Your Ultimate Guide to Every Type of Hair Removal
What you choose to do with your body hair is your choice. We applaud everyone out there who fully embraces their fuzzy pits, leg hair, and everything in between — although it's definitely not uncommon to prefer a more hairless landscape. With the weather getting warmer and vacation season drawing near, you may not want hair to show around your bikini line while you bathe in the sun. Good news: you're definitely not short on options when it comes to hair-removal methods. You might be curious to know which one will work best for you.
Hair removal can be daunting — there's the potential risk of skin irritation, in-grown hairs, and razor bumps — but there are a plethora of body-hair-removal methods out there. We've done the legwork to find the best options for shaving your underarms, bikini line, Brazilian area, legs, and more. Ahead, learn about your choices, from laser hair removal to waxing, threading, epilating, shaving, sugaring, tweezing, and depilatories.
Laser Hair Removal
How It Works: "Laser hair removal works by emitting a monochromatic beam of light that bypasses the epidermis and disables the reproductive cycle of the hair within the follicle," Christian Karavolas, laser hair removal expert and founder of Romeo & Juliette Laser Hair Removal, previously told POPSUGAR.
The entire process takes dedication and can be a bit costly (according to Web MD, the average cost is around $285 per session, and you'll likely need at least six sessions), but the results can be worthwhile. After going through the prescribed amount of sessions, which can last as little as 10 minutes, you'll be able to trade your weekly shaving sessions or monthly wax appointments for a touch-up appointment once every few years.
How Much It Hurts: It depends on your pain threshold and where you get it done. Editorial assistant Lauren Harano, who recently had her lower legs lasered for the first time, "was surprised that it was more painful than having it done on [her] underarms," while editorial director Dawn Davis says getting laser on her bikini line "barely hurt."
How It Works: Whether you're having it done at your favorite salon or doing it at home, the process looks similar. It can either be done with warm wax that is applied to an area of skin then removed when it hardens, or using a thinner layer of wax applied to an area that is removed via a thin cloth (typically mueslin).
How Much It Hurts: "It hurts more depending on the quality and experience of your waxer and definitely feels raw for a day or two after," former beauty editor Sarah Siegel says. "Each time I'd get waxed, I'd think I was in the room for close to an hour just to find out it's been about 15 minutes tops."
How It Works: The hair removal experts at Strip previously told POPSUGAR that "threading originates from Asia and is an ancient method of removing hair." It's done by using thin, cotton or polyester thread, twisting it into a double thread, and using twisting actions to pluck hair from the root.
How Much It Hurts: "The first time I got threading done, it felt like short lines of slight stinging across my brow bone," says Calaor who often got her brows threaded when she was in college. "The more often I'd gotten it done, the more I thought the treatment was relaxing. My skin, which is sensitive, would be raised afterward even if I didn't find the session painful (but it went down in under 10 minutes)."
How It Works: Using an epilator can be daunting, as the head of the handheld, electric device has a wheel equipped with multiple metal grooves that pull hair from your body — and fast. Epilators pull multiple hairs at once as you move it against the area.
How Much It Hurts: "It does take a lot of getting used to since it's, essentially, a spinning wheel of tweezers," says former beauty editor Jesa Marie Calaor, who uses it on her underarms. "It does sting, but I've found that it hurts less each time that I do it. The payoff is 100 percent worth it because I can go upward of three weeks between sessions." Calaor uses the waterproof Braun Epilator ($150) because she finds that using it in the shower — when her skin is soft from the water and steam — makes the process less painful.
How It Works: After selecting the right razor for you (we love the 5-blade, moisturizing Schick Hydro Silk Sensitive Razor ($12)), maneuver the blade against the direction that the hair is growing, the exception being in areas where your skin proves more sensitive to avoid irritation like your bikini line.
"You don't want to shave dry or wet without a barrier because it'll irritate the skin, so having one makes for a more comfortable shave," CC Sofronas, co-founder of Pacific Shaving Co, previously told us. She recommends using the Pacific Shaving Company Ultra Slick Shave Stick ($16), which is a solid, transparent formula that lathers when introduced with water. "It's a shave stick in what looks like a deodorant container, so it's super easy to use. You just swipe it across your skin to create that barrier, but then unlike shaving cream you can also see any areas that you missed."
How Much It Hurts: The process should be painless, but accidents happen. You may end up with pesky knicks or razor burn, which can cause slight itching or burning.
How It Works: Sugaring works similarly to waxing, but uses a sticky mixture of all-natural ingredients like lemon, sugar, and water.
"Our application is much different than traditional waxing," Danielle Correia, owner and CEO of Sugaring LA, told POPSUGAR. "We use a smooth ball of paste that gently rolls onto the skin. The sugar is applied in the opposite direction of the hair growth while seeping into the hair follicle and adhering to it. It is then flicked off in the natural direction of the hair growth."
Aside from the application, another major difference between sugaring and waxing is that unlike wax, which tends to bond to both the hair follicles and the surrounding skin area, sugaring paste only sticks to the hair follicles and doesn't irritate the skin.
How Much It Hurts: Sugaring's pain is comparable to waxing, but for those with sensitive skin, it can prove more gentle (as it is free of any chemicals that could prompt added irritation or redness).
How It Works: "Hair-removal creams are depilatories that are applied to the skin and break down the bonds in the hair and effectively remove the hair," dermatologist Shari Sperling, DO, previously told POPSUGAR.
Depilatories remove hair chemically by dissolving them at the surface of your skin. They come in many different formulas, from powder to gel to creams, and have a distinct smell that can be pungent, depending on its formula. The time it takes to dissolve the hair depends on its coarseness.
How Much It Hurts: "[Using a depilatory] doesn't hurt, but it can be uncomfortable," beauty director Kelsey Castañon says. She described the pain as ranging from a slight tingle to a sting. She loves the Nair Leg Mask in Brighten and Smooth ($10).
How It Works: Tweezing is the act of plucking individual hairs from skin using — you guessed it — tweezers. It can be done using tweezers with different tips, but one with a slant tip (like the Tweezerman Rose Gold Slant Tweezer ($23)) lifts single and multiple hairs more easily.
How Much It Hurts: Pain when it comes to tweezing can range from non-existent to sharp stinging depending on coarseness of hair, sensitivity of area, and pain threshold of the person doing it.