Hair removal guide

Woman shaving her leg

No, we don't have to depilate. We can let our hair grow wild and free as Mother Nature intended and be none the less womanly for it. But just let's say we did want to remove our body hair, how would the smoother-limbed ladies of the Style & Beauty Talk board advise us to proceed?

Let us first toss out the fiction of the 'average woman', because while depilatory methods may advertise themselves as lasting for a certain number of weeks (a fortnight for creams, I don't think so, and as for the fabled six weeks from waxing...!?) the truth is that each of these techniques will last for different lengths of time for different women.

So for some of us, shaving a couple of times a week is infinitely preferable to hanging around waiting for our legs to get bushy enough to yank the hair out with wax, while for others, waxing is practically pain-free and lasts beautifully.

As with all things, even the knotty issue of how far to tidy up the bikini line (some of the women of the Style & Beauty boards tidy right up to the neck, it seems), it's whatever works for you.

Depilatory creams

These have improved a great deal over the past few years, and now come with all manner of accoutrements, including scratchy sponges and fake razors. They do leave the legs nice and smooth, and last a little longer than shaving. They still honk, though.


Quite self-explanatory, this one. Get blade, pull over hair, remove hair. Oh look, Shodan's made it more complicated.

"I use an exfoliator sponge with a creamy body wash first, then shave. Moisturise immediately after your bath/shower. Exfoliate gently every time you bath/shower with the sponge and body wash. No ingrown hairs, no pain, no sticky waxy bits. OK, it doesn't last as long as a wax but it's much less time-consuming."


This is a pain threshold thing, really. Some of us <raises hand> would rather have another baby than another bikini wax but for others, a full-leg job is as relaxing as a massage.

Of course, you have to let the hair grow to at least a quarter of an inch beforehand, which can be a bit stubbly, but whether you are paying for it to be done in a salon or waxing yourself, do not moisturise beforehand and consider putting a spot of talcum powder on the area to stop it sticking to your skin. The drier the hairs, the better the (gulp) grip. And take some painkillers.

One Mumsnetter advises: "I would say go and have it done professionally. It is much easier, you can just concentrate on lying there, listening to the tinkly music and gritting your teeth, clenching your fists etc and not have to worry about actually ripping off the hair yourself. Also a professional beautician will do a much better job, as (a) they are used to doing it, (b) they can see what they are doing better (unless you are a contortionist/have an enviable flat stomach) and (c) will not wimp out halfway through because of the pain."

Regarding the bikini line, expatinscotland has a cunning plan: "Another idea is to try waxing on say, your arm - the forearm is a good one to start with because it's not very sensitive as far as wax goes - and see how it feels. If it's total OUCH, then a Brazilian is probably not a good idea."

Wax strips are a cheaper option, and work well if you remember to warm them between your hands first. There are now pots that can be warmed in the microwave and spread on the skin, but do be careful to follow the timing instructions because a pot of molten lava is quite the health and safety hazard.

On this note, some people advocate having a glass or two of wine before committing to the DIY option. We could not possibly comment.

"Veet strips are really very good. I mostly go to a salon for waxing, but when I'm trying to stop spending money I use these and they are really just as good." BecauseImWorthIt 


Another love 'em or hate 'em product, the epilator is a chargeable electrical instrument of torture that mechanically removes the hair.

"I'm a recent convert to the epilator after failing at the pain barrier twice before. I have worked out the trick is little and often - get legs waxed first - then maintain as needed with epilator. I am very hairy, had legs waxed a couple of months ago and now epilate before I get my legs out, or every couple of days. Really not very painful on short hair and so nice to avoid stubble." Wonderstuff

"I do my underarms and it makes me feel faint! It really hurts, IMO, but it has definitely got easier and the benefits (cost, convenience) are huge!" smupcakes

Should you wish to discuss your favourite methods of hair removal, do join the chat on Style & Beauty. Should you wish to discuss the politics of hair removal, we recommend the Feminism boards. 


Last updated: 10 months ago