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Hair Plucking & Tweezing: Side Effects and Risks


It’s a natural impulse for many women: See a stray hair, pluck it away. But before reaching for the tweezers, it’s important to consider the hair removal risks being taken. For most women, the side effects of tweezing are minor and worth suffering through to save money. However, there are some serious plucking risks that women need to be aware of before diving into that group of wandering chin hairs.

Epilation, or plucking, is the process of removing a hair from its roots below the surface of the skin. Epilation wounds the hair follicle, and over time it can result in finer and thinner hair. Most women are elated with this result, and since tweezing is one the easiest and most economical ways of removing unwanted facial hair, they are more inclined to head for the tweezers. But plucking has its risks, and they can be painful.

Tweezing Side Effects: #1 – Pain and Skin Irritation

Let’s face it: tweezing hurts! Yanking hair from the roots one by one is no easy task. For women who have never, or rarely, tweezed, the pain can be too much. Even experienced pluckers feel the sting. Apart from pain, tweezing can lead to irritation and redness of the skin. For most people, a swipe of makeup can conceal the redness associated with tweezing, but for others wearing makeup isn't a viable option. While these side effects of tweezing sound minimal, there are more serious hair plucking risks.

Tweezing Side Effects: #2 – Ingrown Hairs

If hair is thick, tweezing it can result in the formation of ingrown hairs, where hair curls back or grows sideways under the skin and creates a small lesion. This plucking side effect can lead to redness, swelling, itching or infection. Luckily, this event happens most often when hair is broken off short, like with shaving, but tweezing can have similar consequences when a hair is not properly or thoroughly removed. In order to prevent ingrown hairs from tweezing, try to pluck the hair from the root to reduce the chance of breakage.

Tweezing Side Effects: #3 – Folliculitis

The most important part of tweezing is technique. If done improperly, tweezing can result in blood vessels breaking around the follicles. This can lead to folliculitis, when hair follicles become inflamed and infected—not pretty! The condition appears as small, pimple-like white dots on the skin, causing itching and pain. Folliculitis can easily be mistaken as an embarrassing breakout. Mild folliculitis will usually clear up on its own in a few days, but it can still be uncomfortable and embarrassing. More severe infections can cause permanent hair loss and scarring, and should be treated by a dermatologist.

Tweezing Side Effects: #4 – Hyperpigmentation

A particularly unpleasant side effect of tweezing is hyperpigmentation, the darkening of skin in patches around the face. This is caused when melanin forms deposits in the skin from prolonged inflammation due to plucking. This is common in certain skin types and may not affect everyone who tweezes.

Preventing Hair Plucking Risks

In order to avoid some of these side effects, it’s essential to take the necessary precautions. Make sure tweezers are sterile by washing them with warm water and soap after each plucking session. Applying medicated lotions as well as ice after tweezing can help reduce redness, swelling and irritation. While plucking, women should also be sure they are pulling hair in the direction of growth to avoid breaking the hair midway and causing ingrown hairs.

For quick facial hair removal, epilation is still a quick, economical option. But there are other alternatives for women who would like to avoid the side effects of plucking. Waxing is a popular method to shape eyebrows, and skin remains smooth for a longer period of time (though skin irritation and pain are still common). Threading is a technique involving a line of hairs being removed with a single thread of cotton. It is similar to tweezing, with the exception that more hair is removed at one time. For a more advanced, permanent hair removal treatment, there is also electrolysis and laser hair removal, both of which can eliminate the need for tweezing and shaving once and for all.

To explore the advantages of a professional hair removal treatment, including advanced facial laser hair removal, you can contact us today and schedule a free consultation with a trusted cosmetic clinic near you. After all, as much as we all love plucking those rogue hairs, a life without tweezers is certainly a pleasant thought!

--Vanessa Day

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