We Tried 7 Different Hair-Removal Methods & Here's What Happened

Photographed by Brayden Olson.
Hairy limbs, pits, and nether regions have become quite a contentious subject in recent years. While some have celebrated body hair, others feel more comfortable removing it. Is there a right or wrong way? No. Whether you want to be as smooth as a baby's bottom or you'd rather let your hair grow out — you do you, always.

With summer approaching, we decided to test out a few different methods for those of you who do want to remove hair, but may be looking for an alternative to the standard razor. From waxing to epilation (and even the more permanent laser), seven Refinery29 employees documented their hair-ridding experiences for your reading pleasure. Check it out in the slides ahead.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What: In-salon waxing
Who: Ray Lowe, fashion market writer

Do you normally remove your body hair, and if so, how do you normally do it?
"My go-to is your standard shaving cream plus razor. Usually I'll shave once or twice a week, but [recently] it’s more like every few weeks."

Before you tried your new hair-removal method, how did you feel?
"I was decently nervous, but for absurd reasons. Popular media and firsthand horror stories have always painted a Brazilian wax to be one of the most painful things a woman could go through. All I could envision going into it was a screaming Steve Carell as he gets his very furry chest waxed in The 40-Year-Old Virgin."

What was the process like?
"I walked into [Jin Soon Spa for a Brazilian] and was brought into a sectioned-off room, where I was instructed to remove my underwear and roll up my dress. I then lay down on a very clinical table, which didn’t improve my nerves. As soon as the aesthetician came in, she got straight to business. She asked a few questions at the start: how much hair I wanted to remove, if I had any concerns (I told her I'm 50 levels of ticklish), and to let her know if the wax ever felt too hot.

"The rest of the process was 20 minutes of warm wax being oozed onto my body and rips with a pad of paper. Mostly I kept my eyes shut, focusing on my breathing for the painful parts. The aesthetician cleaned me up after it was over and spread a bit of [soothing] cream over the freshly waxed areas."

What were the results?
"Ultimately, I looked like a newborn baby. When I shave, I personally like to leave a small landing strip so being this bare was a new experience. A couple days post-wax, I experienced a smattering of whiteheads along the top of my pubic area. After looking online, I took the advice of veteran waxers and began using a gentle exfoliator. While that method quickly eliminated the whiteheads, the pimple-like bumps persisted for a good week after the wax.

"My skin felt a little irritated and red closer to my labia, but other than that, I didn't feel any discomfort during the day and completely forgot I had a wax as soon as I hopped on the subway home."

Would you do it again?
"They're much too expensive for my taste... If I were going on vacation where bringing (and consistently using) a razor just wasn’t ideal, then I'd definitely do it again. But for every day? I think I'm happy with my completely pain-free shaving method."
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2 of 8
Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What: Epilator
Who: Anna Sudit, designer

Do you normally remove your body hair, and if so, how do you normally do it?
"I get lasered, but I am pretty bad about keeping up with it; I wax between treatments because I hate shaving."

Before you tried your new hair-removal method, how did you feel?
"I was really excited to try an epilator. I've never tried it before, but have a friend who did it and loved it. She did say it was pretty painful, though, but people say that tweezing their eyebrows is painful."

What was the process like?
"It took me a little [while] to figure out which part [of the Braun Silk-épil 9] goes where and what it's used for and how, but it's actually pretty straightforward. There are two main parts: One is a trimmer, which helps trim any longer hairs before epilating (the longer the hair, the more pain). The second part is the actual epilator. There are two speeds, [but] personally, I don't see a point in the slower speed so I go with the fast one. You go against the growth of the hairs, and the machine just pulls your hairs out in a fast, rolling [motion]. It's really fast, but sometimes it misses hairs and you have to go back a few times."

What were the results?
"Right after using it, my skin was red and maybe a bit bumpy, too, similar to how your skin is after waxing. I used it at night, so I checked in the mirror when I woke up and it was still a bit red, but much, much better. The next day any redness and irritation was gone, and my skin was super-smooth. It's been almost a week since I used it, and no hair has shown signs of growing back yet."

Would you do it again?
"Yeah, totally. I basically feel like I don't need to go and spend money on getting waxed, because the epilator gives similar results but it's less messy and I can do it myself... I feel like I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so...this is, for sure, my number-one go-to hair-removal technique now."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What: Depilatory cream
Who: Ana Colón, fashion news writer

Do you normally remove your body hair, and if so, how do you normally do it?
"Yes. [I shave.] I also wax my eyebrows and lip."

Before you tried your new hair-removal method, how did you feel?
"I was excited, as I'm always looking for alternative — and pain-free! — solutions to hair removal. I'd heard about Nair before, but hadn't tried it out. Nerves set in when I read the sternly worded instructions on the side of the box about the correct way to apply the product and the maximum amount of time it should be on your skin."

What was the process like?
"I tested out three areas: bikini, armpits, and legs. For the former, I used Nair Bikini Cream (Sensitive Formula); for the other two, Nair Shower Power (Sensitive Formula with Sunflower Seed Oil). I actually ended up doing everything twice: The first time, I didn't apply enough product for it to do anything. (The packaging instructs a thick, even layer, and I was purposely a little conservative.) The second time around, though, I had a little more success. For the bikini area, I had to let the product do its thing for six minutes before gently removing it with a moistened towel. While I waited, I applied the other Nair cream under my arms and on my legs with a special two-faced sponge: the smooth side for application, the ridged one for removal. Once four minutes passed, I was to massage the Nair-coated area with the bumpy side in a circular motion. I did all of this in the shower, so I rinsed and showered as normal."

What were the results?
"Right after I got out of the shower, there was some irritation under my arms (funnily enough, in almost mirrored spots on the left and right armpit). Also, the hair under my arms wasn't totally gone. Instead, it was a bit stubbly — closer cut than when I shave, though. Plus, it has lasted longer. My legs and bikini area were fine: No irritation, and I'm satisfied with the removal."

Would you do it again?

"Unsure. I'll probably do it again for bikini hair removal, since it was painless and worked like a charm. I think I may stick to shaving for armpits and legs, since it had more or less the same results, except Nair would add a few minutes. (I know! What a sacrifice!) Also, since I missed certain spots on my legs and bikini area, I had to go back and shave anyway."
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4 of 8
Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What: Sugaring
Who: Nicola Pardy, associate social editor

Do you normally remove your body hair, and if so, how do you normally do it?
"I normally get a professional bikini wax every three to four weeks. The place I go has a chocolate-based wax, which is supposedly better for sensitive skin, so I usually opt for that."

Before you tried your new hair-removal method, how did you feel?
"I was excited because, aside from shaving, I hadn’t really tried other forms of hair removal. I was also curious because what I had heard about sugaring sounded pretty weird. My friends who had tried it described having a giant, sticky ball rolled all over them, so I was intrigued..."

What was the process like?
"The technician [at Sugaring NYC] used a glob of melted sugar, which had a honey-like texture, about the size of a baseball. She spread the glob across a small strip of hair, then peeled it off in one quick motion. Then she kneaded the sugar glob in her hands before spreading it out again across another patch of hair."

What were the results?
"The results were great. After the initial redness faded, my skin felt smooth and happy. I did notice a little irritation, though, about the same as what I’d usually see after my monthly wax. Sugaring NYC was kind enough to give me some amazing post-treatment products: I used a serum spray to minimize ingrowns right after my appointment, and an exfoliating coffee scrub a few days after — both of which were primarily derived from natural ingredients, which was a nice plus."

Would you do it again?
"Definitely. The results were on par with my usual waxing routine, but the experience was much gentler and less painful. The procedure was also super-quick (20 to 25 minutes), and it’s an added bonus that Sugaring NYC has a location right near our office."
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What: Electric razor
Who: Mi-Anne Chan, beauty editorial assistant

Do you normally remove your body hair, and if so, how do you normally do it?
"Yes, but not often. I don't have much body hair, so I normally run a razor over my legs and around my bikini area once every couple of weeks."

Before you tried your new hair-removal method, how did you feel?
"I was very skeptical. My boyfriend uses an electric razor to shave his beard, and I'm always shocked at how close of a shave he can get without a traditional blade. Still, I didn't think it would work on all areas of my body."

What was the process like?
"I grabbed my electric razor and took off all the attachments so I got the closest shave. I started with my pubic area. To my surprise, it was able to remove a lot of hair really, really quickly. Seriously, I probably had an inch of hair down there and was able to get it down to a '5 o'clock shadow' length in under three minutes. Because the electric razor is pretty large, it's hard to get into some of the (for lack of a better term) nooks and crannies, so if you want a really clean shave, I suggest going back in and cleaning things up with a traditional razor."

What were the results?
"The results were excellent. My hair was successfully tamed in under three minutes and it didn't hurt at all. I tried this on my legs and armpits, too, but ended up switching back to my regular razor for these areas (where I don't have much hair) because it was just faster to run a blade over them."

Would you do it again?
"This has definitely become my go-to hair-removal method for places where I have more hair. It doesn't hurt at all, so it makes tidying hard-to-reach zones really easy."
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6 of 8
Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What: At-home wax
Who: Cat Quinn, beauty director

Do you normally remove your body hair, and if so, how do you normally do it?
"There is only one woman in all of New York City whom I trust for my bikini wax: Natalia at Strip Ministry of Waxing. She's gentle, but firm — and peppers the appointment with hilarious tales of what actual painful hair removal back in her day was like. Somehow, it helps."

Before you tried your new hair-removal method, how did you feel?
"Trying these strips was more out of necessity than desire. (Natalia was fully booked, and I had a train to the Hamptons leaving in three hours.) I was terrified about the pain level, but not intimidated by the process — a beauty-editor friend raved about how easy these strips were to use."

What was the process like?
"Parissa Wax Strips are just as easy as they sound. You rub them between your hands to slightly warm the wax, peel them apart gently, press one side over the hairy area, and — holding your skin taut — rip it off quickly in the opposite direction of the hair growth. It's a little like using tape — but obviously way more heavy-duty (not to mention safe and non-irritating).

"There are a lot of strips like this on the market, but I prefer these because the backing is made of cellulose. For one, it's more flexible which is great for the bikini area. Two, it's biodegradable. I also like how small they are. Because the hairs in the bikini area grow in different directions, you have to be careful about how much you take off at once or risk ingrown hairs, which are never fun."

What were the results?
"I had a little redness for the first few hours, which happens after my pro waxes too. I did notice I was a bit more tender than usual, but nothing alarming. But no bumps or ingrowns, and the results lasted two to three weeks as usual."

Would you do it again?
"In a pinch, and for small areas like the bikini line or upper lip, absolutely. But I honestly don't have the patience or physical strength to spend hours doing a full leg or Brazilian. Aestheticians, I have a newfound appreciation for you."
7 of 8
Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
What: Laser hair removal
Who: Megan McIntyre, beauty features director

Do you normally remove your body hair, and if so, how do you normally do it?
"Yes, usually I shave or I just let it grow out like a Chia Pet if I'm feeling lazy."

Before you tried your new hair-removal method, how did you feel?
"Laser hair removal seemed too good to be true, so my naive side was all shiny-eyed about the prospect of trashing all my razors, while my cynical side was cataloging all the bad side effects the internet had to offer."

What was the process like?
"I had both my armpits and my bikini line lasered. You need to grow your hair out pre-appointment so the technician can see what your hair follicle looks like and if it will respond to the treatment (dark hair and light skin, both of which I have, will get the best results — yay for me). The armpits were pretty straightforward, but the bikini is where things got awkward. You sit on a table with your vagina out there getting some fresh air while the technician bends your legs around to see all of the hairs on your vulva and pubic region. It's super-fun. I designated the type of shape I wanted, and then we went to town.

"A numbing cream is applied, but in my particular case it did jack shit. The device was run systematically over each section, with a burst of light popping as they press it on the skin, kind of like a camera flash. Each flash felt like someone was using my vagina as a dartboard. So. Much. Ouch... I wish I had blacked out... When she said 'done,' I was proud of myself for tolerating it and doing a somewhat passable job of convincing myself I could handle a few more rounds of this. The smugness lasted right up until I realized that 'done' meant 'done with this one tiny section.' I cried like a tiny infant for the next 10 minutes. When I got off the table, I refused to look my poor technician in the eye. I paid, tipped, and walked out mumbling with my head hung in defeat."

What were the results?
"I was red and very tender post-laser, and was instructed to avoid harsh scrubs or exfoliants around the area, as well as to take an aspirin for the pain and swelling. What most people don't mention about laser hair removal is that it is not a one-and-done thing. You don't walk out with a pubic region as smooth and hairless as Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool chest. You have to go back and endure this hell at least three more times. My underarms took five total appointments, and the hair there is for the most part nonexistent. I have about six or seven stubborn hairs in each pit that I have to shave on occasion, but it's very low-maintenance. My bikini, unfortunately, is not the same case. I wimped out and only did three treatments, which was definitely not enough. And while the sections that were lasered have less hair, there is still hair to be shaved. The one upside is that it's a lot easier to do so."

Would you do it again?
"Well, the whole goal here was NOT to have to do it again, but clearly I failed that one. I'm too emotionally traumatized to go back in and finish my bikini, and I simply don't have the patience, or most likely the ladyballs, to attempt to do my legs. So back to shaving I go. But, at least, it's a bit easier to trim the hedges now."
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