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The essential hair removal guide

  • Story Highlights
  • Pros say different body areas require different hair removal techniques
  • Tiny waxing strips best for upper lip; divide work into three sections
  • Follow hair-growth patterns when shaving underarms
  • After bikini wax strip removed, press down on area to reduce pain
By Liesa Goins
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(InStyle) -- From legs to brows, the pros reveal the best ways to deal with unwanted hair.

A multi-blade razor is the most effective way to remove leg hair, experts say.

A multi-blade razor is the most effective way to remove leg hair, experts say.

Bikini Line

Ideal option: Professional Wax
Ouch factor: Like ripping off a Band-Aid over and over

Why it's best: "Results last longer than other methods, and the coarse hair tends to grow back sparser over time due to follicle trauma," says New York dermatologist Doris Day. However, the bikini area is extremely sensitive, so waxing is best left to a specialist.

Get it done
• Exfoliate with a gentle scrub such as True Blue Spa Naked In The Buff ($18; a day before waxing to remove dead skin that can clog pores and cause ingrown hairs.

• Hair should be 1/4" to 1/2" long for the best grip.

• Apply a salicylic acid treatment immediately after waxing, as well as every other day, to keep your pores clear and stay bump-free. (Try Bliss Ingrown Eliminating Pads, $38/40;

Pain-proof your bikini wax

These tips from Wendy Allred, Bliss Spas' education manager, will take the agony out of your appointment

1. Schedule your wax for the week after your menstrual cycle, when you are less sensitive to pain.

2. Before waxing, dab Orajel ($7; at drugstores) on your bikini line to help numb the area.

3. Ask your aesthetician to warn you before she removes a strip. This way you can breathe out to distract your body from feeling the pain as she pulls. It works.

4. Your waxer should press down after yanking the strip to calm nerve endings. If she doesn't, do it yourself.

5. Give yourself three to six months off Accutane before waxing. This medication causes your skin to shed at an accelerated rate, which means waxing can cause bruises and burns.


Ideal option: Shaving
Ouch factor: None

Why it's best: Convenience and speed make this the go-to grooming method for Day. "There's also very little risk of ingrown hairs and irritation," she says. "Waxing makes more sense in winter since you have to allow the hair to grow out before removing it."

Do it right
• Reach for the razor within 10 minutes of stepping into the shower; otherwise, the skin swells and you won't be able to get a close shave.

• Look for a shaving cream that contains enough moisturizers, such as jojoba oil or shea butter. Try Whish Almond Shave Crave shaving cream ($24;

• A multi-blade razor reduces the number of times you have to sweep an area and staves off uncomfortable razor burn. Try the five-blade Venus Embrace ($12; at drugstores).

• Irritation results from a dull blade and too much pressure. There's no need to press down -- let the razor glide over skin. And toss your razor after three to five uses.

• Hang your razor upright to fully dry -- a damp blade encourages bacteria growth.


Ideal option: Shaving
Ouch factor: None

Why it's best: It's quick and easy.

Do it right
• Apply shaving cream so the razor can glide without pulling. Try Geo F. Trumper's Rose shaving cream ($20;

• Underarm hair grows in many different directions, so you'll need to follow the patterns.

• Afterward, apply a deodorant with moisturizers like Secret Flawless Touch with Olay, ($5; at drugstores).


Ideal Option: Tweezing
Ouch Factor: It feels like pinpricks.

Why It's Best: "This method won't remove too much at once," Day says.

Do it right
• Keep tweezers clean to avoid spreading breakout-causing bacteria. Try Tweezerman Animal Print Slant tweezers ($25;

• First, press a warm washcloth to the area to relax the follicles.

• Grab each hair close to the root, yanking one at a time.

• Afterward, fight inflammation by holding an ice pack to the skin.

Upper lip
Ideal option: Teeny-Tiny Pre-Waxed Strips
Ouch factor: About the same as tweezing

Why it's best: "Only a pro should apply hot wax to your face," says Cindy Barshop, owner of Completely Bare spas.

Do it right

• Strips no wider than 1 1/2" mean more precision. Try Sally Hansen Naturally Bare Waxing Strips for Faces & Little Spaces ($6; at drugstores).

• To avoid removing too much, work in three sections: right, left and middle.

• Calm redness by applying an OTC hydrocortisone cream like Aveeno 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream ($6; at drugstores) after waxing.

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