What's the difference between vellus and terminal hair?
Learning about different hair types will help you to tailor your waxing technique to suit the direction and variety of a client’s hair growth, making you a better beauty therapist. Here are the basics on vellus and terminal hairs:
Vellus hair is much finer, shorter and lighter than terminal hair. It can grow anywhere on the body apart from places like the soles of the feet, palms of the hands and lips. The purpose of vellus hair is to help regulate our body temperature — it encourages thermal retention and keeps us warm.
Terminal hairs are thick, dense hairs that are often deeply pigmented so they appear much darker than vellus hairs. They also have deeper follicles than vellus hair so they start growing from further down in the dermis. These coarser hairs appear during puberty on parts of the body like our underarms, bikini line and intimate areas. It can feel a bit more painful to remove terminal hairs than vellus ones partly because they are thicker but also because they tend to grown on sensitive locations of the body.
What this means for you
It’s important to recognise these different hair types so you can select the best wax to use. For example, vellus hair is more likely to grow on the face and upper lip so a hot wax — designed to be applied over smaller, sensitive areas — that you simply peel off without using a strip is ideal. The bikini line, on the other hand, is where terminal hair grows so a warm wax combined with strip removal is advised to pull out those stronger hairs.