As anyone with rapidly-growing body hair knows, stubble often has the pesky habit of reappearing mere hours after shaving. Yes, the five o'clock shadow is real, folks. However, it's probably safe to say that if this were the case for all methods of hair removal, most people wouldn't even bother. If you're not familiar with these hair removal techniques and how long each of their results last, it's about time you get acquainted. Once you do, you'll be able to decide on the best option for you. Ahead, find a breakdown of the most common hair removal methods along with facts about their longevity. You're one step closer to achieving the smooth, stubble-free limbs you love.
Also known as depilatories, hair removal creams use a strong alkaline solution, that works by slowly breaking down the hair until it turns jelly-like and can be wiped off.
When the formula is removed, the hair should come along with it effortlessly. Because this method doesn't remove hair from the follicle itself (it just removes the hair it can touch), if you have dark, thick hair you might still see a shadow beneath the skin. The results are similar to shaving, giving you a couple days of smooth skin.
Electrolysis is the only method approved by the FDA for permanent hair removal and involves the actual destruction of the follicle. While it has one of the best track records, it is worth noting that multiple sessions are needed in order to achieve optimal results.
Other factors, like the skill of the electrologist, the specific type used, and hormone levels can also impact one's results. Permanent hair removal isn’t 100 percent guaranteed for everyone, but electrolysis is one of the most legit options available if that's what you're after.
Laser hair removal works by using a light that converts to heat, which then damages the hair follicles, resulting in less hair growth and density. Multiple sessions may help reduce the overall amount of hair and make some hairs lighter and finer. What's more, it is currently FDA-approved for permanent "hair reduction" but not permanent hair removal.
Unfortunately, not everyone's hair responds with the same reduction to treatments. Multiple sessions are also needed in order to see any type of results. There are devices which treat all skin types—Splendor X is the first. Rhea Souhleris Grous, an aesthetics specialist with more than two decades experience and the founder of La Suite Skincare recommends waiting four to six weeks between treatments, for four to ten treatments. "It dramatically reduces hair growth long-term, unlike sugaring or waxing," she says.
For a more in-depth look at laser hair removal, check out this writer's experience and find out what she wishes she'd known before getting the treatment.
No surprise here: The main ingredient used in this hair removal method is sugar. The product is combined and cooked alongside other natural ingredients like lemon juice and water, and sometimes honey, salt, and essential oils.
Sugaring removes the hair follicle and can last up to six weeks if done right. Sugaring paste can remove very short hairs, and because it removes the hair follicle, it may lead to a reduction of hair when performed frequently over time. Read about our assistant editor's experience with the all-natural technique here.
Commonly compared to sugaring, waxing is a super-popular method both used at home and in countless salons. It utilizes a thick, resin-based formula to remove the entire hair root from the follicle. Like with sugaring, results can last up to six weeks (though Grous suggests coming back after four), making it one of the major fan-favorite forms of hair removal, particularly for those who don't want to pay big money for lasers.
The most important thing to note is you need at least a quarter-inch regrowth in order for the wax to grab the hair. So you will inevitably have a few days every four to six weeks with hair, unlike laser hair removal or shaving.
This ancient process originating from Eastern countries uses a cotton or polyester doubled string to pluck hair out of its follicle. It's quite amazing, too, considering how fast it can be done with great precision sans the use of any chemicals or powered tools. Most commonly used on facial hair—especially eyebrows—it pulls hairs out like a lasso and can last up to six weeks.
Also known simply as "plucking," tweezing removes hair from the follicle and can last anywhere from two to six weeks depending on the thickness and rate of your hair growth. If you're trying to tackle a large amount of hair, however, it can be an arduous process, which is why tweezing is typically a method reserved for facial hair.
These are some of our favorite tweezers that get the job done, and we've tried them all.
Using a razor, whether manual or electric, will only cut hair off at the skin's surface layer so it won't last nearly as long as some of the aforementioned methods. It can also result in razor burn, which is why many women opt for waxing or lasers. However, some people prefer its quickness and simplicity.
Put simply: The results are short-lived, so if you're aiming for longevity, it's worth trying a technique that targets the follicle itself.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Removing hair safely. Updated June 30, 2010.
Gold MH, Foster A, Biron JA. Low-energy intense pulsed light for hair removal at home. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(2):48-53.
Ladizinski B, Ganta N, Mathur J. Threading: a timeless method for facial hair maintenance and potential complications. Int J Trichology. 2012;4(1):46. doi:10.4103/0974-7753.96092