Insider tips to help you grin and bare hair removal. / PhotoAlto/Getty Images
Summer is the season to show more skin, not “grow a national forest” as Samantha Jones so eloquently noted on Sex and the City. Getting rid of body hair can boost confidence, but the process can be a pain. These insider tips help you grin — and bare it.
Ideal for: Coarse hair (think: bikini line) because it adheres to skin to pull out stubborn follicles. Let growth be at least ¼ inch.
Prep: Skip body washes containing salicylic or other acids the day of your appointment. “They cause cells to turn over faster, making wax more apt to pull off a layer,” says Lidia Tivichi, a clinical esthetician and founder of Maris Dusan Spa in New York City. Tip: “Some clients distract themselves listening to their iPods,” Tivichi says.
Ideal for: Sensitive skin; it’s less irritating and sticky than wax. “Sugaring is wonderful for at-home use because it’s water soluble for easy cleanup,” says Jennifer Pesce, hair removal specialist for Shobha salons in New York City. ($30 kit; myshobha.com.)
Prep: “Sugar or wax sticks best to dry skin, so use talc-free powder to remove excess moisture and skip body lotion beforehand,” Pesce says. Tip: “You shouldn’t exfoliate right before or after hair removal,” Pesce says, “but using a loofah regularly removes debris that causes ingrowns.”
Ideal for: Very sensitive skin or those who use skin-thinning medications such as Accutane. “The thread acts like a mini-lasso,” Pesce says, “to pluck hair from the root rather than pull on delicate skin.”
Prep: This is the gentlest option, but people prone to pain can pop two Advil an hour before to ease discomfort. Tip: “It’s time-consuming, since it targets individual hairs rather than larger skin areas, so it’s best for small areas or stray hairs on toes or knuckles.”
Ideal for: Dark hair. It targets hair follicles’ dark pigment and destroys roots, reducing regrowth.
Prep: “It’s best to shave before a laser treatment to reduce pain and increase effectiveness,” says Yael Halaas, a board-certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York City. You can do at-home maintenance with the FDA-approved TRIA laser. $395; TRIABeauty.com. Tip: “Avoid sessions near your period,” Halaas says, “because hormonal shifts make you more sensitive to pain."