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Use of image analysis techniques for objective quantification of the efficacy of different hair removal methods

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In the field of consumer-used cosmetics for hair removal and hair growth reduction, there is a need for improved quantitative methods to enable the evaluation of efficacy and claim support. Optimized study designs and investigated endpoints are lacking to compare the efficacy of standard methods, like shaving or plucking, with new methods and products, such as depilating instruments or hair-growth-reducing cosmetics. Non-invasive image analysis, using a high-performance microscope combined with an optimized image analysis tool, was investigated to assess hair growth. In one step, high-resolution macrophotographs of the legs of female volunteers after shaving and plucking with cold wax were compared to observe short-term hair regrowth. In a second step, images obtained after plucking with cold wax were taken over a long-term period to assess the time, after which depilated hairs reappeared on the skin surface. Using image analysis, parameters like hair length, hair width, and hair projection area were investigated. The projection area was found to be the parameter most independent of possible image artifacts such as irregularities in skin or low contrast due to hair color. Therefore, the hair projection area was the most appropriate parameter to determine the time of hair regrowth. This point of time is suitable to assess the efficacy of different hair removal methods or hair growth reduction treatments by comparing the endpoint after use of the hair removal method to be investigated to the endpoint after simple shaving. The closeness of hair removal and visible signs of skin irritation can be assessed as additional quantitative parameters from the same images. Discomfort and pain rating by the volunteers complete the set of parameters, which are required to benchmark a new hair removal method or hair-growth-reduction treatment. Image analysis combined with high-resolution imaging techniques is a powerful tool to objectively assess parameters like hair length, hair width, and projection area. To achieve reliable data and to reduce well known image-analysis artifacts, it was important to optimize the technical equipment for use on human skin and to improve image analysis by adaptation of the image-processing procedure to the different skin characteristics of individuals, like skin color, hair color, and skin structure.
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Document Type: Abstract

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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