The Ultimate Guide to Getting Rid of Unwanted Body Hair

Sam Escobar, April Franzino
Photo credit: dardespot - Getty Images

From Good Housekeeping

No matter the time of year, many people want the look and feel of silky-smooth skin. But when it comes to hair removal, there are different products and techniques for all the areas of your body, the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab has found: underarm fuzz, coarse arm hair, leg stubble, the bikini area and more. Here's everything you need to know to stay fuzz-free.

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 who shave, Los Angeles dermatologist Christine Choi Kim, M.D. recommends waiting until your skin is hydrated from the shower or bath.

Soften first with shaving cream, foam, or oil (like our GH Beauty Award winner below) to guard skin and improve glide, rinse the razor's blades often to unclog, and replace them about every two weeks for maximum safety and efficacy, the GH Beauty Lab recommends. Dr. Kim also suggests applying Tend Skin skin-calming treatment if you tend to get ingrown hairs or razor bumps easily.

Waxing is another option for your bikini line. "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, a bikini wax may be your best option. "It lasts around three to six weeks," says Noemi Grupenmager, founder of Uni K Wax. The GH Beauty Lab advises making sure skin is completely dry before waxing (try soaking up moisture with baby powder if needed).

How to Remove Hair From Your Legs

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. Heidi Waldorf, M.D., director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, advises using a sharp razor as well as a moisturizing foam, cream, or gel, like her pick below.

"Exfoliating with a body scrub twice during the week or up to two days prior to any form of hair removal will help" prevent ingrown hair and bumps, says Grupenmager. Just be sure to avoid exfoliating directly after you shave, when your skin is most sensitive.

Another hair-removal method many know and love: depilatory cream. You may recall the potent-smelling formulas of years past, but new-and-improved concoctions promise to be less irritating and more nose-friendly, like the GH Beauty Lab's top-tested pick by GiGi below.

"Depilatory creams use chemicals such as calcium thioglycolate or potassium thioglycolate, which break disulfide bonds in keratin, thereby weakening the hair," Dr. Kim explains. 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, the Beauty Lab recommends.

If you have a higher pain tolerance and prefer to keep regrowth at bay, consider waxing, as it normally lasts between three and six weeks.

How to Remove Hair From Your Underarms

Underarm hair grows almost 50% faster than the hair on your legs, according to the experts who make Gillette Venus razors, so shaving on a daily or every-other-day basis makes sense for those who don't want hair there. 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," Grupenmager says. Consult a dermatologist 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," Dr. Waldorf explains. "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.

How to Remove Hair From Your Forearms

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, like the kind found in the Beauty Lab's top-tested kit below. Unlike hot wax, these pre-coated strips are applied at room temperature, require minimal effort, and can be used at home, says New York City dermatologist Doris Day, M.D.

Over time, waxing 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, try an easy-to-use depilatory cream, like the Beauty Lab's top-tested pick below.

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