Hair Removal Comparisons
How It Works: Hot wax is applied to the desired area and removed in the opposite direction of the hair growth, pulling hairs out from the root.
Best For: Legs, underarms, and bikini areas, and great for those with coarse, darker hair that tends to be stubborn.
Pros: Temporarily removes hair at the root for an average of three weeks of smooth skin, which can range from two to six weeks depending on your hair type and thickness.
Cons: Waxing requires some regrowth in order to be effective, as the wax needs at least a quarter inch of stubble to hold on to. Treatments can be moderately painful, as hair is indeed being ripped out at the root, but it becomes more bearable over time.
Average Cost: Anywhere from $35-80 for salon waxing, depending on areas waxed and your salon.
How It Works: Shaving removes hair at the skin’s surface by cutting it off with a razor.
Best For: Legs, underarms, and those with lighter, finer hair.
Pros: Temporarily, Inexpensive, painless, quick, and easy, and shaving creams used can help moisturize the skin, keeping it soft.
Cons: Regrowth happens quickly, and since hair is cut off at the surface, regrown hair is blunt, not tapered, so it can appear thicker. Razor burn, nicks, and cuts are possibilities, and those who shave regularly can also become prone to ingrown hairs.
Average Cost: Razors and shaving cream can be inexpensively purchased at any grocery or drugstore.
How It Works: Hair removal creams use chemicals to weaken the hair follicle so you can effectively wipe it away.
Best For: Those who want quick, easy, relatively painless at-home results. Depilatories are most popular for facial hair, bikini lines, and underarms.
Pros: Temporarily and can be done at home, and removes hair just below the surface of the skin, ensuring slower and less coarse regrowth than shaving.
Cons: Chemicals in these products can irritate sensitive skin, particularly in more delicate areas. These creams are infamous for their odor, and can also lead to ingrown hairs.
Average Cost: Around $6-12 for a tube of cream or spray-on depilatory lotion.
Laser Hair Removal
How It Works: Laser penetrates the skin to target the hair shaft and inhibit hair growth. It essentially destroys the follicle, meaning it can achieve permanent removal. Typically, the hair in treated areas falls out within 2-3 weeks.
Best For: People with hair darker than their skin—while professional dermatologists can vary the type of laser used, laser targets the melanin in the hair, so it’s not suited for people with dark skin or pale hair. The laser needs to be able to lock on to the dark pigment in order to differentiate the dark hair from the skin.
Pros: Permanent hair reduction. Great for long-term hair removal in all areas. “It causes no damage to the dermis, so even the most sensitive skin can be treated,”
Cons: Laser hair removal can be painful, with most people describing it as a “snapping” sensation against the skin, as well as a sensation of heat from the laser. Also, it requires numerous visits to a dermatologist for best results. “It is important to go to a dermatologist who can offer different lasers which are customized to the patient’s skin color and hair color,” says Ostad.
Average Cost: $30 to $250 per treatment, with an average of six sessions recommended, depending on the area being treated. Several cycles of treatment are usually recommended to capture the hair follicles at different stages of the growth cycle. Some people require touch-up treatments to maintain, especially on larger areas.
How It Works: Electrolysis uses a fine, needle-shaped probe to apply an electrical current to the hair follicle.
Best For: Small areas such as the eyebrows, upper lip, and underarms, as it treats each hair and follicle individually.
Pros: Permanently removes hair and is suitable for very fine and light-colored hair, unlike laser, which works best on darker hair.
Cons: Treatments can be slightly uncomfortable and cause a “stinging” or “pricking” sensation, and as with laser hair removal, permanent results require multiple sessions.
Average Cost: Around $35-65 for a 30-minute session.