Smooth, bare and apparently laser hair removal *can* be affordable

Colleen told me once that every time she hears anything about a new hair removal treatment, she thinks of me. Because, she says, inevitably I will try it and, if I can rope her into it, make her try it too.

And she’s totally not wrong. When it comes to hair removal, I’ve pretty much tried it all. And I’ve noticed that most of my female friends are really interested in talking about this subject (hell, some of my male friends too, they just pretend not to care publically.)

So, I’m no expert on this subject by any means other than trial and error, but I’ll share a little about what I’ve learned over the years. You probably will find this post boring unless you’re interested in this stuff. You’ve been warned!

The stuff I don’t like:

Shaving – Shaving totally sucks. I hate it because I hate stubble. I hate wasting time in the shower. I hate shaving and everything that goes along with it, so I only use shaving as a supplement to other hair-removal method – to clean up missing spots or to get me through between other methods of hair removal. For the record, I do use this razor when I absolutely have to.

Depilatory – I tried Veet once. It’s this foam stuff you put on your legs and then you wipe it off. It’s no better than shaving, though. I suppose you have the benefit of not needing a blade, but the hair grows back just as fast. I was disappointed and never used it again.

NairThis stuff is a joke. It smells awful, it burns if you leave it on too long, it doesn’t work any better than shaving or depilatory foam. It’s a lotion that you put on your legs, and then you wipe it off in the shower. I have heard they’ve improved on the product, and I tried it again a year or two ago, and it was still pretty icky, in my opinion.

Nads – So for years I watched the infomercials for this product. Pain-free hair removal from the root? That’s amazing! I almost ordered it several times. And then Walgreens started selling it, so my sorority sister Melissa and I decided we just had to try it. And there is no way they should have been advertising this stuff as pain-free. It basically feels the same as waxing. The only benefit over waxing is that you don’t have to heat the wax. What a rip (literally.) We returned it the next day. I tried it again alone later, thinking if I’m aware that it’s going to hurt, maybe I should give it another try and compare it to waxing. I still wasn’t thrilled with it, but it has been years since I’ve tried it so my memory is a tad fuzzy.

Friction – I was at Wal-Mart one night in college (you know those middle-of-the-night splurgefests) and I saw this thing that pretty much amounted to sandpaper that advertised hair removal. I grabbed it and tried it, and oddly, it actually worked surprisingly well! You just rub it in a light circular motion and the hair kinda bunches up and falls off your legs. Also epilates pretty well, and the result is much smoother than shaving. Once the sandpaper dulled, though, I threw the whole thing out and I haven’t seen it (or looked for it) since.  Here is something similar I found when I did a google search. I have it under the “don’t like” category simply because it’s not something I did regularly. I didn’t have any problems with it, though – give it a try!

The stuff I like:

Waxing – Speaking of, here’s where it starts to get good. My first waxing experience was terrible. I bought some microwave crap and tried it on my bikini line. Yes, myself. No, I didn’t know it would hurt. I have no idea what I was thinking! I spent hours in the shower trying to get that stuff off – the thought of ripping it off was not an option. Later I tried it the regular way – paying someone to do it for me. It was immensely painful but my legs and my bikini area were smooth for a couple of months after! And then my roommate Kate told me I could do it myself. Well, that saves a lot of money. I bought a real kit this time (from Sally’s) and gave it a go. It hurt like crazy and I gave up fairly easily. I got wax all over the warmer and ended up throwing the whole thing away.

Over the years I paid to have it done. Here’s what I learned: It’s expensive. And you get what you pay for. I tried going to the Aveda school for a while. Bikini wax for $30 – you can’t beat that. But it is more painful than going to someone who actually knows what they are doing. My real recommendation is Parvin – I’ve talked about her before on here, and I will recommend her to anyone. She’s reasonably priced ($60 for brazilian) and she is really, really good. It’s as pain-free as you can hope for.

But, after going to her for a while, and wanting legs and underarms and bikini area done each time … it adds up. Enough so that I decided to give the Sally’s method another try. I bought another wax warmer. I had learned through going to Aveda (and listening to them talk through it as they waxed me) that soft wax is for fine hairs (like leg) and hard wax is for course hairs (like underarms, bikini.)

And, guess what? You really can give yourself a bikini and underarm wax. I promise. I do it all the time now. It hurt like hell the first few times, and I thought I was going to die, but after a while it hurts less and less. I don’t even flinch now. I know that sounds crazy. I know it does. But it really does work. My advice is to pay someone else to do it several times first, so that hopefully by the time you’re doing it to yourself, you are past the most painful parts of it. Leg waxing is another story. The soft wax is messy and it gets on everything. And I feel like I need 3 hands to get my skin tight enough on my thighs. And I’ve had bruising before from not doing it right. But bikini and underarm, yes, you can. And, in the tmi category, I’ve even given myself a brazilian. And I’m the girl who faints at even the thought of pain. The experts will tell you that you should never do it yourself. And I agree you should be careful. It’s not easy, that is for sure. You’ll make a lot of mistakes before you get it right.

Epliator – So, after having issues with the soft wax, I decided to give eplilators a try.  Yes, it’s like a million tweezers on you all at once. Yes, it hurts. Maybe even more so than waxing because it’s individual. And the first few times it felt like a bunch of needles on me. But I can do it on my legs and I don’t make a mess from wax and it doesn’t bruise me. I didn’t have good luck on my bikini or underarm area though – too many ingrowns.

Electrolysis – Ok, so this is the best of all the methods I’ve tried. It’s permanent. Truly. But it’s not cheap. If it wasn’t for the price tag, I would go every week and have this done until every unwanted hair is gone. I pay $75/hour to Lesa at Beauty Skin Deep. She gets the hairs on the tops of my toes that I hate, and after we’re done with that we’ll move on to other areas. She told me once that people often use it to clean up strays left behind due to laser hair removal, too. Give her a call if you have small areas you want done – it’d be too cost-consuming for something big like legs (unfortunately)!

Stuff I don’t know about … yet

Laser hair removal – I go for my first appointment in a few weeks. I’m getting my bikini and maybe my underarms done, at two different places. Deals can be had at sites like groupon and living social and In fact, my unofficial plan as of yesterday (after hearing about a living social deal) is to search for deals and get it all done on those – that makes it much more affordable! It’s so affordable, in fact, that I will widen my search not only to my city, but to cities in which I can or do travel to – it’s that cost-effective.

Epilfree – Ok I literally just saw this when I did a search to give you Parvin‘s spa information. Of course I immediately wrote to her to ask her about this. I then googled it and apparently it’s something that is massaged into your legs after a wax to reduce the amount of hair that grows back. I’m intrigued.

If I left something out, let me know! Now that I’ve bared it for you (hahaha), I want to hear your hair-removal favorites and horror stories …