Unwanted Body Hair

Shaving legs woman body hair
It's something many women face, but don't like to talk about: unwanted body hair. Fortunately, there are many ways to remove it. Dr. Alan Kling is a board certified dermatologist in New York City and, on The Saturday Early Show he offers tips on choosing the right method for you.

The following are temporary hair removal procedures:


Even though shaving is a quick and easy way to remove unwanted hair, Dr. Kling says many women do not like to do it. It is something you have to keep doing. Also, women find shaving hair on their face too masculine, which is why they choose other options.

"Contrary to popular belief, it doesn't cause the hair to grow back thicker and darker. However, hair may appear thicker shortly after shaving because shorter hairs have more bristle. Shaving can also irritate the skin of women with a tendency for having ingrown hairs," Dr. Kling says.


Bleach lightens unwanted hair using ammonia. It is considered safe and it's great for the face. It can be done in the comfort of the home. However, Dr. Kling says, bleach does not work for everyone. "Women with very dark hair may not find bleach very helpful because it tends to turn their hair orange, not blond." And he notes that people often forget that bleach does nothing to affect the growth of the hair.


A depilatory uses chemicals to dissolve the unwanted hairs. "It usually comes in a lotion form and you apply it directly to the spot where you want the hair removed. It is considered safe for different parts of the body including the face, arms and bikini area," says Dr. Kling.

However, a depilatory is a chemical, so some people may have allergic reactions to it. "To avoid side effects, you'll want to test the product on a small area -- perhaps on your arm, not on the face," says Dr. Kling.


Waxing is a quick and effective way to temporarily remove unwanted hair. It lasts for about four weeks. It can be very painful if not done properly. If doing it at home, it's important to read the instructions carefully because serious burns can occur.

"One thing that many women don't like about waxing is that it requires you to grow out the unwanted hair a little bit so the wax has something to attach to," says Dr. Kling.

The following are permanent hair removal procedures:


Electrolysis is very effective at permanently getting rid of unwanted hairs. "Electrolysis uses a low-level electrical current, which is delivered to the hair follicle by a fine sterilized probe. The current destroys the follicle, which stops new growth," explains Dr. Kling. While it is considered very effective, electrolysis is expensive, time consuming and can be very painful. "It can also cause scarring and a change in your skin's pigmentation," Dr. Kling adds.


Lasers are great and virtually pain-free tool to remove unwanted hair compared to electrolysis. However, it can be very expensive and often requires several follow-up visits to the doctor. It is important to note that the procedure does not work on blond or gray hair and it should be done by a doctor, not an esthetician with minimal training.

"Over the past few years, there have been an alarming rise in the number of people injured while having laser hair removal done. The reason is that many unqualified people are performing the procedure," says Dr. Kling.