With shorts-and-swimsuit season upon us, it’s time to take it off: Yes, we’re talking about unwanted hair. Whether you prefer to defuzz at home or leave it in the capable hands of a professional, you have loads of options. Read on for our head-to-toe guide to staying sleek and stubble-free all summer long.
Best for: Underarms, legs, and the bikini line. The Drill: The blade slices exposed hairs on the skin’s surface. Razors with a pivoting head glide more easily over knees and ankles. Pros: It’s convenient, costeffective, and basically painless. Cons: Quick regrowth and the potential for nicks and razor burn. Avoid both by using shaving cream, “and swap blades after eight uses,” says Jessica Anawalt Johnson, an aesthetician in Portland, Maine. Cost: From $1 a razor, dollarshaveclub.com
Best for: Anywhere—body or face. The Drill: Hot wax is smeared on skin, then ripped away using a cloth strip, removing hairs at their roots. Pros: Wax’s malleability works for areas large (legs) and small (brows). The effects last up to four weeks. Cons: You should avoid products containing retinol or glycolic acid and procedures like peels, microdermabrasion, and lasers afterward. “They can trigger irritation and redness,” says New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco. Cost: From $3 for an at-home kit; from $7 at a salon.
Best for: Small patches, like the upper lip, brows, stomach, and bikini line. The Drill: A fine needle, inserted into the opening of the hair follicle, delivers a small shock of electric current to destroy the cells responsible for hair growth. Pros: It’s well suited to any skin and hair color, and it’s the only hair-removal method the FDA considers to be permanent. Cons: The resulting redness, swelling, and scabbing can be painful. Cost: From $30 to $500 at a salon, depending on the area treated.
Best for: Dark, thick hairs; facial hair; hard-to-reach hairs, like on the back or bikini line. The Drill: Lasers like the ND:Yag and Lumenis Light Sheer Diode emit a beam of light that’s absorbed by pigment in hair, disabling the follicle and halting new growth. Pros: Results are long-lasting though not permanent. (Biannual touch-ups may be necessary.) Cons: The pain is tolerable but unpleasant—like a rubber band repeatedly snapped against your skin. Cost: From $200 for an at-home device; from $80 at a salon.
Best for: Brows and facial fuzz. The Drill: This centuries-old method from India uses a cotton thread that is twisted into a mini-lasso to yank out individual hairs. Pros: It’s chemical-free and fast. Threaders can remove a whole row of hair in one tug. Cons: The ouch factor can be high, and so is irritation, as the thread rubs over the same spot repeatedly. Also, “one end of the thread is placed in the technician’s mouth, so make sure a new string is used for each client,” says Johnson. Cost: From $5 at a salon.
Best for: Legs. The Drill: In this approach, said to date back to 1900 B.C. Persia, a mix of sugar, glycerin, lemon, and water creates a sticky, waxlike substance that’s applied to hair, then removed in one swift pull with a sturdy cloth strip. Pros: Sugaring is a “great alternative for sensitive skin types that react to the additives in wax,” says Fusco. The gooey nature makes it effective on short stubble. Cons: It’s very sticky, so it tugs at skin more than wax does. Cost: From $30 at a salon.