Hi, Kelly! My 12-year old daughter is so conscious of her underarm hair. I can’t advise her on what to do with it because I haven’t got any hair in my armpit. I do not know which is safe and convenient for tweens these days. Please help me decide by discussing the many types of hair removal and their side effects. Thank you.
This subject matter can be quite tricky, as I understand how shy and self-conscious tweens can be about hair removal. But it is never too early to know about their options, especially if she is feeling embarrassed by it.
Puberty hits us at different ages, and for her, it may be a little earlier than her friends. Suddenly, hair seems to grow in places where there was none, and it can be a source of stress for her if she doesn’t know what is happening or what to do about it. The first thing to do is to explain that what she is going through is completely normal. Women have to deal with this sort of thing all the time, and there are many solutions for unwanted hair growth available for her. The next thing to present are the different kinds of hair removal: Each one has its own pros and cons, and it is best to explain each one to her so she can ultimately make that decision, or if you will decide for her, so that she will know what to expect.
These are her options for underarm hair removal. (Note: Please get your family physician or dermatologist’s go-signal first before you allow your daughter to try IPL or laser hair removal. These may be better options for her after a few years, or when she is a teenager.)
Shaving. Using a razor can be cheap, quick and convenient, but over time it can cause ingrown hairs, darkening of the underarms (due to the friction) and if you’re not careful, nicks and cuts. If your daughter opts to shave her underarms, she’d better be prepared. First off, she needs to use a razor that is made specifically for shaving this area. This prevents her from getting ingrown hair and from potentially cutting herself with the razor. Also, using a shaving cream (also made for women) can allow her a smooth and close shave minus the razor burns. As convenient as this is though, she will need to do this often, as hair grows one to two days after shaving.
Waxing. While this is one of the most effective ways to get rid of stubborn hair, it can also be quite painful. It really varies from person to person, but for people who have a lower threshold for pain, it can hurt a little bit. It shouldn’t hurt so much when it is done to underarms though, as compared to your arms, legs or bikini area. The upside of waxing is that it is quick, and hair seems to grow less dense after about a week and a half. The downside is she may experience ingrown hairs (unless she exfoliates the area daily) and she will need to grow out her hair before it is long enough to be pulled.
Depilatory cream. This works easy enough. The cream will kill hair from its base when you leave it on for a few minutes, then she will simply wipe the area down and hair is gone. The downside to this is that hair may grow in two to three days (just like shaving), and some creams may not be suited to sensitive skin, which may cause skin to feel hot and for some, tender. Better look for a depilatory cream that is made for sensitive skin and used for specifically for underarms.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light). This uses high-speed, pulsing flashes of light that burns hair follicle, but as scary as it sounds it is virtually pain-free. IPL works by targeting the melanin pigmentation of the hair and singes each strand until it stops growth completely. It is basically attracted to darker, thicker hair so it will work better if hair is just that— darker and thicker. Depending on thickness and color of her hair, results can be seen in three to five visits, but there is always a chance of regrowth. This will require a maintenance blast once in awhile to keep armpits hair-free. Price may differ from place to place, but most have affordable packages you can avail yourself of. (Please consult your doctor first if your daughter is old enough to undergo this treatment.)
Laser hair removal. This treatment uses laser beams to cause long-lasting thermal damage to hair. Underarm hair falls off after the second or third session. It’s said to be more effective as it works for all types of hair and in all colors, is quick and painless, and will see clear results in five to six sessions. This means she will have to be a little patient as hair won’t be gone right away. But rest assured that after the treatment is done, she will be hair-free for life. Again, price can be an issue for this, but it is one of the most effective hair-removal treatments around.