Whatever you decide to do with your body hair, whether you want to wear it proudly or laser it off for that smooth-as-a-baby’s-bottom effect, we support you 100 percent. And if you do decide to move ahead with the latter, there are numerous things to consider — mainly, your method of removal.
There's shaving the area with a razor (of which there are numerous kinds), ripping the fibers out from their roots with different types of wax, carefully and meticulously tweezing individual hairs, several laser sessions (for a permanent solution), even using a depilatory cream (which chemically dissolves the hair at skin's surface). Like we said, there's a lot to consider and a lot of factors that go into the decision, so we've put together all the expert- approved tips and tricks you could possibly need before you set out on the endeavor.
Below, you'll find our thorough guide to hair removal to help you explore all of your options, whether you're focusing on shaping your brows, making your body barer, or just going after a few unwanted strays.
To tweeze them: Before you start plucking, mark where you want your brows to begin and end with a white pencil. (Trust us, this helps keep you from going overboard.) The pros' best trick: Hold the pencil against the side of your nose and put a line where it hits your eyebrow; tilt the pencil diagonally so it touches the outer corner of your eye and mark that spot; and, finally, put a dot just above the outside of your iris — that should be the highest point of your arch. Draw the pencil along the lower edge of your brows, connecting the three lines, and then tweeze only the strays that sprout beyond them.
To wax them: First and foremost, do not do the waxing yourself. (Well-meaning but unqualified friends should not make an attempt on your brows, either.) This is one case where you want the best professional out there, as just the smallest bit of misplaced wax can cause seriously messed-up brows in about five seconds.
To get rid of a mustache for a year: Laser it.
Lasers work by wrecking hair at the root, preventing it from growing back for a year (or much longer). Sessions are fast, lasting just a few minutes, and feel a little like a rubber band being snapped against your face (i.e. not pleasant, but not particularly painful either.) Lasering is expensive, though: Most women require six sessions, at around $250 each, to get up to 90-percent fuzz-free.
To get rid of a mustache for a few weeks: Wax it.
Unlike the eyebrows, this area of the face is fine to tackle at home. (Bonus: You won't have to leave a spa with temporarily red skin for all to see.) Choose a low-temperature kit, since waxes intended for other parts of the body can burn the face. Work in three separate sections (left side, right side, and center), spread the wax downward and out from your nose, and always pull the wax strip upward when you rip it off.
Waxing: There's an easy way to keep stubble away longer — we're talking days rather than hours — and because there's no shaping involved, it's easy enough to do at home. Choose a stripless wax, which will act like shrink wrap around each and every hair, says Cindy Barshop, founder of Completely Bare spas. Just be sure to work in very small sections and to pop some ibuprofen an hour before waxing. Underarm hair is typically thick and grows in many different directions, making it particularly painful to remove.
Reasons to wax: Although 23 percent of women in a recent Gillette survey said they have shaved their forearms, most dermatologists and aestheticians (and, well, us) cringe at the thought and advise waxing instead. (Think about how annoying it is to deal with prickly stubble on your legs — do you really want that aggravation on a more prominent limb, too?)
Reasons to laser: "Many women are just looking for a slight reduction of the hair on their arms, so they only need one to three sessions," board-certified dermatologist Mary Lupo says. Still, it's pricey, with just one session of lasering the forearms costing hundreds of dollars.
Though you can use pretty much any hair-removal method on this area with some degree of success, waxing yields the best, most fuzz-free results. (Laser hair removal is great for reducing the amount of hair that grows, but we've never found that it allowed us to stop waxing altogether, and it can cost thousands.)
Whether you prefer to leave the waxing in the hands of an expert or you feel up to doing the deed at home, the first step is to pop some ibuprofen an hour beforehand. (Though you may also be tempted to down a glass of wine, don't — it will actually make you more sensitive to the pain.) Then, if you are brave enough to do it yourself:
1. First, be sure your hair is long enough: It should be a quarter of an inch long if it's fine and a half-inch long if it's coarse. Otherwise, the wax is not going to work.
3. Smooth a muslin strip over the area, pull the skin taut, then yank the strip back in the opposite direction of the hair growth. (We like the Parissa Wax Strips for Face and Bikini.)
4. After waxing, soothe the skin with an aloe lotion, or use hydrocortisone cream if you get any red bumps.
Shaving: Seventy percent of women are faithful razor users, according to one industry survey, and for good reason: Shaving is fast, easy, cheap, and effective on the legs. Be sure to use shaving cream because it will eke out an extra millimeter or two of hair if you smooth it against the grain as you apply it. And arm yourself with a new, multiblade razor every five shaves to get the smoothest results and prevent irritation.
Waxing: The pain level may be higher, but the results of waxing can last weeks and, in the summer, you may not want to deal with stubble that starts popping up the day after a fresh shave. As with other areas, apply the wax in the direction of hair growth, then pull strips off in the opposite direction. Work in small sections — a maximum of three inches in length — to minimize pain.
Using a depilatory: While these can be used on any area of the body, they're most effective on finer hair, making the legs a better bet than the bikini line. Since you'll be dealing with a lot of cream and the whole treatment can get pretty messy, it's best to apply it right before taking a shower, then use a washcloth to remove it all under warm water. If you have eczema or sensitive skin, New York City board-certified dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla recommends always testing the product in a small area. "Some depilatories can cause a contact dermatitis that can be itchy," she says.
Like party crashers, there are always a few hairs that pop up unexpectedly. For hairs on your chin, nipples, toes, or any other inconvenient area, tweezing is the simplest option. But to eliminate those hairs forever, there is electrolysis, the only truly permanent hair-removal method. For a cost of around $40 per 15-minute treatment, an aesthetician will slide an electrified needle into the follicle of each and every hair you want removed. Sessions are weekly and become less frequent over time, but up to eight months of treatments may be necessary.
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