The Low-Down On Taking It Off The task: Remove unwanted hair. The goal: Do so quickly, safely, inexpensively and painlessly with radiantly smooth results. So, how do you choose a method that works for you? The following profiles of hair removal options provide essential information for making an educated choice. Wet Shaving How it works: A blade cartridge glides over wet skin that is covered with shaving gel. Best hair removal option for: Legs, underarms, bikini area. Pros: Effective, quick, safe, painless, inexpensive, and easy enough to do every day. Removes fine and coarse hair, and offers added benefit of exfoliating dry, flaky skin on legs. Cons: Requires relatively frequent hair removal (two times a week). Tips: Soak in warm bath or shower two to three minutes prior to shaving, and use moisture-rich shave cream or gel. Aftercare: Soothe freshly shaved areas with a rich moisturizer. Electric Shaving How it works: Fine screen glides across the skin’s surface, trapping hair. Blades move laterally and cut hairs against the edge of the screen. Best hair removal option for: Legs, bikini area, underarms, and for those with very sensitive skin. Pros: Quick, safe, and easy enough to do every day. Can be done in a dry environment. Cons: Results are short-lived, and shave is less smooth than a wet shave. Must maintain razor in top condition for best results for the hair removal option. Tips: Choose a product with a high-quality screen. Clean regularly and change screen annually. Aftercare: Soothe freshly-shaven areas with a rich moisturizer. Depilatories How it works: Depilatory creams, lotions, roll-ons, and foams chemically dissolve the hair at the surface of the skin. Approximately 4 –10 minutes after applying the depilatory, hair is removed by rubbing the area with a washcloth. Best hair removal option for: Upper lip, bikini area, and underarms. Pros: New products provide easier application and require less time. Cons: Products are often messy and have an unpleasant smell. May irritate skin or cause allergic reaction. Expensive for use on larger surface areas such as legs. Tips: Check sensitivity by doing a patch test 24 hours before using. Aftercare: Remove depilatory cream completely, then wash area thoroughly. Waxing How it works: Wax, hot or cold, is applied to skin in the direction of hair growth. Once it solidifies, it is quickly stripped away against the direction of the growth, pulling the hair with it. Best hair removal option for: Bikini area, legs, eyebrows, and upper lip. Pros: Smooth results last three to five weeks. Cons: Generally very painful. Hair has to be relatively long (at least 1/4 inch) for best results. Can be messy and may cause skin irritation. Tips: Do-it-yourself kits are available, but salon treatments can be less painful and more effective. Less chance of hair breakage when done by a professional. Aftercare: Apply a rich moisturizer to soothe skin and reduce irritation. Electrolysis How it works: A very fine needle is inserted into the hair follicle, transmitting a mild electrical current designed to destroy the regenerative cells and eliminate any chance of hair growing back. Best hair removal option for: Small-to-medium-size areas, particularly on the face, such as the upper lip, chin and eyebrows. Pros: The only proven method of permanent hair removal. Cons: Expensive and time-consuming, electrolysis requires a skilled operator for best results. Tips: When selecting a professional, check to see if the person you are considering is a Certified Professional Electrologist (CPE). Aftercare: Don’t exfoliate, sunbathe, swim, or use a sauna for two to three days after treatment. Tweezing How it works: Stray hairs are plucked from the root one at a time. Best hair removal option for: Eyebrows, stray hairs missed by waxing. Pros: Inexpensive and allows for control in shaping and contouring the brows. Cons: Can be painful and slow. Touch-ups needed approximately once a week. Process can be risky for a novice. Tips: To dull pain, hold an ice-cube against the brow for a few seconds before tweezing and always pull hair out in the direction it grows. Aftercare: Soothe the freshly plucked area with a rich moisturizer. Laser Treatment How it works: A narrow beam of concentrated light is focused on small sections of skin. The light destroys hair follicles, thus preventing hair from growing back. Best hair removal option for: Face, upper lip Pros: Lasers are much less painful and faster than electrolysis. Permanent hair reduction and minimal regrowth over a period of months and years may result. Hair that regrows tends to be very fine and thin. Cons: Requires multiple treatments with each session costing about $500 and total costs ranging from $1,000 up to $5,000 or more for large areas of the body. Tips: The response to treatment is based on the patient’s hair color and skin type. Light skinned, dark-haired patients will have a more noticeable and longer-lasting response than patients with blond or red hair. Laser treatments must be performed by a licensed professional. Wondering about hair removal options? Get helpful information and advice from BeingGirl.