Everything You Need To Know About Hair Removal

by Miki Hayes

Hair removal is probably (read: definitely) the most annoying factor of summer. There are so many different types of hair removal, most of which are time-consuming, can be expensive, and painful. And yet, we choose to do it anyway. But if you're someone who is especially bothered by how often you have to shave, or how painful it is to wax, maybe it's time to consider the other hair-removal options. Maybe you'd prefer something a little sweeter. Maybe you'd prefer something a little more permanent.

Regardless of whether you want to alter your hair-removal style for your legs, bikini line, or underarms; depilatory creams, sugaring, laser removal, and electrolysis are all options to consider in addition to the more common shaving and waxing. Of course there are alternatives like tweezing and threading, but these generally work best for the face due to the time required and longevity they offer. So if you've ever been curious about the different types of hair removal that can be more easily used wherever you want to rid yourself of some fuzz, here's everything you need to know about shaving, depilatory cream, waxing, sugaring, laser removal, and electrolysis; and how they stack up against one another on the factors of pain, cost, and longevity.


Most of us are probably familiar with this option, but shaving works by cutting off the hair at skin-level.

How much does it hurt? Shaving is painless as long as you are careful to not cut or nick yourself. By making sure to use a proper shaving cream or oil and sharp blades, you can decrease the chance of having razor burn or any other post-shave irritation.

How much does it cost? A razor can cost anywhere from $2 to $20 depending on what type and how many blades you prefer. And again depending on your preference, replacement blades or heads can cost anywhere from $0.02 to $5 a piece (though are usually sold in packs).

How long does it last? Because hair is only removed at skin-level, it usually grows back in one to three days.

Depilatory Cream

Depilatory creams work by dissolving the hair. They are typically smeared on in thick layers over the desired area, and left on for a few minutes before needing to be wiped off. Depilatories typically remove hair at, or slightly below, skin level. However, they are not always the most effective when it comes to coarser hair. And because of the chemicals, they can have a somewhat offensive odor.

How much does it hurt? Depilatories can have a slight tingling sensation, but are typically painless. If you are experiencing any pain (usually a burning sensation), stop and wash it off. Pain means that your skin is either too sensitive or you've left the product on too long.

How much does it cost? Depilatory creams can be purchased at drugstores for around $4 to $14.

How long does it last? Because the hair is removed, at best, slightly under skin-level, it will usually start to grow back in one to three days.


Waxing is one of the more painful options, but because it involves removing hair from the root, it also lasts longer. This method works by applying wax to the skin, which sticks to hairs. The wax is then quickly ripped off (sometimes with a cloth strip, sometimes without), pulling the hairs out with it. The procedure is relatively quick, so even larger areas like the legs can be waxed in a trivial amount of time. However, because the wax needs to be able to stick to the hair, hair needs to be at least a quarter of an inch long before waxing. This means that hair needs to be given some time to grow out between waxes.

How much does it hurt? Waxing is like pulling off very large, very sticky bandages. Especially the first time (and depending on where you're waxing) can be painful. There are even tips about how to make it less painful. However, if you rely on waxing as a primary form of hair removal, hair will become finer over time, making the waxing experience subsequently less painful over time.

How much does it cost? To have it professionally done, waxing costs, on average, between $15 and $80 depending on the area. Waxing strips and kits can be purchased for at-home use ranging from $5 to $50.

How long does it last? After waxing, it usually takes about three to six weeks for hair to grow back.


Sugaring is similar to waxing. As the name implies, it involves a sugar-containing paste or gel to remove hair. It works by applying the paste or gel and, depending on the type, either removing it with or against hair growth to pull the hair out by the root. And because the medium is all-natural, you can even make it at home.

How much does it hurt? Like waxing, the hair is still being pulled out, so there will be some pain. However, because the paste doesn't stick as much to the skin itself, it is reportedly less painful than waxing.

How much does it cost? To have it professionally done, sugaring can cost anywhere from $10 to $110 depending on the area. Sugaring kits can be purchased for at-home ranging from $10 to $40, but you can also make your own at home for just a few dollars.

How long does it last? Just like waxing, it usually takes three to six weeks for hair to grow back.


Laser hair-removal is a long-term option that involves destroying the roots with light. This option can be permanent, but usually just reduces the amount of hair and makes it finer and lighter. It works best on those with darker hair and lighter skin, though, as the laser detects pigment. This means it will not remove white or blonde hair as effectively, and can burn darker skin. Laser hair-removal generally takes around six to 12 sessions for optimal results. And thanks to technology, there is now the option to perform laser hair-removal in the comfort of your own home.

How much does it hurt? The pain associated with laser hair-removal is often compared to a rubber band being snapped against the skin. How much this hurts will depend on your pain threshold.

How much does it cost? To have it professionally done, laser hair removal costs, on average, $200 to $900 depending on the size of the area being treated. At-home options can range from $200 to $500.

Tria Hair Removal Laser, $359, Amazon

How long does it last? If the optimal number of initial sessions are completed, you might want to have touchups every six to 12 months.


Electrolysis is the only FDA-approved form of permanent hair removal. It works by destroying the root of each hair at the follicle with an electric current. And whereas laser hair removal is not always the best option for certain types of hair or skin, electrolysis can work for any type. However, because this type of removal deals with only one hair at a time, it can take much longer to complete (15 to 30 sessions). You will see results faster with smaller areas like the face or bikini line than with larger areas like arms or legs.

How much does it hurt? There is a stinging sensation for each follicle that may or may not be painful, again depending on your threshold.

How much does it cost? On average, a 30-minute session will cost around $45.

How long does it last? If you follow through with all of the sessions required, results can be permanent. However, it is not always 100 percent permanent for everyone.

Images: Maryia Bahutskaya/Flickr; Giphy