How it works An electric razor or straight razor cuts hair growing on the skin’s surface.
Who it’s for Shaving can be for everyone, says Toronto dermatologist Lisa Kellett. To nix irritation, thoroughly wet hair before you begin, shave in the direction of growth, and avoid repeating strokes on the same area.
Best for Legs, underarms and the bikini area.
Ouch factor Next to none (unless you use a dull razor).
After-care Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
Results last Two to four days.
Cost $3 to $20.
How it works Chemicals target protein in the hair follicle and dissolve the hair.
Who it’s for Depilatories are effective on all skin types, but according to Kellett, they can be irritating for those with asthma, eczema or hay fever.
Best for Face (avoid eyes, though), arms and legs.
Ouch factor None.
After-care Hydration is key.
Results last Five to seven days.
Cost $5 to $15.
How it works Wax is applied in the direction of hair growth; once hardened, it’s removed quickly against the hair growth.
Who it’s for Everyone.
Best for Anywhere.
Ouch factor High, depending on where waxing is done.
After-care Pros usually finish with a soothing cream or oil, but aloe vera is a good at-home fix.
Results last A session will keep regrowth at bay for an average of three to five weeks. Waxing isn’t a permanent solution, but the more you do it, the finer and sparser your regrowth will be, says esthetician Karen Lang, formerly of Toronto’s Oasis Spa and Wellness Center.
Cost $7 to 35.
Laser and intense pulsed light
How it works Using energy from a laser or pulsed light to target pigment in hair, both systems use heat to travel down the follicle and destroy hair at the root.
How many sessions it takes Four sessions spaced a few weeks apart reduce hair by 75 to 85 percent, says Kellett. Finer hair may need an additional session or two.
Who it’s for Works best on people with light skin and dark hair, says Kellett. “I don’t even attempt the process on someone who’s naturally blond, red haired or completely grey.”
Best for Almost anywhere, but Kellett advises avoiding areas close to mucous membranes, such as the eyes and mouth.
Ouch factor With laser, the sensation is a “slight pulling,” says Kellett. Intense pulsed light, meanwhile, feels similar to elastic bands being snapped against your skin. But, adds Kellett, the newer the machine, the less likely you’ll feel pain.
After-care While you’re undergoing treatments, avoid tanning.
Results last Considered a permanent solution. Some women need a little maintenance annually.
Cost Most sessions start at around $175.
How it works A tiny needle inserts an electrical current into follicles and burns hair at the root.
How many sessions it takes Each follicle has to be addressed individually for about a minute, and it takes anywhere from 15 to 20 sessions for follicles to be completely destroyed.
Who it’s for Almost anyone, but this treatment can cause scarring, so proceed with caution.
Best for Anywhere on the body, but because each hair needs to be targeted, smaller areas, such as face and armpits, are most requested.
Ouch factor You’ll feel a small sting when each hair is removed.
After-care Avoid the sun as much as possible for about six weeks after treatment, always use sunscreen when you’re outdoors, and try not to pick at or squeeze your skin following a session.
Results last Forever. This is a proven, permanent option.
Cost $50 per 30-minute session.
The DYI route to smoothness
Drugstore options are convenient and easy-on-the wallet. Here are a few of our faves:
Dove Ultimate VisiblySmooth Anti-Perspirant, $5, promises to minimize the look and feel of underarm hair while it thwarts odour and wetness.
La Roche-Posay Soap-Free Emollient Shaving Foam, $15, is sensitive on skin and full of moisture for even Sahara-dry skin — worth stealing from the man in your life.
Veet Suprem’Essence Hair Removal Gel Cream, $9, removes hair and moisturizes skin in one step.
Venus Embrace Razor, $17, claims to get closer than any other blade on the market.
Nair Au Naturel Milk & Honey Roll-On Wax, $14, easy and affordable. They had us at hello.
Pain Minimizers 101
• Before you strip down to your skivvies and slather yourself with hot wax, hit the showers and exfoliate well. This will increases your circulation and make for a more comfortable treatment.
• So sensitive? Take an anti-inflammatory pill, such as ibuprofen, to ease the pain before you wax. Numbing anesthetic creams are another option but use them with caution, warns Kellett — too much can cause a bad skin reaction.