Dare to bare: the truth about hair removal
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Hair-Removal Secrets1 of 9
By Gigi Anders
The reality of getting your body fuzz-free and beach-ready is this: It's an ongoing process and there can be an ouch factor. As a Cuban-born Jew with hair to spare, I should know. But after more than two decades of reporting on (and trying) the latest beauty products, here are my tried and true hair-removing favorites, along with expert advice from Debra Jaliman, M.D., author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist. Prepare to minimize the pain and maximize the smooth.
Shave It2 of 9
Bic Soleil Triple Blade Women's Shavers ($10 for 8) are fast, efficient and disposable. (The sunny packaging doesn't hurt either.) The trio of blades gets super close and the handle's good and grippy.
Expert take: "It's important to shave after bathing, when the hair is hydrated so it makes it easier to remove," says Jaliman, who adds that "if you are prone to razor burn, then shave in the same direction as hair growth."
Wax It3 of 9
Bliss Waxing Strips for Body, $36, are my pick for at-home and on-the-go hair removal. The included post-waxing azulene oil is especially amazing, as it cleans and soothes tender skin. Ideal for the longest, root-deepest hair removal, these strips don't need to be heated up and can be used on the face and body.
Expert take: "Waxing can be uncomfortable, so consider taking ibuprofen 30 minutes beforehand," says Jaliman. "Afterward, avoid the sun and acid- or fragrance-containing product."
Depilate It4 of 9
Veet is the industry leader, with gentle and thorough results in just three minutes. (Depilatories include chemical agents that break down keratin, the protein that makes up hair.) Veet's new Fast Acting Gel Cream, $8, is just the thing for waxing- and shaving-phobes, as it's non-irritating for almost all skin types, and can be used on underarms, legs and bikini lines.
Expert take: "Before using a depilatory cream, do a patch test to make sure you aren't allergic to any of the ingredients," cautions Jaliman. "On the plus side, depilating can last as long as waxing—pain-free."
Laser It5 of 9
The first FDA-cleared laser for at-home use is the Tria ($395), a safe, effective hair-removal device. The downside—besides the hefty pricetag—is that it's a bit like a rubber-band snapping on the skin, and it won't work on white, blonde, red or gray hair. But if the price and pain don’t scare you away (and your hair's dark), then after a few monthly treatments, in my experience, most growth is permanently reduced.
Expert take: "Laser hair removal is very effective to decrease hair growth," says Jaliman "though darker skin can be damaged if the proper setting isn't used."
Epilate It6 of 9
Multitaskers, rejoice! Catch up on your TiVo’d Mad Men eps while zapping fur (almost) painlessly. Emjoi’s Light Caress Rechargeable epilator ($90) is ergonomically shaped, it's pink for "the gals" and it pulls out hairs by the root. It also features a light so you can see what you're doing.
Expert’s take: “Epilators work like a pair of tweezers: You are pulling out the entire root, so it lasts as long as waxing. Some people like it, as there is no chance of irritation or burning, though the process is time-consuming.”
Heat It7 of 9
The amazing little pink no!no! ($270) rolls over skin with a tiny wire and singes off hair. Because it's heat- and not light-activated, every hair type and color is removed. I've used it for years and find that the regrowth is super sparse. With the device's three heat settings and two tip attachments—for areas both narrow (i.e. face) and wide (legs)—it's a definite "Yes! Yes!'
Expert's take: "No!no! painlessly removes unwanted hair using heat and not light," says Jaliman, "making it safe for all skin types and hair colors, and over time, it reduces the rate of hair regrowth."
After-Care8 of 9
To keep the hairlessness going and your skin glowing, use Dr. Dennis Gross' Alpha Beta Glow Pad for Body With Active Vitamin D (from $18), a couple of days after your hair-removal treatment, waiting until the skin has calmed. The pad exfoliates, acts as a self-tanner, and also includes a trademarked ingredient called Capilo, which inhibits hair regrowth. With these pads you'll be golden—in more ways than one.
Shine On9 of 9
Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Multi-Usage Dry Oil (from $30) is a cult beauty item, and for good reason. The preservative-free, essential oil–packed spray—which moisturizes skin and gives your newly shorn body a light sheen—has just been released in a gorgeously bottled 20th anniversary version. The French product imparts an "I just spent the day on the Riviera" scent and can even be spritzed onto hair to add a sun-catching gleam.