In the Western world, having smooth, hair-free skin has become quite a priority. But with so many options available, ranging from painful to painless, expensive to inexpensive, which method should you choose? More importantly, which method is most suited to which body part?
Shaving is by far the most frequently used method of hair removal. This likely has a lot to do with the fact that it is cheap, easy, and painless. Additionally, shaving can be used effectively as a last minute solution. The downside of course, is that shaving is does not last long. Regrowth will typically occur within three days for many people and often as little as one day for other people. This is because the razor cuts the hair above the surface of the skin; it does not reach below the skin so the hair will continue to grow as normal. Shaving is most suited for large areas such as legs, though it is also very effective for underarms. Shaving is less suited for the bikini area as regrowth can feel uncomfortable.
A common misconception is that shaving makes hair grow back thicker and darker. Whilst this is not true, hair may appear to grow back coarser at first because the newly grown hairs have a blunt end rather than the softer tapered end of longer hairs that have not been shaved. This is because the ends of individual hairs wear away over a long period time, leaving a softer texture. Hair that has recently been shaven does not allow for this tapering process to occur. Another reason hair might appear thicker and darker after shaving is that hair above the surface of the skin is exposed to the sun whereas hair underneath the skin is not. As a result, when freshly shaven hairs start to regrow, they have never had sun exposure so are naturally much darker.
Hair Removal Cream
Hair removal creams are applied to the surface of the skin and left for a few minutes. It is important to never leave the cream on for longer than the product recommends, even if you think you are giving the product more time to work. In actual fact, leaving the cream on for too long is likely to cause skin irritation. Indeed, some people with more sensitive skin may be unable to use this method at all if it makes their skin red and itchy. For this reason, you should always test the hair removal creams on a small patch of skin first to make sure that the product does not irritate your skin
Similarly to shaving, hair removal creams target the hair above the surface of the skin. However, rather than cutting the hair, these products work by dissolving the hair at the skins surface. This method often lasts slightly longer than shaving with regrow typically occurring within three to five days. Unlike shaving, hair does not grow back with a blunt end. Dissolving the hair is much gentler than cutting the hair so regrowth is generally much softer. Hair removal creams are suitable for arms and legs, as well as the bikini area.
Waxing is certainly a popular method for hair removal due to its long lasting results as hairs are pulled out from underneath the surface of the skin. For a perfect, professional finish, you might decide to visit a salon. However, this is not necessary as at-home wax kits are equally effective. The simple cold wax strips method is the cheapest and involves placing the strip on the target area and pulling it off in the opposite direction to the growth of the hair. Hot wax takes a slightly different approach; the wax is applied direction to the skin and a clean strip of paper is applied. The strip is pulled off in the same way.
Unlike shaving and hair removal creams, waxing pulls hairs out from beneath the surface and very often, the hair comes out at the root. This means that regrowth is much slower and when it finally does grow back weeks later, hair is much finer. The obvious drawback to this method is that it can be painful for a lot of people. However, with experience hairs grow back finer and softer, or over a long period of time, some hairs may not grow back at all. As a result, waxing becomes less painful over time because the hairs come out with less resistance.
A general rule of thumb for waxing is that hairs must be at least five millimeters in length in order for the waxing process to effectively work. Having said that, some major brands now sell wax products designed specifically for shorter hairs. Waxing is highly effective for large areas such as legs and is considered the most suitable hair removal method for the bikini area. Waxing is less suitable for underarms due to the sensitivity of this area, though if you can stand the pain, it is an effective all round method for any area.
In summary, you should now be more informed on the three major at-home hair removal methods and understand the pros and cons of each. It is not necessary to pick just one method; many people mix and match different methods for different areas of the body. Likewise, you might choose to wax every month or so, but shave or use creams for any premature hair regrowth during the weeks in between. No way is right or wrong and it is important to find the best method to suit you.
What is your preferred method of hair removal? Let me know in the comments below.