Underarm hair removal is a routine for most women, and increasingly, for men as well.
Methods can be divided into temporary or semi-permanent.
Temporary methods such as plucking, waxing, shaving, epilation, depilation creams etc removes the visible hair shaft and leaves the hair bulge and hair bulb intact.
Semi-permanent methods such as intensed pulse light (IPL) and lasers disrupts the hair bulge and hair bulb. This disruption results in reduced hair growth.
Underarm hair removal treatments nowadays are largely focused on semi-permanent methods.
It is good to note that use of IPL or laser does not mean complete removal of hair. After the appropriate number of sessions, the treated area may have small amount of residual hairs, but they are usually sparse, finer and lighter in colour.
IPL and lasers work by emitting light energy which is absorbed by the pigments in our hair. This causes the pigments to heat up and it is this heat which disrupts the hair bulge and hair bulb.
The difference between IPL and lasers lies in the wavelengths of light used.
IPL uses a broad spectrum of light whereas lasers uses a single wavelength of light.
Different laser systems utilizes different wavelengths but they all target melanin, which is the pigment mentioned above. Hence, lasers are more precise and are considered safer as they have less risk of causing damage to surrounding structures.
In terms of cost, IPL is definitely less costly as compared to lasers. However in terms of efficacy and safety, lasers are far better. 4-6 sessions of laser are needed to achieve significant underarm hair reduction. Larger number of IPL sessions are needed to achieve comparable results. For people with darker skin tone, lasers are much safer than IPL. Mild side effects such as erythema, swelling and hyperpigmentation can occur with lasers, but compared to IPL which can cause burns, the former is preferable.
As to which is the best treatment for you, it really depends on factors such as costs, skin type and expected duration of treatment all play a part. It is best to have an in-dept discussion with your treating physician before deciding on which treatment is optimal for you.
After a course of laser hair removal treatment, the hair growth in can be reduced to a great extent, and majority of the treated area does not even grow hair anymore.
However, a few fine hair might appear here and there – you can easily manage them with maintenance sessions once in six months or longer.