I remember the exact moment I first thought about shaving my legs. I was 12 years old and all the girls on the basketball team were standing around in a circle sharing their shaving stories in an effort to appear older or more mature. I, for one, had a grand total of zero hair on my legs, but wanting desperately to look cool I jumped right in and began “shaving” my legs the very next day. And so began my lifelong quest to understanding all the hair removal methods and finding the perfect one for me. 

Whether you too began shaving in an effort to fit in or were intro’ed to hair removal in another slightly awkward but hilarious way, we’re sure in the years since you have struggled to decide which hair removal method is right for you. Choosing between shaving, waxing, laser hair removal, and the many other options can be complicated, confusing, and overwhelming.

While not always a fan favorite as far as treatments go, hair removal is one of the most widely booked services since many include it in their normal self-care routines. In an effort to help you find your perfect option we’ve deep dived into the wide woolly world of hair removal methods…

Waxing

Hair removal method - waxing

In 2016, a study was published about American women’s pubic hair. It stated that 84% of women said they engaged in some hair removal method. Interestingly, only 16% of them cited waxing as their method of choice. (Shocked? Us too.)

Tell me more about waxing.

Waxing is actually a very simple process– applying hot wax to the hair and skin, and then using a cloth or paper strip to remove the wax and the hair that comes with.

There are many varieties of waxing. You can do a simple eyebrow wax for easy monthly maintenance. Some women choose a full Brazilian wax, which removes all hair in their intimate area and will leave them completely bare. But the majority of women who wax use the other popular options such the bikini wax and leg waxing.

How much does waxing cost?

The price varies based on the size of the area you’re focusing on. This is a moderate expense for most ladies– you’ll see a dent in your wallet, but not a hole in the bank.

A full brazilian wax can cost you between $35 and $100, depending on where you live and what spa you’re visiting. A bikini line will be less steep, usually between $15 and $50. If you’re focusing on your brows, expect to spend between $20 and $50 for a high-quality wax. EXPERT TIP: Browse Spa Week’s deals for lower price point at great locations. Waxing at home is also an option, but we don’t recommend starting with this, hello wax burns!

How often do I need to get a wax?

How often you need a wax depends on your body and how fast your hair grows back. Waxing is semi-permanent hair removal, because it rips the hair off from the root. It shouldn’t grow back for 2-6 weeks, but where you fit in that range is variable.

How do I take care of myself after waxing?

We have a few different tips for post-wax care. Make sure you wear loose clothing and underwear for 3-5 days after a wax to prevent pain and irritation. Taking a cool shower or bath immediately after a wax can also reduce any pain. You won’t want to sunbathe within 24 hours of waxing either, to avoid burns.

Aloe vera is the ingredient to look for in post-wax care products. Choose a 100% aloe product like this one, or a moisturizing lotion with aloe as the main ingredient, like this one.

Why would I choose waxing?

There are some obvious pros to waxing– it lasts 4-6 weeks, it’s completely safe, and it’s pretty easy to find a spa or salon near you that provides waxing services (enter your zipcode on spaweek.com for locations near you). Waxing also generally leaves your skin soft and smooth.

What are the cons of waxing?

Well, for one, personal space. Brazilian and bikini waxes require allowing a professional access to your intimate areas, which means you have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Secondly, comfort. If you have a low pain tolerance, you might want to avoid this particular option. While eyebrows aren’t bad (trust me, I barely winced), brazilian waxes and bikini waxes are worse. You also have to let the hair regrow a little bit between appointments to be effective, which can be slightly uncomfortable for some.

How do I know if waxing is right for me?

Waxing may not be the most popular method of hair removal, but it’s still a pretty common one that’s easy to test out. We recommend starting with a small area– like your brows or bikini line–before going full Brazilian. Want to know more? Read our guide to waxing here (we even have a hint about how to avoid any pain!)

 

Sugaring

Hair removal method - sugaring

Sugaring sounds sweet, right? Sugaring is an ancient hair removal method (because even back in the day, ladies were worried about how they looked in the public bath). It’s similar to waxing– a sugaring product sticks to hair and removes it without attaching to the skin, the way a hot wax can.

Tell me more about sugaring.

The sugaring paste or gel (typically sugar, water, and lemon juice) can be applied at lukewarm or room temperature. It’s a great option for many people– but irritation is common for those with sensitive skin. One major positive is that the sugar used in the process is hypoallergenic– so it can be great for anyone with skin allergies.

You can create a DIY sugaring paste and use it on yourself, but we recommend visiting the spa at least once to see how the professionals do it and how your skin reacts to a sugaring product (nobody needs that kind of rash). You can sugar every 8-10 days but some people see results lasting up to 6 weeks.

How much does sugaring cost?

Sugaring will cost you anywhere from $50 to $100 with a professional, and most at home kits will cost you around $50… but once you learn how to do it at home, you can make sugaring paste using DIY ingredients that you may already have, because who doesn’t love a good DIY hack?

How do I take care of myself after sugaring?

Taking care of your skin after a sugaring treatment is similar to post-wax care. You’ll want to wear loose fitting clothing for several days and use a gentle moisturizer (we love this one).

One of our favorite tips? Soak is sea salt to soothe and smooth skin after a sugaring treatment. Experts also recommend exfoliating 24-48 hours after a sugaring treatment, and waiting 24 hours before laying out in the sun.

Why would I choose sugaring vs. waxing?

The best part about sugaring is that it’s fast. It’s a lot quicker than waxing, and usually causes less pain and irritation (so if you can’t stand the idea of a bikini wax, sugaring might be a way to ease yourself into it.) Another benefit is that DIY option, which is safer than DIY waxing. For some people, sugaring ultimately damages the hair follicle and leads to a slow or total stop in hair growth– we call this the dream scenario.

What are the cons of sugaring?

The biggest con is that it’s hard to find people who know sugaring and do it well. It’s not nearly as common as waxing and if you live far away from a big city, you might have trouble finding a professional you trust. Search our directory to see if professional sugaring is an option for you.

The other biggest con is something that requires a big, fat WARNING. If you mix the paste the wrong way or use unclean tools, you can be left with some pretty serious infections and some gross results. Make sure you’re going to a professional that you trust (you can read spa week’s reviews on spas pages) or if you’re doing it at home– be really, really careful. Seriously, wouldn’t you rather have extra hair than have a bad infection for the rest of the summer?

How do I know if sugaring is right for me?

Sugaring is a great option for anyone who’s tried waxing, but had bad reactions on their skin and is looking for a gentler option. It’s great for anyone who has a low pain tolerance (we get it, waxing is most definitely not like pulling off a bandaid). Read more about sugaring here.

 

Laser Hair Removal

Hair removal method - laser hair removal, photo from Women's Health

Laser hair removal sounds luxurious. Permanent (yes, PERMANENT) hair removal, wherever you want, with no long-term side effects?! Might be too good to be true. But is it?

Tell me more about laser hair removal.

Laser hair removal involves using a concentrated light-beam shot directly into hair follicles to permanently damage them. The process makes it hard (or impossible) for the follicles to grow hair, and you’ll never have to worry about it again.

How much does laser hair removal cost?

Since laser hair removal is a permanent procedure, it’s a lot more expensive than waxing, sugaring, and other options. It’s an investment, but one that may eventually save you money down the line.

On average, one session will cost you between $150 and $250 for laser hair removal, and most people need 6 sessions for full and permanent removal, but there are a lot of other factors– how big of an area do you want to handle (a leg is very different than an underarm…), how thick is the hair, and are you buying a package deal? We recommend packages, since you’ll need to keep going back to see permanent removal. EXPERT TIP: some of our spas offer fantastic deals during Spa Week, so keep an eye out for them.

How do I take care of myself after laser hair removal?

You should discuss how to best care for your skin in between laser hair removal sessions at the spa with the esthetician that performs the service. You’ll want to exfoliate, usually three times per week, in the area where you had laser hair removal, to help the hair removal process.

You’ll also want to use sunscreen and avoid sunbathing and let the spa know of any medications you’re taking. We recommend avoiding hot showers or baths (ouch!) for 24 hours after a treatment.

Why would I choose laser hair removal?

The biggest benefit to laser hair removal is the most obvious– it’s permanent. That means NEVER WAXING OR SHAVING AGAIN.

It’s also a very accurate service that has little to no side effects for the average person. With quick sessions, it won’t take up much of your time.

What are the cons of laser hair removal?

The biggest con is the way the hair removal happens… it’s not instant. Generally, your hair will fall out for a few months after your sessions. (Sounds gross, we know, but keep in mind it’s never coming back when it falls out, because, come on. That’s pretty cool.) Most clients say that it feels a little like a sunburn after your services, but major pain is rare. It’s also the most expensive hair removal method, and you have to be prepared to spend to get the results you want.

How do I know if laser hair removal is right for me?

Laser hair removal is the best option for anyone who is ready and able to make an investment that will last them forever. If you hate shaving and waxing and can afford it, laser hair removal is a great permanent method. Read about the differences (and similarities) between waxing and laser hair removal here.

 

Shaving

Hair removal method - shaving

I don’t remember the first time I cut myself shaving, but I do remember the last time (two weeks ago. #WeAllDoIt) Shaving itself is a pretty simple hair removal method, but there are different kinds of razors, razor blades, shaving creams, and after-shave care to jazz it up.

How much does shaving cost?

Since shaving isn’t a spa or professional treatment, it’s hard to estimate how much shaving truly costs. Companies like Dollar Shave Club and Billie have subscription services dedicated to delivering cheap but well-made razors to your door. You can buy disposable razors in a large range of prices and packages, anywhere from 50 cents to $25, depending on how well you budget.

In addition to investing in whatever razor works best for you, you’ll have to pay for shaving cream (unless you’re a masochist). Shaving cream can be purchased in large packs for a discount, but we recommend trying out a few before you decide what works best, since everyone has different skin types and can be sensitive to certain ingredients.

How do I take care of myself after shaving?

As we mentioned, there are hundreds of creams, lotions, oils, and products to help care for your skin after a shave. Which lotion or product you choose is really a personal preference, but look for products that have shea butter as an ingredient to soothe and smooth skin. You can sunbathe right after shaving, but avoid salt water immediately afterwards (it might sting).

Why would I choose shaving?

The best part about shaving is the privacy. Waxing can be a bit awkward when you’re laying there, naked, and watching a technician do her thing. No one has to be involved when you’re shaving, you can take your time, and it’s 100% at your discretion. How often you shave, what products you use, and how long you spend shaving, are all up to you.

What are the cons of shaving?

Human error is probably the biggest problem. We’ve all, literally all of us– you’re not alone, cut ourselves shaving. Tiny knicks and bleeding cuts are not fun, especially in our most sensitive areas. They also hurt, and finding the right shaving products for your skin can be a struggle, especially if you’re prone to allergic reactions and have sensitive skin.

Shaving is a very temporary hair removal method and most people need to shave every few days to remain hairless. Depending on how you like to keep your body hair, shaving can be a difficult burden that adds tons of time to your selfcare routines.

How do I know if shaving is right for me?

Most people shave for at least some portion of their lives, so you probably already know if you have a love-hate, love-love, or hate-hate relationship with it. It’s the cheapest, easiest, and most private way to remove body hair, but maybe not the most fun.

 

Hair Removal Creams

Hair removal methods - hair removal creams, image from Heavy.com

Who for short shorts? Nair for short shorts! Ahh, the famous hair removal cream. Nair is definitely the best known, with its promise of easy at-home hair removal that lasts longer than shaving, hurts less than waxing, and can be done at home easily and quickly. The best of both worlds, right?

Tell me more about hair removal creams.

These products sound ideal, and a lot of companies offer products in varying formulas to help calm and soothe skin after the process. Some of them work, some of them don’t… here’s a good list of the best offerings.

How much do hair removal creams cost?

Introducing… the cheapest hair removal method! Hair removal creams can cost you even less than shaving, since most bottles range from $10 to $25. Sometimes, the cheapest drugstore brands are also the best brands. (isn’t that everyone’s favorite thing to hear?!)

How do I take care of myself after using hair removal creams?

Since these products use chemicals to remove the hair, you’ll want to use hydrating and soothing creams immediately after the treatment. Acure Calming Body Lotion is one of our favorites.

It’s best to wait 24 hours before spending time in the sun, and when you do start tanning, make sure you use a sunscreen with a high SPF.

Why should I choose hair removal creams?

We’ll break it down for you. Hair removal creams are:

  • Quick
  • Easy to use
  • Cheap
  • There are tons of options
  • They last longer than your average shave

The best parts though, are that these creams are usually less painful than waxing and, most importantly, can be done in the comfort of your own bathroom.

What are the cons of hair removal creams?

We’ve all heard the horror stories— these products can cause serious chemical burns and a lot pain– though bad reactions are uncommon.

They also don’t work for everyone and they don’t all work. There are a few options to explore, but we recommend reading the reviews before you try a product. At the end of the day, a hair removal product that doesn’t remove hair is frustrating, but one that gives you burns is quite literally the stuff of nightmares.

How do I know if hair removal creams are right for me?

At-home creams are best for people who love the convenience of shaving– being able to do it in your own home and for little money– but want a hair removal process that lasts a little bit longer.

 

Electrolysis

Hair removal methods - electrolysis, photo by Fitness Tips

I don’t know about you, but to me, electrolysis hair removal sounds like the scariest hair removal method. It’s got an intimidating name, but it’s not so bad and it’s another permanent removal method. Chemical or heat energy is used to destroy the growth center of the hair, so that it can’t grow back, and then technicians remove the hair with tweezers. It’s a process designed to target individual hairs. You can watch an example here.

How much does electrolysis cost?

Electrolysis can cost anywhere from $30-$100 per session, depending on how long the session needs to be and how large of an area you’re targeting. You’ll usually need 3-7 sessions of electrolysis, but it can be variable for each individual. Once it’s all gone though, you’re done and won’t need to return for touch ups!

How should I take care of myself after electrolysis?

You’ll want to keep the treated area as clean and as dry as possible for 24 to 48 hours after electrolysis. You should also avoid touching the area and definitely don’t pick at any scabs you might have! We recommend using aloe vera and witch hazel after these treatments to keep the area hygienic and hydrated.

Why should I choose electrolysis?

Like laser hair removal, this procedure is completely permanent once you’ve had enough sessions. It’s also cheaper than laser hair removal. (Yay!)

What are the cons of electrolysis?

According to some experts, this might be the most painful of the methods. Some people say, and we quote, “it hurts like hell”, others say it isn’t that bad– it depends on your pain tolerance. It can also be hard to find professionals in your area that have the equipment and the skills to perform electrolysis– laser hair removal is a lot more common.

How do I know if electrolysis is right for me?

Choosing between laser hair removal and electrolysis is generally just a matter of personal preference, but electrolysis is a little more painful. If you want permanent removal and are willing to invest in a treatment, but can’t stomach the cost of full laser hair removal, this might be the best choice for you.

 

How to Make Your Decision

Okay, so now that we know the methods, and every possible pro and con… how to decide?

There are so many options and choices, it can feel overwhelming to look at a list and try to pick what will best for your skin and your lifestyle. But don’t worry, we’re here to make the decision easier for you.

Here’s what I ask myself before committing to any treatment:

  • How much does this cost? Is it worth the investment?
  • How much is this going to hurt? (Disclaimer: I have zero pain tolerance). Will I be able to tolerate that pain level? Is it worth it to me?
  • Is this treatment safe? Do I trust the people performing it and have I gotten recommendations or read reviews? Is the space clean?

Just relax and have fun when making your decision! Anything that causes you tons of stress isn’t worth it, and you’ll find a way to look your best in a bikini.

 

Do you have a hair-removal horror story? What about a favorite hair removal method? Let us know in the comments below!

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