Hair removal, or depilation/epilation, as it's otherwise known, is something that the majority of women (and men too!) spend both considerable time and money on.

Depilation is the practice of removing the hair from above the level of the skin, while epilation is the removal of hair from both above and below skin levels.

Hair removal tip 1: Shaving

Some people say that shaving actually makes hair grow back thicker, but this is a myth. It is because the hairs are cut at the widest part that they appear thicker. Neither does shaving stimulate more hair growth. It is simply that the hair is all cut at a uniform angle (the direction in which you shave) that may give the appearance of more or thicker hair.

When shaving, be sure to get skin as warm and soft as possible. Always exfoliate the area you are going to shave, to raise hair up from the skin. This will reduce the chances of any cuts and stubble rash. Regular exfoliation after shaving will also reduce the chance of ingrown hairs developing. There are also products that you can buy to reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs.

Shaving is the cheapest method of hair removal, and depending on your hair growth, may need to be repeated daily. Shaving hair with a razor blade gives a closer shave than battery shavers.

  • Ouch factor: 2-3/10, if you're unlucky enough to cut yourself. It's 0 if you don't.
  • Speed: 8/10
  • Most suitable for: Face (men), underarms, legs, bikini line.
  • Cost: Under $10

Hair Removal Tip 2: Waxing

Waxing is a hair removal method where warm wax (or cold wax strips) are applied to the skin, and then removed, pulling back against the direction of the hair growth.

Warm waxing is acknowledged to be less painful than cold wax, and having a professional wax you will be the least painful of the waxes. The more often you wax, the less painful the process becomes as your skin becomes used to it. Hair must be around 1/4 of an inch in length for waxing to be successful.

Waxing may be done at home using a kit, or can be done in a salon. Skin remains smooth for 4-6 weeks on average, depending on your own hair growth.

After waxing hair, it's important to regularly exfoliate the skin, in order to prevent ingrown hairs developing.

Waxing does slowly help to reduce hair growth, as when the waxing is done, some hairs are removed from the follicle level, meaning that hair can never grow back. In addition, because hair is completely removed (unlike shaving, that cuts the hair), the appearance of the regrown hair is finer and lighter.

  • Ouch factor: 6/10.
  • Speed: 5/10
  • Most suitable for: Legs, armpits, bikini line, chin, upper lip, arms, chest, buttocks, back
  • Cost: $10-$50

Hair removal tip 3: Sugaring

Sugaring is a variant of hair waxing. It is a less aggressive method of hair removal, where a warm sugar paste is applied in the same way as waxing. This comes from an Egyptian hair removal method, where the sugar sweets they eat were dissolved by women and used to remove skin by rolling the hot sugar paste over the skin.

Sugaring kits can be bought for home use – alternatively, try specialist beauty hair removal centers and Middle Eastern salons for sugaring. Hair regrowth and appearance in sugaring is the same as with waxing.

  • Ouch factor: 5/10.
  • Speed: 5/10
  • Most suitable for: Legs, armpits, bikini line, chin, upper lip, arms, chest, buttocks, back
  • Cost: $10-$50

Hair removal tip 4: Epilation

An epilator is a device that looks very similar to a battery shaver. However, instead of cutting the hair, the epilator moves in a way that grips and tears out multiple hairs from the root.

It is widely acknowledged that epilation is a more painful process than waxing, although with regular use of an epilator, the body becomes used to the sensation and it becomes more bearable a procedure. This is compounded by the fact that less hairs grow as a result of epilation, although this is not a permanent effect.

  • Ouch factor: 9/10.
  • Speed: 4/10
  • Most suitable for: Legs, armpits
  • Cost: $20-$100

Hair Removal Tip 5: Exfoliation/Buffers

There are a number of buffer mitts and devices to remove hair from above skin level. This acts in much the same way as a sander, buffing away the hair. The buffer is applied in a circular motion to dry skin. The top layers of skin and hair are removed, which cause a white powder build up in the area, making it difficult to see what you are doing at times.

While the electronic devices may look appealing, overuse can cause skin damage, so beware! Dry skin is a common side effect, so moisturize well after use, using a non-perfumed moisturizer such as cocoa butter.

  • Ouch factor: 4/10 – some slight stinging may occur
  • Speed: 4/10
  • Most suitable for: Legs, armpits, arms, chest, back
  • Cost: Under $10 for mitts

Hair removal tip 6: Threading

Threading is an Indian technique for hair removal, most particularly on the face. A piece of fine cotton thread is looped and rolled over skin, with a gentle pulling motion, which traps hairs between the pieces of the thread and removes them.

Because the thread is able to grip even very fine hairs, this gives a much better effect than plucking or tweezing. In the care of an expert, threading can be less painful than tweezing the hair. As with regular tweezing, threading needs to be done on a regular basis.

  • Ouch factor: 2/10.
  • Speed: 8/10 when done by an expert
  • Most suitable for: Brows, chin, upper lip, face
  • Cost: $20-$40 for a salon treatment

Hair removal Tip 7: Chemical depilation

There are a number of products on the market for chemical depilation. A mousse, gel or cream is applied to the skin and left for a short time to develop. The skin is then gently scraped, removing both the dissolved hair and some dead skin layers.

The chemicals used are often too harsh for use on sensitive skin, and the smell is generally rather unpleasant. Because the hair is removed at above skin level only, regrowth is marginally longer than with shaving.

  • Ouch factor: 3/10 –some slight stinging may occur
  • Speed: 5/10
  • Most suitable for: Legs, armpits, bikini line, chin, upper lip, arms, chest, buttocks, back
  • Cost: Under $10

Hair Removal Tip 8: Electrolysis

Electrolysis is a hair removal method where a small, tweezer like device is used to grip the individual hair, and a light electrical current is sent down the hair into the follicle. The electrical charge kills the hair at the root, preventing regrowth.

Because of the complexity of the electrolysis procedure, it is really only suitable for the removal of small areas of hair. Hair needs to be between 2mm-4mm in length to be treated, and you must stop shaving at least 3-4 days before an appointment.

It usually takes multiple sessions (up to 18 months) to completely clear an area of hair, but the results are permanent. The treatment itself is mildly uncomfortable.

  • Ouch factor: 5/10.
  • Speed: 3/10
  • Most suitable for: Chin, upper lip, face, bikini line
  • Cost: Over $100

Hair removal tip 9: Laser hair removal

Laser or IPL hair removal (IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light) is another method for permanent hair reduction. It can be performed at home with special equipment, or in a salon.

The most effective laser hair removal is performed at a clinic or salon, as the devices have a stronger current than the devices that are available to buy at home. For women, laser hair removal should be avoided just before a period, as sensitivity to pain is at that time, greater than normal, and the treatment will be uncomfortable. Laser hair removal cannot be used in very delicate areas, as it will burn the skin. It is also unsuitable for very dark Asian or African skin.

Some people find their skin a little sore after treatment (although I've never suffered). Use aloe vera gel to treat any post treatment discomfort.

This is the most expensive of hair removal treatments, and multiple treatments are required for permanent hair reduction.

  • Ouch factor: 5/10.
  • Speed: 2/10
  • Most suitable for: Legs, armpits, bikini line, chin, upper lip, arms, chest, buttocks, back
  • Cost: Over $100

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