Safe and Effective Body Hair Removal Options For Everyone
When it comes to removing unwanted hair from the body – there are plenty of options. While the television screen can bombard us with shaving commercials, shaving is definitely not the only option out there (p.s. removing body hair isn't even a necessity). Not only are there various safe and effective body hair removal options for everyone in an at-home setting, but there are several clinical options as well if you would feel more comfortable consulting a dermatologist. So, what exactly are all of the different types of body hair removal and what do they entail?
- The different types of body hair removal include: shaving, waxing, sugaring, laser hair removal, electrolysis, depilatories, and more.
- There are options for everyone when it comes to body hair removal; most body hair removal methods can be performed in a clinical setting or in the comfort of your own home, such as laser hair removal.
- Sugaring and waxing are two similar processes just like laser hair removal and electrolysis, but beyond the surface, there are key differences in the procedures and results the separate the methods.
This is the most common form of body hair removal as it is the most accessible (1). With a razor, you can easily shave off unwanted hair by cutting the hair at the surface of the skin. The more razor blades that a razor has, the more you will get a close and comfortable shave. On the plus side, any area of the body can be shaved, and it is relatively easy to do yourself with a quick tutorial to understand the right tricks (going with or against the grain?)
In terms of the negatives, the results from shaving only last a few days, so it needs to be consistently maintained if you want to stay silky smooth. While shaving is painless (unless a cut occurs) in comparison to other forms of body hair removal, frequent shaving can irritate the skin with razor burns and bumps. Ingrown hairs can also develop from shaving (2).
As another super common form of body hair removal, waxing is the most sought-after option for those wanting more long-term results, as waxing involves pulling the hair out of the skin instead of cutting it at the surface. With results lasting up to a few weeks or longer, waxing involves more skill than shaving, which is why the process is typically performed at a salon or by a professional. This is due to the fact that without doing the research associated with waxing, issues can occur, such as the wax mistakenly being made too hot and burning the skin (2).
As mentioned before, waxing is also more painful than shaving, but those who get waxed usually outweigh the benefits versus the pain since they won’t have to shave for weeks with a good wax. Plus, after a wax, the hair is said to grow back thinner, resulting in a lesser need to shave consistently. While waxing can be performed at home, more delicate or hard-to-reach areas of the body may require professional assistance.
If you haven’t heard this word before – think Nair. Depilatories come in the form of either a cream, lotion, or gel and are used to dissolve unwanted body hair from the skin. While these products are simple to use at home (apply the product, wait, and rinse off the product after a certain period of time to see results), they aren’t immune from irritating your skin. Because of this, dermatologists recommend performing a patch test before using depilatories as your main source of body hair removal. In comparison to shaving, the results from depilatories can last longer (2).
The act of threading involves using two twisted cotton threads and rolling them over unwanted hair to rip them out of the skin. Threading is similar to tweezing when it comes to body hair removal because it is so precise, but there are key differences, such as the use of the threads. However, threading is not usually used for large areas of the body, despite the fact that using the threads can remove many unwanted hairs at once.
Threading is so precise that it makes more sense to use it on areas where only some unwanted hair is removed, such as on the eyebrows, instead of areas where you want all hair to be removed, such as the legs. Unlike shaving, the results of threading typically last up to a month and can cause little irritation besides redness for a few hours (2). While threading can be done at home, it takes time and skill to learn how to properly thread without accidentally ripping out too much hair in a certain area or nicking the skin. Typically, threading is performed by an experienced professional at a salon.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is mainly done in a clinical setting by a dermatologist to destroy the hair follicles. During laser hair removal, a laser emits a beam of light that over time can destroy the hair follicle, so the hair cannot grow back (2). It takes up to 6 treatments in order to successfully destroy a hair follicle, but if performed at home, the device would need to be used longer and more frequently to see results. What really separates laser hair removal from the pack is the fact that laser hair removal is permanent on the body (besides the face).
Similar to depilatories, prescription creams can act as a body hair removal, but there’s one main difference – they’re prescribed by a dermatologist! In this case, you won’t have to worry about the risks that come with depilatories, such as using the product for months before realizing continual use has been irritating the skin. These creams are usually made to target smaller areas, such as the face, to slow hair growth for around a month.
It’s important to note that prescription creams are not made to remove existing hair like depilatories. Rather, you would need to remove the unwanted hair and then use the product to slow the regrowth of the hair. Once the medication is no longer applied, the hair will regrow (2).
This method of body hair removal involves sending an electrical current through a hair follicle to damage it and prevent hair from growing. Electrolysis can be performed in a clinical setting and at home with take-home kits. Electrolysis, like laser hair removal, can be permanent, but it will take several sessions (2). Another major plus of electrolysis is that you won’t need maintenance treatments, as opposed to many other forms of body hair removal.
Dating back to Ancient Egypt, sugaring describes the process of using a natural paste to remove hair from the root, similar to waxing. Since it causes less hair growth over time, the hair will get thinner and sparser and will last up to six weeks (3). Sugaring can be done on large areas of the body and is considered less painful than waxing. To get the perfect paste, you'll mix lemon, sugar, and water. There are plenty of tutorials online to make sure you do it safely.
Written by Selena Ponton