Welcome summer – oh, how we’ve missed you!
And yet with all the positive things summer brings, comes the inevitable part of your beauty routine you’ve likely placed on the back burner for the last couple of months (or more.. no judgment) – your hair removal routine.
If you remove unwanted hair, you’ve likely asked yourself this question every time you begin the process:
“Is there a better way to get rid of this hair?”
Now, while no one hair removal method is better than another (I actually use a combination of all three!), there are many factors to consider when deciding which method is best for you.
To help get you started, we’ll look at the three most common hair removal options, answering some frequently asked questions.
How to: Using a razor (and shaving cream or soap), hair is removed at the skin’s surface.
Pros: Quick and easy (on demand hair removal), inexpensive and relatively painless (unless you experience razor burn, cuts or ingrown hairs)
Cons: Hair regrowth happens very quickly and can appear thicker and will feel prickly (as hair is cut at the surface). Razor burn, cuts and ingrown hairs are common with regular shaving.
Average Cost: This will depend on how often you shave and what type of razor you buy. Disposable razors can range from $1-$6 on average or you can purchase a razor and buy additional razor blades when required.
What areas are best for shaving? Depending on who you ask, answers to this question will vary greatly. I have friends who shave everything, while I have some friends who have completely stopped shaving and opted for other methods. As mentioned above, shaving is best for areas of your body that you need quick, easy and on-demand hair removal. It is also a convenient method for those who have lighter hair. For me, since I have dark hair and light skin, I only shave my armpits (as I cannot stand the idea of having to wait until the hair grows enough to be waxed or think I could handle the pain of laser in that area).
How can you make your shave last longer? When I used to shave my legs, I would use a body scrub before, in order to get rid of all the dead skin. This allowed me to have a closer shave, longer results and far less ingrown hairs. My go to body scrub was The Body Shop’s Shea Butter Exfoliating Sugar Body Scrub. You can use this scrub on virtually every surface of your body (although I would avoid your face and nether regions as these areas are more sensitive)
How often should you change your blade? Companies like Gillette state that you should change your razor blade every 5-10 uses, however use your own judgment when opting to switch your blade. Rule of thumb: if you experiencing tugging, nicking or rusting of the blade, it’s time to switch it out.
I have only ever shaved, am I missing out? For those of you who are still in the camp of shaving everything – I would strongly encourage you to give waxing a try. If you’re like me and have dark hair and light skin, waxing is 100 times better as it will reduce the coarseness of your hair and (over time) significantly reduce the amount of hair you have.
How to: Hot wax is applied to the skin and removed by pulling in the opposite direction of the hair growth (either with waxing strips or by pulling at the wax itself) to remove hair from the root.
Pros: Removes hair from the root making hair regrowth finer and, in some cases, removing it altogether (you will notice that hair will grow back in patches).
Cons: Between sessions you need to allow for some regrowth for it to be effective (about a quarter inch) and it can cause ingrown hairs.
Average Cost: Depending on the area of your body and your salon, prices can range from $15 – $50. Don’t forget to tip your aesthetician!
How much does it hurt? If you are switching from shaving to waxing, your first few appointments will hurt. This is due to the fact that your hair has been made super coarse and will be harder to remove. However, the more you wax (not shaving in between), the less painful your sessions will become (since your hair will become finer and easier to pull). Don’t let this discourage you – the results are worth the pain.
How can you make your wax last longer? Hair growth depends on many factors – one of which is your monthly cycle. My aesthetician told me it was best to book a waxing appointment following your period. This is when your hormones are less crazy and your hair doesn’t grow back as fast.
What about my hair down there? A thread in my sorority group actually prompted me to write this article. I was amazed at the amount who shave and had never received a bikini or Brazilian wax. Many had questions about the pain and about what to expect. For me, switching from shaving to waxing (and now to laser) was the best decision I ever made. My only advice is to get recommendations from your friends before choosing an aesthetician. It is super important to have someone who makes you feel comfortable when handling your lady bits.
I have been waxing forever, is laser a better option? Deciding to switch from waxing to laser is something you should discuss with your aesthetician. It is important to note that not all hair types and areas on your body are good for laser. Laser is best for darker and more coarse hair – as it can be better identified and targeted by the laser. As an example, I am currently only doing my bottom half of my legs and my Brazilian. The hair on the top half of my legs is too light and I prefer to wax the hair on my face, as it’s more sensitive.
How to: Using a laser, the hair shaft is targeted to destroy the hair follicle to inhibit hair growth.
Pros: Long term hair removal
Cons: Can be very painful – many, including myself, describe the pain as repeated snaps from an elastic band. Expensive upfront costs and numerous visits are required for best results. If not done correctly, laser can cause burns and scarring.
Average Cost: Depending on the area of your body, prices can range from $150 – $500 a session, with an average of 6-7 sessions recommended for optimal results.
How much does it hurt? Laser has been, by far, the most painful hair removal method I have used. My aesthetician has recommended numbing cream or putting ice on the areas which will be treated prior to the session. Like waxing, pain is also different depending on where you are in your monthly cycle.
What about before and in between sessions? Make sure to scrub the treated areas before and after to encourage the hair to come out naturally. This will help to avoid ingrown hairs. You will also notice that the hair will begin to fall out around the 2 week mark. Waxing is strongly discouraged between sessions (as you need to wait at least 3 to 6 weeks in between each appointment), however you can shave or use depilatory creams (like Nair), if required.
Should I opt for a salon or a private aesthetician? Make sure you work with a licensed establishment or professional (if you go that route). There are different lasers which are customized to your skin and hair colour. Most salons and/or aestheticians will offer a complimentary consultation. This will allow you to discuss your hair removal needs and identify areas which can be treated by laser.