It’s getting to be that time of year again—when the desire to don that adorable sundress outweighs your aversion to hair removal. It’s a necessary, albeit painstaking, beauty ritual that no woman looks forward to. From shaving to waxing to lasers, here’s the scoop on the best ways to remove unwanted hair.
Hair Minimizing Products
How it works: Available in both prescription and over-the-counter formulations, hair minimizing creams and lotions use active ingredients like Eflornithine HCI, Ginger Root, Soy or other natural ingredients to slow hair growth.
Pros: Hair minimizing lotions can be worked into your everyday routine, since they don’t need to be rinsed off in the shower. Many are also multi-purpose moisturizers, which is one of the reasons we like Goldfaden Hair Suppress Formula, a specially formulated hair growth inhibitor that decrease the length and density of hair, and can also be used as an anti-inflammatory moisturizer to protect skin and keep it feeling smooth
Cons: They can take up to a month or two before you start seeing results.
Costs: Can range greatly depending on if it’s a prescription or over-the-counter, but typically $10-$75.
Pros: Shaving is the quickest, easiest and least expensive method of hair removal. All you need is a razor and soap or shaving gel. Shaving doesn’t require a trip to the salon or professional guidance, and it can be done at home in the shower or bathtub.
Cons: The results are very short-term, lasting only between one and three days depending on how fast your hair grows. And the regrowth is prickly with a blunt tip. If done carelessly or with a dull razor, shaving can cause cuts or nicks. It can also cause irritation, rash and bumps on more sensitive areas like the bikini zone and underarms.
Cost: Razors can be disposable, contain replaceable cartridges or be electric, ranging from $3-$20 dollars.
Pros: One of the biggest perks of waxing is that hair-free skin can last three to six weeks on average. As an upside, it is possible that frequent waxing can cause the hair follicle to become damaged and stop hair growth permanently. Waxing is safe and effective for any part of the body. It is also much more precise than shaving and other forms of hair removal, making it ideal for small areas like brows.
Cons: The biggest con of waxing is the pain, which most people equate with a sudden stinging sensation that lasts a few seconds—if pain is a big deterrent, numbing creams can be used to dull the area first. Waxing requires hair to be grown out beforehand, usually about a quarter of an inch, which can be an inconvenience especially in the summer with bare legs and underarms. At-home waxing kits can be messy and if done improperly, can lead to skin irritation, infection or ingrown hairs. A topical antiseptic is recommended after every waxing session.
Costs: At home kits cost anywhere from $25-$100 and spas/salons vary depending on what part of the body you want waxed. Facial waxing can cost $10-$50, legs between $50-$100, arms $20-$70 and bikini $20-$75.
Pros: Tweezing is the most precise method of hair removal, since it affects one hair at a time. It can be done at home with little to no experience required, and the only tool you need is a pair of tweezers. Tweezing lasts longer than shaving, averaging about one to two weeks between sessions.
Cons: Since it works hair by hair, it is only effective on very small areas and can be time-consuming. It is also very easy to “over pluck” an area, so restraint is key. Similar to waxing, there is a slight stinging involved since you are pulling the hair out by the root. If not done properly with a short, swift movement, you can rip the hair off above the root, making it very difficult to remove.
Costs: Tweezers range from $3-$25 depending on the brand and style.
Laser Hair Removal
How it works: Short pulses of laser beam light are directed at the follicle, passing through the outer layers of the skin without damaging them. The energy is absorbed by the hair follicles, cauterizing the blood flow and destroying its ability to grow hair. Because hair grows in cycles, laser hair removal required many sessions (usually around six) spaced a few weeks or months apart to kill all the follicles in all the growth cycles before the area hair free.
Pros: It’s the only permanent hair reduction system on the market, with 98% of hair growth reduced permanently. They can be very precise, removing unwanted hair from smaller areas like the face, underarm or bikini area, but it is also very fast—treating an area the size of a quarter every second—making it suitable for large areas like the legs. It removes hair without damaging the skin and won’t cause bumps or ingrown hairs.
Cons: Lasers are approved to permanently reduce hair growth, not remove it. While many do see permanent removal, it’s not guaranteed. Since the laser works best on darker pigments it can “see,” it is not as successful for those with blonde, red or gray hair. There are special lasers for the fair-haired, just make sure that the treatment center you are going to has the proper equipment. Since multiple treatments are required, it can take up to 18 months of treatments. Laser hair removal treatments are often sold as a “package of six” or “as many as it takes to remove the hair.” If possible, stick to packages that will keep performing treatments until the hair is gone, since every person differs in the number of treatments needed.
Costs: Can vary widely depending on body part and number of treatments of needed, but averages around $300-$1,500 for a complete course of treatments.
Hair Removal Creams/Gels
How it works: A cream or gel containing alkaline chemicals is rubbed onto the skin, where is breaks the chemical bond that hold the protein structure of hair together, making the hair weak enough to fall out of the follicle. Then the hair is simply rubbed away by a cloth.
Pros: This type of hair removal can be done easily at home and is pain free without causing cuts, bumps or bleeding. It lasts longer than shaving, usually about a week, and doesn’t leave stubble.
Cons: Because of the chemicals, hair removal creams are not appropriate for those with sensitive skin. They can also be a bit messy in the shower and often have a strong or unpleasant odor. They are also not very precise, so are best used for large areas like the legs or top of arms.
Costs: Depending on the brand, hair removal creams can range from $3-$17.