Semi-Permanent and Permanent Body Hair Removal
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Over the course of your life, you'll spend what amounts to days—if not years—getting rid of unwanted body hair. Why are we so vain!
Here is a list of ways to remove body hair so you can save time, look great, feel great, and get back to the beach, or whatever else it is that you do, hairless! Read on below for details.
- Straight razors
- Chemical bleaches
- Cream chemical liquid remover
- Laser removal or home laser machines
Sandpaper hair removal
Yep . . . sandpaper. It will remove thin to fine hair when gently rubbed on your skin, basically burning it off via friction. You need to get the finest grit sandpaper available. You can also use an emery board or the generic plastic pink ones they sell at discount stores.
These are basically a rubber base that you hold with a fine piece of sandpaper stuck to it. When using, gently swipe in the same direction across the hair being removed. Do not stay in the same location for long, or it will burn and make your skin very angry!
This method is like shaving because you are basically "mowing the grass." You're not removing hair by the root, you're just trimming it off.
- OK for fine facial hair
- Not gentle on the skin—can burn, irritate, and cause inflamed skin
- Not favorable for thick hair or sensitive skin
- Time-consuming with short-term results
- Not very sanitary. Can't reuse equipment.
Say goodbye to toe and knuckle hair!
Yep burn baby burn!
I don't think this is a new way to get rid of hair, but you can burn it off. All you need is a Bic lighter. You light the lighter and run it quickly over the places you're burning the hair from.
NEVER use this method on your face, head, legs or bikini area. This method is best reserved for the hair and knuckle hair.
- Great for any hair thickness
- Results last a few days
- Dangerous if you're not smart about it
- It stinks!
Using razors for hair removal is probably the most common choice. You can buy razors with multiple blades for a higher quality shave. Refills are pricey though, and once a blade is used a few times it's useless.
Basically, all you need is a razor, some soap or shaving cream, and water. Most people use razors while they shower or while bathing.
Wet and lather the desired area to be shaved. In an against-the-grain motion, slide the razor against the hair, rinse and you're finished.
The plus side to using a razor for shaving is that they are easy to use, easy to buy, and available in multiple styles for comfort and benefit. Some entire setups are disposable, which is convenient but wasteful.
- Razors are easy to buy, easy to use
- Convenient and some are entirely disposable
- Using razors is a very short-term solution to managing hair removal. It typically lasts 2-4 days before you have to do it again
- Blades can be expensive
- Shaving with a razor can cause razor burn, irritation, and ingrown hairs
- Razors are sharp and should not be left lying around where kids can get them
A manly alternative
Get a super smooth clean shave with a straight razor. Getting a man a set of shaving supplies also makes a great gift.
Or sit your man in a chair and give him the gift of an ultimate shave (once you know how to do it of course). It's also nice to treat an elderly man (like your father or grandfather) to a nice shave. Also, fine for lady beards.
You'll need a shaving foam or cream, a shaving brush, the razor, and a nice alcohol-free after shave lotion (to help relax the skin).
Getting used to this form of hair removal does take time and you'll have to get used to the pressure and action of using this device.
- Provides a great, smooth, super close shave
- Less irritation, stubble, or razor burn
- Results last the same as using disposable razors or blades
- A downside is getting used to this type of shaving. It takes about 10-20 shaves before you're really good at it.
- The blade needs to stay very sharp and should be handled with care
How to Use a Straight Razor
Hair removal lotion
Hair Removal Creams and Bleaches
These are also known as depilatories.
Kill them with chemicals
Hair removal creams and bleaches basically kill the root of the hair for a short time period or lighten a specific area of hair as any hair dye would.
They are usually inexpensive. All you need to do is mix the contents as directed, apply to the area needing removed or lightened, wait, and rinse.
- Bleaches are nice for areas that don't need hair removal but lightning, like facial hair or chest hair
- Longer-lasting results than shaving. Chemical removal will last about 7 days, and bleaching a dark spot of hair could give results that last up to 3 weeks!
- Bleaches can be used to lighten precise areas, like around the mouth, sideburns, or chin.
- Messy to apply and can cause skin irritation, or chemical burns.
- For coarse hair, they don't always work
- Chemicals! Gasp.
Rip it out!
Waxing provides great results and can be done in the comfort of your home. Once you know how to do it, it's quite simple.
It's a process of using melted wax and muslin strips to rip the hair from the follicle, and yes, it's as painful as it sounds. Brazilian anyone? YOUCH!
A conditioner should be used, and baby oil will remove wax build up on the skin when you are finished.
A great benefit to waxing is that you can apply this method to any part of your body. You can have it done at a salon, by a friend, or do it yourself.
- Results can last up to 4-6 weeks depending on how fast your hair grows
- Great for summers or vacationing when shaving every other day is not convenient or possible
- Messy, and set up/clean up is very time consuming, and heaven forbid you spill any on the floor or get it on towels or clean clothes!
- Hair will need to be at least 1/4 inch long for the wax to grab hold of it, which makes waxing best for the first sign of good weather, you know...after winter when you've turned into a bear.
- Needs lots of supplies—strips, skin products, scissors to trim the strips, stick applicators, a wax warmer or microwave
- Requires a high tolerance to pain
- Not always precise, and doesn't always get every hair
- You must exfoliate in between waxing to avoid ingrown hairs.
Tweezers and Plucking
Pluck them stray suckers out by the root!
Tweezing and plucking, much like waxing, gives great results for exact areas needing hair removed.
This is the ideal way to remove eyebrow hair or any other parts of the face that do not have large coverage.
Plucking hair out with tweezers will last up to 2-3 weeks because it removes the hair completely to the root, leaving nothing in its place until a new hair begins to grow.
- Precise removal
- Great long lasting results, requiring minimal touch-up
- Great for stray random hairs
- Painful or irritating
- Slight learning curve if you pluck your eyebrows to get the shaping right
The art of the tweeze
This is a long-practiced hair removal art. And I really mean, this is an art form! This is the best option for facial hair removal.
I don't know how women do this, but this is definitely something you should have a professional do, or you'll just be annoyed and frustrated.
A great artist will know exactly how to shape your eyebrows and make them beautiful without needing tweezers as a backup!
- Long-lasting results like plucking (2-3 weeks)
- A quick process—3-5 minutes and you're done
- Inexpensive—$10 to $25 depending on where you live
- You can easily get this done at a mall kiosk while shopping at the same time!
- Threading will remove ALL unwanted hair! Including lips and mustaches, down to the tiniest stubborn hair
- Works for any type of hair, fine or coarse
- No chemicals like you'd have with waxing, so no pulling or tugging on your skin, and no chemical irritation
- Painful, like plucking
Mechanically rip it out
Epilators are battery-operated or plug-in devices that have mini rotating tweezers. Using this method also requires a high threshold to pain, however, once you adapt to the pain, this is a great way to remove hair for lasting results.
Units run anywhere from $40 - $100 USD and they require little maintenance other than cleaning between uses. They are also very portable, making them a great option for travel!
As with waxing, sometimes the epilator won't get every single hair. And it's very important to exfoliate and moisturize.
- Great option for travel and very easy to use over and over
- Great for touch-ups between shaves
- Hair length is not an issue like waxing
- Hair tends to grow back lighter and less and less
- Results last 4-6 weeks
- Time-consuming. Expect to spend at least 20 minutes per leg (from the knee down), or longer if you are doing your entire leg and thigh. 10 minutes for the armpits.
- You can't use these for detailed hair removal. Chins and mustache areas are fine but don't attempt to use on your eyebrows or you'll be penciling them in for weeks!
- Very painful
- Skin pinching can result if you don't pull the skin taut in certain areas
- Very important to exfoliate very well or you WILL get nasty ingrown hairs
- Epilating won't get every tiny detailed hair
Laser it dead
Laser hair removal has become the most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure in the U.S.
Hair is removed by a laser pulsing through the skin to be absorbed by the melanin, or pigment, in the hair follicles. It can be performed on virtually any area of the body, from chin to chest to toes.
The procedure works on people with all skin colors and hair types and it's relatively permanent. It destroys about 85% percent of all the hair follicles in the treated area, and the hair that may grow back is usually finer in texture and lighter in color.
If you're having this done in a clinic, expect to spend anywhere from $250 - $900 per treatment! Not exactly cost-friendly! And multiple treatments are usually required for long-lasting results.
So to give you an idea, you could be in the thousands by the time you get the results you want.
Right now, Tria is touted as the best at-home laser hair removal system. Prices run up to $500 for this machine. And reviews are mixed with how well it performs.
It flashes a laser into your skin, the black hairs absorb the radiation and heat up, cooking the follicle until it's dead. As with a spa treatment, using a Tria will require more than one application.
Another option is the NoNo, which works in the same manner.
- Regrowth may come in lighter and less
- Boasts permanent results, although I've read differently
- Multiple treatments are needed
- May not work the best for very coarse dark hair
- Skin can be damaged or burned and pigmentation changes can occur if not done correctly
Laser Removal or Home Laser Machines
There you have it
These are the ways in which to remove unwanted body hair. I've personally found a combination of the options works best. Waxing and plucking for my face and eyebrows, epilators for my legs and armpits, shaving for my bikini area, burning for my toes (what?! I'm German).
Over time, you'll find a method you love that agrees with your hair type and lifestyle.
Try them all to determine what works best for you!
And There You Have It
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Rebecca