Waxing vs. Shaving: Everything You Need to Know

Updated 03/29/19
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Waxing and shaving, though both common methods of hair removal, are vastly different in every other aspect. Waxing is a process that requires a hot wax to remove the hair follicle from the hair shaft by mechanical force, while shaving is a method that involves a razor blade to trim the hair. When it comes to which method is better, well, that depends on a number of factors and which you deem more important than others. Consider the below arguments when deciding between waxing vs. shaving.

The Convenience of Each Method

With shaving, it’s as simple as hoping in the shower whenever you need or whenever best suits your schedule. With waxing, however, a good amount of preparation is required. Whether you choose to use an at-home product or go to a spa, you’ll first need to grow your hair to roughly a quarter of an inch, which takes time and involves an awkward growing-out phase. If you choose to go to a salon for your wax, you’ll need to book an appointment in advance and factor in the time it’ll take to travel to and from the spa.

How Long Each Process Takes

Shaving could take anywhere from a couple of minutes to 10 minutes, depending on the amount of hair you’re removing (i.e. just your underarms or your whole body). Waxing is also a fairly quick process, and a session could last up to 30 minutes based on the area. You’d also have to factor in the time getting to and from your appointment if you're visiting a spa or the time needed to heat the wax to the right consistency if using an at-home kit.

How Long the Results Last

According to Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, M.D., dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology in NYC, hair growth is variable and depends on a number of factors, including the area of removal. For instance, hair on the bikini and the underarm grow faster than the arms and legs, so it’s important to use similar areas when comparing waxing vs. shaving.

Hair grows in cycles (growing, resting, and shedding), so you’re only removing a certain amount of hair at any given time. The more consistently you wax, the longer you’ll be able to stretch out your appointments, but on average, a wax can last up to two weeks before regrowth appears.

As far as shaving goes, doing so every day or every other day is necessary for completely stubble-free skin. Women with lighter or thinner hair might be able to squeeze in another day or two before shaving again, but typically a couple of days is the max.

How Much Each Method Hurts

No matter what you do to prepare, waxing is painful, and waxing your pubic area is even more so. Obviously, the physical ripping of the hair out of the follicle is not an enjoyable sensation, but also consider the uncomfortable temperature of the wax and the lingering tenderness of the skin that follows.

Shaving, on the other hand, is relatively painless when done correctly. Dr. Levin says if you have properly exfoliated the area, used a sharp razor and a softening shave cream, and followed up with a moisturizer, your chances of shaving nicks and razor burn are significantly decreased.

How Much Each Method Costs

You can purchase a pack of disposable razors for a few bucks, or splurge on a good quality reusable razor for $10. Add a can of shaving cream, which will last you many uses, for less than $5. Shaving is the more economical option up front, but don’t forget to factor in how often you shave and the cost of blade refills.

An at-home wax kit can cost you upwards of $10, but you can usually get at least a few uses of it. The price of a professional wax appointment depends on the area of hair removal and your location, but these can be rather pricey, especially if you include the tip in your calculation.

Waxing vs. Shaving

Overall, the better choice of the two methods is totally up to you and your personal preference. For some, the pain of waxing is enough to put up with all the tedious parts of shaving. For others, the idea of shaving every day is much too high-maintenance. When it comes to waxing vs. shaving, there is no better or worse—only what’s right for you.

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