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Even though I’ve been known to use hair growth serum for healthier hair, there are some places hair isn’t welcome. There are plenty of hair removal options out there, from chemicals to shaving to electrocution. Here I cover natural hair removal options that work and are gentle on skin.
What’s the Point?
Before we talk about removing hair, let’s talk about why it’s there in the first place. Body hair serves several purposes, but mainly it provides warmth and reduces friction. It protects against sun and wind damage and in certain places (like the nose) acts as a gatekeeper to ward off bacteria and dirt.
According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, every month we gain another ½ inch of hair growth.
Even though hair serves a purpose, we don’t always want it in certain areas. When choosing a hair removal method it’s important to note different options work better on different areas.
Hair Removal Options
Many conventional hair removal options are safe and natural. Others…. not so much. Here’s the rundown of different ways people remove unwanted body hair. I’ll cover the pros and cons of each and which methods are the healthiest for skin and hair.
What it is: A tiny needle is put into each hair to permanently damage the hair follicle. The needle electrocutes the follicle with shortwave radio vibrational frequencies.
Pros: It’s effective.
Cons: It can be painful and destroys a functioning part of the body. Hair follicles perform important functions so permanently killing them can have negative effects. Electrolysis can also cause scarring and infection if not done properly. It requires several treatments, is painstaking, and can be uncomfortable.
Bottom line: This isn’t a hair removal method I’ll be trying any time soon.
What it is: A doctor uses a laser light to damage the hair follicle at the root. There are also laser devices that women can use at home.
Pros: It can permanently reduce or eliminate hair growth in treated areas after several sessions and annual follow-ups. A laser can also treat a wide variety of areas from the face, to underarms, and legs.
Cons: Lasering is expensive and takes multiple sessions. According to Mayo Clinic it also doesn’t work on light-colored hair or people with darker skin tones. It can cause skin discoloration, pain, redness, swelling, blistering, crusting, scarring, and other skin damage. Home laser removal can be even riskier since these devices aren’t regulated like the lasers at a doctor’s office.
Bottom line: There are safer ways to remove hair, so this isn’t my top choice for hair removal.
Depilatories (Chemical Hair Removal)
What it is: A liquid that’s applied to the skin and chemically dissolves hair. These come in a variety of gel, cream, and soap options.
Pros: This type of hair removal can be fast and easy.
Cons: Depilatories only remove hair on the surface so they need to be reused frequently. It can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions according to the FDA. There have also been reports of burns, blisters, stinging, rashes, and skin peeling off. It’s literally burning off hair with harsh chemicals.
Bottom line: Also another hair removal option that is not on my list to try.
Natural Hair Removal Options
So now that we’ve covered what I don’t recommend, let’s look at some of the best natural hair removal options that work.
What it is: Melted wax is applied to the skin and then pulled off quickly once it hardens.
Pros: It rips hair out by the root so it lasts longer than shaving. Wax doesn’t have to use any harsh chemicals like some methods and can be a natural way to remove hair. Natural wax recipes call for beeswax mixed with rosin and maybe coconut oil.
Cons: Waxing can’t be used on damaged skin, including varicose veins, moles, or warts. It shouldn’t be used on more delicate areas of the body like the bikini line, nose, or ears. Waxing may cause skin irritation and damage, burning, or infection if done wrong.
Waxing can also be an uncomfortable hair removal option. Unlike shaving or tweezing hair has to be between 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch to work safely and effectively.
According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, people taking antibiotics shouldn’t wax. Prescription antibiotics cause the skin to thin and waxing can damage and rip the thin skin. Diabetics and those with damaged skin or circulation problems also aren’t waxing candidates.
Bottom line: Using a natural wax free of synthetic chemicals on healthy skin can be a good option for some. There are however a lot of downsides and the risk of skin damage can be higher than other options.
How to Wax
If you’re up for the challenge, here’s how to do it.
- Apply non-GMO cornstarch or arrowroot to the area. This helps the wax stick to the hair and not the skin!
- Apply the wax according to the manufacturer’s directions. If you’re using a homemade version people typically melt together 4 parts rosin to 1 part beeswax.
- Moisturize afterward with something like this homemade lotion.
What it is: Similar to waxing, a sugar paste is applied to the skin and removed to rip out hairs.
Pros: It leaves skin really smooth and lasts longer than shaving. You can buy or make your own DIY sugar paste. Sugaring can be affordable, fast, and has been around since ancient times.
Unlike waxing this can be done on really short hair, is less irritating to the skin, and doesn’t pose any burn risk since it’s at room temp. This hair removal can also help remove ingrown hairs over time caused by shaving.
Cons: This method can hurt if done wrong, though not as much as waxing.
Bottom line: Sugaring is a safe, natural, and affordable way to remove hair, even at home. Skin stays smoother longer and there are very few risks.
How to Sugar for Hair Removal
If you’re short on time here’s a sugar wax that’s ready to go. If you prefer to DIY then here’s how to do it:
- Combine 1 cup cane sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/4 cup honey in a pot. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Once it’s a dark caramel color and thickened, remove from heat.
- Apply warm (not hot!) sugar wax to the desired area and remove with cloth strips or wooden applicator sticks.
3. Plucking and Tweezing
What it is: Handheld tweezers can remove unwanted hair by pulling it out by the root.
Pros: It’s a very safe natural hair removal option and is good for small areas, like eyebrows and facial hair.
Cons: Tweezers can be uncomfortable and tedious for large areas of the skin.
Bottom line: I’ll use tweezers to trim up my eyebrows and pluck the occasional, pesky out-of-place hair. However, when it comes to legs and underarm areas there are faster, more efficient options. Here’s a good pair of tweezers for trimming up small areas.
What it is: Similar to plucking, two cotton threads are twisted together to pluck out hair by the roots.
Pros: Threading has been around for centuries and is safely used by many. It’s helpful for small areas like eyebrows.
Cons: Threading won’t remove hair from large areas and needs done by a professional. It can also cause skin irritation and infection for some.
Bottom line: When done right threading can be a good option for smaller areas of the body.
How to Do Threading
It’s not recommended to try this one at home. There are DIY videos out there, but risks include tearing the skin and pulling out unwanted hairs (like eyelashes). Check with local salons and spas to see which ones offer threading in your area.
What it is: A handheld electric device that uses a coil to pull hair out by the root.
Pros: Over time an epilator can help hair grow back smoother, slower, and finer. The results also last longer than shaving since it removes hair by the root. It can be used even on really short hair. Newer versions are used on wet skin and not as painful as dry pulling.
Cons: It can be painful, like really painful. Epilators can also cause ingrown hairs.
Bottom line: Epilators can be a good natural hair removal option, but the discomfort may deter some people.
How to Use an Epilator
There are lots of different options when it comes to epilators. For beginners especially it’s helpful to have a wet/dry option that can be used in the shower. A wet epilator has easier cleanup and is more comfortable. Here’s one of the top-rated epilators for larger areas, like the legs, and one for more delicate areas like the face and eyebrows. This brand is also good, but a little more budget savvy.
What it is: A razor slices through hair on the surface. You know the drill.
Pros: It’s fast, easy, and familiar. Shaving can leave skin smooth and is one of the most popular hair removal methods.
Cons: The wrong razor or shaving cream can cause knicks, irritation, and ingrown hairs. Shaving is more likely to cause irritation in more sensitive areas, like the bikini line.
7. Turmeric Paste
What it is: Turmeric may make for a mean turmeric latte, but it’s also good for hair removal. Yes, really. Turmeric paste latches onto hair as it dries so hair can be scrubbed away along with the paste.
Pros: It’s a natural and fairly easy way to remove hair. Over time with consistent use turmeric helps hair grow back lighter and finer.
Cons: Turmeric can stain skin temporarily. Because this method pulls hair out by the root it can be a little uncomfortable.
How to Use Turmeric Paste
You can use just turmeric and water, or add in some rice flour, baking soda, milk, and other ingredients. Milk adds some skin softening benefits.
- Make a thick paste with powdered turmeric and cow or coconut milk (or water).
- Apply to the skin and allow to dry.
- Use a warm washcloth to scrub off the paste and the hair along with it.
FAQ About Natural Hair Removal
Does shaving/waxing change how hair grows?
Many people claim that shaving or waxing changes their body hair. While these experiences may be valid, hair supposedly doesn’t change with shaving. According to the FDA, shaving doesn’t change hair texture, color, or growth rate.
Is it more natural to not remove body hair?
Technically yes, however even natural hair dye and styling hair aren’t completely all-natural either. Some women opt to keep all their body hair, while others prefer to remove some or all. It’s a personal decision and either option can be healthy!
What are your favorite options when it comes to getting rid of unwanted hair? Will you try one of the ones above? Leave us a comment and let us know!
- Allen, M., Torres, N. (2020, September 11). Sugaring vs. Waxing: Everything You Need to Know. Byrdie.
- American Academy of Dermatology Association. (N.D.). Hair Removal: How to Wax.
- Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2020, December 10). Hair. Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Maglente, S. (2020, February 27). The Best Epilators of 2021, for Every Part of Your Body. Good Housekeeping.
- Mahalli, A. (2020, November 10). Natural DIY Hair Removal Methods that Work. Maple Holistics.
- Mayo Clinic. (2020, May 22). Laser Hair Removal.
- Patz, A., Spruch-Feiner, S. (2018, July 27). 6 Effective Ways to Remove Your Pesky Body Hair. Prevention.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2010, June 30). Removing Hair Safely.