Hair Removal: an Informed Review

We’re going to ignore the fact that I skipped Science Thursday this week. I was tired and didn’t feel like writing. It happens. So instead of reading about cheese, you get to learn about different methods of hair removal. Yay!

Now, I know there’s a big movement for women to stop shaving, and I in no way want to take away from that. Telling people they don’t have to do something just because other people think they should is a great thing.

However, I don’t shave because I feel like I have to. The Boy has told me more than once that he would be perfectly fine with it if I didn’t shave, and I wear pants almost all year-round, so there’s no one to notice or care if I shave or not. I do it for me. I don’t like hair; it doesn’t feel comfortable to me. Even when I was a kid, I was terribly afraid of people with beards, I used to hide behind my mom (my poor uncles must have thought I hated them).

No matter the reason you shave (or don’t shave), you do you. It’s about your comfort, not anyone else’s. And if you’re in the shave group like me, hopefully the following reviews will help you find the most efficient method of hair removal 🙂

1. shaving

So many options for doom!

Can you tell I like itemized lists? Shaving with a traditional razor probably familiar to most people, whether they use this method or not.

Pros: The process of shaving is pretty fast. It takes me probably 10 minutes to shave my legs; The Boy can do his face in 5 if he tries. There are also no chemicals involved, unless you use fancy shaving cream, which isn’t required (some people use conditioner, which I think is ridiculous because that crap’s expensive!). Shaving is also a nicely portable method of hair removal. Shove your razor (carefully!) and some soap in a bag and you’re good to go. Another benefit of shaving is that you can use it to remove hair on any part of the body, provided you are very careful around the delicate bits.

Cons: Shaving is involved, both in cost and in process. Let’s pretend first that you don’t use shaving cream, so you’re saving about $5 a month. The razor itself is another $5, and the replacement blades are $15 for 5. And that’s for a middle of the road razor (better than disposable, not as great as the 10 blade, macadamia nut-infused blades). Now let’s say you go through a box of razors every 2 months (If you shave everyday, you probably go through a box a month I’m guessing). And I know you’re going to lose or break your razor, so you’ll need to get another one. That’s $100 a year on shaving if you’re being frugal ($250 if you’re not).

The process itself is another issue, at least with me. You have to be fully engaged while shaving, otherwise you gash the crap out of your skin, which all of us who have cuts ourselves shaving know that’s basically a mortal wound. And heaven help if you try to shave in a small shower! If you try to brave it and go for the dry shave, you take a gamble with razor burn, which also really hurts. I don’t want to have to by another expensive cream to fix the mess shaving made of my bikini line. I won’t have it!

All that, and a good shave only lasts a couple of days at best. No thanks razors.

2. electric shaving

“Please razor, tell me your secrets”

Electric razors are supposed to be the faster, more versatile version of its Sweeney Todd-like cousin. For convenience, I’d say they measure up.

Pros: Electric shaving is a little faster than tradition shaving, because you don’t have to be as careful, and there are electric razors for wet and dry situations, so they’re definitely more flexible. The also come in different sizes, so you can use them anywhere. You also have the benefit of a one-time cost. Electric razors cost from $20-$150 (or thereabouts), but that’s the only cost you put out there, unless it breaks (the one we have in my house is ancient, if that’s any indicator).

Cons: The biggest con is that an electric shave lasts less than a day. Fine if you’re in a pinch, but maybe not practical for the everyday, especially if you like the feel of silky smooth legs. Also, though in general electric razors can be used everywhere, be extremely cautious of delicate skin. I tried buzzing my armpits a couple of times because I was in a rush, and 10 minutes later the skin was red and burning (and made worse by deodorant). With the little pen shavers, if you don’t keep the skin taut sometimes the blades will pinch the skin, which is not the most comfortable thing I’ve ever experienced.

3. waxing

It’s just like honey!

There are a lot of factors the go into waxing. Personally, waxing is my favorite method of hair removal, but it’s not for everyone.

Pros: My favorite part about waxing is that you can have someone else do it for you. That’s the ultimate luxury for me, not having to be an active participant in my beauty habits. It also lasts a good long while. 6 weeks is the average length of time you can go between waxes, and that time increases the more you wax. This is also another all-body removal method, which is good.

Cons: Waxing can be painful for some people. It gets less painful over time, but some people can’t handle the initial owie, which is perfectly fine. If you try to wax at home, you’re likely going to run into trouble until you get some practice in. I had about 6 months of practice before I decided I wasn’t destined to be a waxer and moved on to less-troublesome methods. The at-home waxes are of a lower quality than that found in salons, so you’re more susceptible to rash, bumps, and ingrown hairs. It also takes a really long time to do it yourself.

The cost of waxing may be prohibitive for some. To get your armpits, bikini line, and legs waxed costs about $100 at a middle-range salon, and that’s not including a tip. I dream of a day when I make the kind of money to be able to afford that…

As a bonus, watch these attractive gentlemen get waxed for the first time:

4. epilating

I don’t even need to say anything do I?

Epilators are the devil. In essence, an epilator is like an electric razor, but instead of blades there are dozens of little tweezers to pluck out the hair.

Pros: Epilating lasts as long as a wax, and you can do it at home. Again like an electric razor, you only have to pay for it once, though starting cost is about $40.

Cons: Um, how about everything! First of all, the pain is terrible. Way worse than waxing, which is the opposite of how the reviews said it would be. The tweezers don’t just grab hair, they grab skin, and at places like the knee, they tend to actually shred the skin like scraping on the concrete (it stings similarly). Because of this, there’s no way in hell you could use it near the bikini line, and I’ll argue that you shouldn’t use it on your armpits either.

In addition, it takes a very long time to remove not a lot of hair. I worked on my lower legs for 30 minutes, and only about half the hair was removed. And you need to prepare to deal with a high number of ingrown hairs. Because of the ripping nature of an epilator, you have to be sure to exfolite afterwards, which exacerbates the problem of irritation, but hey, at least there are no ingrown hairs. Last time I epilated my legs (before I threw the damn thing out) I decided to skip exfoliating and ended up with ingrowns on 75% of my lower legs. It was gross, it was painful, and I will never do it again.

5. cream (Veet, Nair, etc.)

 

It even looks classy.

My second favorite hair removal method, even though I’ve had some issues. For me it’s the best balance of price, ease of use, and results.

Pros: Hair removal creams are by far the least expensive hair-removal method. A bottle of the stuff is about $10-12, and lasts about 2 months, so we’re talking about $60 a year. There are creams for body and creams for face, as well as products for men and women, so hypothetically you can use it anywhere you have hair you want to get rid of.

Time-wise hair removal creams are on the shorter end (which is good). To do my whole body (legs, underarms, etc), it takes about 3 minutes to apply the cream (I’m currently using the spray; it takes a bit longer if you’re using the tube or the pump) and then a 7 minute wait and I’m hair free. During that 7 minutes I can be on the computer or reading a book, I don’t have to be constantly paying attention to my legs, except to make sure I’m not rubbing cream off on things. After that it’s a 5 minute removal and rinse, and after I put on aloe gel to prevent any irritation. Ta done!

Using the cream lasts about 4 days, and since the hair isn’t bluntly cut like with shaving, it grows back thinly. Which is good, because you have to wait so many days between using the cream (the bottle days 10 days, but I don’t like to listen to printed instructions so I usually wait 4).

Cons: We are talking about using a chemical here, and some people aren’t into that. You also have to be VERY aware of your skin. I have very sensitive skin, so I have to make sure to buy the sensitive skin formula and keep track of long I have the cream on. You also have to make sure you wait a couple of days between treatments. If you missed a spot, either leave it or shave it. Don’t go back over it with the cream.

One instruction I actually follow on the label is do not apply cream on irritated or broken skin. That includes dry skin (use lotion for a couple of days, do a test patch, then proceed). If you fail to follow these directions, you will get chemical burns. I used the cream on my legs once not realizing I had a small scratch on my calf, the cream got into the scratch and burned like crazy. It felt like someone was trying to rip my skin off. I rinsed of the cream as fast as I could, by my calf was still swollen and red and I ended up with a small scar.

I also highly recommend staying away from the cream that finds its way to the clearance section. I bought a bottle once because it was super cheap, but it was super cheap because it had gone bad (it happens, though rarely). This coupled with my dry skin (it was winter) resulted in terrible chemical burns all over my thighs. I had to put aloe gel on my legs several times a day (excruciating) and wearing pants was sheer torture.

As a final note, NEVER PUT THIS STUFF IN SOMEONES SHAMPOO YOU MIGHT BLIND THEM.

6. no-no

I’m going to let my friend Bunny take care of this one:

7. laser treatments

This is exactly what expect laser hair removal to be like.

I’ve never personally had a laser treatment, but I did the research. Just for you.

Pros: The biggest pro of laser treatment is that it lasts forever. After hair is laser-removed, it never grows back. And it can be done absolutely anywhere on the body. It’s also my understanding that it doesn’t hurt very much.

Cons: Laser treatments are pretty pricey. for your legs, you could expect to pay upwards of $200 for one treatment. The cost will vary depending on how thick your hair is and how many treatments you need (some hair takes multiple treatments to be fully removed). Luckily, most places do 60% discounts during the fall/winter months, because there’s less of a demand for hairless-ness. Most places also offer financing, so you can pay for your treatments a little at a time.

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