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Taking It All Off: A Guide to Hair Removal

Taking It All Off:
A Guide to Hair Removal

Do-It-Yourself Hair Removal Professional Hair Removal

While the hair on your head might be on your mind pretty often, you probably haven't thought much about the hair on the rest of your body until now. There are lots of ways to get rid of hair you don't want. Most methods are temporary, meaning the hair will grow back in a few days to a few weeks. Some methods, like electrolysis and laser hair removal, can be permanent. Check out this guide to learn more about different ways to stay smooth and hair-free. back to top

Do-It-Yourself Hair Removal
Shaving is one of the most common ways to get rid of hair. It's cheap, quick, and once you get the hang of it, pretty easy. It's also pain-free, unless you cut yourself! Here are the details:

Best for: Legs, underarms, and bikini line.

Tools: A razor, a good shaving gel or cream, and a hot shower or a tub filled with warm water. Shaving gel or cream is better than soap, which dries out your skin and doesn't prevent nicks very well. If it's your first time, make sure there are some Band-Aids nearby.

Mess Meter: Shaving is easy and pretty mess-free, if you do it in the bathtub or shower.

Time Till Hair Grows Back: About a day until stubble appears.


  • If it's your first time, ask your mom, an older sister, or any older female friend or relative for some advice and help, if you need it.
  • You may want to start out shaving in the bathtub. That way you don't have to worry about balancing on one leg with your other leg hanging over the bathroom sink!
  • For the closest shave, shave at the end of your shower or bath when your skin is softest.
  • Cover the area to be shaved with a thick layer of shaving gel or cream.
  • Shave in the same direction as the hair grows.
  • Don't press down too hard with the razor or you'll cut yourself. Change razor blades (or razors, if you use disposable ones) about once a week so you're not using a dull blade.
  • If you do nick yourself, dab the cut with a styptic stick or put on a Band-Aid. You can get a styptic stick at a drugstore in the same area where you buy razors and blades. back to top
Tweezing is another easy and cheap way to get rid of unwanted hair. Since you can only tweeze one hair at a time, it's a much slower method. Tweezing can hurt a lot, especially when you first try it. But it only hurts for a second.

Best for: Eyebrows, between eyebrows, and for random facial hairs.

Tools: A good pair of sharp tweezers, and rubbing alcohol.

Mess Meter: Mess-free.

Time Till Hair Grows Back: A week or so. Tweezing lasts longer than shaving because the part of the hair that's under the skin is also removed.

  • It's best to tweeze after a shower or a hot bath when the skin is soft.
  • Wash the area to be tweezed and dab with rubbing alcohol.
  • Using two fingers, pull the skin to be tweezed tightly. This will make tweezing less painful.
  • Grab the hair as close to the skin as you can and pull in the direction that the hair grows. back to top
Depilatories are creams and lotions that use chemicals to dissolve hair, while leaving the root alone. They don't hurt, but they can irritate sensitive skin. They can also cause burning and redness, especially on very sensitive areas like your face or bikini line. So before you use one, do a patch test. Here's how: Dab a bit of the product on your skin and leave it on for a few minutes. If your skin is fine, go ahead and use it.

Best for: Facial hair, including the upper lip; legs, bikini line, and underarms.

Tools: A depilatory cream or lotion (available at drugstores) and some old towels.

Mess Meter: High. There's a good chance of making a mess. Plus, the chemicals can stain clothes and towels.

Time Till Hair Grows Back: A week or so.

  • Cover the area with the cream or lotion. For very thick or coarse hair, first wet the area really well with lukewarm water.
  • Wait ten minutes (or as long as directed on the box).
  • Wipe away the cream and dissolved hair, using an old towel. Or just rinse it off in the shower. back to top
Here's the truth: Waxing is painful. After all, you're pulling out hairs by their roots. But many girls think the pain is a fair trade-off for weeks of hair-free skin. If you want to try waxing, having someone else do it, like in a salon, may be the way to go. Just a word of caution: Don't wax your face if you're using a medication like Accutane or Retin-A because it can cause very severe reactions.

Best for: legs, underarms, bikini line, upper lip, and eyebrows.

Tools: A waxing kit (available at a drugstore) and some old towels.

Mess Meter: Sky high. Waxing is very messy. If you're not careful, you can get wax all over.

Time Till Hair Grows Back: Up to six weeks. But it varies from person to person.

  • Follow the directions on the package to heat up the wax. Test the wax in a small area on the inside of your wrist to make sure it isn't too hot before you apply it.
  • Spread the wax on the area you want to wax and let it cool.
  • Quickly tear off the wax in the direction that your hair grows. As the wax comes off, your hair comes out with it. back to top
Professional Hair Removal
If it's done right, electrolysis can remove hair permanently. But it's expensive, so it's best to use this method on a small area like your upper lip. Electrolysis is not something you can do yourself. Ask your mom or another adult for the name of someone good at a nice salon. If you can't get a recommendation, check out the salon you choose before you go. Make sure it's clean and only new needles are used for electrolysis.

How it works: A fine needle is inserted into the hair follicle. A small amount of electric current travels down to the root of the hair and destroys it. It can take several visits to completely destroy all the roots. But once they are gone, the hair won't grow back. back to top

Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is the newest way to get rid of hair you don't want. It's very expensive and although it's not permanent, it can stop hair from growing back for about 6 to 8 weeks.

How it works: There are a few different types of laser hair removal. The most common type is done on skin with a little stubble. As a laser is passed over your skin, the hair follicles absorb the energy of the laser. This process damages the hair follicle and makes your hair grow back much slower.

What it feels like: You may feel a little stinging as the laser passes over your skin. Some people say it feels like a rubber band being snapped on your skin.

Who it's best for: This type of laser hair removal works best on light skin. It doesn't work as well on dark skin or on white, red, or blond hair. But there are other kinds of lasers that work well on darker skin and on lighter hair. Ask your health professional which type of laser hair removal is best for you. back to top

Last Modified Date: 4/4/2001
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