With so many options for hair removal, a bit of guidance may be helpful. Here’s the scoop on each option, so you can find the right one for your body hair and lifestyle.
What it is: Shaving via razor is likely the first kind of hair removal we all experimented with, so it can feel like a safe option. Washington, D.C. dermatologist Tina Alster, MD says shaving is quick, inexpensive, and good for all skin types and body parts. However, she notes that there’s a higher risk of ingrown hairs, and hair regrowth happens rather quickly. For those who commonly suffer from ingrown hairs, Studio City, CA dermatologist Gene Rubinstein, MD recommends “exfoliating or using retinol or glycolic acid cleansers and creams.
One to try: The razor industry has become more saturated than ever, with dozens of direct-to-consumer options to choose from. Billie Razors ($10) provide a really close, yet really comfortable shave, while also looking pretty in the shower.
What it is: As its name implies, the threading technique employs a piece of thin thread to remove hair. Founder of Thread Salon, Sadia Brangan, says one of the biggest benefits of threading is that it’s all-natural with no heat or chemicals involved. Threading also allows for more precise hair removal. “Aestheticians are able to remove even the tiniest hairs above the skin, so it’s great for the face, especially the brows, as it creates a more full, natural look versus getting your brows waxed or tweezed,” says Brangan.
One to try: If you’re local to New York, Thread Salon has two locations in Manhattan. There aren’t as many threading salons (compared to waxing) spanning the country, so it may take some research to find the best experts near you. Look for professionals that specialize in threading, work in a clean space and have a track record of satisfied clients.
What they are: Depilatory creams make hair removal as simple as putting on lotion. The alkaline ingredients in the formula break down the keratin structure of hair. Rub the cream on, let it sit for a few minutes (following the product’s instructions), and then wipe it off—the hair goes with it painlessly. This is an inexpensive and effective way to remove hair, especially for those with thinner hair, says Dr. Alster. However, she notes that skin irritation is a possible side effect, and a patch test prior is recommended.
One to try: Depilatory creams have come a long way since their heyday in the ‘80s. However, many of the classic brands are still around with revamped formulas. Nad’s Legs & Body Sensitive Hair Removal Cream ($7) will remove even the shortest hair in just four minutes.
What it is: Waxing involves a professional applying and removing warm wax to pull hair from the root, providing long-lasting, smooth results, explains Gina Petak, education manager for European Wax Center. Although it depends on your hair regrowth, waxes tend to keep you hair-free for two to three weeks. You then have to allow the hair to grow back to about a fourth of an inch long before going again. “Waxing is for people who are busy and want to add time to their day by condensing their hair removal routine into a monthly reservation,” says Petak. As for the discomfort, Petak says by the third visit, your hair will be finer and softer, making the experience more comfortable.
Dr. Alster says waxing is especially good for people with lighter hair because lasers can be ineffective. Additionally, waxing is a great option for areas where lasers may inflict ocular damage, such as the eyebrows
One to try: European Wax Center is one of the foremost waxing companies in the country. At all of their locations, experts use hard stripless Comfort Wax, which was developed exclusively for the company, and a four-step process to ensure comfort.
What it is: Electrolysis is a great option for those who want the permanent results of laser hair removal but have lighter hair, says Dr. Rubinstein. During electrolysis, an expert inserts a tiny probe into the skin to deliver radio frequencies into hair follicles and destroy them. This process causes hair to fall out and prevents new hair from growing. Electrolysis is the only permanent hair removal technique currently backed by the FDA.
One to try: If your dermatologist doesn’t offer electrolysis, ask them for a recommendation for a reliable provider. In the wrong hands, electrolysis can lead to scarring, keloids and hyperpigmentation.
Laser Hair Removal
What it is: “Laser hair removal has been one of the most revolutionary inventions in aesthetic dermatology in the past 25 years,” Dr. Rubinstein says. Although it can be pricey, it has the longest-lasting results and eradicates ingrown hairs. The technique works by emitting light that is absorbed by the pigment in the hair. The light is then converted to heat, which damages the hair follicles so they can’t grow hair anymore. Dr. Alster notes that this technique is best for people with dark hair—it’s also vital to use a laser that is good for your skin type to avoid pigment issues. According to Dr. Rubinstein, lasers don’t work as well on those with light hair “because it lacks the pigment necessary for laser absorption.”
One to try: Sciton Bare HR is one of the newest technologies in the laser hair removal market, and is currently the fastest laser hair removal device available, which means less time in the chair. sciton.com