I’ve tried many types of hair removal techniques, from waxing to threading, and have just begun professional laser hair removal treatments with IPL. I will go over my favorite and least favorite types of hair removal, my experiences with each, and my recommendations among the various types.
Hair Removal Types From Waxing to Laser Hair Removal, Epilators, Shaving, Tweezing, Depilatories, and my experience with them, my favorite and least favorite types of hair removal, and my advice for each.
-I didn’t cover threading because I can’t do it on myself, and I snag the skin…but I hate threading.
Why do I feel the need to resort to all of these types of hair removal? Because I feel like body hair makes us look like monkeys or animals, and we’ve evolved to be able to modify our appearance to be more god-like, and in my mind that’s hairless! Do you feel differently or agree? Comment below!
Types of Hair Removal I’ve Tried
- Waxing: hard and soft wax
- Depilatory Creams
- Tweezing or plucking
- Epilating or epilation, an electronic device with dozens of tweezers.
- HPL (home pulse light devices such as Silk’N)
- IPL (Intense Pulse Light).
While shaving is the most convenient type of hair removal because it’s quick and painless, it has its downsides- razor burn, ingrown hairs, nicks and irritation, and a fast regrowth rate.
It’s said that fewer blades may be more beneficial if you get ingrown hairs, as I do. I have used and tried everything from disposable cheap single and double blade razors to the three and five blade ones marketed to both men and women- Gillette Mach 3 to 5, Venus…you name it. Similarly, I’ve tried women’s and men’s shaving gels and creams, from your dad’s go to Barbisol to Skintimate. I did enjoy Nivea’s brilliant marketing of skincare to men before the big metro shift, with their CoQ10 shaving foam and later switched to their shaving foam for sensitive skin. I don’t foams or creams any longer- but prefer soap and water or a cleanser and water on my face.
I’ve grown to prefer electric shavers as they’ve come a long way since the 90’s, when they’d snag and cut you through the foil. The first electric shaver I found and lived was actually a multi-tool by Phillips called Bikini Perfect– I bought it at Sephora and it came with many heads- two trimmers, a foiled shaver, and an epilator (see my take on epilators below). The second match made in heaven was the Phillips-Norelco Body Groom, which I made a video on- it was a foil faced shaver with two trimmers on each and and had a wonderfully convenient hooked handle that made it effortless and time saving to trim and shave in a back and forth motion. I’ve since had to move on given the brand doesn’t make replacement cartridges readily available, an issue that prevails today with their Satin Shave device: I feel as if it’s not as easy or fast to use as the Body Groom or One Blade. The One Blade is my favorite now- although it’s technically only really a trimmer as there’s no foil but rather two trimmers.
Waxing gives a beautifully smooth result that’s more long lasting than shaving, but for me the hair regrows quickly, and the ingrown hairs are a nightmare. Remember when that wretched product Nads was all over the infomercials? Yeah…that hurt like a bitch!
There are two types of waxes- hard wax, removed with a spatula or pulled without a strip, and soft wax which is removed with a strip. The benefit of hard wax is that you can go over an area more than once, and there’s no sticky residue left behind.
The Best Waxes
The best wax I ever had was done professionally- it was the hard blue European wax removed with a wooden tongue blade rather than a wax strip. The second best was this really messy wax by Sally Hansen, Extra Strength All Over Body Wax, you can only get it off of your skin and any surface it hits with an “azulene” oil that’s included, but it was painless and very effective.
The Worst Waxes
The worst wax I’ve ever tried is the Sally Hansen Ouch Relief Stripless Hard Wax…it does not work, and only pulls out a random hair here and there regardless of trial and error with time left on or consistency. The most painful and worst wax I’ve tried next to that is NADS, TV infomercial marketed product in the nineties which then went to drugstores…it was very painful because the “natural” soft wax gave way as you pulled the strips, resulting in tugging of the hair, but it did remove most of it.
Depilatory: creams which chemically remove the hair can be harsh on the skin and ineffective on course hair. I had chemical burns after applying depilatories to my eyebrow area as a preteen.
Tweezing or plucking:
I’ve been tweeting since my preteen years, and have had some hairs stop growing back, such as the area between and around my brows. It’s more time consuming and you have to allow the hair to grow in a bit, but not as long as with waxing.
Threading is a more difficult esoteric art that’s not entirely user friendly for those of us who like to DIY…I kept tugging my skin and didn’t really like this method.
Epilating or epilation:
Epilating is very painful and unless you can self-trance like me…you’re not going to be able to tolerate the pain of dozens of tweezers rotating a plucking hairs rapidly.
Laser Hair Removal
HPL (home pulse light):
Devices such as Silk’N Sense Epil and Tria used HPL: it definitely works…somewhat, I did see square patches missing regrowth, but it requires continued use to get all of the hair cycles, it’s somewhat painful depending on what setting you use, you have to be of a lighter complexion with darker hair, and it can cause hyper-pigmentation on treated areas- again in squares.
IPL (Intense Pulse Light):
IPL is similar to HPL but on a professional level- and much more painful. On a low to moderate setting of 16-18, I’d rate the pain from 2-5/10, depending on the area being treated. I have a very high pain tolerance, told to me by surgeons, and I did find myself laughing and jumping nervously as it burns and stings- especially when the topical gel runs thin in an area.
The following day, I noticed all of the hair follicles treated were red- a sign of slight and acceptable erythema as the side effects listed. I took this as a good sign, indicating the follicles did in fact receive the light, which is meant to target the melanin of dark hair, which is why it is not recommended for darker skin types or lighter hair. The skin surrounding the follicles was not red, there were no dark squares like the HPL, but I did see some horror cases online in which a woman’s leg had peeling scabbed squares all over her legs.
I did not notice immediate results at all- I did it on a low setting and it could be due to that, however I feel like IPL may not be as intense or effective as laser given my results or lack thereof. In fact, the HPL has immediate and longer lasting results. I wouldn’t recommend IPL honestly.
True laser hair removal boasts “permanent” hair removal after at least six treatments, which are expensive! I’ve spoken to people who say they’ve achieved permanent results and made them show me the treated areas- their testimonies are always the same- touch up treatments are essential and seem to be needed indefinitely. The machine I had used to apply the IPL treatment also does laser, but a different tip is used and the surface area it covers is much smaller, requiring more time to treat the desired area.
Keys To Hair Removal:
- Exfoliate: I use body brushes and loofahs to prevent ingrown hairs as well as breakouts, and they’ve done wonders for my skin.
- Trim first if you’re waxing, using a depilatory, or shaving. Longer hair can be painful with waxing and makes it more difficult to remove the hair in a clean swipe, and make shaving a hassle.
- Only remove hair from freshly cleansed skin to avoid getting folliculitis (infection of the hair follicle) and irritation.