- Wax strips, at-home lasers and 4 other ways to remove hair that aren’t shaving
- 1. Nair Wax Ready-Strips
- 2. Yoffee Nose Wax
- Stuff We Love
- 4. Veet Ready-to-Use Wax Strip Kit
- 5. Philips Satinelle Hair Removal Epilator
- 1. Nad’s Sensitive Hair Removal Cream
- 2. GiGi Hair Removal Lotion
- 1. Tria Hair Removal Laser Precision
- 2. Remington iLight Pro Intense Pulsed Light Hair Removal System
- Best Hair Removal Products 2020 – How to Remove Body Hair
- How to Remove Hair From Your Bikini Line
- How to Remove Hair From Your Legs
- How to Remove Hair From Your Underarms
- How to Remove Hair From Your Forearms
- Bookmark This Guide!
- Which hair removal method is best for you?
- Intense Pulsed Light Hair Removal (IPL)
- Hair Removal Methods
- The Best & Worst Hair-Removal Techniques
- 7. Shaving
- 6. Hair-removal creams
- 5. Electrolysis
- 4. Threading
- 3. Waxing
- 2. Eflornithine hydrochloride cream
- 1. Laser treatments
- So, let's review
Wax strips, at-home lasers and 4 other ways to remove hair that aren’t shaving
If you're anything me, then you've probably been slacking on shaving and taking advantage of the cold months by hiding weeks of hair growth under your pants and cozy sweaters.
Before we know it, winter will be over and we'll be taking out our spring dresses — so it's time to start thinking about hair removal. While razors are often quick and inexpensive, they’re only effective at removing surface hair. So, post-shave stubble may appear faster than we’d .
Luckily, for those tired of reaching for the razor so often — and those interested in minimizing the risk of those annoying ingrown hairs — there are other ways to keep hair away!
From depilatory creams to at-home laser hair removal devices, there’s something to meet each person’s level of comfort. To give you a running start, we consulted three beauty and skin experts about the best hair removal products on the market.
To shop this article by category, click the links below:
- Best home waxing
- Best depilatory creams
- Best at-home laser hair removal
1. Nair Wax Ready-Strips
Nair Wax Ready-Strips don’t require any rubbing or heating and can be used for any part of your body. The strips work wax-filled stickers that remove hair from the root with little effort.
Hairstylist Jennifer MacDougall recommends these strips for beginners. “You don’t have to worry about burning yourself,” she said. “That’s one of the biggest things that someone can do if they don’t know how to do this themselves.”
2. Yoffee Nose Wax
A pre-waxed strip may not be suitable for the insides of nostrils. But, Yoffee Nose Wax makes it simple to remove hair up there. The unisex product, made with natural beeswax, comes with an easy-to-use applicator. Spread the “gum-” wax on the applicator and insert it directly into the nostril for about 90 seconds before removing for best results, says MacDougall.
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This is a favorite of celebrity makeup artist Daniel Chinchilla, whose clients include celebrities Ariana Grande and Keke Palmer.
To use, rub the strip between your hands to warm it up, press it onto the skin in the direction of hair growth and pull the hair directly the root. Chinchilla said some things should be left to the professionals, though. “Make sure you don’t try and wax your eyebrows yourself. You could easily mess up and remove too much,” he cautioned.
4. Veet Ready-to-Use Wax Strip Kit
This inexpensive wax strip kit is on sale for just $2 and comes with 40 strips and six finishing wipes. Veet’s formula locks around the smallest of hairs — they can be as short as 1/16 of an inch. The ready-to-use strips can also be used on any part of your body. However, there is a separate option specifically for underarm, bikini and face.
5. Philips Satinelle Hair Removal Epilator
While an epilator isn’t a wax, it also removes hair directly from the root. But, it takes a bit longer to use than wax, so it's only good for those capable of enduring a bit more discomfort. An Amazon bestseller, the Philips Satinelle Epilator grips and removes even the shortest hairs on either wet or dry skin.
Un waxing, which can be uncomfortable if you have a low threshold for pain, depilatory creams are painless. They can get messy, but they are usually pretty inexpensive.
The creams work by dissolving hair at or just below the surface of the skin, making it easy to wash away. Make sure your skin doesn't react poorly to depilatory cream by testing it out on a small patch of hair. The effectiveness of the cream may also vary depending on the amount of hair and hair type.
1. Nad’s Sensitive Hair Removal Cream
Chinchilla said this is one of his go-to products for removing unwanted hair at home. Generously apply the lotion to skin for at least four minutes and then wash it off: quick, painless and easy! This Nad’s option is formulated for sensitive skin and includes natural aloe vera, avocado oil and honey extracts.
2. GiGi Hair Removal Lotion
For hair removal on arms, legs and bikini area, Gigi Spa offers this inexpensive option. Apply the hair removal lotion to damp skin for 10 minutes before rinsing. The lotion has nourishing cocoa butter vitamins c and e to soothe skin smooth once the unwanted hair is washed off.
While waxing and depilatory creams can provide temporary results, the thought of never having to do either is pretty tempting. With laser hair removal, that thought can become a reality.
Board-certified dermatologist Jennifer Chwalek of Union Square Dermatology in New York City recommended heading to a professional since professional lasers are stronger and “utilize wavelengths that are better at targeting the hair follicle.” But, she also noted that it's possible to perform laser hair removal at home successfully.
“The home devices are reasonable for light skin patients with dark hair who have a few small areas they want to treat or who want to supplement their office treatments with an at-home treatment,” said Chwalek. It's not an excellent option for those with darker skin, she added. And, if you’re unsure whether an at-home device is right for you, consult a dermatologist.
1. Tria Hair Removal Laser Precision
Chwalek recommends this Tria hair removal device since it’s similar to what she uses her office. “Tria Beauty uses diode technology, which is similar to the lasers we use in the office for laser hair removal,” said Chwalek.
“Most of the other home devices use IPL technology, which does not always target the hair follicle as specifically as the diode wavelength.
” If you’re interested in treating larger areas the legs, Tria Beauty also offers the Tria Laser 4X made to handle those bigger areas with more energy.
2. Remington iLight Pro Intense Pulsed Light Hair Removal System
Chwalek also recommended this Remington hair removal system. The product promises permanent hair reduction just after three treatments. Though a lot more pricey than waxing and depilatory creams, permanent hair reduction can result in longer-term savings, since frequent hair removal treatments won’t be necessary once the hair is gone.
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Best Hair Removal Products 2020 – How to Remove Body Hair
No matter the time of year, many people want the look and feel of silky-smooth skin. But when it comes to hair removal, there are different products and techniques for all the areas of your body, the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab has found: underarm fuzz, coarse arm hair, leg stubble, the bikini area and more. Here's everything you need to know to stay fuzz-free.
How to Remove Hair From Your Bikini Line
If you want to feel extra-smooth around your bikini line, you've got a few options.
First, shaving: While it's not a particularly long-lasting method, it's typically pain-free, and you can do it in the comfort of your own home.
To avoid the dreaded razor burn that plagues so many who shave, Los Angeles dermatologist Christine Choi Kim, M.D. recommends waiting until your skin is hydrated from the shower or bath.
Soften first with shaving cream, foam, or oil ( our GH Beauty Award winner below) to guard skin and improve glide, rinse the razor's blades often to unclog, and replace them about every two weeks for maximum safety and efficacy, the GH Beauty Lab recommends. Dr. Kim also suggests applying Tend Skin skin-calming treatment if you tend to get ingrown hairs or razor bumps easily.
Waxing is another option for your bikini line. “The hair in the bikini area tends to be coarse and thick, which is ideal for waxing,” says Katherine Goldman, owner of Strip Bar Wax in San Francisco.
“And since the hair is pulled out from the root, it grows back thinner over time.
” There are multiple types of wax, including strip wax (applied hot and removed with cloth or paper sheets) and hard wax (applied hot, then removed after cooling and hardening).
If a long-lasting method is #1 on your priority list, a bikini wax may be your best option. “It lasts around three to six weeks,” says Noemi Grupenmager, founder of Uni K Wax. The GH Beauty Lab advises making sure skin is completely dry before waxing (try soaking up moisture with baby powder if needed).
How to Remove Hair From Your Legs
The most common method for removing leg hair is, of course, shaving.
If you don't mind dedicating a bit of time to it every few days (depending on how quickly your hair grows), this is a great option. Heidi Waldorf, M.D.
, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, advises using a sharp razor as well as a moisturizing foam, cream, or gel, her pick below.
“Exfoliating with a body scrub twice during the week or up to two days prior to any form of hair removal will help” prevent ingrown hair and bumps, says Grupenmager. Just be sure to avoid exfoliating directly after you shave, when your skin is most sensitive.
Another hair-removal method many know and love: depilatory cream. You may recall the potent-smelling formulas of years past, but new-and-improved concoctions promise to be less irritating and more nose-friendly, the GH Beauty Lab's top-tested pick by GiGi below.
“Depilatory creams use chemicals such as calcium thioglycolate or potassium thioglycolate, which break disulfide bonds in keratin, thereby weakening the hair,” Dr. Kim explains. Just be sure to do a patch test before applying one of these to your skin, and don't leave it on for longer than the instructions direct, the Beauty Lab recommends.
If you have a higher pain tolerance and prefer to keep regrowth at bay, consider waxing, as it normally lasts between three and six weeks.
How to Remove Hair From Your Underarms
Underarm hair grows almost 50% faster than the hair on your legs, according to the experts who make Gillette Venus razors, so shaving on a daily or every-other-day basis makes sense for those who don't want hair there. That said, some people do tend to be more sensitive than others and can get irritated from shaving, so make sure you're always using a sharp razor and rinsing it between strokes to avoid it getting clogged.
“If you're prone to shaving bumps, use a shaving gel or lotion, shave in the direction of the hair, and change the blade often,” Dr. Waldorf says. “After shaving, apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to any red or inflamed areas, or areas that frequently develop bumps.”
Getting a quick wax every month or so can keep your underarm hair at bay without reaching for the razor every morning. Worried about little bumps? “If you wax regularly, you will have a very slim chance of getting ingrown hairs or bumps,” Grupenmager says. Consult a dermatologist if you're still concerned about whether or not your underarm area can handle waxing.
Laser hair removal is a much longer-term method, but if you're sure you'll never again want hair in a specific spot, such as your underarms, it could be worthwhile to consider it.
“By getting rid of 70 to 90% of the hair, if not more, you reduce or remove the necessity of hair removal,” Dr. Waldorf explains. “The less you have to do, the less irritation or side effects you'll get in the long term.
” Even though it's on the pricier side (approximately $50 to $300 per session, depending on the body part), you could wind up cost-cutting on razors, shaving cream, and waxing.
Check out our guide to laser hair removal for everything you need to know on the subject.
How to Remove Hair From Your Forearms
While it's less common than removing hair on the aforementioned body parts, there are lots of people out there who prefer to get rid of the fuzz on their arms, especially via wax strips, the kind found in the Beauty Lab's top-tested kit below. Un hot wax, these pre-coated strips are applied at room temperature, require minimal effort, and can be used at home, says New York City dermatologist Doris Day, M.D.
Over time, waxing can result in your hair growing back finer, extending intervals between hair-removal sessions.
Just be sure to trim your hair beforehand (leaving between 1/4″ and 1/2″ is perfect) and dust on a bit of baby powder to prevent the wax from sticking to your skin.
Follow the directions properly, and remove any residual wax with a dab of baby oil on a cotton ball.
Another good option for your arms: depilatory creams. As previously mentioned, depilatory creams work by incorporating chemicals that break down the bonds in your hair. If you want a longer-lasting result than shaving and something less painful than waxing, try an easy-to-use depilatory cream, the Beauty Lab's top-tested pick below.
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Which hair removal method is best for you?
While this can be a challenge for some, there are tons of great products out there to make waxing your own legs easier than ever. Opt for a wax that boasts salon-quality results. Water soluble waxes will work best for thin hair.
If you have thicker hair, choose oil soluble wax instead. You can clean up quickly by wiping excess wax off surfaces with good old-fashioned nail polish remover.
For best results, apply lukewarm wax in the same direction as the hair, place a cotton strip on top, press down gently and peel back against the hair.
PROS: Waxing works well for anyone who has a lot of thick hair and wishes to eventually get rid of it for good. With each wax, hair thins out. After several years of waxing, hair will stop growing back.
CONS: Waxing is painful and can cause redness and irritation to the skin. To ease the pain, you can always apply numbing cream beforehand. Also, look for products with tea tree oil and aloe vera to apply afterward to reduce redness and irritation.
Suggestion: MOOM Organic Hair Removal System ($49.90) available online at MOOM.ca.
Shaving is a quick and easy way to get rid of unsightly hair from the legs and underarms. If you’re about to head out and just realized your legs are looking a little too hairy, you can grab a razor and get rid of that hair instantly.
PROS: Shaving is very quick and when the appropriate multi-blade razor and shaving cream are used, your skin will be left feeling silky smooth. Plus, you don’t have to wait for hair to grow out before removing again.
CONS: Hair often grows back thicker and quicker when you shave so if you’re going to turn to shaving, be sure you’re ready for the amount of work it takes to maintain hair-free skin.
Suggestion: Gillette Venus Embrace Razor ($15.99)
Intense Pulsed Light Hair Removal (IPL)
Commonly referred to as laser hair removal, IPL is a form of permanent hair removal that involves heat rather than the radiation which is often emitted by certain lasers not approved by the FDA. IPL is a pulsated light that burns away the hair follicle and is completed after several treatments on specific areas every four to six weeks. This is best performed in a professional salon.
PROS: This option can result in permanent hair removal.
CONS: IPL hair removal can be costly and is generally only up to 85 percent effective, which means some hair may remain even after treatments are completed. Also, women who are pregnant are not encouraged to undergo IPL treatments because their hormone imbalances make it difficult for successful treatment, though it has not been proven harmful to the fetus in any way.
Suggestion: Visit a professional salon for details.
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Hair Removal Methods
Many people have unwanted hair. It's common on the upper lip, chin, cheeks, back, legs, fingers, feet, and toes.
It can have many causes, including genetics, certain medications such as steroids, higher levels of certain hormones, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
There are several ways to remove unwanted hair. With most methods, at least some of the hair will eventually grow back.
Shaving is best for leg, arm, and facial hair. It can, though, cause ingrown hairs, especially in the pubic region.
Plucking or tweezing can be painful, but it may be a good option if you only have a few hairs you want to remove. Times when you might want to pluck include when you're reshaping your eyebrows or pulling out a few stray hairs that appear on your face. You should not, however, use this hair removal method for large areas. It can cause ingrown hairs or scarring.
Hair removal creams, also known as depilatory creams, are available without a prescription.
They're not all the same, so be sure to read the label. For instance, you shouldn't use a hair removal cream made for pubic hairs to remove hair on your face.
The chemicals in these products dissolve the hair shaft. Using a cream improperly — for instance, leaving it on too long — can burn your skin. If you have a history of allergic reactions, you should first test a little bit of the cream on a small area on your arm to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction to it. Be sure to follow the directions on the cream.
You can do this at home or you can have it done by a professional in a salon. Hot waxing can be messy and painful and may leave some hairs behind because they can break off. Infection is one side effect to watch for. If the wax is too hot, you may get a burn.
You should not use this method if you also use certain types of prescription acne creams (such as Retin-A) or take isotretinoin. If you do, the wax will pull your skin off.
Many women use this hair removal method in the bikini area and to remove hair on the upper lip.
Threading is a traditional Indian method of hair removal that some salons offer. The professionals who do threading use strings they twist in a pattern and use to pull unwanted hair out.
This is one of the longest-lasting methods, but it generally requires four or more treatments 4-6 weeks apart. It can only be effective on dark hair.
The laser beam or a light pulse works to destroy the hair bulb. The treatment can be expensive and sometimes painful, but it can be used on many parts of the body where unwanted hair appears. Be sure you select a doctor or technician who is highly trained and knowledgeable.
Electrolysis is done by a professional who places a tiny needle with an electric current in the hair follicle. There are two primary hair removal methods with electrolysis: galvanic and thermolytic.
- Galvanic hair removal chemically destroys the hair follicle.
- Thermolytic removal uses heat to destroy the follicle.
In either case, be sure to find a professional who is highly trained and knowledgeable.
You can get electrolysis on any part of the body.
If none of these hair removal methods help, you may want to ask your doctor's advice. There are drugs that inhibit hair growth.
Spironolactone is a pill that may slow or reduce hair growth in areas that you don’t want hair. It will not get rid of the hair on your scalp and may actually stimulate growth there.
There is a prescription cream called Vaniqa that's approved by the FDA for slowing facial hair growth in women. This cream slows growth, but it will not remove the hair. You apply it to the area twice a day. Once you stop using the cream, the hair will regrow.
American Academy of Dermatology: “Laser hair removal.”
American Academy of Dermatology: “Treating excess body hair could remedy a hairy situation.”
FDA: “Removing Hair Safely.”
© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Best & Worst Hair-Removal Techniques
The warm weather does wonders for our souls, but we could certainly do without the extra time it takes to shave, wax and laser off every exposed hair on our bodies. Before you reach for that razor, make sure your preferred hair-removal technique is also kind to your skin.
Because there's no point in removing unwanted hair if it's only going to expose skin that we're damaging in the process, it's high time we find out, once and for all, whether we should be shaving, waxing, getting electrolysis treatments — or none of the above.
We spoke with Dr. Diane De Fiori, consultant and research dermatologist with the Rosacea Treatment Clinic, and esthetician Felicia Alva of Flutter Beauty, and got the scoop on the best and worst ways we can remove hair on our legs, bodies and faces.
Here they are, ranked from worst to best.
More: The 20 Most Game-Changing Beauty Products of 2018 so Far
The easiest, and one of the cheapest, methods we rely on is also one that can leave our skin bumpy, stubbly and even bloody.
“Because the razor cuts the hair at an angle, it has a tendency to regrow inward (causing ingrown hairs), particularly if hair is curly,” De Fiori said. “The result is bumpy and inflamed, infected skin which will not resolve until the ingrown hair is removed.”
De Fiori adds that possible complications from shaving can include scarring, breaking fine capillaries when removing the hair and permanent dark marks (hyperpigmentation) after healing has completed. One possible benefit? “The razor itself does have a moderate exfoliating effect, removing dead surface skin cells as you shave, which leaves skin smoother.”
6. Hair-removal creams
Products Veet and other hair-removal creams are similar to permanent solutions, according to De Fiori, and can dissolve hair at the skin level. Because the hair remains in the follicle and is burned away evenly, there is less chance that ingrown hairs will develop. Sounds great, right? Hold that thought.
“The main risk with these products is chemical burns because they are strongly alkaline,” De Fiori said. “A burn is more ly if you leave the product on for longer than directed on the packaging. Some hair types are not removed effectively within the directed timeframe for use therefore patients will leave them on longer. By the time the hair is dissolved the skin is also burnt.”
Know your skin — if it's sensitive, it may be best to stay away from these creams. And, if you do use them, make sure you're removing them thoroughly or you risk developing a “slow burn.” Ouch!
De Fiori says electrolysis has pretty much been replaced by lasers, which are “faster and more efficacious.” If you're still devoted to this method, be aware that risks include “scarring, infection and hyperpigmentation.”
A lot of women are opting to have their eyebrows and/or the little annoying hairs on their faces removed using threading instead of waxing or shaving.
De Fiori says this is the method least ly to damage skin, as it is gentler on skin than tweezing, but it has a major downside: It's only feasible for use on small areas of the skin.
Unless, I guess, you're one of few women who love torture and can deal with the insane pain of getting your legs threaded (we won't judge you).
More: 5 Summer Skin Care Tips Black Women Should Keep in Mind
Both De Fiori and Alva are in agreement about waxing, especially when it comes to the eyebrow area: It can cause major skin damage.
“Waxing removes a top layer of skin every time you use it,” Alva said, adding that the thin, delicate skin around the eyes has no oil glands and requires as gentle a method as possible. “It's OK on the body, but it's too rough on skin in the eye area.”
Alva recommends tweezing, which gives an esthetician more control over your brows and gives you a fuller, more natural brow.
De Fiori cautions women with rosacea and other inflammatory skin disorders, such as psoriasis and eczema, to avoid waxing altogether because, although it weakens hair growth, it causes hair growth to actually accelerate during the first three to six months, which increases the need to wax more and can lead to hyperpigmentation.
2. Eflornithine hydrochloride cream
Women who feel they have been plagued by little chin hairs or thick facial hair can now benefit from this effective, but costly, prescription product. After approximately two months of twice daily use, the cream slows down hair growth, according to De Fiori.
“Some possible, more common side effects are temporary redness, stinging, rash or folliculitis (inflamed, bumpy hair follicles),” De Fiori said. “This is a rather expensive product, however it is FDA approved and reduces the need for other hair-removal methods.”
1. Laser treatments
Ding, ding, ding — I think we have a winner!
De Fiori says that, although older lasers can damage darker skin tones and weren't effective on very light hair, modern lasers can be used to treat an individual's skin and hair type.
After a treatment, hair remains in the skin, but will fall out after four to eight days. And how is this for an incredible added bonus: Depending on the laser used, you may even experience some skin rejuvenation due to the formation of new collagen. A method that removes hair and can fight fine lines? Yes, please.
So, let's review
Modern lasers are De Fiori's preferred method, shaving beats out depilatory creams, waxing should only be used on skin types that do not have a history of reacting to it, and a killer, long-lasting combo worth trying on facial hair: threading and eflornithine hydrochloride cream.
Adios, unwanted hair!
A version of this article was originally published in August 2015.