Leg Hair Removal – Which Method is Best for You?
I think we can all agree that unsightly leg hair is as real pain in the neck; growing back quickly and requiring constant attention, especially in the summer.
If you have been blessed with thick, abundant dark hair on your head, the downside is that it is likely that your leg hair will be equally generous, but nowhere near as attractive!
Choosing the best method for you will depend on a number of factors, not least being the time and budget that you have available, plus your capacity for a bit of pain.
Best DIY Pain-Free Options
If it is convenience, privacy and home comfort you prefer, coupled with low-cost and no pain, then your choice is narrowed between shaving and depilatory creams:
Shaving has to be the quickest, most convenient and easiest method, once you have the general hang of it.
The trouble is, as you are cutting the hair off at the skin's surface, the results are short - lived and you need to be prepared to repeat the process very regularly, even daily.
Wet shaving with a razor will give the closest, smoothest shave, whilst electric shavers offer the quickest and easiest shave and can be used on dry skin.
A major advantage that shaving has over other methods is that there is no need to let the hair grow out to a certain length before shaving.
On the other hand, however, if you have dark hair and fair skin, you may well see a shadow effect and regrowth can feel stubbly. Although it is a common myth that shaving makes your hair grow back thicker, in fact it has no effect on hair growth whatsoever.
What it does do is cut the hair mid-shaft at its thickest point to give a stubbly effect to the regrowth.
Personally, I have fine, fair hair and shaving is a good option for me. I like the ease and convenience of an electric shaver and find it quicker and less messy than creams.
It is also nice and easy when travelling and I love that I don't need to schedule in time-consuming and costly salon visits.
When holidaying abroad I tend to opt for a depilatory cream, for the slightly longer lasting results, and pop a disposable razor into my washbag for quick maintenance.
For more information about pros and cons of shaving and choosing the best electric shaver for you, see our article: Best Electric Shavers for Women.
Depilatory creams are easy to use and development over time means that they mostly no longer have the unpleasant, pungent odours that were originally associated with this type of product.
The results can be a little longer lasting than shaving and when the hair grows back it does not produce the stubbly effect you often get from shaving.
However, they do consist of strong chemicals and there is always a risk of allergic reaction, so you will need to carry out a patch test prior to each use.
Very easy to use, you simply spread the cream on with the spatula provided, making sure that all the hair is covered. Then leave for the recommended length of time and remove with lukewarm water
The length of time required varies a little from product to product, but I have not found one that requires you leave it on for more than 10 minutes maximum, and most of them take less than this.
When choosing a depilatory cream, check the details on the pack to make sure that it is the correct cream for the area you wish to treat and if you have sensitive skin, whether it is suitable.
More information and some recommendations are given in our "everything you need to know" article.
Best DIY/Professional for Longer-Lasting Results
If you want a longer lasting method and are prepared for a little pain, then waxing or epilating are good, popular options for you:
Waxing is widely available at salons, or if you prefer, you can save time and money by purchasing one of the many home kits that are available in shops or online.
Waxing at home will take a little practice to perfect the correct method, but once achieved, can be done quickly and efficiently.
The legs are probably the easiest part of the body to wax at home, they are easily accessible and the skin is less sensitive than the tender underarm or bikini areas.
It is important to buy a good quality wax, that is recommended for use on the legs.
There are two options to consider when waxing at home; hot wax or cold wax.
Hot wax requires the wax to be melted prior to use, whilst cold wax comes on ready to use strips that are simply warmed between the hands to soften slightly.
There are different types of hot wax, some require waxing strips and some do not, so make sure that you check which type you are buying.
Waxing pulls the hair out at the root, so can be painful, especially at first. It is advisable to at least have the first treatment carried out by a professional, so that you can get used to the process and observe the correct method.
Most people find that, over time and with regular waxing, the pain becomes less and less as your skin becomes accustomed to the process.
Waxing gives longer lasting results, but it does require the hair to grow out to at least 1/4" to be effective. This is so that there is sufficient hair present for the wax to adhere to properly.
On the plus side, hair will likely grow back finer looking over time, as the constant pulling at the root weakens the regrowth.
Epilators are effectively motorised tweezers that pull multiple hairs simultaneously from the root.
The effect is similar to that of waxing and although it takes a bit longer, you do not have the continual ongoing product cost or mess associated with it.
Epilators have varying sizes of head, with differing numbers of tweezers, depending on the model.
Simply put, the more tweezers on the head, the quicker it is to cover larger areas. However, you do need to think about how the epilator will work with the contours of the body and legs, so bigger is not necessarily better.
Best DIY/Professional for Permanence
Permanent hair removal can only really be achieved by either laser or electrolysis.
There is a distinction here between the definition of permanence, as currently approved by the FDA, between the two:
Laser hair removal can claim permanent hair reduction, whilst electrolysis can claim permanent hair removal.
You will almost certainly hear laser and IPL talked about as one and the same, however there is a distinct technological difference between the two. A full explanation is given in our article: How does laser hair removal differ from IPL?
Lasers are commonly used in salons for hair removal and can achieve good results over time. You will likely need a course of around 6 leg treatments initially, and then touch up appointments as required (once or twice a year, perhaps).
IPL, although also used in salons, is the most usual technology in home devices, the difference being that the salon devices are more powerful.
Currently the Tria 4X is the only true laser on the market for use at home, again it is less powerful than those used in salons, for safety reasons.
Electrolysis involves the insertion of extremely fine needles into the hair follicles and therefore, the invasive nature of the process means that it is only available for use by trained professionals.
Any home device claiming to use electrolysis is misleading you, so don't be fooled.
Electrolysis used to be a very slow, laborious process, removing one hair at a time. However, over time a multi-needle approach has been developed, making it quicker and less expensive than it used to be.
It still requires pretty deep pockets though, and takes a number of treatments over a long period of time to cover large areas like the legs.