Skip to content

For Women Only: Best Choices for Hair Removal

By Mary Jo DiLonardo

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD

WebMD Feature

When hair removal is part of your regular beauty routine, you might use several methods on different parts of your face and body. You might even be thinking about permanent removal methods so you have fewer things to do in the morning. You have many choices, so you can try different ways to make your skin smooth.

Tweezing

How it works: You pull out individual hairs by the root with tweezers.

Best for: Small areas of the face

How long it lasts: 3-8 weeks

Tips: Clean tweezers with rubbing alcohol before and after each use to lower your chance of infection.

Possible side effects: If the hair breaks off, it could grow back under the skin, causing an ingrown hair.

Shaving

How it works: Using a razor or electric shaver, you cut the hair very close to the skin. "There's a popular myth that shaving causes hair to grow back coarser," says dermatologist David Pariser, MD. "But that's not true. An unshaved hair has a tip that is tapered and soft. When you shave it, you shave off the soft tip, so it feels coarser."

Tips: If you use disposable razors or blades, wet your skin and use soap or shaving cream. Shave in the direction the hair grows. Replace your razor often -- you can cut yourself with a dull one.

Best for: It works anywhere.

How long it lasts: 1-3 days

Possible side effects: Ingrown hairs, especially in the bikini area

Waxing

How it works: A cosmetologist spreads sticky wax on your skin, then covers it with cloth strips. When the wax dries, the strips are quickly pulled off, taking the hair with them. Some types of wax can be pulled off without cloth strips.

Best for: Anywhere on the body, including the face, underarms, legs, and bikini area

How long it lasts: 3-6 weeks

Possible side effects: Redness and bumps. You could also get an infection around the hair follicles. The more often you wax, the less likely you are to have an infection.

Tips: Hair has to be at least 1/4 inch long for the wax to grab it. So let your hair grow for a few weeks before waxing.

Laser/Pulsed Light

How it works: A technician destroys the roots with strong beams of light.  "Laser hair removal really is the most effective way to have long-term hair reduction," says dermatologist Cameron Rokhsar, MD. "It's as permanent as it gets."

Best for: Laser and IPL (intense pulsed light) work anywhere on the body. It's best for women with dark hair and light skin. It won't work on white hair and doesn't work well on blond hair either.

How long it lasts: It may take between 6-12 treatments to see results. You may need to go back every 6-12 months for a touchup.

Possible side effects: Swelling or redness. Because there's also a chance of burning and scarring, it's best to have laser treatments where there's a doctor on staff, Pariser says.  

URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices