Shaving unwanted body hair is simple and inexpensive, but it is also the most temporary of all hair removal options. Hair growth rates differ from person to person, so the frequency with which shaving must be performed is unique to the individual. Shaving works well on the face, arms and legs, but shaving the pubic region can cause ingrown hairs. Another possible drawback to shaving is that people with light skin and dark hair may notice the dark shadow of hair beneath the skin (also known as "five o'clock shadow") even when clean shaven.
Plucking or Tweezing
Plucking individual unwanted hairs is somewhat more painful, but many people report becoming desensitized to the pain over time. Since the hair is pulled out by the root, it takes longer to resurface than with shaving, which simply cuts the hair off at skin level. Because of the tedious process of eliminating one hair at a time, plucking is not a practical option for removing hair from a large area.
Hair removal creams use acids to dissolve the hair shaft. Because of the strength of the acids, these creams often have a strong odor and can cause superficial burns and skin irritation. If used, creams should be used exactly as described in the directions, as these products differ in ingredients and strength. Depilatory creams are probably not the best choice for those with sensitive skin.
Waxing is an option that can be performed at home or by a professional in a salon. Hot wax is spread over the unwanted hair and removed quickly with a cloth strip that is pressed onto the wax. The hair, ideally, is grabbed by the wax and pulled from the skin. Some hairs can break off, so additional plucking may be necessary. Waxing generally lasts as long as plucking, and longer than shaving, since the hair is being removed from the root. Use caution to prevent burns to the skin from too-hot wax.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is one of the longest-lasting and most effective methods available, but is also one of the most expensive. A laser beam or pulsed light is used to destroy the actual hair bulb beneath the skin. Repeat treatments are usually necessary to achieve a truly hair-free area, which may stay hair-free for many months. At some point, however, the skin will produce new hair bulbs and maintenance treatments will be necessary to remain completely hairless. The added benefit of laser treatment is that what little hair does grow back is typically much more sparse and fine.
Electrolysis is considered the only truly permanent hair removal process. It is a long, slow process, as a needle is inserted into each hair follicle and a current passed through the needle, while the individual hair is plucked. Electrolysis is better than laser treatments for hair that is white or light in color.