Although hair removal wasn't always the norm, it's becoming increasingly more popular in the past few decades. Not everyone prefers being hairless, but if you tend to shave your legs and/or underarms, you know that it can be a huge pain — both literally and figuratively. With summer upon us, you may be scoping out hacks to make hair removal easier, and therefore quicker and less irritating.
Eradicating those pesky strands does not always come easily. If only we could simply wax or shave and call it a day — the actual process involves much trial and error, special techniques, and a slew of general advice to follow. Whether you are a newbie to hair removal or a seasoned expert looking to alleviate the pain, it is always beneficial to do research before going under the razor blade/laser/waxing strip.
Preparing your body is especially crucial before any hair removal process. I know what you're thinking — these steps seem unnecessary, but don't underestimate them. Procedures such as exfoliating may add a handful of minutes to your bathroom time, but they will change the way you shave in the long run.
No matter whether you wax, shave, laser, or epilate, follow these nine steps and watch as your hair removal process changes for the better.
1. Shower Before
Count showering as the crucial first step — after all, your body is essentially the blank, clean canvas post rinse. According to Good Housekeeping, your skin should be hydrated and hairs should be softened before any removal occurs. This not only decreases pain, but can prevent razor burns, bumps, and ingrown hairs.
Once I introduced exfoliating to my shaving routine, the world changed. Exfoliation removes dead skin layers, ensuring that you'll have a smooth, silky slate to work with — plus, regular exfoliation will help lessen the likelihood of ingrown hairs. However, you should exfoliate before any hair removal — exfoliating after may cause irritation since your skin will still be in its sensitive stage.
Slather up! Hair removal may leave your skin feeling and looking like a dream, but it is also important to note that it can leave your skin dry and lackluster. To properly quench your skin, apply a moisturizer after hair removal to hydrate and restore to a healthy state.
While it may be tempting to just dive into your hair removal process with untamed hair, just know that it will make your life easier if you do a little maintenance beforehand. The Huffington Post recommends that hair be "about one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch" before waxes. However, don't get too snip-happy and trim too much — if there is not enough hair for product to grab onto, it will leave much to be desired. The same applies to shaving too; keep hairs at a managable length.
5. Don't Shave In Between
If you're team waxing, then you are probably familiar with the amorphous between appointments stage. Though waxing usually lasts for three to six weeks, you should resist the urge to shave or tweeze between waxes according to POPSUGAR. In fact, the more you shave, the more hair will grow back quicker and coarser — a big no no if you've already spent a fortune on waxes. Instead, Noemi Grupenmager, CEO and founder of Uni K Wax Centers, suggested to the publication that you opt for touch-up appointments if you truly need to clean up before your next wax.
6. Wait For The Right Time
Not every day is a good day for hair removal. Courtney Sheets of Marie-Lou & D Maison de Beaute told Teen Vogue that pain tolerance is at its peak between 3 p.m and 5 p.m, so if you can, book any waxing or laser appointments during then. Furthermore, avoid intense hair removal processes during your period — your body is especially sensitive at that point time.
7. Use Baby Powder
I swear by baby powder and it has done me wonders. Simply sprinkle on your skin post-shaving or epilating — this will prevent chafing from clothing and cool down your skin.
8. Shave Against The Grain
For a long time, I was completely unaware that when it comes shaving, direction matters. Lauren Conrad suggests shaving against the hair growth to ensure a close, smooth shave. Start from the ankle and work your way up, but when it comes to your underarms, it is best to shave at every angle — Conrad finds that shaving "up and down and then in an "X" shape does the trick."
9. Find The Right Hair Removal Method For You
Remember, at the end of the day, you decide which hair removal method is right for you. Though you may feel inclined to hop on the epilator or laser wagon because you friends are, don't just settle — choose what makes you feel most comfortable. Different methods fit different lifestyles, and you must factor in cost, convenience, effectiveness, and pain tolerance as well. It's up to you to weigh the pros and cons!
Images: PeopleImages/E+/Getty Images, Giphy (4), Courtesy Brands
Happy shopping! FYI, Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which were added independently from Bustle's sales and editorial departments after publication.