A dermatologist weighs in on the best ways to remove unwanted hair at home

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If you're nervous about hair removal at home, this one's for you. (Credit: Getty)
If you're nervous about hair removal at home, this one's for you. (Credit: Getty)

If your self-quarantine is leading you into a hairy situation, join the club. While some are embracing Movember in March, others may not be as comfortable letting their body and facial hair grow wild and free. For the latter group, we spoke to top dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban about your at-home hair removal options.

Prep your skin properly:

“For any at-home treatment, clean, dry, exfoliated skin is preferable — remove dead skin cells and clogged pores before the hair removal,” says Dr. Shamban. “Gentle exfoliating is important before treatments.

CeraVe SA Body Wash

CeraVe SA Body Wash (Credit: CVS)
CeraVe SA Body Wash (Credit: CVS)

“CeraVe has a great body cleansing exfoliator that is good for all skin types,” Dr. Shamban advises.

Shop it: CeraVe SA Body Wash, $22, overstock.com

“Also avoid hot baths, showers, or steaming for 24 hours prior. If you are waxing, avoid gels, oils, and lotions,” she says. “If you are between laser treatments, do not wax, tweeze, epilate, or use chemical depilatories. Only shave.

If your skin is sensitized for any reason, Dr. Shamban advises against waxing, especially at home. “Avoid waxing if you have highly sensitive skin or have recently had excessive sun exposure or a burn,” she says. “Definitely don't perform at home if you have been on Isotretinoin or while using any retinol products in the area.”

Do your best to keep up with your normal hair-removal routine:

“If you have waxed or if you are in the cycle of laser hair removal you can certainly shave in between appointments, especially since the hairs on our body are in different phases of growth at different times,” says Dr. Shamban. Keeping up the cycle is better if you can, though. “The goal is to be consistent in a cycle with wax or laser treatments to focus on destroying the follicle so the hair growth diminishes and eventually disappears.”

As for those at-home waxing kits and home laser hair removal machines? Dr. Shamban thinks they’re a good way to stick to your routine, as long as you’re careful. “Most all of the home kits for waxing or laser can work, but you need to take precautions because damage can be done to the dermis,” says Dr. Shamban. If you do decide to wax at home, her tips are to “check temperature, and direction of the hair to minimize the potential for damage.”

Bliss Poetic Waxing Hair Removal Kit

Bliss Poetic Waxing Hair Removal Kit (Credit: Target)
Bliss Poetic Waxing Hair Removal Kit (Credit: Target)

Voted the best overall wax kit of 2020 for all types of hair removal, this foolproof set has everything you need to make sure you can’t go wrong.

“At-home laser devices work similarly to professional treatments, but use lower energy levels so are less effective. They can be time-consuming to use, but can be a good interim option to maintain improvements between professional treatments. Burning, irritation, and tearing of the top layers of skin can all be possible dermal disasters.”

Silk’n Flash & Go Express Hair Removal Device

Silk’n Flash & Go Express Hair Removal Device (Credit: Getty)
Silk’n Flash & Go Express Hair Removal Device (Credit: Getty)

This FDA-approved device packs a powerful punch when it comes to removing hair on the face and body.

If you’re afraid to remove hair from certain areas on your own:

Waxing, epilating, or lasering hair in hard-to-reach, hard-to-see, or particularly sensitive areas can be daunting. Dr. Shamban recommends bleaching or shaving as an alternative.

If you’re thinking of bleaching the hair to minimize its appearance instead of removing, Dr. Shamban says that’s okay to do at home. “Always follow directions about mixing bleaching agents,” she warns. “Be mindful of the ratios.”

Sally Hansen Extra Strength Crème Hair Bleach for Face & Body

Sally Hansen Extra Strength Crème Hair Bleach for Face & Body (Credit: Target)
Sally Hansen Extra Strength Crème Hair Bleach for Face & Body (Credit: Target)

This popular bleaching kit is appropriate for use on the face and body and includes everything you need to get the results you seek at home.

“And for hard to reach, see or otherwise super intimate or delicate areas, like your bikini or beyond — it is often best when left to a professional.”

If you normally wax your face and want to continue to remove the hair at home, shaving the hair on your face (or anywhere else, for that matter) will not make the hair come back thicker. “Women have vellus hair on their face, a lighter, shorter almost wispy, fine hair that develops in childhood and remains throughout adulthood,” says Dr. Shamban. “Its removal by shaving or any other means other should not change its structure.”

Sephora Collection Level Setter Razors

Sephora Collection Level Setter Razors (Credit: Sephora)
Sephora Collection Level Setter Razors (Credit: Sephora)

These straight razors are ideal for removing your peach fuzz to make your makeup go on smoothly and highlight your facial contours by removing hair that may make your features appear duller.

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