A thin layer of warm wax is spread on the skin, followed by a muslin strip that’s pressed on top, then ripped quickly in the opposite direction of the hair growth. Great for women with coarse hair as it helps it grow back softer.
Pain factor: There’s always a degree of "ouch" involved—the amount just depends on your skin’s sensitivity, your pain threshold, and the area being waxed—the smaller the area, the less painful the procedure.
Body part best for: The bikini line (Brazilian waxes remove almost all of it); the eyebrows and the upper lip are also great targets.
Beauty benefit: Supersmooth skin, and no regrowth for two to four blessed weeks.
DIY: You could give it a try, but novices, in particular, should go to a professional when dealing with hot wax.
Keep in mind: Don’t wax when you have your period; your skin is more sensitive during this time, which will increase the pain.
All you need is a razor, an emollient cream, and a steady hand. Exfoliating and soaking skin before lathering up help soften the surface, resulting in a closer, smoother shave.
Pain factor: Unless you nick yourself, this process is usually pain-free.
Body part best for: Underarms and legs.
Beauty benefit: A sleek surface, but there’s a risk of razor bumps, depending on your skin type and how frequently you shave.
DIY: We certainly hope so.
Keep in mind: To avoid nicks and scrapes, toss a disposable razor at the first sign of dullness. (Three weeks is a blade’s maximum life span.)
LASERS AND IPLS (INTENSE PULSE LIGHTS)
These high-tech treatments use short bursts of light that cause irreparable heat damage to the follicles under the skin that produce hair growth. After four to six treatments, the area is almost hairless.
Pain factor: Almost none, since the procedure is done quickly; an entire session takes about 15 minutes.
Body part best for: Bikini line and underarms.
Beauty benefit: No ingrowns and regrowth.
DIY: No way.
Keep in mind: Lasers and IPLs can cause mild irritation; they’re not a good option for women with dark skin, as they can result in scarring or hyperpigmentation.
In this old-school method, a needle is inserted into the follicle; an electric current destroys the root. Large areas take as many as 30 sessions; this is best for women with only a few stubborn hairs.
Pain Factor: It feels like a series of pinpricks.
Body part best for: Small spots like the chin or between the eyebrows.
Beauty benefit: Absolutely no regrowth.
DIY: Even if you could, would you really want to?
Keep in mind: If you’ve got a couple of gray hairs to deal with, this is for you.