Note: There is no permanent solution. Try to get the product from a retailer with a 30-day money-back policy.
History: In Ancient Egypt and the Middle Ages (specifically the Christian society), shaving and being hairless was a display of sophistication, as opposed to being hairy like animals. The high castes of Ancient Egypt would shave their heads bald, both men and women even. When in public, they would wear elaborate wigs for style and protection from the sun. In these older civilizations, they shaved using pumice stones, razors, tweezers and/or depilatory creams.
Home Laser Hair Removal – IPL (Not recommended)
There’s a bunch of IPL devices (Intense Pulsed Light) out there ~ $200 to $350 that zap the hair follicles (slightly painful like a rubber band snap) by targeting melanin in the hair follicle, so most systems only work with fair skin and dark hair (both being required). However, these at-home consumer-level devices may only burn the hair outside the skin instead of the follicle. It is not a permanent solution. Recommended use is every two weeks for a couple years. IPL manufacturers say for 3 months use you can permanent lose 47% of hairs (but lots of people didn’t lose as much) and you might not see results within the first year. It usually grows back a little thinner, spots of hair loss, and grows back at a rate 2-3x slower when you’re using it, but the slower growth only lasts for a month after you stop using. You will still have to shave regularly, only a bit less often for when you’re using it, and shaving becomes easier due to thinning of hair. Another con: you’ll have to replace the $25 bulb frequently. Not painless, feels like a rubber band or ruler slap and some say almost as painful as wax. It is too difficult to determine which devices are best, as there are many contradicting reviews.
Examples: Silk’n Flash&Go Hair Removal Device $200 [Amazon], Remington IPL6000USA I-Light Pro Professional IPL Hair Removal System $213 [Amazon], Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X $450 [Amazon], Radiancy Deluxe No!no! 8800 Series Hair Removal Device $155 [Amazon] (also there’s the cheaper $55 Pro 5), Philips Lumea Comfort IPL Hair Removal System Face and Body $230 [Amazon]
Professional Laser Hair Removal
Like IPL above, professional laser hair removal procedures at professional offices work by targeting melanin (pigment for color in hair and skin). The melanin absorbs the laser’s heat, thus damaging the hair follicle. Blond and gray hairs do not have enough melanin for the lasers to work, and people with tan or darker skin (higher melanin) are taking higher risks for skin damage, as the skin may absorb the laser’s heat and cause 1st or 2nd degree burns, aka permanent scarring. Even still, some or most hair will come back in 2 years. Overall, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) sets the average price of a single treatment at $349. Multiple treatments are usually required, but the exact number will depend on the area being treated. For most patients, four to six treatments spaced about four to eight weeks apart works best [Source: American Academy of Dermatology], meaning, on average, the series of treatments would cost around $1,745.
Laser types include: IPL, Ruby, Alexandrite, Diode, Long Pulse YAG
The norm. Men’s electric shavers (rotary cutters which spin, or foil cutters which oscillate) tend to be better than women’s (only foil cutters). For vintage (possibly better) razors/blades/creams, tweezers, and electric razors, see [Best Shaving Razors].
Don’t get: Yes! by Finishing Touch (only a shaver with an LED light)
This contraption will pluck hairs out very painfully and should only be used on the legs and forearms (albeit for some may also work for the other areas like bikini and armpits, especially if you have the attachments). However, does much better than electric shavers, as should only need to be done once per 1-4 weeks (should stay perfectly smooth for about 1-2 weeks, while all the epilators “say” 6 weeks with no hair growth). Recommended use in the shower because it is messy, but it does take awhile. Pain lessens over time (works best when the hair is a couple of mm long, too short and it doesn’t “grab”, too long and it’s painful). The modern ones are way better than the epilators of 20 years ago. [Amazon Search]
Best Epilator: Braun Silk-Épil 7 Wet and Dry $93 [Amazon] (best, as found by epilatorreviews.org and vogue.com forums)
The Braun above is better than Philips HP6576/20 SatinPerfect Deluxe or Satinelle $30, Emjoi AP-18 Emagine 72 Tweezer Head, Remington EP-5000 Essentials Epilator $25 (but this is the best cheap one) [Amazon], Remington EP7030 Smooth and Silky Women’s Rechargeable Epilator $50 [Amazon] (another good one), Panasonic ES-WD51-P Ladies Wet & Dry, Epilady Legend 4th Generation Epilator $70 (best mid-level) [Amazon]
Wax or Sugar Wax
Wax is most effective, even moreso and faster than the epilator but also painful. Possibly needed every 1-3 Months (probably 6 weeks on average) However, if done at home, it is a more messy method and takes some knowledge of what angles for certain areas. Will probably not be able to remove all hair on first try with a home wax kit. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) warns that waxes should not be used on the face, nipples, genital areas, irritated or sunburned skin, varicose veins, moles, or warts. – Source: FDA
Best rated: Gigi Brazilian Waxing Kit, 14 Ounce [Amazon] (even used by salons who charge $75 per waxing using it)
Sugaring is an alternative way, allowing people to create their own wax that is chemical-free and less painful. However, it is probably more work than necessary.
Depilatories are chemicals that dissolve the hair so that it can be wiped away. Painful for some people, and none remove all the hair in a single try. The Federal Drug Administration has received reports of burns, blisters, rashes, and peeling skin caused by these products, so test a small amount on your forearm first.
Summary: People are more satisfied with epilators than home laser hair removal, but these tend to be very painful. Wax is also very effective. Certain people may be lucky with professional laser hair removal, without the hair growing back. A possible best strategy is to get a professional wax first, and epilate as the hair slowly grows back (it won’t be as difficult because the hair will start growing weak and slowly/unevenly).