Body-Hair Removal Methods for Athletes

Laser

In recent years, laser technology has greatly improved and hair removal is a booming business. The laser machine emits light at various wavelengths, energy output and pulse widths. The technician needs to tune the laser to target the melanin in your hair. This procedure works best on fair-skinned people with dark hair.

Hairs in the anagen phase are more easily destroyed than those in the telogen phase. For this reason, the treatment must be done in a series, separated by some four to six weeks. Depending on your individual requirements, four to seven sessions will be required. Roughly 80 percent of hair reduction is achieved with the initial treatment.

Pros:

  • This procedure can claim "permanent hair reduction," but only certain lasers approved by the FDA can make this claim.  
  • Over 80 percent hair reduction occurs in 80 to 90 percent of the good candidates.
  • Because of the high success rate, women are more likely to have the entire bikini area receive laser treatment. It is not uncommon for women to have arm pits, legs and a good percentage of the groin area treated with laser.
  • A large number of people have complete elimination of any ingrown hairs and infections. This is a huge advantage in the groin area.
  • Red shaving bumps are eliminated.
  • Less time consuming over the long haul than shaving or other at-home methods.

Cons:

  • It is expensive compared to the other methods already discussed. Depending on your personal fur level, the training level of your professional and your area of the country, costs vary between $100 per treatment to $900 per treatment. Many providers offer package deals that significantly reduce the total costs.
  • This procedure is painful compared to shaving; but less painful than waxing.
  • Because of the high percentage of permanent hair reduction, men are more hesitant to have their legs and groin area treated.
  • Some people are uncomfortable with the technician applying laser to their undercarriage.
  • If the laser is not properly adjusted, it can be ineffective in hair removal or it can burn the skin.
  • Laser procedure does not work well on true blonde, red and grey hair.
  • It does not work well on dark or tanned skin.
  • Some touch-up work may be required once or twice per year.

Electrolysis

This process is over 100 years old and is a permanent method of hair removal. The process involves inserting a fine needle into individual hair follicles and applying electrical current to the roots.

Pros:

  • Hair removal is permanent.
  • The procedure can be done on any color of hair or skin. 
  • This method claims complete elimination of ingrown hairs and of course, no shaving bumps.

Cons:

  • Procedure is very time consuming and tedious to remove large areas of hair.
  • Costs can be high to remove large areas of hair. Typical costs are between $45 and $125 per hour.
  • Electrologists do not have to be certified, depending on your state.
  • It is possible to have scabbing and scarring.
  • People with dark skin may get light spots around treatment areas.
  • Some people find the procedure painful.

Smooth Talk

The most common methods of hair removal are shaving, waxing and laser. I suspect you would not be surprised at the number of women that use all of the hair-removal procedures—in particular waxing and laser. I do think you would be surprised at the number of men that use waxing and laser treatments for athletic-performance reasons.

If you do decide to use a treatment that is not self-administered, I suggest you do some homework and find out if anyone in your peloton or at the swimming pool has had good results with a particular business or technician. They can also give you some idea of the costs; but know that costs will vary depending on the volume of hair you have to have removed.

On the next group ride, I can hear the conversation now, "Pssst, hey buddy.  Who does your leg waxing? What about your undercarriage, do you have that done? Are you considering laser treatment?"

Join the Discussion: What do you think is the best hair removal method?


Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow training plans. For more information, click here. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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