I’ve been removing (some) of my body hair since I was thirteen. My mom first taught me how to shave, & I’m currently shaving as well. Body hair removal isn’t necessary for hygiene, but most women (me included) prefer to do it for aesthetic reasons.
While shaving is kind of the beginning & end of body hair removal for me, as a beauty enthusiast & blogger, I’ve tried almost every other form of hair removal that there is. No one method is ‘perfect’, it’s all about finding what’s right for you, so today I thought I’d compare all the other prominent forms of body hair removal with shaving & see how they stack up & tell you why I choose shaving to have smooth arms & legs.
Methods of Body Hair Removal
If you want to remove body hair, there are so many different ways to go about it. I’m going to consider the four most popular ones – waxing, epilating, depilatory creams & laser hair removal.
Waxing is one of the most popular ways to remove body hair in India – primarily because salon ladies love to say that shaving causes hair to grow back thicker & skin to go dark over time (it’s a myth) & that repeated waxing reduces hair growth (it doesn’t). It’s worth noting that salon owners & staff love saying anything to get you to avail more services, I’ve been coaxed & cajoled to bleach my face because it would somehow help my acne & oily skin (what is the correlation??????) thankfully I didn’t give in.
Outright lies aside, I see the lure – it’s a non chemical way of yanking out hair from the root, the waxed area usually stays completely hair free for close to a week. What’s not to love? I waxed for a few years, it was especially nice before a beach vacation. It is definitely a little painful but since a large section of hair is removed at one time, it’s over fairly quickly too. But there were also a ton of annoyances. The cost aspect. One session of hand & leg waxing even at a humble neighbourhood beauty parlour costs more than a razor, which I can use for up to three months. So while it doesn’t seem like a very expensive method, the costs do stack up, & if you go in even once monthly, you would be spending a significant amount of money in a year. And let’s not forget the waxing schedule. If you’re a regular waxer, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Waxing can only be done when the hair is a certain minimum length, so you have to mentally plan out your forthcoming sessions in advance, which is pretty silly when you give any real thought to it.
You also have to visit a parlour to do so. There was one pretty close to our old apartment so it was easy to get it done then. But it became much harder when we moved as the parlour wasn’t as close anymore. It was about a 15 minute walk & rickshaws would never agree to go, you know the struggle. I know a few friends ever started DIY waxing at home cos it’s convenient & cost efficient. I tried it one or two times but I found it really difficult to pull of the strips myself, there’s a certain knack to it that I could not get.
So I still kept going to the parlour for a couple of years; that was until… the rashes started.
I wouldn’t call it a rash maybe but I used to get angry red boils on my hands & legs around 12 hours after it was done. I was surprised the first time it happened but then it started to happen every single time. I did a little research & found out that it was an allergy of sorts that a lot of people with sensitive skin face – When hair is removed from the root during waxing, your body views this as an assault or skin trauma. In response, your body’s immune system kicks in and you start producing histamine. Histamine is produced within the cells at the site of the trauma. It was a little strange to me that I could undergo waxing for a good few years without much issue, but allergies or sensitivities do sometimes randomly pop up & although it was something I could calm with anti-histamines (anti allergy medication), I decided it was time to give up waxing & look for less violent methods of hair removal.
Epilating is another method I’ve used a lot in my life. It’s a method wherein hair is removed from the root (similar to waxing) with an epilator, a small electronic device. The beauty of it is that the device is totally portable, travel friendly & rechargeable. Also it might be viewed as slightly gentler method, as waxing sometimes removes cells from the upper layer of the skin, & epilating does not. Modern epilators are often used wet & dry, so that is another great option that gives you a lot of flexibility.
The downsides of epilating is that a good epilator can be quite an investment (anywhere between ₹5,000 – ₹10,000). And whereas waxing is over rather quickly, epilating is a very slow process depending on your hair growth. I have a pretty thick growth & epilating just my entire legs can take 30 minutes or more, if I want to be through. I do also find it pretty painful as it’s like mechanised tweezers pulling your hair out constantly, bit by bit. (Can’t believed those TV ads fooled me as a kid!) If you’re not sensitive to pain this might be a good option but I wasn’t able to keep up epilating.
Since the last year or so I love using epilators to remove facial hair, as I have much less facial hair as compared to body hair, & epilation removes it quickly. I just need to do it once a week (or less) & I’m set.
Hair Removal Creams
Hair removal creams are another fairly popular method of removing body hair. Growing up, I had an aunt who loved to use them & the main thing I can remember about them is the awful stink! Modern hair removal creams aren’t as stinky though (doesn’t mean they don’t stink) & seem to be a good option. So of course I had to try them.
They’re another pretty easy method. The cream comes in a tube, you can apply it in the comfort of your home & within 5-10 minutes depending on the brand, it dissolves the hair & can be rinsed off. It takes out hair at the skin level (similar to shaving, complete opposite of waxing & epilating) & there is zero pain involved. The tube also means it’s really travel friendly.
It’s not like I use only natural products but I was very skeptical about the fact that the cream actually dissolves all the hair – it’s supposed to be safe for the skin, but I was definitely a little concerned about long term usage of this. I once absent mindedly used it over a very minor skin irritation & it got a lot worse – It was definitely my fault as you aren’t supposed to use the cream if you have any rash, cuts, breakouts or anything of that nature. But after that, I thought it better to stop now. I definitely don’t think this is a good method even if your skin is mildly sensitive.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is quite different to all the other methods presented on this list, but it’s still pretty popular in India (especially for brides to be). Firstly the name is a bit of a misnomer, as even multiple sessions only reduce hair, not remove it. Plus, it’s most efficient on fair skin with thick, dark hair so if you don’t fall in that bracket, you might not be right for it.
I only did a single session of laser hair removal a few years ago on my underarms, & it was pretty underwhelming. Similar to waxing, you had to grow out the hair on whichever part of your body you want to have it done. The session definitely did sting a little bit, not unbearable. The hair did take little longer to grow back, but grow back it did (& I didn’t notice that much of a reduction in growth either). I wasn’t impressed enough to go again, frankly.
Other Forms of Hair Removal
I thought I’d briefly mention any other methods that I’ve heard of but haven’t tried, one of them being electrolysis. I was always under the impression that Electrolysis is just another (more technical?) name for laser hair removal so I did a bit of research & turns out I couldn’t be more wrong. Electrolysis is more expensive, invasive, time consuming & painful that laser hair removal. The description of the procedure sort of horrified me & it’s definitely not one I’m interested in trying out, even if the results are more long term.
Why I Choose to Shave
I’ve mentioned on my previous hair removal posts, I was first taught to shave & after dabbling in a lot of methods, I shaved almost exclusively last year. There are a lot of reasons why I absolutely love doing it – it’s safe, painless (unless you cut yourself, which is rare), compact (making it very travel friendly) and incredibly affordable. The razor that I use, Gillette Venus is one that’s created for the contour’s of a woman’s body. The quality is top notch, it’s good looking & practical, the grip helps prevent slippage. And it costs a mere₹199. One cartridge (blades) will last 2-3 months depending on how often you shave & when you need to replace it, a pack of two cartridges costs ₹275. The Satin Care shave gel is not a necessity for shaving, but it just made it so much more enjoyable. My skin was left softer & the foam helped me miss less spots. It’s another super affordable product at just ₹225, & it does last a very long time I definitely recommend it! Better still, if it’s your first time shaving you can choose to buy the Gillette Venus Shaving Kit (which has everything you need – razor, cartridge & gel) at a discounted cost.
You can adjust your shaving frequency depending on hair growth. My hair is thick but it doesn’t grow too fast, if I’m at home I tend to shave around twice a week or so. If I’m on a beach vacation & want smooth legs every single day, I sometimes shave every alternate day. That’s what works for me. It’s totally safe even to shave daily if you want, you will just have to change your cartridge a bit
Finally, I did get a couple of questions on instagram that I thought I’ll address here – Sam had concerns about ingrown hair & shaving causes rashes. Regarding the first one, ingrown hair is always a possibility in any form of body hair removal unfortunately. The one, easy way to prevent them is to add some sort of regular exfoliation to your shower time, whether it’s a body polisher / scrub or manual exfoliation. Regarding rashes, that isn’t something I’ve experienced with shaving (only waxing) but I’d advise always shaving in the shower, after the hot water & steam has had a chance to open your pores a bit. Dry shaving is a huge no-no & should never be done (even if you’re shaving in a hurry, make sure you run some cold water on your skin first) & secondly make sure you aren’t using a razor with blunt or damaged blades / cartridges. It’s important to replace them as soon as they don’t glide smoothly, whether you’re using a regular razor like mine or disposable.
I hope all of my experiences with hair removal will help you make the decision right for you. If you remove your body hair, what’s your preferred method & why? Let’s chat in the comments! x