9 Ways to Permanently Remove Unwanted Hair at Home That Don't Actually Work

July 1st, 2015
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Home RemediesAfter spending countless hours shaving, waxing, and plucking, don't we all wish for an easier way to prevent unwanted hair growth? Of course we do! Everybody wants a simple solution, and what's simpler than mixing up some household ingredients, rubbing them on our skin, and voila! No more unwanted hair.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work.

Home remedies and dietary adjustments sound attractive and we might want them to work so badly, we're willing to try some creative ideas. Fact is, though, these quick "solutions" don't actually prevent hair growth. And while household ingredients might feel cost-effective, in the long run, you're not saving money or time, because at the end of the day, the hair's still there.

Below, we've listed nine examples of concoctions often touted as effective home remedies for permanent removal of unwanted hair. None of them provide permanent hair removal.

1. Coffee Grounds and Baking Soda

There's a widespread myth that combining coffee grounds and baking soda, then slathering the resultant mixture on your skin, will stop unwanted hair growth. Nope! While some claim this method "breaks down" hair follicles, all this might achieve is skin irritation and clogged pores. Hair follicles stay intact.

2. Gram Flour, Curd, and Yogurt/Cream Mask

Some people believe masks or face packs made from gram flour (also known as besan), curds, and yogurt or cream, will remove unwanted hair. While a mask could possibly remove existing unwanted hair, this method also leaves the hair follicles active, so it fails to prevent hair regrowth at all.

3. Dietary Adjustments to Avoid Androgens

Androgens are hormones produced naturally by our bodies, and they're also the hormones that stimulate hair growth. Abnormal or excess hair growth is called hirsutism and can be caused by hormonal imbalances. Some people claim drinking spearmint tea, eating soy products, and making other dietary adjustments will reduce the body's androgen production and stop unwanted hair growth. It's possible that changing your diet could affect a hormone imbalance, but that won't permanently stop existing unwanted hair growth. The hair follicles have already been stimulated and they'll keep producing hair, even if you avoid dietary androgens.

4. Pumice Stone Massage

People use pumice stones to exfoliate and soften their skin, but contrary to popular belief, rubbing a pumice stone over unwanted hair will not prevent it from growing back. Your skin might be softer there, but the hairs will keep growing.

5. Lemon and Sugar/Honey Scrub

Many of these remedies claim to possibly reduce hair growth over time, but any results actually come from just removing existing hair until it grows back, or changing something about the hair. Rubbing a mixture of lemon and sugar or honey won't stop hair growth, not even over time. It might temporarily lighten the color of the hair, but it's still there, still growing.

6. Turmeric Paste

If you've ever looked around for home hair removal remedies, you've probably come across the supposed benefits of turmeric. People believe turmeric helps with hair removal, but nobody can explain exactly how. If they don't even take a stab at explaining, you can be sure this doesn't actually work.

7. Papaya Paste with Turmeric

Just like turmeric alone, but with papaya! People claim an enzyme in raw papaya, called papain, will restrict hair growth, again, by "breaking down" the hair follicles. This just isn't true. Like pumice stone, some of these mixtures might exfoliate your skin, but won't stop hair growth.

8. Thanaka Powder and Safflower Oil

Another paste that could exfoliate and might remove some hair, but won't stop it from growing back.

9. Blackstrap Molasses

Here we go back to the hormone thing. People say molasses contains magnesium, which will correct a hormone imbalance. This particular myth can be confusing, because people also suggest making a wax from molasses and corn syrup. Waxing will remove unwanted hair, but not permanently, and adding molasses to your diet won't permanently prevent hair growth either.

Truly Permanent Removal of Unwanted Hair Exists - Electrolysis!

If you've heard these myths and believed them, or wanted to believe them, don't feel bad! When faced with unwanted hair growth, any home remedy that sounds promising is worth a shot, right? Truth is, not so much. Since these myths are just that, myths, you're better off putting down the homemade pastes and scrubs and addressing unwanted hair head on, with methods that work, like electrolysis.


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Electrologist Licensing or Certification? Which is better?

June 4th, 2015
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Electrolysis LicenseElectrologist Licensing or Certification? Which is better?

Actually, neither! They are completely different credentials!

It's easy to confuse licensure - a mandatory credential in some states, marked by required coursework and exams - with certification. Certification is a strictly voluntary credential, obtained through a professional organization, with the purpose of expanding one's professional abilities beyond the scope of initial training. Although many people use the terms interchangeably, they are not the same thing at all.

Barbara Greathouse, LE, CPE, sheds some light:

"People seem to use both terms when they mean licensing. They will say, 'My state does not have certification.' Now, you might receive a certificate of graduation from a school you attended, but that also is not certification. Licensing means that your state requires that you have some hours of training (specific to the state), take a written exam, and often take a practical exam before you work on the public for pay. Certification is obtained by an examination above and beyond licensing, and is (usually or always?) voluntary."

If you're seeking a career in Electrology, it's a pretty good bet that your state requires licensing – 32 states plus the District of Columbia require licensing coursework and examinations ranging from 300 to 1500 hours, plus a written exam, and some also require a set number of CEUs (Continuing Education Units) each year for license renewal. Some states even require an apprenticeship in addition to the coursework and exams, to ensure practitioners are giving the best care possible. An apprenticeship provides the opportunity to learn on the job from a licensed professional in a working environment. Not all states require such an apprenticeship, but many licensed electrologists pursue one regardless, in order to hone their skills and ensure that their clients are well taken care of and satisfied with their services.

So, if your state requires licensing and you've passed all the exams and met all the criteria and get to display that shiny LE after your name, why would you pursue certification as well? Licensing is sufficient, isn't it?

Yes, licensing is absolutely sufficient. If your electrologist has met all the licensing criteria in your state, you can be assured that you'll be treated with the utmost care and professionalism. Certification is like a custom paint job on a Porsche – the Porsche is already gorgeous, but custom paint is certainly nice to have to make it really stand out!

Pursuing Board certification through the American Electrology Association is a terrific way to make yourself stand out as an electrology professional. It shows that you're committed to expanding your knowledge and skillset, and to keeping on top of the latest developments in your field. Like licensing , the CPE credential requires maintenance in the form of continuing education and periodic examination. To maintain the CPE credential, which is recognized in 12 countries, the electrology professional must accrue 75 "contact hours" (similar to Continuing Education Units) through courses, lectures, seminars, and home study, or retake the CPE exam every five years. It's a tough exam, requiring intensive study, but those who pursue the credential find it rewarding, and appreciate the extra reassurance the CPE credential provides to their clientele.

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When Unwanted Hair Means a Medical Problem

May 7th, 2015
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Hair Growth May Indicate a Medical ProblemWe talk a lot here about unwanted hair and removing it, but truthfully, when we're talking about unwanted hair, we're talking about naturally occurring growth that we simply find annoying and want to be rid of.

The thing with unwanted hair though is that sometimes it indicates a medical problem such as an illness, a disorder, or a side effect of medication. If hair growth is a side effect of certain medications, you'll know it's coming. Your doctor will tell you that the cyclosporin (an immunosuppressant) may make your hair thicker than usual, or that your contraceptive pill may give you some temporary hair growth.

It's the unexpected hair growth that may indicate a medical problem that should be addressed.

A while ago, we talked about lanugo, the downy fuzz we all develop in the womb. Although we typically lose it at around 7 or 8 months gestation, sometimes some remains at birth, and falls out in a matter of days or weeks, replaced by vellus hair. There are cases when lanugo appears later in life, and this is a cause for concern. Your teenaged niece who has become terribly thin and is suddenly sporting down on her arms, shoulders, and maybe even her face? It's probably a good idea to take her Mom and Dad aside and ask if she's been to the doctor lately. Sprouting downy hair after babyhood is a pretty good indicator of a medical problem like malnutrition, usually brought on by anorexia. (It may also be indicative of hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. Either way, ask her folks to have her checked out.)

Liz Lemon cracks wise about her “Tom Selleck”, but hypertrichosis – excessive hairiness – can also be an indicator of other medical problems. Cushing's Disease, an adrenal disorder, often manifests first as thicker hair growth on the face or body where hair wasn't as dense before. Similarly, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of sudden and excessive hair growth on the face in women, as is insulin resistance (often called “Metabolic Syndrome”, which I'm told is medicalese for “Beats me. I've no clue what's going on with you.”) Are you suddenly hairier than usual, but you've not done anything unusual with your diet and you're not on any new medications? Your electrologist may recommend that you see your physician.

Hypertrichosis is often confused with hirsutism, which is a different sort of excessive hairiness. Rather than merely thicker hair than usual, hirsutism causes male pattern hair growth. In men, this can manifest as extremely thick back, arm, and facial hair. In women, it appears as beards and mustaches, as in American Horror Story's Ethel Darling, portrayed by Kathy Bates. In both, there are rare manifestations known as “werewolf syndrome”, where the entire face is covered in thick, terminal hair. Hirsutism is a medical problem often caused by a hormonal imbalance.

Yes, hair can be annoying. But please don't be upset with your electrologist if she recommends you see a doctor before she starts treatment. She cares about your health and well-being and just wants to make sure that if that hair sprouting in unusual places or in unusual density is a sign of a more serious medical problem, that you get the treatment you need. Once that's settled, she'll be glad to help get your Tom Selleck under control.

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No Shame in Electrolysis

April 7th, 2015
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Hair Removal ShameLet's talk about body image for a minute! We're mammals. As mammals, we are hairy. Some of us, however, are hairier than others, and society likes to tell us that being hairy is bad. Hairy means you're undesirable, ugly, maybe even immoral for remaining hairy. The arguments people make for hair removal do a fine job of making people feel terrible about themselves.

And then? If you admit to being born hairy and using hair removal methods, you're shamed for not being born silky smooth and completely hairless. Or even worse, you're shamed for not using whatever hair removal method is currently en vogue. Shave? Gross, you should be waxing. Waxing? What's wrong with you, all the cool kids are using chemical depilatories. Electrolysis? Are you out of your mind? Old fashioned razors and artisan shaving soap are where it's at!

Yeah, no. Horsepuckey. Firstly, you don't have to remove any of your hair if you don't want to. You like hairy legs? Rock 'em. You find hairy axillae (that would be your pits, peeps) so sexy it hurts? Hey, it's great! If you dig your hair, keep it!

If you don't like it, though? If you feel your best without it? There are safer alternatives to chemicals that could burn you, waxing that may tear of layers of skin, or razors that can shred. Electrolysis not only preserves the integrity of your skin, once it's done, it's done. It's permanent! Is it fashionable? No. Is it something to be ashamed of? Absolutely not! Pop culture is crammed with references to shaving, waxing, laser treatment. Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw is even depicted getting a full Brazilian wax! (OW!) So if everyone else is talking about removing their unwanted hair, why be ashamed of choosing electrolysis? It takes a little time at first, but once you're done, you're done, and you don't have to fuss with it any more. Sick of using an epilator on your face? (Hey, I've done that. Ow.) Tired of nicking your gorgeous gams with a razor, then coping with ingrown hairs and infected follicles? Never going near a chemical depilatory again, since your skin peeled off the last time you tried it and you looked like someone took a cheese grater to you?

Seriously, go see an electrologist! In addition to being carefully trained, electrologists really care about your well-being – physically and mentally. They want you to have the most comfortable experience possible, with the least chance of pain or infection, and come out of it looking and feeling your most awesome. Electrologists are skilled at making you look and feel fantastic – they're great listeners, and they're going to treat you with gentle good care. If your hair is making you unhappy, your electrologist will get rid of it for you and make you feel like a rock star while they're at it. Carrie Bradshaw can have her fashionable pain. You? You deserve better and nobody needs to be feel shame for choosing the best option available.

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Women's History Month

March 23rd, 2015
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March is Women's History Month! Why do we care about this? Did you know that most electrologists are women? And so are most of our clients! So let's talk about some of our heroines, in no particular order.

Clara Barton

Everyone knows that Clara Barton was a Civil War nurse who founded the American Red Cross in 1881, at the age of 60. But did you know that she also founded the Bureau of Records of Missing Men of the Armies of the United States, through which she and her assistants identified more than 22,000 missing Civil War soldiers. Ms. Barton surely earned her nickname, Angel of the Battlefield, providing aid to the wounded during the war, and later spearheading humanitarian efforts in the rest of the US and overseas.

Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D

You betcha we're going to put that M.D. in there! Dr. Blackwell graduated from New York's Geneva Medical College on Tuesday, January 23, 1849, securing her place in history as the first woman M.D. in the United States. Not content to "just" be called "Doctor Blackwell", she later became instrumental in the 1857 founding the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, and published several books, including 1895's Pioneering Work in Opening the Medical Profession to Women.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler, M.D

A freeborn woman, Rebecca Lee Crumpler was born in Delaware around 1833, and later moved to Pennsylvania to be raised by her Aunt. Crumpler drew inspiration for her future profession from this Aunt, to whom people came for medical care. Initially a self-taught nurse, she so impressed the doctors she worked with that the wrote letters of recommendation and encouraged her to enroll at the New England Female Medical College. Her admission was considered groundbreaking, as there were few medical schools for women, and fewer still that admitted African Americans. Although the Civil War put a temporary hold on her studies, she graduated in 1864, the very first Black female physician in the US, and the only Black woman to graduate from the New England Female Medical college. In addition to her work in Virginia after the war to attend to freed slaves, Dr. Crumpler is known for her book The Book of Medical Discourses, which was aimed at women in order to help them monitor the health of their families.

Marie Curie

We'd be seriously remiss if we didn't mention Madame Doctor Marie Curie, the first person to have earned TWO Nobel Prizes. She and her husband Pierre shared the first one with Antoine Henri Becquerel in 1903 in the category of Physics. In 1911, she earned another on her own, this time in Chemistry. Succeeding her husband as Head of the Physics Laboratory at the Sorbonne, Mme. Dr. Curie later went on to be appointed Professor of General Physics in the Science Faculty, the first woman to hold this position. In 1914, she was appointed to the directorship of the Curie Laboratory in the Radium Institute at the University of Paris. Mme. Dr. Curie's research into so called "X-rays" led to better diagnostic methods that are still in use today.

Nancy Miriam Hawley

In 1969, Nancy Miriam Hawley hosted a workshop at Emmanuel College in Boston, with the intent of educating women about our bodies and helping women forge a connection with our own bodies. That workshop later grew into the Boston Women's Health Book Collective, which was eventually responsible for the landmark book, Our Bodies, Ourselves. Hawley spearheaded the modern movement to teach women not only about their bodies and sexuality, but about body acceptance and being comfortable being ourselves.

Hooray for these amazing women in health, all of whom have made it possible for women to maintain healthier, happier lives. Electrologists are proud to carry on their tradition.

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