Before going into the techniques used by athletes to remove body hair, it is relevant to know why this process is at all required and why it is so necessary for top performing athletes.
First is of course a matter of aesthetics. Modern day athletes are always in focus before television cameras with millions watching their every move. While the average person moves around in dresses, athletes often have to wear the shortest of tops and shorts to facilitate easy movement and performance. In such a situation a hairy underarm or a bikini line is a strict no-no.
Second is a matter of aerodynamics where a hairless body can help scrape off milliseconds from timings. This becomes crucial for sprinters where places are decided by nanosecond differences. Further, athletes have to go through oil massages routinely to loosen up muscles which when carried out on a hairless body is more effective and smoother.
Next, there is the issue of hydrodynamics where swimmers try and make their movement through the water as resistance free as possible. This necessitates wearing head caps, and full body suits and shaving hair from the legs, arms and chest to minimise or rather eliminate even the slightest drag.
Finally, hair removal also helps in the healing process in case of injuries. Cyclists in particular shave their legs and hands so that in case of a fall, the wound is clearly visible and no dirt or dust gets stuck in the hair.
Now that the reasons for hair removal by athletes have been established, it is time to go into the techniques that can be employed by them for easy and long lasting hair removal. Traditionally, shaving, waxing and use of depilatory creams and epilators have been the chosen methods of hair removal by athletes but all these are temporary in nature and an athlete has to take time off from training to carry out hair removal almost every day.
Today, the latest techniques for hair removal provide permanent relief to athletes. A top of the line beauty salon and spa will surely have a laser and IPL machine for hair removal. Treatments are painless and without any side effects. Crucially, every session is quick and effective with facial hair being removed in under 15 minutes and body hair in under an hour. The athlete can get back to training almost immediately after.
How does this laser IPL technology work? Beams of light are focussed on the area under treatment. These enter the top layer of the skin and are attracted to the melanin which is the pigment that is situated at the root of a hair follicle. Light energy is converted to heat energy and the melanin along with the hair is destroyed. However, this is not a one off treatment. The technology works best on growing hair and hence a number of sessions are required for complete and permanent hair removal.
While laser and IPL are talked about in the same breath, there is a basic difference in the two technologies. Light beams from an IPL machine are scattered like an incandescent lamp and hence their depth of penetration below the skin is rather limited. Further some of the beams fall on the surrounding skin too. Hence hair removal with IPL machines is effective on athletes with dark hair and light skin and not the other way around.
On the other hand light rays from a laser machine are more focussed and the wavelengths too can be controlled to treat any type of hair or skin colour and texture.
These are some of the easy and long lasting techniques used for hair removal by athletes of the modern era.