The Best Hair Removal Methods Based on Irritation Level

The Best Hair Removal Methods Based on Irritation Level

September 2021 | 5 Minute Read 

Clean beauty industry maven Mary Futher founded kaia naturals® after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. Mary now shares her weekly content series, delivering a quick fix, home remedy, or clean beauty product suggestion for a variety of human discomforts that some may find too embarrassing to discuss.

I receive a lot of customer emails directly, asking about hair removal in both the underarm and bikini zone. I know the subject of hair removal can be a bit polarizing; however, I believe you should do what makes you comfortable. If you prefer to keep your body hair or not, the choice is truly yours. That being said, as a skin expert, I do like to do my research on procedures with the skin and body, so here is some helpful advice on hair removal.

Removing hair can be quite painful regardless of the method used if it is not done correctly. The more irritation caused to your actual skin, and your skin type will determine if you get hyperpigmentation in result of hair removal. 

Hair Removal Methods: Pain vs. Hyperpigmentation

The likelihood to hyperpigment depends on your skin type, skin pigment in relation to the fitzpatrick scale, proper technique and skin sensitivity. Not everyone experiences pain in the same way and it is important to note that this information is based on personal schema and analysis. I’ve compiled a list of pros and cons explaining different hair removal methods from most to least irritating and which is best depending on your skin type and lifestyle. Below you will find a pain vs. hyperpigmentation scale that each hair removal method is rated on. This will provide context on each method relative to one another. 

Pain index scale

Epilating

epilating
Epilating is using an electrical device to remove multiple hairs at once from the root. Think of tweezers (the most traumatic hair removal technique you can use, definitely a cause for hyperpigmentation).

PRO

This process is pulling the hair out from the root, meaning that hair regrowth will be less frequent. Over time this method minimizes regrowth.

epilating

CON

This method is highly painful, and because of the irritation to the skin, it will cause you to hyperpigment. Epilating falls on the bottom left quadrant as the process is highly irritating to the skin and the most painful. It’s best to use an epilator on the least sensitive areas of your body, if you do choose to use this method.

Shaving

The Best Hair Removal Methods Based on Irritation Level
I believe shaving is the most common hair removal. It’s easy, convenient and doesn’t have a high upfront cost when compared to other options.

PRO

Shaving doesn’t take too long and is relatively inexpensive. If done right, your skin be left very silky and smooth.
The Best Hair Removal Methods Based on Irritation Level

CON

However, shaving does irritate the skin and can cause hyperpigmentation, if not done properly. A board-certified dermatologist, Hadley King, MD says, “these types of skin irritations [razor bumps and ingrown hairs] are often the culprit of improper shaving techniques.” Make sure to exfoliate, use a shave oil and never a dull blade. After hair removal, don’t apply products to the “broken skin”, wait at least 24 hours to apply, giving enough time to the skin to regenerate.

Shaving can be the cause of hyperpigmentation, due to the micro-cuts and irritation it causes to the skin. Although the process itself is less painful as you aren’t taking the hair out from the root, the frequency of shaving can also be the cause of the dark spots. For this reason, shaving falls on the bottom right quadrant. 

Waxing

waxing

Waxing is when you apply hot or cold wax to your skin and using a fabric strip or if it’s hard wax, just the wax, to remove the hair from the root. Similar to sugaring, but a lot more intese way of removing the hair.

PRO

With this method you are removing hair from the root, and that means that the hair will take longer to grow back. There will be more time between each waxing experience, you will also experience less hyperpigmentation compared to shaving.

waxing

CON

Waxing does tend to be quite high on the pain scale. The process of waxing is irritating when you do it, so it is important to take proper care of your skin after your appointment. Depending on if your wax is too hot, it can also burn the skin, make sure you’re going a trusted salon. Waxing is a good option as it will be less likely to give you hyperpigmentation, but at the cost of pain, for this reason, waxing is on the bottom left quadrant.

Sugaring

sugaring

Tanja Westendorff from Sugaring London says “Sugaring is suitable for all skin tones and skin types. It is the gentlest way to remove unwanted hair”.

PRO

Sugaring is less aggressive than waxing, for that reason it is less likely to cause extreme hyperpigmentation. You will see effects last up to five weeks, which means you will be irritating your skin less, also resulting in less hyperpigmentation. Sugaring sits on the top right quadrant of the pain index scale.

sugaring

CON

After care is incredibly important. Since you’re pulling the hair out from the root, you should wait 24 hours before you exercise or go out in the sun. It is possible that your paste is too hot, if that’s the case then you will experience burning. Make sure your technician is reputable, knows what they are doing and using the correct temperature of sugar paste when applying. The other thing with sugaring, is that you must wait until your hair reaches a certain length.

Laser Hair Removal

laser hair removal

Laser hair removal is when a light is used to absorb the pigment in the hair. The laser is light that is turned into heat, this works to damage the hair follicle and eliminate hair production.

PRO

Laser can have long lasting effects, and because you don’t need to be getting it done very often, the irritation level to your skin is less. For that reason, laser doesn’t cause as much hyperpigmentation as the other hair removal methods. There are different types of laser, that can also be varying on how much pain it causes. Your skin pigment, hair pigment and hair texture also play a role in the pain factor. For this reason, laser falls on the top left quadrant of the pain index scale.

laser hair removal

CON

Most commonly, laser is painful. The pain can also be dependent on the studio or technician you go to. When getting laser, book a consultation with your desired studio, to understand what method is best for you. Another con of laser can be that it is very expensive, although the effects can be long term.

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Trimming

electronic trimmer

Using an electric trimmer, you can cut down the hair, similar to shaving without the micro-cuts.

PRO

It is less irritating to the skin, as you are removing the hair at a close level to the skin. It isn’t painful as you are not removing the hair from the root thus causing less irritation. Because trimming is the least painful and least irritating it falls on the top right quadrant of the pain index scale.

electronic trimmer

CON

The hair will re-grow at a faster pace than waxing or sugaring. If done incorrectly, it can irritate the skin and you may injure yourself.

Hair Removal Aftercare to Prevent Hyperpigmentation

Hair Removal Aftercare to Prevent Hyperpigmentation

Whether you remove your hair or not, or which method you use, you should be exfoliating regularly, apply sunscreen and moisturize regularly to keep your skin hydrated and protected from the sun. Understanding the pros and cons of each method and how to avoid irritation is key to preventing hyperpigmentation.

One of the real reasons I choose to focus on pain and hyperpigmentation is that I just spent the last year developing products to address this situation due to the volume of emails I receive from customers. If you struggle with dark spots on legs, back or arms, the kojic acid body bar in conjunction with the takesumi bright deodorant can tackle hyperpigmentation. Dark spots also occur, when you irritate the skin, choose the hair removal method that is best for you and your skin, and this too will help with hyperpigmentation.

If you liked learning more about skincare ingredients and which ones are best for you, check out my blog The Little Book of Human Discomforts each week. I share clever solutions for seemingly embarrassing skin, body, and hair issues on a weekly basis. Subscribe below to be the first to know about new content. You can also find more body and skincare tips on Instagram @kaianaturals and on my TikTok page @madamesweat.

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All content found on this website is created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. 

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