Hair is a growing thing by nature. That’s why laser clinics and other so called “permanent” hair removal methods cannot and will not guarantee permanent hair removal results. Understanding hair and the hair growth cycle will help you understand why claims of permanent hair removal are dubious, just like claims of permanent weight loss. Hair will grow back if you don’t maintain your attention to detail.

Understanding hair and hair growth requires an understanding of three key concepts: types of hair, the hair growth cycle, and follicle activation.

Vellus, intermediate, and terminal hair are the three types that the majority of people have.

* Small, colorless hairs known as peach fuzz are called vellus.

* Thin, shortish hairs between the vellus and terminal (hence the name), usually with some degree of lower pigmentation.

*Deep-rooted, coarse, fully pigmented or gray terminal hairs. The majority of customers want to get rid of these hairs.

No matter the type, every hair has a three-stage growth cycle. The active growing phase, or anagen, is the first stage. 10% to 90% of the body’s hairs are actively growing, depending on the region. Catagen, the shortest of the three phases and a transitional stage, is the second phase. Telogen, or the inactive phase, is the third and final stage. The cycle will then repeat after this longest phase, which lasts until the hair is shed. Up to a year may pass during this stage.

Follicle activation should be the last thing you think about. There are countless numbers of follicles all over our skin. Many follicles are dormant but still active volcanoes. These follicles can be activated at any time even though they are not currently producing hair. Hormones are the primary catalysts. If you have any experience dealing with teenagers, pregnancies, or simply getting older (did your husband grow his hair back for his 45th birthday?) you know exactly what I’m referring to, and while it’s true that some people desire hair removal, others desire hair regrowth and look for follicle-stimulating products (such as Rogaine). In short, you can’t keep a good follicle down so new hairs are likely to grow even after a “permanent” hair removal procedure.

When the word “permanent” is used in reference to hair removal, consumers have a reasonable expectation that it refers to enduring indefinitely. However, as we’ve demonstrated, hair grows by its very nature. Therefore, the so called permanent hair removal industry is seeking to redefine the word “permanent.”

It is reasonable to say that permanent hair removal is accomplished when a specific hair follicle is rendered inactive or unable to produce new hair. But because there are so many follicles, hair will probably grow from nearby follicles. So, even if “permanent” hair removal is achieved (i.e. a follicle destroyed), the area that was treated is still likely to produce new hairs.

This fact has given rise to lesser claims of “permanent hair reduction.” The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) describes “permanent hair reduction” as, “a treatment regimen’s long-term, stable reduction in the amount of hair that grows back.” It goes on to state, “Permanent hair reduction does not mean all hairs in the treatment area are gone.” This is when the whole conversation begins to sound like a politician reading “Alice In Wonderland.”

So just what is permanent about “permanent hair removal?” When you take into account that a sizeable portion of consumers do not respond to either electrolysis or laser hair removal, the answer to this question becomes even more elusive. When regrowth rates for electrolysis-treated follicles are predicted to be between 10 and 50 percent and between 20% and 80% for laser-treated follicles, things become even more murkier.

The truth is that hair grows. That’s what it always does. The destruction of active hair follicles by electrolysis and laser hair removal procedures is effective, but claiming that either procedure is permanent is equivalent to pulling a few weeds from your lawn and declaring it weed-free for life.

When you factor in the cost, the pain, the potential for scarring and other real health risks associated with so called “permanent” hair removal techniques, you might want to reconsider a temporary hair removal method that has been around for centuries: waxing.

Waxing is temporary. But it works.

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