daily to achieve a clean-shaven or hairless look. On the contrary, in some Eastern cultures (e.g.: Eastern Turkish and Iranian) a display of a beard is considered to be a display of wisdom. Some men shave because they cannot grow a "full" beard (generally defined as an even density from cheeks to neck), because their beard color is different from their scalp hair color, or because their facial hair grows in many directions, making a groomed look difficult. Some men shave because their beards are very coarse, causing itchiness and irritation. Some men grow a beard or moustache from time to time to change their appearance.

Some men shave their heads, either as a fashion statement, because they find a shaved head preferable to the appearance of male pattern baldness, or in order to attain enhanced cooling of the skull – particularly for people suffering from hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis
Hyperhidrosis is the condition characterized by abnormally increased perspiration, in excess of that required for regulation of body temperature.-Classification:Hyperhidrosis can either be generalized or localized to specific parts of the body...

. A much smaller number of Western women also shave their heads, often as a fashion or political statement.

Some women also shave their heads for cultural or social reasons. In India, tradition required widows in some sections of the society to shave their heads as part of being ostracized (see widowhood in Hinduism). The outlawed custom is still infrequently encountered mostly in rural areas, the society at large and the government are working to end the practice of ostracizing widows. In addition, it continues to be common practice for men and women to shave their heads prior to embarking on a pilgrimage.

Religious reasons

Head-shaving is a part of some Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, Muslim
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, Jain
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

 and Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 traditions. Buddhist and Christian monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

s generally undergo some form of head-shaving or tonsure
Tonsure
Tonsure is the traditional practice of Christian churches of cutting or shaving the hair from the scalp of clerics, monastics, and, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, all baptized members...

 during their ordination
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

; in Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 monks shave their eyebrows as well. Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 children have their heads ritualistically shaved before beginning school.

In some parts of the Theravada
Theravada
Theravada ; literally, "the Teaching of the Elders" or "the Ancient Teaching", is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It was founded in India...

 Buddhist world, it is common practice to shave the heads of children. Weak or sickly children are often left with a small topknot of hair, to gauge their health and mark them for special treatment. When health improves, the lock is cut off.

In Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, there is no obligation to remove hair; nor is there a general prohibition to removing hair. However, there is a prohibition for men using a razor to shave their beards or sideburns; and, by custom, neither men nor women may cut their hair or shave during a 30-day mourning period after the death of an immediate family member.

The Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 recommends against complete and long-term head-shaving outside of medical purposes. It is not currently practiced as a law, contingent upon future decision by the Universal House of Justice
Universal House of Justice
The Universal House of Justice is the supreme governing institution of the Bahá'í Faith. It is a legislative institution with the authority to supplement and apply the laws of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, and exercises a judicial function as the highest appellate institution in the...

, its highest governing body. Sikhs
Sikhism
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region, by Guru Nanak Dev and continued to progress with ten successive Sikh Gurus . It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and one of the fastest-growing...

 take an even stronger stance, opposing all forms of hair removal. One of the Sikh "Five Ks" is Kesh
Kesh (Sikhism)
In Sikhism, Kesh is the practice of allowing one's hair to grow naturally as a symbol of respect for the perfection of God's creation. The practice is one of the Five Ks, the outward symbols ordered by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 as a means to profess the Sikh faith...

, meaning "uncut hair". To Sikhs, the maintenance and management of long hair is a manifestation of one's piety.

Muslim law (Sharia
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

) puts hair in three categories: that which it is recommended to remove (pubic and armpit hair) and trim mustache. It is recommended to keep (the beard), and that which is the object of limited recommendation (foot, hand, back, and chest hair). Removal of armpit and pubic hair is a hygienic practice which was taught by the Islamic prophet Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 and which was enumerated as having been part of practices conforming to man's premortal (Fitrah) nature practiced by all prophets
Prophets of Islam
Muslims identify the Prophets of Islam as those humans chosen by God and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship God and their respective followers believed it as well...

 of God. A Muslim may trim or cut hair on head. The hairs on the chest and the back but may be removed. In the 9th century, the use of chemical depilatories
Chemical depilatory
A chemical depilatory is a cosmetic preparation used to remove the hair from the skin on the human body. Currently, a common active ingredient is calcium thioglycolate, which breaks down the disulphide bonds in keratin and weakens the hair so that it is easily scraped off where it emerges from the...

 for women was introduced by Ziryab
Ziryab
Abu l-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Nafi‘ , nicknamed Ziryab , was a Black African or Persian or Kurdish polymath: a poet, musician, singer, chemist, cosmetologist, fashion designer, trendsetter, strategist, astronomer, botanist and...

 in Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus
Al-Andalus was the Arabic name given to a nation and territorial region also commonly referred to as Moorish Iberia. The name describes parts of the Iberian Peninsula and Septimania governed by Muslims , at various times in the period between 711 and 1492, although the territorial boundaries...

.

Ancient Egyptian priests also shaved or depilated all over daily, so as to present a "pure" body before the images of the gods.

Medical reasons

The body hair of surgical patients may be removed before surgery
Surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

. In the past this may have been achieved by shaving, but that is now considered counter-productive, so clippers or chemical depilatories may be used instead. The shaving of hair has sometimes been used in attempts to eradicate lice or to minimize body odor
Body odor
Body odor or body odour, sometimes colloquially abbreviated as B.O., is the smell of bacteria growing on the body. The bacteria multiply rapidly in the presence of sweat, but sweat itself is almost completely odorless to humans....

 due to accumulation of odor-causing micro-organisms in hair. Some people with trichiasis
Trichiasis
Trichiasis is a medical term for abnormally positioned eyelashes that grow back toward the eye, touching the cornea or conjunctiva. This can be caused by infection, inflammation, autoimmune conditions, congenital defects, eyelid agenesis and trauma such as burns or eyelid injury.Standard treatment...

 find it medically necessary to remove ingrown eyelashes. Incorrect shaving (shaving against the grain) can often cause ingrown hairs.

Many forms of cancer require chemotherapy, which often causes severe and irregular hair loss. For this reason, it is common for cancer patients to shave their heads even before starting chemotherapy.

In extreme situations people may need to remove all body hair to prevent or combat infestation by lice, fleas and other parasites. Such a practice was used, for example, in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

.

Male-to-female gender reassignment

Male-to-female transsexual women often decide to remove their facial hair, typically either by electrolysis
Electrology
Electrology is the practice of electrical epilation to permanently remove human hair. The actual process of removing the hair is referred to as electrolysis.-Overview:...

 or laser removal
Laser hair removal
Laser hair removal was performed experimentally for about 20 years before it became commercially available in the mid 1990s. One of the first published articles describing laser hair removal was authored by the group at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1998...

, or a combination of the two procedures, in an effort to give a more natural appearance to themselves in line with their gender identity.

In addition, some surgeons recommend that a part of the pubic hair be removed prior to gender reassignment surgery as well, usually by electrolysis. Since the new vagina
Vagina
The vagina is a fibromuscular tubular tract leading from the uterus to the exterior of the body in female placental mammals and marsupials, or to the cloaca in female birds, monotremes, and some reptiles. Female insects and other invertebrates also have a vagina, which is the terminal part of the...

 is created using the skin of the penis
Penis
The penis is a biological feature of male animals including both vertebrates and invertebrates...

 and part of the scrotum
Scrotum
In some male mammals the scrotum is a dual-chambered protuberance of skin and muscle containing the testicles and divided by a septum. It is an extension of the perineum, and is located between the penis and anus. In humans and some other mammals, the base of the scrotum becomes covered with curly...

, which usually has active follicles
Hair follicle
A hair follicle is a skin organ that produces hair. Hair production occurs in phases, including a growth phase , and cessation phase , and a rest phase . Stem cells are principally responsible for the production of hair....

, the hair is removed from these areas prior to surgery, in order for the genitals to be fashioned without the concern of hair growth inside of the new vagina. In some cases, the surgeon scrapes the underside of the skin to remove the follicles at or near the beginning of the surgery, eliminating the need for post-surgical hair removal.

In the military

A close-cropped or completely shaven haircut is common in military organizations. In field environments, soldiers are susceptible to infestation of lice, tick
Tick
Ticks are small arachnids in the order Ixodida, along with mites, constitute the subclass Acarina. Ticks are ectoparasites , living by hematophagy on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians...

s, and flea
Flea
Flea is the common name for insects of the order Siphonaptera which are wingless insects with mouthparts adapted for piercing skin and sucking blood...

s. In addition short hair is also more difficult for an enemy to grab hold of in hand-to-hand combat.

The practice serves to cultivate a group oriented environment through the process of removing exterior signs of individuality. In many militaries head-shaving is mandatory for males when beginning their training. However, even after the initial recruitment phase, when head-shaving is no longer required, many soldiers maintain a completely or partially shaven hairstyle (such as a "high and tight
High and tight
The high and tight is a military variant of the buzz cut. It is a very short hairstyle most commonly worn by men in the armed forces of most countries. Due to the functionality of this hairstyle, it is also popular with law enforcement officers and other public safety personnel...

", "flattop
Flattop
A flattop is a type of very short hairstyle similar to the crew cut, with the exception that the hair on the top of the head is deliberately styled to stand up and is cut to be flat, resulting in a haircut that is square in shape...

" or "buzz cut
Buzz cut
A buzz cut, induction cut or wiffle is a very short haircut.The cut is usually performed using hair clippers without a comb guard. The sides are cut closely and then the top is either shaped or cut to the same short length all over. The cut takes just a few minutes to perform. A buzz cut can...

") for personal convenience and an exterior symbol of military solidarity
Solidarity
Solidarity is a Polish trade union federation that emerged on August 31, 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyard under the leadership of Lech Wałęsa. It was the first non-communist party-controlled trade union in a Warsaw Pact country. Solidarity reached 9.5 million members before its September 1981 congress...

. Head-shaving is not required and is often not allowed of females in military service, although they must have their hair cut or tied to regulation length.

Armies may also require males to maintain clean-shaven faces as facial hair can prevent an air-tight seal between the face and breathing or safety equipment, such as a pilot's oxygen mask, a diver's mask, or a soldier's gas mask.

In sport

It is a common practice for professional and amateur road cyclists to remove leg hair for a number of reasons. In the case of a crash, the absence of the leg hair means the injuries (usually road rash) can be cleaned up more efficiently, and treatment is not impeded. Professional cyclists also receive regular leg massages, and the absence of hair reduces the friction and increases their comfort and effectiveness.
It is also common for professional swimmers to shave hair off their legs, not to prevent drag with the water from slowing them down as is commonly believed, but to remove a dead layer of skin, providing a heightened 'feel' for the water.
Professional soccer players also shave their legs. One of the reasons is that they are required to wear shin guards and in a case of a skin rash the affected area can be treated more efficiently.

As punishment

In some situations, people's hair is shaved as a punishment or a form of humiliation. After World War II, head-shaving was a common punishment in France, the Netherlands, and Norway for women who had collaborated with the Nazis during the occupation, and, in particular, for women who had sexual relations with an occupying soldier.

In the United States, during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, conservative students would sometimes attack student radicals or "hippies" by shaving beards or cutting long hair. One notorious incident occurred at Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, when unruly fraternity members grabbed Resistance founder (and student-body president) David Harris, cut off his long hair, and shaved his beard.

In Arab countries, shaving off head-hair is sometimes used to shame and humiliate male prisoners.

During European witch-hunt
Witch-hunt
A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials...

s of the Medieval and Early Modern period
Early modern period
In history, the early modern period of modern history follows the late Middle Ages. Although the chronological limits of the period are open to debate, the timeframe spans the period after the late portion of the Middle Ages through the beginning of the Age of Revolutions...

s, alleged witches were stripped naked and their entire body shaved to discover the so-called witches' mark
Witches' mark
According to witch-hunters during the height of the witch trials , the witches’ mark indicated that an individual was a witch. The witches' mark and the devil's mark are all terms applied to essentially the same mark. The beliefs about the mark differ depending on the trial location and the...

s. The discovery of witches' marks was then used as evidence in trials.

Head shaving during present times has also been used as a form of payment for challenges or dares lost involving the removal of all body hair.

Forms of hair removal

Depilation is the removal of the part of the hair above the surface of the skin. The most common form of depilation is shaving
Shaving
Shaving is the removal of hair, by using a razor or any other kind of bladed implement, to slice it down to the level of the skin. Shaving is most commonly practiced by men to remove their facial hair and by women to remove their leg and underarm hair...

 or trimming. Another option is the use of chemical depilatories
Chemical depilatory
A chemical depilatory is a cosmetic preparation used to remove the hair from the skin on the human body. Currently, a common active ingredient is calcium thioglycolate, which breaks down the disulphide bonds in keratin and weakens the hair so that it is easily scraped off where it emerges from the...

, which work by breaking the disulfide bond
Disulfide bond
In chemistry, a disulfide bond is a covalent bond, usually derived by the coupling of two thiol groups. The linkage is also called an SS-bond or disulfide bridge. The overall connectivity is therefore R-S-S-R. The terminology is widely used in biochemistry...

s that link the protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

 chains that give hair its strength, making the hair disintegrate.

Epilation is the removal of the entire hair, including the part below the skin. Methods include waxing
Waxing
Waxing is a method of semi-permanent hair removal which removes the hair from the root. New hair will not grow back in the previously waxed area for two to eight weeks, although some people will start to see regrowth in only a week. Almost any area of the body can be waxed, including eyebrows,...

, sugaring
Sugaring (epilation)
Sugaring, sugar waxing or Persian waxing is a method of hair removal.It has been in use since 1900 BC.Sugaring can be less painful than waxing, because the substrate sticks to the hair without attaching to the skin, may be applied at room temperature or heated to a lukewarm temperature, preventing...

, epilation device
Epilator
An epilator is an electrical device used to remove hair by mechanically grasping multiple hairs simultaneously and pulling them out. The way in which epilators pull out hair is similar to waxing, although unlike waxing, they do not remove cells from the epithelium of the epidermis...

s, laser
Laser hair removal
Laser hair removal was performed experimentally for about 20 years before it became commercially available in the mid 1990s. One of the first published articles describing laser hair removal was authored by the group at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1998...

s, threading
Threading (epilation)
Threading is an ancient method of hair removal originating in the Eastern world. In more recent times it has gained popularity in Western countries.-Technique:...

, intense pulsed light
Intense pulsed light
Intense pulsed light , is a technology aimed at producing light of high intensity during a very short period of time. It involves specific lamps together with capacitors whose rapid discharge provides the high energy required....

 or electrology
Electrology
Electrology is the practice of electrical epilation to permanently remove human hair. The actual process of removing the hair is referred to as electrolysis.-Overview:...

. Hair is also sometimes removed by plucking
Plucking (hair removal)
Plucking or tweezing can mean the process of removing human hair, animal hair or a bird's feathers by mechanically pulling the item from the owner's body.In humans, this is done for personal grooming purposes, usually with tweezers...

 with tweezers
Tweezers
Tweezers are tools used for picking up and manipulating objects too small to be easily handled with the human hands. They are probably derived from tongs, pincers, or scissors-like pliers used to grab or hold hot objects since the dawn of recorded history...

.

Hair removal methods

Many products on the market have proven fraudulent. Many other products exaggerate the results or ease of use.

Temporary removal of hair to the level of the skin, lasts several hours to several days and can be achieved by
  • Shaving
    Shaving
    Shaving is the removal of hair, by using a razor or any other kind of bladed implement, to slice it down to the level of the skin. Shaving is most commonly practiced by men to remove their facial hair and by women to remove their leg and underarm hair...

     or trimming (manually or with electric shavers)
  • Depilatories
    Chemical depilatory
    A chemical depilatory is a cosmetic preparation used to remove the hair from the skin on the human body. Currently, a common active ingredient is calcium thioglycolate, which breaks down the disulphide bonds in keratin and weakens the hair so that it is easily scraped off where it emerges from the...

     (creams or "shaving powders" which chemically dissolve hair)
  • Friction (rough surfaces used to buff away hair)


"Epilation", or removal of the entire hair from the root, lasts several days to several weeks and may be achieved by
  • Tweezing
    Plucking (hair removal)
    Plucking or tweezing can mean the process of removing human hair, animal hair or a bird's feathers by mechanically pulling the item from the owner's body.In humans, this is done for personal grooming purposes, usually with tweezers...

     (hairs are tweezed, or pulled out, with tweezers or with fingers)
  • Waxing
    Waxing
    Waxing is a method of semi-permanent hair removal which removes the hair from the root. New hair will not grow back in the previously waxed area for two to eight weeks, although some people will start to see regrowth in only a week. Almost any area of the body can be waxed, including eyebrows,...

     (a hot or cold layer is applied and then removed with porous strips)
  • Sugaring
    Sugaring (epilation)
    Sugaring, sugar waxing or Persian waxing is a method of hair removal.It has been in use since 1900 BC.Sugaring can be less painful than waxing, because the substrate sticks to the hair without attaching to the skin, may be applied at room temperature or heated to a lukewarm temperature, preventing...

     (similar to waxing, but with a sticky paste)
  • Threading
    Threading (epilation)
    Threading is an ancient method of hair removal originating in the Eastern world. In more recent times it has gained popularity in Western countries.-Technique:...

     (also called fatlah or khite in Arabic, or band in Persian
    Persian language
    Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

     in which a twisted thread catches hairs as it is rolled across the skin)
  • Burning off with hot wax can damage the cells and prevent hair from ever growing in the unwanted spot again.
  • Use of Turmeric along with other ingredients like besan powder and milk
  • Epilator
    Epilator
    An epilator is an electrical device used to remove hair by mechanically grasping multiple hairs simultaneously and pulling them out. The way in which epilators pull out hair is similar to waxing, although unlike waxing, they do not remove cells from the epithelium of the epidermis...

    s (mechanical devices that rapidly grasp hairs and pull them out)
  • Prescription oral medications
  • Drugs that directly attack hair growth or inhibit the development of new hair cells. Hair growth will become less and less until it finally stops; normal depilation/epilation will be performed until that time. Hair growth will return to normal if use of product discontinued. Products include the prescription drug Vaniqa, with the active ingredient eflornithine hydrochloride inhibiting the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase
    Ornithine decarboxylase
    The enzyme ornithine decarboxylase catalyzes the decarboxylation of ornithine to form putrescine. This reaction is the committed step in polyamine synthesis. In humans, this protein has 461 amino acids and forms a homodimer....

    , preventing new hair cells from producing putrescine
    Putrescine
    Putrescine is a foul-smelling organic chemical compound NH24NH2 that is related to cadaverine; both are produced by the breakdown of amino acids in living and dead organisms and both are toxic in large doses...

     for stabilizing their DNA.

Permanent hair removal

For over 130 years, electrology
Electrology
Electrology is the practice of electrical epilation to permanently remove human hair. The actual process of removing the hair is referred to as electrolysis.-Overview:...

 has been in use in the United States. It is approved by the FDA. This technique permanently destroys germ cells responsible for hair growth by way of insertion of a fine probe in the hair follicle and the application of a current adjusted to each hair type and treatment area.

Laser hair removal
Laser hair removal
Laser hair removal was performed experimentally for about 20 years before it became commercially available in the mid 1990s. One of the first published articles describing laser hair removal was authored by the group at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1998...

 technology became widespread in the US and many other countries from the 1990s onwards. It has been approved in the United States by the FDA since 1997. With this technology, light is directed at the hair and is absorbed by dark pigment, resulting in the destruction of the hair follicle. The hair removal becomes permanent after one or more sessions. The number of sessions needed depends upon the amount and type of hair being removed. Equipment for performing laser hair removal at home has become available in recent years.

Electrology
Electrology
Electrology is the practice of electrical epilation to permanently remove human hair. The actual process of removing the hair is referred to as electrolysis.-Overview:...

 is recognized by the FDA as the only permanent hair removal method.

Permanent hair reduction

  • Photoepilation
    • Laser hair removal
      Laser hair removal
      Laser hair removal was performed experimentally for about 20 years before it became commercially available in the mid 1990s. One of the first published articles describing laser hair removal was authored by the group at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1998...

       (lasers and laser diodes)
    • Intense pulsed light
      Intense pulsed light
      Intense pulsed light , is a technology aimed at producing light of high intensity during a very short period of time. It involves specific lamps together with capacitors whose rapid discharge provides the high energy required....

       (high-energy lamps)
    • Diode epilation (high energy LED
      LEd
      LEd is a TeX/LaTeX editing software working under Microsoft Windows. It is a freeware product....

      s but not laser diodes)

Experimental or banned methods

  • Photodynamic therapy
    Photodynamic therapy
    Photodynamic therapy is used clinically to treat a wide range of medical conditions, including malignant cancers, and is recognised as a treatment strategy which is both minimally invasive and minimally toxic...

     for hair removal (experimental)
  • X-ray
    X-ray
    X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

     hair removal is an efficient, and usually permanent, hair removal method, but also causes severe health problems, occasional disfigurement, and even death. It is illegal in the United States.

Doubtful methods

Many methods have been proposed or sold over the years without published clinical proof they can work as claimed.
  • Electric tweezers
    Electric tweezers
    Electric tweezers are an electronic device intended to permanently remove hair. The design incorporates a pair of tweezers at the tip. A button on the side of the handle is used to simultaneously close the tweezer tips and turn on the high frequency electrical signal...

  • Transdermal electrolysis
  • Transcutaneous hair removal
  • Photoepilators
  • Microwave Hair Removal
  • Food
    Food
    Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

    s and Dietary supplements
  • Non prescription
    Prescription drug
    A prescription medication is a licensed medicine that is regulated by legislation to require a medical prescription before it can be obtained. The term is used to distinguish it from over-the-counter drugs which can be obtained without a prescription...

     topical preparations (also called "hair inhibitors", "hair retardants", or "hair growth inhibitors")

Advantages and disadvantages

There are several disadvantages to many of these hair removal methods. Most are not permanent, can cause medical problems and permanent damage, or have very high costs. Some of these methods are still in the testing phase and their methods have not been clinically proven.

One issue, that can be considered an advantage or a disadvantage depending upon an individual's viewpoint, is that removing hair has the effect of removing information about the individual's hair growth patterns due to genetic
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 predisposition, illness, androgen
Androgen
Androgen, also called androgenic hormone or testoid, is the generic term for any natural or synthetic compound, usually a steroid hormone, that stimulates or controls the development and maintenance of male characteristics in vertebrates by binding to androgen receptors...

 levels (such as from pubertal hormonal imbalances or drug side effects), and/or gender
Gender
Gender is a range of characteristics used to distinguish between males and females, particularly in the cases of men and women and the masculine and feminine attributes assigned to them. Depending on the context, the discriminating characteristics vary from sex to social role to gender identity...

 status.

See also

  • Alopecia
    Alopecia
    Alopecia means loss of hair from the head or body. Alopecia can mean baldness, a term generally reserved for pattern alopecia or androgenic alopecia. Compulsive pulling of hair can also produce hair loss. Hairstyling routines such as tight ponytails or braids may induce Traction alopecia. Both...

  • Hairdressing
  • Head shaving
    Head shaving
    Head shaving is the practice of shaving the hair from a person's head. At different times and places people have shaved their heads for very diverse reasons: practical, religious, cultural, or aesthetic—so a shaven head has widely varying connotations depending on the context.-Early...

  • Hirsutism
    Hirsutism
    Hirsutism or frazonism is the excessive hairiness on women in those parts of the body where terminal hair does not normally occur or is minimal - for example, a beard or chest hair. It refers to a male pattern of body hair and it is therefore primarily of cosmetic and psychological concern...

  • Pubic hair removal
  • Shaving
    Shaving
    Shaving is the removal of hair, by using a razor or any other kind of bladed implement, to slice it down to the level of the skin. Shaving is most commonly practiced by men to remove their facial hair and by women to remove their leg and underarm hair...

  • Persian waxing
    Sugaring (epilation)
    Sugaring, sugar waxing or Persian waxing is a method of hair removal.It has been in use since 1900 BC.Sugaring can be less painful than waxing, because the substrate sticks to the hair without attaching to the skin, may be applied at room temperature or heated to a lukewarm temperature, preventing...

  • Trichotillomania
    Trichotillomania
    Trichotillomania, which is classified as an impulse control disorder by DSM-IV, is the compulsive urge to pull out one's own hair leading to noticeable hair loss, distress, and social or functional impairment. It is often chronic and difficult to treat....



External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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