IPL Devices for Thick, Coarse Hair Removal
Look: Human beings are hairy. That’s just a fact. Even though they’re not always easy to see, we’re actually covered with little tiny lightly colored hairs all over our bodies. And, of course, there are darker, coarser, longer hairs that show up on our pits, privates, and heads. On men, that hair grows all over the place, while on most women it grows primarily in those three hotspots. But in both genders, sometimes it shows up in other, usually unwanted places.
If you’re dealing with dense back hair, super curly pubes, or particularly lush arms, you probably know the struggles of trying to remove extra-thick hair. You’ve waxed. You’ve shaved. You had some bad encounters with hair removal creams in your teens. But you still haven’t found the long term solution for permanent removal of extra-thick hair.
So let’s take a look at the realities of thick, dense hair — and all of the options for getting rid of it.
Where does thick, dense hair usually grow?
When we’re talking thick, dense head hair, most people are pleased. Who doesn’t want a full head of hair?? It’s when that same super dense hair shows up on other parts of the body that people get frustrated and start seeking long-term solutions.
Unwanted thick, dense hair growth usually differs between sexes. Generally, men tend to have more extra-thick hair — and on a great proportion of their bodies. So, for example, a man might have thicker leg hair or hair on his back or on his knuckles. Some men even have it coming out of their noses and ears!
Women, on the other hand, generally don’t have as-thick body hair as men. When they do and it’s unwanted, it might be on or between their eyebrows, on other parts of the face, or on the legs, arms, or pubic area. If a woman has a lot of unwanted hair on her back, shoulders, and face, it’s called “hirsutism” and it might be a sign that she has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). If that’s the case, a visit to the doctor is in order.
Regardless of your sex, hair thickness and density is largely reliant on genetics. For example, people with darker skin tones often have thicker, coarser hair. (Although not always — and people of most ethnicities can have it, too.) So thank mom or dad for those curly cues.
Why is hair removal different for thicker hair?
Coarse, dense hair — especially if it’s curly — is more likely to get stuck under the skin and cause an ingrown hair if it's cut below the skin or pulled out by the root. As a result, people with this type of hair find that most common hair removal methods, while effective at removing the hair, come with enough unwanted side effects to not be worth it.
Thick, dense hair also tends to appear to grow back more quickly than thinner hair, mainly because it’s easier to see. Each individual hair also is thicker and wider in circumference, which means it has a thicker and wider root. Pulling those bad boys out will likely be more of a process than removing a finer, thinner hair.
What are some methods for removal of extra-thick hair?
As we mentioned already, the usual hair removal methods aren’t so great when you’re trying to get rid of thick, coarse hair. You can do them, of course. But they’re unlikely to result in permanent hair removal — and you might have some major unwanted side effects.
There are three different types of hair removal:
- Cutting the hair off at skin level (shaving);
- Pulling the hair out by root (waxing);
- Permanently removing the hair by killing the root (laser hair removal/electrolysis/IPL).
Let’s take a look at how well different popular methods of hair removal work for coarse, dense hair. And stay with us — because the differences are notable.
Shaving is an option for many types of coarse hair, as it is for really all hair types. It’s relatively affordable, can be done at home, and accessible to anyone who can get their hands on a razor.
But shaving has its downsides. First of all, if your hair is particularly dense, you’re going to end up with a five o’clock shadow — or whatever the equivalent is for the body part you’re trying to make hair-free. Basically, there’s no way to get a truly hairless and smooth result from shaving if you have this hair type.
Second, for people with hair that’s coarse, dense, and curly, you’re at a much higher risk of getting an ingrown hair. Untreated, ingrown hairs can get infected and cause major health issues. Doesn’t really seem worth it, does it?
Finally, when you have thick, dense hair, you have to shave all the time. And you can’t rush it or you risk cutting yourself, especially in those harder to reach areas. It’s a real time-suck, and who has time for that?
Waxing pulls hair out by the root, which means you have more time between treatments. Hair also tends to grow in a little bit lighter after treatment, which is pro if you’re trying to generally reduce the thickness and coarseness of your hair.
But while waxing is always painful — you are pulling your hair out by the root, after all — it’s especially painful on coarse, dense hair. Some people who wax with this type of hair even have bleeding after their treatments. It’s a good way to test out how you’ll like the hair-free life, but repeated treatments means a lot of pain.
Unlike waxing and shaving, multiple electrolysis treatments can lead to permanent hair removal. A professional uses a teeny tiny probe to target the root with a tiny zap of electricity, damaging and eventually killing it. It can also be used on all skin tones and hair types.
Sounds good, right? Electrolysis is a great option for many people. But it does require multiple treatment sessions — especially for thicker, coarser hair — and it’s not cheap, so that can really add up over time. It also is pretty uncomfortable, with most people reporting a strong sting with each hair.
Laser hair removal
Laser hair removal also targets the root of the hair, damaging it and preventing regrowth. And after a few sessions, most people don’t have regrowth. But while laser hair removal works really well on darker hair growing on lighter skin, it’s not suitable for darker skin types. That’s because it uses the contrast between the hair color and the skin color to determine where the root of the hair is.
It also requires multiple sessions, which can add up to plenty of pain and lots of money. For some people, it can be worth it. But there is a better option.
Intense pulsed light (IPL) hair removal devices, like the Silk’n Infinity, Flash&Go Pro and Flash&Go Jewel are all great options for removing coarse, dense hair. IPL devices give you a salon-quality hair removal experience that you can do at home and it results in permanent hair removal. It’s affordable, relatively painless, and works on a wide range of skin types.
While shaving, waxing, and other temporary hair removal solutions only remove the hair itself, either at skin level or just below, IPL hair removal utilizes an intense beam of light to target the hair follicle. It zaps it, damages it, and eventually kills it, making it impossible for the hair to grow back. Zip, zap, moisturize, and you’re done!
Even better, the time between hair regrowth — and therefore the time between treatments — increases with each session. Repeated treatments can lead to periods of as long as eight weeks before it’s hair removal time again and, eventually, you’ll have permanently smooth, hair-free skin.
At-home IPL treatments are also more cost-effective than the majority of other hair removal methods. You pay for the device once and then you may or may not need to buy refill cartridges. But with the Silkn’ Flash&Go Pro, for example, you don’t even have to do that. It’s a one-and-done kind of deal.
IPL treatments also come with minimal pain — and way less pain than hair removal methods like waxing do, for example. Most people report a sting similar to a rubber band, but it varies greatly by skin and hair type.
Finally, while many laser treatments, for example, don’t work on darker skin types, IPL devices do. The Silkn’ Flash&Go Pro has an automatic sensor that adjusts based on your skin tone making it more usable on a broader range of skin tones.
Learn more about Silkn’ IPL hair removal products
If you’re still not sure about whether or not IPL treatment is right for your coarse, thick hair, check out these four interviews with IPL hair removal device customers. They’re a great way to see just how effective, easy, and worth it IPL hair removal really is.
If you want to educate yourself further about the benefits of Silk’n hair removal devices, check out the Resource Center, or read a few hair removal clinical studies to see how effective our devices are from a scientific perspective.