Hair be gone

It’s time for the beach body blitz. Sarah Brooks-Wilson shows you how to remove unwanted body hair for the smoothest summer ever.

Let’s face it, who wants unsightly body hair poking out when you’re on the beach, or worse still, in the bedroom? Hair removal is possibly the biggest chore, but an essential part of your grooming regimen. Here’s how to become a smooth operator.

Scrub up

Exfoliating is essential prep for any hair removal. Scrubbing off dead skin frees ingrown hairs and creates an even canvas for your razor or wax strip to do its job, obstacle-free. Always leave a day between shaving and in the warmer months, shave in the morning. Sun exposure can bring on sensitivity and make the skin more reactive to shaving, so slather on sunscreen before heading outside. First-class scrubs include The Body Shop Spa of the World Dead Sea Salt Scrub, $43 and Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Coconut Body Scrub, $9.99.

Electrolysis

Probably up there in the ouch factor, electrolysis uses an electrode to apply an electrical current to the hair follicle to permanently remove the hair.

Best for: This option is more suitable for very fine and light-coloured hair. Electrolysis can take time and can be pricey, as it treats each hair and follicle individually. This makes it great for small areas like eyebrows, the upper lip and underarms.

Cons: If it’s improperly done, electrolysis can cause scarring or skin discolouration. If you’re not good with discomfort, electrolysis might not be for you: the treatments can be uncomfortable and cause a stinging or pricking sensation and permanent results require multiple sessions.

Average cost: While $1 per minute might not seem like much, consider how much time each area will take the larger the area, the more it will cost.

Shave

A quick, pain-free and cost-effective way to remove hair, shaving removes hair at the surface of the skin with a razor.

Best for: Light, fine hairs and visible places you wish to maintain regularly.

Cons: Since the hair is cut off at the surface, regrowth is fast and the hair is blunt, so it can appear thicker. Those who shave regularly can become prone to ingrown hairs, and there’s a chance for nicks and burns.

Average cost: Cheap, starting from $7 for a disposable razor.

Try: Remington Smooth & Silky Cordless Wet/Dry Shaver, $49.95. Razors are now loaded with moisturising ingredients and gels around the blade so they give a smoother, more hydrating shave like the Schick Intuition f.a.b., $15.99.

Wax

The advantage of waxing is up to four weeks of smoothness, and when the hair does grow back it has a smooth, tapered end, making the regrowth soft to touch. Basically, hot wax is applied to the skin and hair and removed in the opposite direction of the hair growth, pulling hairs out from the root. Treatments are moderately painful, but it becomes more tolerable over time.

Best for: Dark, coarse, stubborn hair areas such as the legs, underarms and bikini areas. 

Cons: The drawback to waxing is that you have to wait for a little regrowth before you can wax again, which can result in unsightly stubble. Waxing can also result in ingrown hairs. It’s best to avoid waxing if you’ve recently been in the sun, have consumed alcohol or have very sensitive skin.

Average cost: Anywhere from $10 for an at-home kit to $20 plus for salon waxing, depending on the areas waxed and your salon of choice.

Try: Waxaway Salon Pro Roll On Wax Kit, $99 and Andrea Brazilian Hard Wax, $15.99.

Laser

Laser hair removal uses laser technology to penetrate the skin and kill the hair follicle, which makes it a great choice for long-term hair removal. The hair in laser-treated areas typically falls out after two to three weeks and causes no damage to the skin.

Best for: Dark-haired people with light skin. While professional salons can use different types of lasers, the treatment targets the melanin in the hair, so it’s not suitable to people with dark skin or pale hair.

Cons: Laser hair removal isn’t painless – there can be a snapping sensation on the skin and a hot, burning feeling. Having a tan increases your chance of laser burns, so the treatment isn’t recommended in summer.

Average cost: While laser might seem expensive, with prices starting at $45 per treatment depending on the area being targeted, laser removal is an investment that can definitely pay off. Considering that you’ll only need about six sessions to capture and kill the hair follicles in all different cycles of growth, it’s actually very cost-effective.

Depilatory creams

Hair removal creams “break off” the hairs so you can essentially wipe them away. It’s a fast, easy, relatively painless at-home treatment.

Best for: Depilatories are most popular for facial hair, bikini lines and underarms.

Cons: The chemicals in depilatories can irritate sensitive skin and delicate areas. The creams are also infamous for their odour. Removing hair this way can also lead to ingrown hairs.

Average cost: A very affordable treatment from $15 a tube.

Try: Veet In Shower Hair Removal Cream, $25.99, Nair Sensitive Hair Removal Cream Face and Body, $6.29 and Veet For Men Hair Removal Gel Cream, $10.99.