Do you prefer shaving, laser hair removal or using an epilator? Do you know which of them is the most effective hair removal method? If you want to get rid of body hair on an effective, lasting way that’s respectful with your skin (avoiding irritation and blemishes) this guide will definitely help you choose!
Hello! I have been meaning to share this post for a long time, and that’s because it’s not always easy to find the most appropriate form of hair removal for us. The skin is a very delicate organ, so if you want to remove hair it is important to do it safely to avoid problems such as irritation or certain types of spots.
Specifically, the types of hair removal that I will discuss in this article are the following:
- Safety razor
- Straight (barber’s) razor
- Electric trimmer
- Electric epilator
- Depilatory cream
- Wax (cold or hot)
- Laser hair removal
- Intense pulse light depilation
1. SAFETY RAZOR.
The razor is perhaps the most popular shaving and waxing method. Some of its advantages are very clear: you can find them for very inexpensive prices (although, of course, there is a huge variety), they are easily available and are a very quick form of hair removal.
However, one of the main drawbacks of the blade is that the hair, not being removed but cut, grows back quickly. Here the physiology of each one comes into play, but in my case after two or three days the hair is already perfectly visible, so I do not like it for epilation, although I have used it to shave my face for many years.
Furthermore, razor shaving often involves the appearance of irritation in the form of redness, bumps and, in some cases, ingrown hairs. These types of problems can subsequently lead to skin spots (such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) or other dermatological conditions such as pseudofolliculitis barbae (which occurs when frizzy hairs become ingrown too often).
Choosing a good razor is important, I especially appreciate when the head has some mobility, that you can easily get replacements and that it has at least four blades. I have used this Gillette razor for a long time (and actually still use it sporadically) and the result it has brought me is superb.
When shaving or shaving with a safety razor, it is important to take into account the previous ritual that we must carry out. First of all, we must make sure that the area to be shaved is clean (therefore, I always shave immediately after washing my face). You should not use excessively hot water, as you are at risk of damaging your skin barrier. Next, apply a good foam that helps to slide the blade better. A classic and foolproof trick is to use a good shaving brush like this. With it we don’t just spread the shaving cream or foam better, but also help to lift the hair so that the blade removes it easily.
Once you finish shaving with a blade, it is advisable to rinse your face well with lukewarm water and apply a damp cloth for a few minutes to refresh the area. I have a tendency to irritate, so I advise you to carry out a minimal skincare routine, applying your moisturizer and your sunscreen. In any case, in this other article you can find several ingredient recommendations that your skin will appreciate when it is irritated.
In short, razor shaving is comfortable and quick, but perhaps not the best solution for areas of the body where you don’t want hair to grow quickly.
2. STRAIGHT (BARBER’S) RAZOR.
For a few months now the straight razor has replaced the safety razor as my main shaving method. Although it is not an optimal option for removing body hair, its use in shaving has many advantages that, for me, are important.
By using the razor, a closer shave is achieved, so the result obtained is more lasting than in the case of the safety razor (I tend to grow facial hair quickly and, using the razor, I can stay at least two days more without shaving). In addition, the way the hair grows is different, something that you can easily notice by touching it. If you shave with a safety razor you will notice how the hair grows very rough, perpendicular to the skin. However, when using the straight razor I have been able to observe how the hair grows in a more natural way, so that it does not itch as much.
If all this isn’t enough for you, it must be taken into account that, in the long term, the barber’s razor is cheaper than the straight razor. It is true that the initial investment in a knife is higher, but you will not need to buy any type of spare parts, so that the expense will be unique, not constant. In addition to this, at an environmental level the razor is much more ecological than the razor blades (since the latter are not recyclable).
As with everything, the straight knife also has its drawbacks. The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is that the razor is a delicate and dangerous instrument. We must not forget that it is a very sharp steel blade, so if it is used incorrectly we can cut ourselves (causing greater harm than the cuts that a safety razor may cause). On the other hand, you have to know how to use it correctly, this implies that you will start using it little by little, but with confidence you will see how very soon it becomes a magnificent tool.
I have received many questions regarding the irritation caused by the razor compared to the blade. It is true that the razor is slightly more irritating (at least in my case), but it is something that is compensated by the greater durability of the shave.
If you want to start shaving with a razor you will need two basic elements: a good razor and a good strop. If you are looking for a basic barber’s razor, I recommend this one from Dovo, which is the one I started with, although there are many more advanced products. The strop, meanwhile, is a leather instrument used to keep the razor in perfect condition between each shave. There are many models, although the most basic are this one with a handle or this one, which does not have one. On the other hand, don’t forget that razor shaving will also require a good brush and a good shaving cream.
3. ELECTRIC TRIMMER.
For a few years, electric trimmers have become a very popular product, as they are very comfortable, versatile and durable.
Most of the trimmers that we can find nowadays incorporate various heads that allow a more or less rushed result. Some also include special accessories to cut hair or to reach inaccessible areas, so they can be a good solution if you are looking for a durable and multipurpose device.
For those who have a beard, they are a great solution, since it saves you visits to the barber by allowing you to keep it neat at home. On the other hand, for those who want to cut body hair (completely or partially), they can achieve a uniform result in a few minutes.
An interesting aspect is that, contrary to what happens with straight razors, most electric shavers do not need replacements and a minimum maintenance gives them a very long useful life.
The main drawback that I have come across over the years using electric trimmers is that if you are looking for a short shave it is not usually very long lasting. Again, each one’s physiology comes into play, but I have so far not been able to find a razor that would leave hair shaved for more than three or four days. In any case, if you are not looking to shave the hair, they are a very practical solution.
I often use an electric razor to remove body hair body, I have had it for a few years and the result is great. If you want to try this type of products, I advise you to start with this one from Philips or this one from Braun.
In short, if you are looking to trim hair instead of shaving, the shaver is your winning choice.
4. ELECTRIC EPILATOR.
The epilator is a product that I have long wanted to incorporate into my daily life, but I end up being unable to do it.
These types of products provide a much more lasting result than razors and trimmers, since they not only cut hair, but pluck it from the roots, so it takes longer for that hair to appear again. This means that, by using the electric epilator, you will avoid the usual itching associated with the use of other tools (such as the blade).
For me, the main drawback associated with the epilator is that it is a slightly painful product. Pulling out several hairs in each pass can cause annoying pulls, especially if you use it in areas where the skin is thinner or more sensitive. However, it is true that, by providing a lasting result, if you use it when the hair is short you will not suffer that pain and you will end up getting used to the experience. I still have to get used to using it regularly, since I am not looking to trim the hair, but to remove it, and this is a great solution.
Today you can find a huge variety of products, some really advanced, with built-in light and different heads for different areas of the body. If you are looking for a good electric epilator, I recommend using this one from Braun, it is a classic, effective product with very good references.
In short, if you are looking to remove hair at home (and especially if you do not have much hair) the electric epilator can be a great tool.
5. DEPILATORY CREAM.
In my quest to remove hair from the body I have used all systems, and the depilatory cream was not going to be left out. We often see them advertised on television as a great product that leaves a perfect result, is that right?
I want to anticipate that my experience using depilatory creams has not been very positive, but that does not imply that they will not work for you. These products are designed to be applied to the skin, burning the hair and subsequently removing them with a small spatula. You can find very cheap products and the process of use is quite simple (although if you have very thick or very dark hair you will need to use it more than once, something that your skin will not especially appreciate).
The main advantage of these products is that they leave a very positive and immediate result. The skin is left very soft and without a trace of the hair you just removed.
The drawbacks, however, are many. On the one hand, the composition of these products makes them especially sensitizing, causing irritation very often (it has happened to me more than once). In addition to this, by sensitizing the skin, exposure to the sun or sea water are not recommended, since they promote irritation. Keep in mind that many products are not recommended for sensitive areas, such as the armpits or the pubic region, so it is crucial that you carefully review the manufacturer’s instructions. Lastly, most of them have a very noticeable and characteristic smell (if you have tried them you know what I mean) and I, personally, cannot bear it.
I want to stop for a moment to emphasize an important aspect when using depilatory cream: use it exclusively for the time recommended by the manufacturer. It is easy to think that if you apply it for a longer time you will get a faster or more effective result, but the only thing that will help you leave it on your skin longer than recommended is damage (sometimes very serious).
If you are looking for a depilatory cream with which to remove hair from your body, I recommend using one designed for sensitive skin.
In short, depilatory cream can be a good solution if you do not have very sensitive skin or much hair, otherwise I do not recommend it.
6. WAX (COLD OR HOT).
Wax is one of the most classic hair removal methods. Whether in its cold or hot variant, it provides a long-lasting result, but it is very important to apply it correctly to avoid serious problems. Wax burns are dangerous, not only because of the burn itself (which may require medical attention) but because of the consequences it can have, and it is not uncommon for this type of damage to our skin to end up causing spots, like I explain in this article.
Wax is probably the cheapest hair removal method of all. You can find a plethora of products that adjust to the particularities of each type of skin. Personally, I prefer cold wax to hot wax, because although it can usually provide a less effective result, I cannot bear the sensation of heat from hot wax.
As I mentioned before, the potential drawbacks of wax are many, but the most serious are burns, irritation, and spots. Keep in mind that these types of products are very aggressive with our skin barrier, so after waxing I advise you to minimize your skincare routine to allow your skin to recover.
Although most products can be used at home, if you want to start waxing (especially in sensitive and exposed areas such as the eyebrows or above the lip) I advise you to go to a specialist. When you have a broad knowledge of the procedure, you can consider doing it at home, but remember that it is crucial that you always follow the instructions of the product manufacturer.
Therefore, as a final assessment of the use of wax, I think it is a very comfortable and inexpensive form of hair removal, but it is crucial to know how to use it correctly to avoid damaging our skin seriously.
Who does not have tweezers at home? This little tool has saved us all from more than one trouble, in an instant you can get rid of that very visible hair that you just discovered.
Tweezers are a very comfortable instrument when we want to get rid of a few hairs in a lasting way, since they allow us to remove them completely and without leaving a visible result (perhaps the area irritates for a few minutes, but nothing worrying).
Their main advantage is also their biggest drawback, since they are not a suitable hair removal instrument when we want to get rid of several hairs or work on a large area of the body.
I mostly use tweezers to remove hair in a localized way, such as in the area between the eyebrows, or when a hair has become ingrown and there is no way to make it come to the surface.
For me, tweezers are not my primary way to remove hair, but a perfect complement that you can even carry with you at all times. Of course, it is essential to use good tweezers that are capable of holding the hair firmly and removing it effectively.
In short, if you are looking for a comfortable and accessible way to get rid of a hair (or a few), the tweezers can be an excellent ally for you.
8. LASER HAIR REMOVAL.
Laser hair removal is a complex field and one that I could talk a lot about for a long time. During the last years it has had a huge grown, but not all forms of laser hair removal work for everyone, so if you are considering using it, it is important to be well informed about the procedure you are going to undergo.
Laser hair removal gets rid of hair by burning it precisely, effectively and, in many cases, in a very long-lasting manner. If done correctly, you can get the hair removed permanently (or almost), making it a very interesting investment for those who do not want to regularly use any of the other hair removal methods that I have spoken about so far.
Not all types of laser hair removal are the same, some of the most common are Alexandrite (which I have tried myself), Ruby, Diode and Neodymium Yag. Below I will briefly summarize the characteristics of each of these types, but keep in mind that if you plan to use them, you should go to a specialist who analyzes the characteristics of your skin and determines the most suitable type of laser for you.
The Alexandrite laser has a wavelength of 755nm and is best suited for those who have light-toned hairs and a skin tone between I and III on the Fitzpatrick scale (about which you can find more information in this other article). My experience using this type of laser was not very positive, I could see some weakening of the hair but I could not get rid of it. Over the years, by learning, I have been able to understand that it is not the most appropriate for the nature of the hair on my body, so that explains my discontent. However, relatives and acquaintances with lighter colored hair have tried it and have achieved a much more effective result, so if this is your case, you can achieve optimal hair removal in a few months.
The Ruby laser has a wavelength of 694 nm, and provides better results on fair skin (with phototype I to III on the Fitzpatrick scale) with dark colored hair. I think this would have been the most appropriate procedure for me, so I do not rule out trying it in the future.
The Diode laser acts with a wavelength of 810 nm, acting at a deeper level. This type of laser is recommended for darker skin, being effective in phototypes from I to V on the Fitzpatrick Scale.
The Neodymium Yag laser has a wavelength of 1064 nm. It penetrates very well and allows its use in practically all phototypes (I to VI on the Fitzpatrick scale), so that those with darker skin can achieve good results.
After laser hair removal, it is essential to take proper care of the skin, cooling it and using sunscreen very strictly to prevent damage and the appearance of spots. It is recommended to do this type of treatments in the autumn-winter months when the sun exposure and the ultraviolet radiation index are lower precisely to avoid this type of damage.
Although, as I have mentioned, there are different types of lasers that can bring positive results to practically all types of skin and hair, the main drawback of these procedures is their cost. They must be done in specialized places with trained personnel, so it is normally a more expensive investment than the other forms of hair removal I have mentioned. However, keep in mind that this form of hair removal provides the most lasting result of all, so you have to think of it as a long-term investment. Everyone I know who has been through laser hair removal told me their biggest regret was not doing it earlier, so this is probably the top hair removal method.
Therefore, if you are looking for a very effective result (although for a higher cost than other forms of hair removal), laser hair removal is for you.
9. INTENSE PULSE LIGHT DEPILATION.
In recent years these treatments have become very popular. This is because they are cheaper than lasers and promise an equally effective result, but is that so?
Pulsed light hair removal uses a different system than laser, acting with a wavelength ranging from 500 to 1200 nm. It can be used on practically all types of skin and is very inexpensive (in fact, today some products are even marketed to do this type of hair removal at home).
There are two major drawbacks to pulsed light hair removal. The first of them is that it does not provide a result as effective as laser hair removal. Although the result is relatively longer lasting than other hair removal methods, it will never be almost permanent (as with the laser). In addition, this type of hair removal usually has a more common irritation associated with it.
For me, perhaps this is the least worthwhile type of hair removal. It involves a medium high investment and in many centers they promise definitive results, but the reality is that pulsed light hair removal is not definitive and the cost is comparatively higher than that of other forms of hair removal.
In this article I have tried to clearly summarize the advantages and disadvantages of the different methods of hair removal and shaving. Of course, all of them may cause discomfort and frequent conditions such as irritation or ingrown hairs, but now you surely know which one best suits your needs and preferences.
If you liked this article and want to continue learning to take better care of your skin, you will surely be interested in reading these others:
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I’m Nacho and I’m passionate about skincare. I really enjoy learning and sharing my knowledge about skincare and I read scientific papers so you don’t have to. I want to break stereotypes because I believe skincare has no gender: skin is skin.