After a long, nasty winter and black tights galore, you might be ready to welcome silky-smooth skin back into your beauty routine (and if you’re not, that’s totally okay too). There’s a lot to go over: underarm fuzz, coarse arm hair, leg stubble, and worry not — we start right off with the bikini line below, then move on to everything else:
How to Remove Hair From…
Your Bikini Line
If you want to feel extra smooth around your bikini line, you’ve got a few options. First: shaving. While it’s not a particularly long-lasting method, it’s typically pain-free and you can do it in the comfort of your own home. To avoid the dreaded razor burn that plagues so many folks who shave, dermatologist Christine Choi Kim, M.D., recommends waiting until your skin is hydrated from the shower or bath. “Use a moisturizing foam, cream, or gel instead of soap to shave, and try Tend Skin ($20, Ulta.com) if you get ingrown hairs or razor bumps easily,” she says.
Another option for your bikini line is waxing. “The hair in the bikini area tends to be coarse and thick, which is ideal for waxing,” says Katherine Goldman, owner of Strip Bar Wax in San Francisco. “And since the hair is pulled out from the root, it grows back thinner over time.” There are multiple types of wax, including strip wax (applied hot and removed with cloth or paper sheets) and hard wax (applied hot, then removed after cooling and hardening).
If a long-lasting method is #1 on your priority list, waxing may be your best option. “It lasts around three to six weeks,” says Noemi Grupenmager, founder of Uni K Wax. (And if you’re nervous about getting a bikini or Brazilian wax, read our detailed guide for first-timers.)
It’s worth mentioning that some reports mention an increased risk in STIs due to pubic hair removal. Dermatologist Robert Brodell, M.D., told LiveScience.com that irregularities in the skin, which can be caused by using a razor or waxing, “open the door for catching the infection.” So, here’s your friendly reminder to always use proper protection.
The most common method for removing leg hair is, of course, shaving. If you don’t mind dedicating a bit of time to it every few days (depending on how quickly your hair grows), this is a great option. Use a sharp razor as well as a moisturizing foam, cream, or gel, advises Heidi Waldorf, M.D., director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. If you start to notice razor burn, it may also be due to your clothing. “Tight clothes such as leggings, stockings, and jeans can cause ingrown hair and bumps because it compresses the hair against your body, increasing irritation,” explains Grupenmager. “Exfoliating twice during the week or up to two days prior to any form of hair removal will help.” (Just be sure to avoid exfoliating directly after you shave, when your skin is most sensitive.)
If you have a higher pain tolerance and prefer to keep regrowth at bay, consider waxing, as it normally lasts between 3-6 weeks.
Another hair removal method many folks know and love: depilatory cream. While you may recall the potently-scented formulas of years past, these are still around, but now with new-and-improved concoctions that promise to be less irritating and more fragrance-friendly. “Depilatory creams use chemicals such as calcium thioglycolate or potassium thioglycolate, which break disulfide bonds in keratin, thereby weakening the hair,” explains Dr. Kim. Just be sure to do a patch test before applying one of these to your skin, and don’t leave it on for longer than the instructions direct.
Underarm hair grows almost 50 percent faster than the hair on your legs, according to the experts who make Venus razors, so shaving on a daily or every-other-day basis makes sense for lots of folks. That said, some people do tend to be more sensitive than others and can get irritated from shaving, so make sure you’re always using a sharp razor and rinsing it between strokes to avoid it getting clogged. “If you’re prone to shaving bumps, use a shaving gel or lotion, shave in the direction of the hair, and change the blade often,” Dr. Waldorf says. “After shaving, apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to any red or inflamed areas, or areas that frequently develop bumps.”
Getting a quick wax every month or so can keep your underarm hair at bay without reaching for the razor every morning. Worried about little bumps? “If you wax regularly, you will have a very slim chance of getting ingrown hairs or bumps,” says Grupenmager. Consult a derm if you’re still concerned about whether or not your underarm area can handle waxing.
Laser hair removal is a much longer-term method, but if you’re sure you’ll never again want hair in a specific spot, such as your underarms, it could be worthwhile to consider it. “By getting rid of 70 to 90% of the hair, if not more, you reduce or remove the necessity of hair removal,” explains Dr. Waldorf. “The less you have to do, the less irritation or side effects you’ll get in the long term.” Even though it’s on the pricier side (approximately $50 to $300 per session, depending on the body part), you could wind up cost-cutting on razors, shaving cream, and waxing. Check out our guide to laser hair removal for everything you need to know on the subject.
While it’s less common than removing hair on the aforementioned body parts, there are lots of people out there who prefer to get rid of the fuzz on their arms, especially via wax strips. Unlike hot wax, these pre-coated strips are applied at room temperature, require minimal effort, and can be used at home, says dermatologist Doris Day, M.D. Over time, it can result in your hair growing back finer, extending intervals between hair removal sessions. Just be sure to trim your hair beforehand (leaving between 1/4″ and 1/2″ is perfect) and dust on a bit of baby powder to prevent the wax from sticking to your skin. Follow the directions properly, and remove any residual wax with a dab of baby oil on a cotton ball.
Another good option for your arms: depilatory creams. As previously mentioned, depilatory creams work by incorporating chemicals that break down the bonds in your hair. If you want a longer-lasting result than shaving and something less painful than waxing, finding an easy-to-use depilatory cream could work well.