Hair Removal for Red Hair - What’s a Redhead to do?
There’s good news and bad news for coppertops out there. Hair removal for red hair is a bit different than for other shades because our skin tends to be very sensitive to heat, light and pressure. Painful methods like waxing are torture to us and can lead to swelling and even scaring. So what are our hair removal options?
First the Bad News
My friend with dark hair recently underwent laser hair treatment and she loved the results! So naturally, I went to my dermatologist but got the bad news that the laser for hair removal is ineffective on red hair. Darn it!
Dark hair absorbs the energy from the laser and directs it into the hair follicle where it’s burned. For some people like my friend, the removal of hair can even be permanent.
However, red hair reflects the laser light, preventing the energy from being directed down into the follicle. If an irresponsible clinician were to hold the laser in a spot for longer than normal, our skin can actually get burned.
Now the Good News
There are options for hair removal for sensitive skin. The most effective is electrolysis. A tiny probe is inserted into each hair follicle and an electric current zaps the hair-producing cells dead. In most cases the effects are permanent or will last for at least 6 months.
The downsides are the pain & cost of electrolysis. Sensitive skin can easily get irritated and even bleed. Make sure to get this treatment done well in advance of going out so the skin has time to heal. Also, the process is very labor intensive and requires each and every follicle to be zapped. It can get pricey, even on small areas of the body like the upper lip or the underarms.
Other Methods for Redheads?
- Shaving is one option to get rid of unwanted body hair but it’s a definite no-no for facial hair. The hairs are left with a sharp tip and will regrow as a bristly scrub. Since hair follicles on the face are closer together than on the legs, even women may develop a ‘five o’clock shadow’.
- Epilators are tools of the devil. They rip out multiple hairs at the same time and take out the root as well. For other people, this may be an effective method but sensitive skin cannot take this much trauma all at once. Even the top selling Epil-Silk unit from Braun, with its vibrating massage bars don’t alleviate the pain.
- Be cautious of hair removal creams. Even gently formulated depilatory lotions may cause a chemical burn if left on too long.
- I’ve tried waxing leg hair before and have never tried it since. Not only is the pain unbearable but the entire patch of skin was left swollen and blotchy for a couple days after treatment.
We redheads have to be careful with our sensitive skin. Hair removal for red hair can be painful and very expensive and the only way to find the most effective method is to simply try them out. Good luck.