Depending on personal preference, removing unwanted hair can be an ongoing (and expensive) chore. Plus—with so many available hair removal options—deciding which method is right for you isn’t always easy.
We looked at the pros and cons of the most popular ways to get rid of hair—and why they may or may not work for you:
Depilatory / hair removal creams
Apply cream to desired area, set a timer, awkwardly wait while the chemicals break down the hair, remove cream to reveal hairless skin.
Pros: Easy to apply (depending of the product you choose). Not painful. Relatively quick to use.
Cons: That unmistakably funky chemical smell. You’re applying chemicals to your skin and letting them sit there. You’ll need to use separate depilatory creams for face and body (including your bikini line).
Cost: $7 to $20, depending on the size of the bottle and type of formulation (roll-on, shower-safe, etc…)
A small filament is inserted into the hair follicle to cauterize the dermal papilla, permanently destroying its ability to grow hair.
Pros: Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. Is effective on all types of skin and hair. Permanently removes hair.
Cons: Multiple visits are required for it to be effective. Expensive. Painful. Hairs are removed individually.
Cost: A 45 minute session of electrolysis costs around $80
Imagine an electric razor had a love child with a pair of tweezers, and that’s kind of what an epilator is—a small handheld electric device with “tweezing discs” that open and close as they spin and pull out hair.
Pros: Removes hair from the root. Relatively quick. Can be done anywhere you have access to electricity (or a battery, depending on your epilator). Does not pull at the skin.
Cons: Painful enough to make your palms sweat as you operate the device. Initial cost of purchasing an epilator.
Cost: $50 to $130 for an epilator
Laser hair removal
A relatively new method of hair removal, targeted pulses of light are used to kill the hair follicle, this can take between six and 10 sessions per area (legs and bikini line would be considered two separate areas).
Pros: When done effectively, hair is gone forever. Depending on the size of the area you’re treating, it can be done quite quickly.
Cons: Expensive in the short term. More painful than shaving, but less painful than waxing. May not work as effectively depending on your skin tone and hair colour. Blistering may occur.
Cost: A single session of full leg laser hair removal starts at approximately $310 (but packages are usually available)
Wet your skin, apply shaving cream or foam (dealer’s choice) and glide a razor along your skin for instantly smooth results—it doesn’t get much easier than that.
Pros: Painless (until you inevitably cut yourself). Quick. Inexpensive. You can shave just about anywhere you have access to water.
Cons: It’s easy to cut yourself. Razor burn. Generates a lot of non-recyclable waste.
Cost: A 10-pack of disposable razors can cost as little as $5
A paste made of three ingredients (sugar, water and lemon juice) is spread onto the skin against the direction of hair growth and then quickly removed in the direction that hair naturally grows.
Pros: A zero waste hair removal method. Sugaring paste can be dissolved with water. Only sticks to hair, not your skin.
Cons: Less painful than waxing (because it doesn’t stick to your skin), but not a walk in the park. Expensive if done at a salon.
Cost: Having your full legs sugared by a professional costs $60 to $70
Cotton thread is twisted into a tight hourglass shape. The twisted threads in the middle of the hourglass pull out the hairs as the thread is moved across the skin’s surface.
Pros: Hair is removed from the root. Threading is fast and precise. Shorter hairs can be removed.
Cons: Moderately painful. Not as widely available in salons. Typically limited to smaller areas of the body.
Cost: Having your face (chin, upper lip, brow shaping, etc…) fully threaded will set you back about $25
Tweezers are used to remove individual hairs.
Pros: Hair is removed from the root. Can be done anywhere. Inexpensive and easy to do.
Cons: Slow. Can be painful.
Cost: A good pair of tweezers (with lifetime sharpening) will set you back about $30
Soft wax is warmed up, applied to the skin in the direction that the hair naturally grows and quickly removed with fabric strips (or no strips, if hard wax is being used). Hair is removed against the direction of growth.
Pros: Hair is removed from the root. Re-growth will be thinner and lighter. Depending on how quickly your hair grows, you won’t see re-growth for at least two weeks.
Cons: Waxing is painful, with a steep learning curve if you are trying to do it yourself. May cause ingrown hairs. More expensive than other forms of hair removal if done in a salon.
Cost: A full leg wax at a salon will cost $45 to $55