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Depilation is the removal of hair above the surface of the skin and is used to describe hair-removal techniques that do not involve extracting the entire hair from the follicle. Typical depilation methods include shaving, the use of hair-removal creams, or removing hair by sanding it off with a pumice stone or specially designed exfoliating papers. While depilation methods do not provide the long-lasting results of epilation, which removes the entire hair, they are typically less painful than waxing, plucking, or threading.
One of the most commonly performed depilation methods is shaving. Shaving involves the use of a razor that is stroked on the skin, cutting hair at its base. Different types of razors are available, including electric razors that can significantly reduce the risk accidental injury. While most people choose to shave at home, it is also possible for men to undergo professional shaving services in barbershops.
The advantages of shaving include the ability to remove large amounts of hair quickly and without pain. Disadvantages include residual stubble and rapid hair regrowth as well as the risk of skin irritation. Shaving is generally not suitable for precision hair removal, which is required when grooming or arching eyebrows. It is not unusual for people to shave some parts of their body while waxing or plucking hair from other areas.
Depilatory creams are often used by those who dislike shaving and who want to achieve, at least temporarily, very smooth skin. The chemicals in depilatory creams dissolve hair, leaving no stubble behind. The disadvantage of using chemical depilatories is that they can irritate the skin, making them unsuitable for many people.
One of the less frequently used depilation methods involves using friction to wear away hair. Some companies sell hair-removal mittens that are made of a sandpaper-like paper. The user rubs the mittens onto the desired area until the hair disintegrates. Pumice stones can also be used in a similar fashion. Both methods can cause skin irritation and are time consuming, although the process is not particularly uncomfortable for most people.
The decision to use depilation methods instead of other hair-removal techniques is typically a personal one. Some people are very sensitive to any kind of pain and may recoil at the thought of having a hair plucked out at the root or undergoing electrolysis, which involves the use of electrical current to destroy hair follicles. Depilation is also something that most people can perform for themselves, without professional assistance, making it a cost-effective alternative to professional hair-removal services.