Want to defuzz without beelining straight for the beautician? Luckily there are plenty of ways you can get rid of unwanted hair in the comfort of your own home and you can switch it up depending on your time frame, hair growth and pain-threshold. From age-old methods (like shaving) to newer advances in technology (like laser removal) we’ve rounded up all the favourites to help you decide which one is right for you.
How to prepare the skin before hair removal
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate
You get the gist. If you know that you want to shave/wax/pluck etc in advance then exfoliate the exact areas you wish to de-fuzz 24 hours before you plan to carry out any treatment. This will remove any dead skin cells, make for a cleaner removal and help to prevent ingrown hairs.
Make sure skin is clean and free from any moisturiser or oil at the time of hair removal. You want there to be a bit of grip to make the experience as pain-free as possible.
Before introducing a new product/method into your regime, always perform a skin-patch test so you’re extra certain there won’t be any nasty side effects.
Hair Removal Methods
Best for: Legs and underarms.
Shaving pros: If you’re in a rush or short on time then this is the technique for you (you can also double up shower time with shaving time!). And unlike other methods, you don’t need to wait around for an optimum amount of hair growth, you can shave at any length.
Shaving cons: One word – stubble. Once hair has been shaved, it can grow back thicker, darker and coarser than the natural growth. There's also a teeny, tiny risk of cutting yourself while shaving so always take extra care even when you're in a hurry and over those awkwardly shaped spots (like ankles and knees).
Tips for shaving:
- Always shave in the bath or shower. No matter how tempting it may be, dry shaving can irritate the skin so avoid at all costs.
- You can use any kind of razor to shave, but for the smoothest shave use a razor with multiple-blazes or one with a water-activated moisturising bar. Also, make sure your razor is sharp enough and clean. The older the razor, the blunter it will be, and the more likely you are to cut yourself, so replace regularly.
- Don’t skip the shaving gel!
- Run the razor over the area you want to defuzz as gently as possible and avoid going over the same section again and again as this may cause irritation.
- Apply a fragrance-free body moisturiser to soothe and rehydrate skin after shaving.
Best for: Larger areas like arms, legs, back as well as smaller areas like upper lip, brows, bikini line. And the list goes on...
Waxing pros: If you want soft-as-a-baby’s-bottom skin then waxing will do just the trick. As it removes hair from the root, the results can be long-lasting too so perfect for prepping pins pre-holiday or if you want a low-maintenance routine. Also, if you’re a regular waxer the hair won’t grow back as thick so it’s great for playing the long game.
Waxing cons: We’re not going to sugar coat it, it can be painful. And sometimes if you’re waxing sensitive areas (read: your bikini line) you might want to get a little help pulling the strip off or you may chicken out altogether. But, luckily the more you wax the less it should hurt. Also, you can’t wax when you have stubbly bits, you need the hair to be long enough to grip on to the strip.
Tips for waxing:
- Hold the skin taut and pull the strip away against the direction of the hair growth in a sharp, quick motion – pulling too slowly will cause bits of wax to remain on the skin and no one wants that!
- If you have fine hairs and don’t have a waxing machine, then you can try pre-coated waxing strips. You can find these in various sizes, depending on which area you want to wax.
- When using hot wax it can get a little bit messy, so lay down some towels and clean up any wax spillages sooner rather than later.
- Don’t wax the same area twice. Waxing removes the top layer of skin, leaving it slightly sore. Any stray hairs left after waxing should be removed with tweezers.
- Apply pressure to the area you have just waxed with the palm of your hand to soothe your skin.
- Wait 24 hours before applying a moisturiser to avoid irritating the skin, and choose one with cooling ingredients, like aloe vera.
Best for: Legs, arms, bikini line, underarms.
Epilating pros: Those who have an epilator tend to swear by them for good reason. This device removes hair from the root in a plucking movement, so it’s able to grab on to even the shortest hairs.
Epilating cons: Similar to waxing, you might find epilating a tad painful as it removes hairs one-by-one. But the good news is, more often you epilate, the more you’ll get used to the feeling and eventually it will feel less painful.
Tips for epilating:
- Combine shaving with epilating for a smoother experience. By shaving a couple of days beforehand, the short stubble is easier to epilate.
- Pull your skin taut and use against the direction of your natural hair growth, as this will help minimise the pain.
- Don’t start using one until you read our guide on how to use an epilator.
- If you’re new to the world of epilating then schedule your defuzzing sessions in the evening (before bed) as your skin may be red for a few hours afterwards.
Hair removal/depilatory cream
Best for: Legs, arms, underarms, face and bikini line.
Hair removal cream pros: There is no pulling of skin or plucking of the hair, which means a big bonus of this technique is the lack of ouch! It’s also convenient too, especially if you invest in a cream that gets to work while you’re in the shower.
Hair removal cream cons: If you’re in a massive rush then this may slow you down, as you need to wait for the ingredients in the cream to get to work (up to 10 minutes) before removing. It’s not advised for smaller target areas, eg eyebrows!
Tips for using hair removal cream:
- The spray-on in-shower cream gives a quick, mess-free application. It’s also easier to apply to those hard-to-reach areas like the backs of your legs.
- Keep an eye on the clock – if you leave the cream on for longer than is recommended, it could potentially burn or irritate the skin.
At-home laser hair removal
Best for: Anywhere you don’t want hair to EVER grow back!
Laser hair removal pros: Do you want to zap the hair now and forever? Then this is the route for you. The way that laser removal works, is that the device targets the hair’s pigment and over time the heat damages the follicle at its root which prevents regrowth.
Laser hair removal cons: First up, you have to see this method as an investment as at-home laser removal systems can cost a lot more than your average shaver. Also, it works better on different hair colours and skin tones because of the way the device targets melanin. If you have lighter-coloured hair (blonde, grey) then you might not get as effective results. It’s also not recommended for dark skin tones as it can cause permanent depigmentation.
Tips for at-home laser removal:
- You need to remove hair before using a laser removal device but DO NOT opt for any methods that remove the hair at the root (waxing/epilating). The root – due to the melanin within it – needs to be present to attract the laser energy. So, stick to shaving if possible!
- Stay out of the sun during laser treatment, and always wear an SPF after you’ve used a laser.
- If skin feels hot to the touch, use an ice pack or cold flannel/towel to cool the area after treatment.
Best for: Arms, upper lip, chin, lower back and stomach.
Bleaching pros: While this method doesn’t technically remove hair, it does help disguise hairs which makes them less noticeable. It can be done easily at home, and it’s painless, making it perfect for sensitive areas (we’re looking at you upper lip hair!).
Bleaching cons: If the hair is particularly thick and coarse, it will still be visible, despite being lighter. In this case, it may be better to wax. Also, there is a small risk of irritation if you don’t follow the instructions properly or patch test beforehand.
- Don’t leave the bleach on for longer than stated on the packet as it may end up bleaching the skin at best, and causing a bad reaction at worst.