Let's face it, girls. When it comes to our legs, underarms and bikini lines, the hairy look is out. While it may be a preference for some, those of us who opt for smooth legs and baby soft underarms may try our darndest but can never completely get rid of hair. Some of us may even have trouble with traditional methods of hair removal such as shaving.
Luckily, there are alternatives. For large areas like the base of your hairline or along your legs, some women opt for permanent or semi-permanent solutions, such as laser hair removal. And for those fine (yet noticeable) upper lip, brow and chin hairs there's always the monthly trip to the salon for a good grin-and-bear-it waxing session.
When considering hair removal options, think about the part of the body you want silky smooth then plan accordingly. Not every hair removal option works best for every type of body. You wouldn't want electrolysis done on each of your leg hair follicles one by one, would you? While it may prevent the nuisance of shaving every other day, it would be a traumatizing ordeal.
Take a look at our guide, which gives you a step by step glimpse into some common hair removal options and the best option for you, depending on what hair you want to remove.
Let's start with the basics. Remember your middle school years, when your mom (or best friend or aunt) handed you the tweezers and explained plucking law? They tried to offer moral support while you painstakingly plucked out those nonsense strays as your face became red and splotchy.
Plucking works by grasping a hair at its base with a set of tweezers and pulling. For plucking to work, the shaft of the hair has to be long enough for tweezers. This effective way to remove hair does take a lot of time. It is best for maintenance between hair removal sessions.
Best Body Part for Plucking: Brows, upper lip, face
Waxing is best when you need to remove a lot of hair all at once (or when you're sick of plucking that brow and upper lip hair). This typically works best when a salon aesthetician does the waxing for you. Otherwise, you can do it at home with hot wax or cool wax strips - although it's a little difficult since you're essentially inflicting pain upon yourself.
First, apply a little hot wax to the area where the hair is to be removed. Place a strip on top of the wax while the wax cools. This helps the wax immerse in the hair. Then, brace yourself as the strip is pulled off band-aid style. This is repeated until the waxing process is done. The size of the wax and strips applied depends on the area of the body being waxed.
Waxing allows women to shave their legs less, or pluck less often. Be prepared for some initial redness and swelling, but once that passes your skin will feel satiny smooth.
Best Body Part for Waxing: eyebrows, bikini line, your most private areas, underarms, legs.
This kind of hair removal works just like waxing but with an added perk. Instead of its resin counterpart, sugar waxing is considered the gentler natural way to wax. Though a strip is still placed on top of the wax and hair is pulled from the root, sugar waxing is done in the same direction as hair growth, not against the grain.
Most sugar wax is totally natural, made with a combination of sugar, water and lemon juice. While you can make and conduct sugar waxing at home, you may want to go with a salon process first. Sugar waxing exfoliates that top layer of dead skin cells instead of ripping up live skin cells like traditional waxing. So for a superior outcome with less pain, sugar waxing may be the answer.
Best Body Part for Sugar Waxing: eyebrows, bikini line, your most private areas, underarms, legs
This hair removal method dates way back. Think of papyrus and hieroglyphics for this one. Once commonly practiced in eastern countries like Jordan and India, hair threading moved westward. It's now increasingly popular in the United States. But beware. You'll want to find an experienced threading professional, lest you experience breakage and have to go back more often.
A technician takes a cotton thread and uses it to wrap hair and remove. Threading takes hair right out of the follicle and can prevent growth for up to 6 weeks. This is a great option for those with unruly brows who can't seem to get a symmetrical look, no matter how much you try. The best part is that threading is extremely sanitary and, with the right technicians, extremely quick. (We're talking 5 minutes or less).
Best Body Part for Threading: Eyebrows
This is a permanent form of hair removal but it requires persistence. A fine needle applies an electric current into the root of the hair follicle. This burns your hair and prevents it from growing again. This is a great hair removal option if you have thick unwanted hair on your face or just below your hairline on the nape of your neck.
The only drawback is that follicles are persistent, and it can take up to 18 months of treatments to reach optimum results. Ask around when you're thinking about electrolysis. You'll want a technician with lots of experience. Expect a little zap of pain when you get this done, which makes it helpful to concentrate on small areas at a time. Plus, you get to wear some really nifty glasses.
Best Body Part for Electrolysis: Face, bikini line, underarms
Laser Hair Removal
Tiny wavelengths of energy are emitted out toward the hair in the form of light. A wavelength geared to targeting melanin is used for this, and has actually been found to prevent new hair growth without destroying hair follicles. But expect to go back for repeat treatments.
Best Body Part for Laser Hair Removal: Can do everywhere (budget may dictate)