Temporary Body Hair Removal Methods

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Body hair removal methods that are temporary in nature are usually inexpensive and easy to perform. Many can be performed in the home. This page provides information on the most common temporary hair removal methods.

Plucking Hair Removal

Plucking, as a hair removal technique is simple, cheap, effective, but very time consuming because hairs are only removed one at a time. 

woman plucking hair from eyebrow as temporary hair removal

It is usually performed with good quality tweezers and involves a sharp yanking motion to remove the hair. If performed properly, this method removes the hair at the follicle and results can last from two to six weeks. The hair to be removed must be long enough that the tweezers are able to firmly grasp the hair. Otherwise, the hair may simply break and not be removed at the root as desired.

Plucking is suitable for shaping eyebrows and for removal of unwanted stray hairs from the face or any area of the body.

Threading Method

This body hair removal technique involves the use of a cotton thread. It is quick, inexpensive, and suitable for small areas of the body. The thread is wrapped around the hair to be removed by a rolling motion and then yanked in order to remove the hair out by the root. The procedure can be painful and result in skin reddening or puffiness. In order to get the desired results, individuals skilled in this technique normally perform the threading.

Facial areas such as the upper lip, eyebrows, chin, sideburns, and cheeks are normally treated with this method. These areas can remain free of significant amounts of hair for at least a couple of weeks and up to five or six weeks.

Removing Hair with Shaving

Shaving is the most common body hair removal method for men and women. It is also very inexpensive, easy to do, and very temporary because the hair is removed at the skin’s surface and not at the follicle. For men, shaving of the face results in the removal of hair for about a day. For men and women, body hair removal with shaving lasts approximately four days.

women shaving is a common hair removal method for the legs

Areas commonly shaved are the face for men and the legs, underarms, and bikini/pubic areas for women. However, the desire for body hair removal is a personal preference and there are no rules for men and women as to which part of the body should or should not be shaved.

The disadvantage of shaving certain body areas as compared to the face for men is that the skin can be very sensitive and irritation is likely. To minimize this irritation, moisten the area to be shaved with warm water and appropriate shaving cream. This is best performed in the shower. Sensitive skin areas should be shaved in the direction of hair growth to minimize cuts and irritation. Never shave areas that have been irritated by previous shaves until the skin heals. If shaving continues, without proper skin healing then further irritation and infections are possible. Always use a sharp clean blade. A dull blade can lead to ingrown hairs.

Shaving can also be performed with an electric razor or hair can be trimmed significantly with a good quality hair trimmer. However, wet shaving generally results in a closer shave and smoother look to the skin. Selecting the type of razor and foam or gel to use comes down to what works best for you. Experiment with a variety of products to determine which combination is best for your skin. More information on shaving creams is provided here.

Contrary to popular belief, this body hair removal technique does not result in the hair becoming thicker, darker, or faster growing. However, when the hair starts to grow back (stubble) it is very course and may appear darker.

Visit shaving as a hair removal technique for additional shaving tips.

Mechanical Epilators

This body hair removal method uses a mechanical device to pull the hair out of the skin. These devices commonly use a rubber roller or coiled spring, which grab the hair and pull it out at the root. There is some pain associated with this body hair removal technique and hairs tend to be missed. The hair needs to be at least one quarter of an inch long for the mechanical epilator to function effectively.

The use of this body hair removal procedure is not recommended for sensitive skin areas such as the face, genitals, or armpits.

Chemical Depilatories

Chemical depilatories are hair removal gels, creams or lotions containing chemicals that dissolve the protein structure of hair and result in the formation of a jelly-like substance.

hair removal cream or chemical depilatory cream

This method of body hair removal is normally used on the legs, arms, underarms, and bikini/pubic area. It is quick (about 10 to 15 minutes are required), painless, and inexpensive and well suited for home use. Different formulations of these depilatory products are available depending on the sex of the individual and which body part the hair is being removed from.

The chemicals used can be quite harsh and may cause a contact dermatitis type reaction. Chemical burns and subsequent scarring or other skin damage can also occur if the instructions are not followed closely. Spot testing is recommended before using any chemical product in large amounts to ensure no allergic skin reaction occurs. Use of chemical depilatories may lead to an increase in acne and ingrown hairs.

Usually the skin will remain hair free from three to seven days.

Bleaching of Hair

Technically speaking, bleaching of hair is not a body hair removal technique. However, it is a method which can be used to make unwanted hair less noticeable. The process involves the application of a chemical that bleaches the pigment in the hair. The treatment generally lasts for up to three weeks. Target areas of the body where bleaching is normally used are the arms, face (especially the upper lip), neck, and bikini areas. The method works best when the hair is thin.

The use of this method can lead to some temporary skin discolouration. Other side effects may include skin irritation such as allergic reaction, stinging, redness, burning sensation, a rash, and acne. There may also be some degree of skin damage because of the harsh chemicals that are used. Frequent use, can lead to contact dermatitis type problems or premature skin aging.

Waxing Hair Removal Technique

This is a relatively inexpensive and arguably the most effective temporary body hair removal technique. The process involves placing warm or hot wax on the surface of the skin in the direction of the hair growth and then placing a cloth strip onto the wax. As the wax cools, it attaches to the hair. 

waxing hair removal on legs for temporary body hair removal

The strip is then pulled away quickly in the opposite direction of hair growth. This results in the hair being pulled out of the skin from its roots. Cold waxes that are attached to strips can also be used. These strips are placed firmly on the skin and then stick to the hairs. The strip is then removed in a rapid pulling motion. For efficient body hair removal, the hair should be at least 1 cm long before using the waxing procedure.

The waxing body hair removal method may be painful depending on the individual and can irritate the skin for a few days after the procedure. Some waxing kits include pain-reducing gels to ease the discomfort from the procedure. It is a good idea to protect the skin from the sun for at least a couple of days after treatment in order to avoid skin pigmentation type problems.

Test a small area of the skin to check for allergic reaction or other skin sensitivity to the product intended to be used. Do not wax skin that is irritated, sunburned, or broken or being treated with products that weaken the skin such as Retin-A. Avoid body areas such as inside the nose and ears and the eyelashes and areas that contain varicose veins, moles, and warts. Also, waxing is not advisable for individuals with diabetes.

Waxing is usually performed on the legs, arms, underarms, face, and bikini/pubic area, but may be used on others areas such as the stomach, back, and chest. It is a very effective method for removing large amounts of hair all at once. Results can last up to six weeks. With successive waxing treatments, often the hair grows back at a slower rate and becomes finer. In each waxing session, some hair roots are permanently destroyed, leading to less and less hair re-growing in the treated area.

Waxing can be performed professionally or over the counter products are available for home use.

Sugaring Body Hair Removal

This body hair removal technique is very similar to the waxing method. It is fast and cheap and can be performed effectively at home. A warm thick sugary and sticky paste with the consistency of caramel is placed on the skin in the direction of the hair growth. The sugary mixture traps the hair. A cloth or paper strip is then placed on the substance and pulled off in a quick motion that is opposite to the direction of hair growth. The hairs are removed at the root or follicle.

Like waxing, sugaring can be used on the legs, arms, underarms, face, and bikini/pubic area. Some pain occurs as the hair is pulled out of the skin and some skin irritation can occur after the procedure. Hair re-growth can take up to six weeks, but may start to appear in about three weeks. As was the case for waxing, the hair may be finer than it was before the treatment and may eventually reduce in amount.

This hair removal method can be more desirable that the traditional waxing method because the clean up is easier. For waxing, any left over wax may need to be peeled or picked off depending on the formulation of the wax, which may add to the discomfort of the procedure. For sugaring, a water rinse is all that is required to dissolve any substance that is left after the body hair removal treatment. In addition, it is a suitable alternative for individuals whose skin does not react well to the waxing body hair removal method.

What is your Preferred Hair Removal Method?

Many individuals struggle to find the best hair removal method. From shaving to waxing, what method and tips would you recommend?

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