So this guy wrote me a letter. he said he has a hairy back and has noticed in all the ads for laser treatments that the prices are getting more affordable.
But he's a little scared. Is it safe, and are there other options?
And I'm like, "Oooh, that's actually a good question!"
I have some unwanted hair I'd like to get rid of, too, like on my upper lip, which sometimes I shave in a pinch because waxing gives me a rash that takes a few days to heal and I don't always have time before I need to show my face.
Anyway. Frankly, I think hairy backs are underrated.
What's wrong with some fuzz?
I'd rather date a hairy guy than one who waxes.
But if it makes you that unhappy, let's find out what our options are.
What the experts say "For a laser to work, your hair has to be dark; if you have red or blond hair, it won't absorb enough of the light energy to create the heat required to kill the follicle. One laser treatment won't be enough. It's not really painful but it is uncomfortable, like an elastic snapping on your skin. It takes four, five or six treatments to get rid of hair. Is it dangerous? No. The light energy is absorbed by and maims the follicle. You stun it, and then when hair starts growing again you stun it again and again and again until the follicle decides, 'I've had it. I'm not growing any more.' Depilatory creams are very toxic, usually sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide. It melts away hair, so it can irritate your skin like crazy."
JANICE LIAO , associate clinical professor, dermatology, University of Alberta Hospital, Edmonton
"If you're looking for permanent removal and have blond hair, your only option is electrolysis . Electrolysis is no less effective than laser treatment, but it depends on how good the practitioner is. You're dealing with one hair at a time, rather than small patches. Waxing is a non-permanent option. Threading [pulling out hairs with twists of cotton thread] isn't ideal for large areas; it's really time-consuming and painful. I don't do sugaring [the application of a sugar paste to the skin]. I find waxing cleaner and more straightforward."
ANGELA FU , clinic director, Total Wellness Centre, Toronto
"Laser treatment is relatively safe. Hair removal lasers work by depositing their energy in the pigment of the skin, called melanin. Since most of the melanin is in hairs, that's the part that's affected by the laser. The main danger for a tanned or naturally dark-skinned person would be that the laser inadvertently temporarily discolours the skin. Treatments should be performed by trained operators . Lack of government regulation means almost anyone can do these treatments, so you should make sure the person knows what he or she is doing. Dermatologists have the greatest expertise in skin and hair and their disorders.'
ARNY KATZ , MD, FRCPC dermatologist, affiliated with Southlake, Sunnybrook and Baycrest hospitals
"Hirsutism [excessive growth of hair] in women can be caused by many factors, from simple heredity to a tumour in the pituitary gland. A diagnosis needs to be made by physical exam and salivary or blood hormone tests. Treatment with drugs or naturopathy and botanicals, homeopathy, diet and lifestyle aims to rebalance the hormones. That being said, hairiness is usually associated with an overproduction of androgens such as testosterone in the ovaries and DHEA-S in the adrenal glands. The herbs saw palmetto and nettle root are thought to decrease this. Hirsutism is frequently associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) in women, which itself is associated with insulin resistance related to syndrome X or diabetes mellitus. To reverse it, exercise and a healthy low-carb diet are key. Calcium and vitamin D can be helpful, as is managing stress.'
ZORANA ROSE , naturopath, Toronto