Winter is coming — When coming out of winter hibernation and planning for next year’s summer holiday, it’s a perfect time to consider all the options — for bikini line, legs and underarms— because we want to be bump-free and ready for all our summer attire! We’ll compare the methods for hair removal considering pain, commitment, expense, convenience and longevity.
How it works: Warm wax is applied to the area and then removed in the opposite direction of the hair, pulling the hairs out from the root.
Best for: Any area, and especially good for those coarse, dark, hard-to-shave hairs.
Pros: Lasts for an average of three weeks but that duration can increase up to six weeks, and for some even longer, if waxing becomes a regular habit. Over time the hairs grow weaker and thinner, and for some eventually even stop growing in patches.
Cons: The wax must have about ¼-inch of regrowth to adhere to which means that you have to grow the hair out between each appointment, however, when the hair is removed from the root the regrowth is much thinner and softer than with shaving. Waxing can be moderately painful as the hair is being ripped from the roots, but that diminishes over time. Waxing can occasionally cause ingrown hairs.
Tip: “Don’t drink and wax,” advises Noemi Grupenmager, founder and CEO of Uni K Wax Centers. People sometimes think that alcohol will help ease the pain but in fact, alcohol has a tightening effect on the pores and can make it more painful. Stimulants such as coffee can also increase sensitivity.
Research the salons in your area because the quality of wax is important for a less painful experience. At Uni K, “our wax is warmed to body temperature and has natural oils, which have great benefits for your skin. Our wax is also very elastic and stretches to remove hair without paper strips, causing less of a pull to the skin, meaning a more comfortable hair removal experience.” Also, some technicians have less painful techniques so recommendations are good.
How it works: Hair is removed at the skin’s surface by cutting it off with a razor blade.
Best for: Legs, underarms and those with fine, lighter hair.
Pros: Less expensive and no pain; quick and easy; shaving creams can help moisture the skin and keep it soft.
Cons: Hair is cut at skin level (the thickest part of the strand) has quicker and coarser regrowth. Razor burn, nicks, cuts and ingrown hairs are all possible side effects of shaving.
Tip: Try using “growth reduction” towelettes along with shaving (or any other hair removal method) to slow hair growth and reduce the frequency of shaving.
How it works: Wipe on a cream of chemicals to weaken hair and then wipe them away.
Best for: Quick and easy DIY results; facial hair, bikini line and underarms.
Pros: At-home use; hair is removed from below the surface so the interval between treatments is less and regrowth is finer compared with shaving.
Cons: The chemical can be irritating, especially in delicate areas and are infamous for their odor; can lead to ingrown hairs.
Tip: Select creams for specific areas of application. Use scented candles or incense during the process and scented moisturisers for the skin after treatment.
Laser Hair Removal
How it works: A laser is used to target and destroy hair follicles which can permanently end hair growth. The treated hair takes 2-3 weeks to fall out and multiple treatments are needed.
Best for: People with hair darker than their skin. Because the laser targets melanin in the follicle, and it does this by locking on dark pigment, the treatment is not suited for people with pale hair or dark skin. However, New York dermatologist Dr. Ariel Ostad states, “it causes no damage to the dermis so the most sensitive skin can be treated.”
Pros: A long-term option for all areas.
Cons: The procedure itself can be nerve-wracking, even though there is nothing to be concerned about. A specialist is required for effective results and Ostad says, “It is important to go to a dermatologist who can offer different lasers which are customised to the patient’s skin colour and hair colour.”
Tip: While it may seem expensive at first, if you add up all the razor, soap, moisturiser and waxing purchases over a lifetime it can more than pay for itself in the long run.
How it works: A very fine needle-electrode applies electrical current to the hair follicle to discontinue growth.
Best for: Small areas such as face (eyebrows and upper lip) and underarms because it is time consuming and can get expensive.
Pros: A long-term option; is suitable for light or dark hair.
Cons: The procedure can be painful and can lead to scarring and skin discolouration when improperly done; multiple sessions required.
Tip: Drink lots of water the day before and after a session as hydrated skin is more easily and effectively treated.