Your ultimate guide to the best hair removal methods
From epilation to IPL, hair removal options have never been more wide-ranging. So which is right for you?
We take a look at the various hair removal methods, and how to get the most out of them.
Waxing is a tried and trusted option that can effectively remove all hair types with relative ease.
“There is still a strong place for the more traditional forms of hair removal such as waxing, as some hair types like blonde, grey and red hair cannot be treated with laser,” says Milk Studios co-owner and body hair expert Simon Barnes.
“Plus, some people only want the hair removed on a temporary basis, which is particularly true for guys.”
For those who like to keep small patches of hair like their mo’ and/or monobrow at bay, look no further than a wax wand. These applicators are designed with very short hair in mind and have precision tip applicators so you can pinpoint exactly what you want removed without accidentally waxing off half an eyebrow in the process.
Things to consider about waxing:
For one, hot wax can easily burn the skin if it isn’t applied at the correct temperature.
Then there’s the whole “waiting for your hair to get long enough to wax” predicament, which kind of defeats the purpose if you want to remain hairless. It’s generally accepted that hair needs to be about 6mm for waxing to be most effective.
It can also be messy. Waxing strips are a more modern, mess-free solution, but they also aren’t the most eco-friendly options.
Ingrown hairs can be an issue, too.
“The best way to prevent ingrown hairs is to use good quality loofah towels or gloves frequently, especially after waxing,” says Simon.
“Not immediately afterwards as the area may be too sensitive or inflamed. Combining this with a good after-wax product that contains salicylic acid will help prevent in-growns. Tea-tree lotion is a good idea too as it soothes the skin.”
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A rather old-school option, this form of hair removal is effective – provided you have a high pain tolerance.
Things to consider about epilators:
Aside from the pain, electronic epilators tend to be noisy and epilation is relatively time-consuming versus other forms of hair removal.
Because epilators pluck hairs from the root, the skin is smoother and hair-free for longer.
It’s sometimes claimed frequent epilating can result in less body hair over time, however this isn’t scientifically backed.
While modern epilators come with different brush heads to suit different hair types and are less noisy and waterproof, it’s may not be the best option for delicate areas and they also struggle to pick up and remove fine body hair.
“They’re not suitable for large areas or men’s hair,” says Simon.
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Not dissimilar to epilation, threading has been around for centuries and literally uses a piece of thread to pluck multiple hairs out at once.
Two pieces of thread are twisted and contorted to create a gripping apparatus that removes hair.
Things to consider about threading:
It’s a clean and cost-effective option that has become particularly common for brow shaping and facial hair removal.
But honestly, it’s best you leave threading to professionals as it’s far more complicated to master than it may appear.
Intense pulse light (IPL) and laser hair removal
An increasingly common practice, possibly because most people can achieve long-term hair removal through IPL laser treatments if you do enough sessions.
These machines are very fast and can treat a whole body in much shorter time than was the case not long ago.
But there are many varieties, from professional treatments to at-home devices, which means effectiveness can vary. That’s why it’s so important to do your research if you’re interested in it.
Things to consider about IPL and laser hair removal:
“IPL is only really effective these days for photo-rejuventaion. Although IPL can reduce hair, it’s an old technology, is slow and can be painful,” says Simon.
“Laser is the way to go for permanent hair reduction and I think most people know this now.
“The new laser devices are now capable of treating hair on people with a wide range of skin and hair types.”
While some clients can achieve permanent hair removal, pregnancy and other conditions where hormone levels change have been linked to body hair regrowth, even years after treatments.
Simon cautions that whether you choose laser or IPL, it should be done by an expert – misuse can even result in nasty burns.
“Lasers and light pulse systems are not toys, they need to be handled with care and proper training,” he says.
There’s a reason why shaving is still a popular choice for hair removal. It’s easy, time-efficient, cost-effective and painless (unless you accidentally nick yourself with the blade, that is).
It gives an ultra-smooth finish, exfoliating the skin’s surface in a similar way to micro blading.
Things to consider about shaving:
As long as you use fresh blades and a firm grasp, it’s pretty hard to mess up.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have cons. In addition to minor cuts, shaving can also cause razor burns and like waxing, can also cause ingrown hairs.
“To prevent razor burn, always shave with the hair and not against it, otherwise you will cause irritation to the surrounding skin,” advises Simon.
Hair removal creams
With a reputation for being messy and a little on the nose, it may be surprising that depilatory creams remain a popular option in 2020.
Modern depilatory creams are far superior then their old-school counterparts, with built-in masks and exfoliating treatments resulting in a super-smooth finish.
Things to consider about hair removal creams:
Because of the nature of the product, this treatment is best suited for small areas of the face/body, with some creams specifically designed for use in targeted areas like the face, legs or sensitive areas.
Written by Charlotte Brundrett.