Unless you’re a tree-hugger who doesn’t mind fur pads under your arms, you have to deal with hair removal. Tedious? Yes. Painful? Oh yeah. Fun? Don’t think so!
Fortunately there are new ways and new products that can get you baby-smooth without much fuss. Here are seven things you may not know about hair removal – but should.
1. Razors. Men’s razors once had an edge in the world of shaving because they had more blades. But women’s products have closed the gender gap (What were they waiting for?) with new models featuring up to five blades. The additional blades give you a much closer shave and help eliminate nicks and bumps. Make sure to lather with a rich shaving cream first (they come in fabulous fruity scents) and never, EVER use soap.
2. Depilatories. There was a time when using a depilatory cream left you smelling like chemicals for three days – but not anymore. The new creams are mixed with more pleasing scents and work much faster than they used to. No more sitting around for 15 minutes with stinky goop running down your legs. In fact, the newest products come in gels and sprays that stay in place – some are even waterproof, so you can finish your shower before wiping the hair off with a washcloth.
3. Wax. You can now wax at home with spa results! The newest at-home kits contain professional-quality wax to minimize those AWFUL post-treatment bumps (How annoying are those?) The gentlest versions (like Nair Salon Divine Microwavable Body Wax Kit — $12, at drugstores) contain an ingredient that makes the wax softer and more pliable. How does that benefit you? It’ll stick to your hair and not your skin. Also look for pellon strips rather than the traditional muslin ones. You’ll get a better grip on the hair because the material is stiffer and less porous – which means the wax won’t seep through.
4. Ingrown hairs. Who wants to trade unsightly hair for even more unsightly red bumps? Ingrown hairs are caused by either bacteria entering the follicle after you pull out a hair or by new growth getting caught under the skin. So how do you fix it? Products that contain glycolic or salicylic acid unclog pores and give you that silky smooth skin you’re looking for. Two to try are Queen Bee Buzz Off Bumps cleansing pads ($26, queenbeewaxing.com) and Art of Shaving Ingrown Hair Night Cream ($40, theartofshaving.com).
5. Lasers. Just a few years ago, lasers were only effective on people with dark hair and fair skin, but now laser therapy is an option for darker-skinned women as well. That’s because newer lasers now target the pigment in the hair rather than the pigment in the skin. Yes, the treatment is pricey – at $500-$800 per session for arms and legs (and you’ll need a few sessions) – and it’s still somewhat uncomfortable (relax, there are pain-relieving options). But once the hair is gone – it’s GONE! Sweet!
6. Growth-inhibiting creams. Now this is cool. Vaniqa, a prescription cream with the chemical eflornithine, blocks the enzyme necessary for hair growth and keeps you smooth longer between hair removal – no matter which method you choose.
7. Epilators. This isn’t your mom’s “epi”– that draconian torture device of the ‘80s that HAD to have been designed by a man. Today’s epilators won’t make you want to hurl yourself out of the window – thanks to a change in design. Instead of that beastly rotating coil that yanked on your hair (and skin) – new models use rows of itty-bitty tweezers to gently lift (notice the word “gently”?), loosen and remove even the smallest strands of hair.
8. NO! NO! This new device promises a revolutionary new concept in hair removal, a thermodynamic wire to transmit the heat to the hair, which translated means it burns up the hair. It ain’t cheap at $175 but if it works it could save us a lot or razor nicks!