Armpit hair removal, like armpit hair itself, can be a beast. Underarm hair is dark, coarse, thick, difficult to reach, and regrows quickly (and prickly).
But there may be a better way to remove underarm hair than what you're used to doing, according to the experts. Changing up your method can potentially save you time, energy, and frustration—not to mention ingrown hairs, razor burn, and other common pitfalls (ha, ha) of underarm hair removal.
Recent years have brought about massive improvements in at-home hair-removal devices and products, making underarm hair removal easier and even—shockingly—kind of pleasant.
Meet the Expert
Ahead, we break down the top seven methods for armpit hair removal at home.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is "relatively painless but expensive," Ciraldo says, adding that users "eventually get permanent hair reduction."
Lasering works by identifying your underarm hair based on its color contrast to your skin, then zapping it.
"Unfortunately, not all hair types are a candidate for laser hair removal," Tobia says. "If you have very light or thin hair, it makes it harder to be picked up by the laser." Those with medium and dark skin may also need to avoid at-home lasering due to the high risk of burning the skin.
For best results with laser hair removal, you've got to stick with it; plan to do a DIY lasering session once a month for about eight months, Tobia says.
The Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X is one of the most powerful lasers for at-home hair removal—not to mention it's the first laser of its kind approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
IPL Hair Removal
IPL, an acronym for "intense pulsed light," is similar to laser hair removal in that it uses light to poof underarm hair away.
"The main difference between IPL and laser hair removal devices is the light source used," Tobia shares. "IPL uses broad-spectrum visible light. This light creates heat, which damages the follicle."
Although IPL treatments are usually quicker than lasering for underarm hair removal, IPL typically requires more treatments for successful hair removal than lasering does. And, like lasering, IPL is "not suitable for darker skin tones," Tobia says.
"It is necessary for there to be a big contrast in the color of hair versus skin for it to work well," Ciraldo adds.
Kenzzi's sleek IPL hair removal device promises to remove hair anywhere on the body—yes, even your face—which may help justify its hefty price tag.
If armpit stubble is your fear, you may just love waxing. Waxing works for all skin tones and hair types, and with repeated use, it can make underarm hair more manageable.
"Over time, waxed hairs grow back softer and thinner, which can help you spread out the time between hair removal," Tobia explains.
The main drawbacks of waxing: It's painful, and unlike some armpit hair removal methods, waxing won't ever stop hair from growing back.
"There’s no permanency to this so you will be waxing for the rest of your life, compared to something like IPL or laser," Ciraldo warns.
Another downside: Your underarm hair has to be pretty long in order to be yanked out by the wax. "You need to let the hair grow at least a quarter of an inch to wax properly, which means that you'll need to have armpit hair for a bit before you can get waxed again," Tobia adds. "For some people, that’s a total dealbreaker."
Flamingo's wax kits include 24 ready-to-go strips that eliminate two major hassles of traditional waxing: microwave heating and messy application.
Sugaring is like a homespun version of waxing; it involves pulling out underarm hair from the root using ingredients that are probably in your pantry right now.
DIY sugaring involves heating a mix of sugar, lemon juice, and water until it boils and reaches a syrup-like consistency; when it cools to a comfortably warm temperature, you spread it directly on underarm hair and rip it off.
It's a slightly tricky process for the uninitiated. "The consistency is hard to master and the learning curve can be frustrating," says Tobia.
Sugaring is a good alternative for people whose skin is too sensitive for wax, Ciraldo says. Do remember hair needs to be about a quarter-inch long (about the length of an eyelash) for good results.
If you don't want to DIY your sugar wax, there are store-bought sugaring kits like this one from Blue Milk & Honey, which doesn't require any strips to use.
We all know it but may not love it. Shaving is quick, cheap, and easy for removing armpit hair if a teeny bit high-maintenance.
"Shaving cuts only the hair to the surface of the skin and does not remove it from the root, which means the hair will grow back within a day or two," Tobia says.
For best results, it's important to invest in a high-quality razor. "A low-quality razor will dull more quickly, leading to more nicks and cuts on your skin, and a greater risk for razor bumps and inflammation," Tobia warns.
If you have sensitive skin prone to razor burn, try a single-blade product. Oui the People's rose gold razor is non-irritating and an undeniably beautiful addition to your bathroom shelfie.
If you're so over shaving, depilating is the next best option in terms of ease and affordability. Depilatory creams are applied to the skin to dissolve visible hair. "It uses active ingredients to break down the keratin bonds of the hair follicle to the surface of your skin," Tobia explains.
The biggest risk of depilatories is skin reactions: redness, itching, hives, burns, and even blisters. "Chemical irritation is always a potential side effect of depilatories when the product is improperly rubbed onto skin instead of just spread across the hair," Ciraldo warns.
If you have sensitive skin, start by doing a patch test on a small, hidden area of your body; after 72 hours, you'll know whether it's safe to spread it on your pits. Try Nad's depilatory cream, a cruelty-free option with minimal stink factor.
Like waxing and sugaring, epilators work by pulling underarm hair from the root. Results from epilating are long-lasting, and your hair doesn't have to be super long for an epilator to yank it successfully. "You can do it as soon as you even see a visible hair," Tobia says.
There's one major downside: "There is a lot of pain associated with epilating," she confesses of using the electronic device.
Ingrown hairs and pimples are a bit of a risk with epilating, but you can help avoid those issues by giving your armpits a quick scrub first. "Exfoliate your skin before using an epilator to give the device the clearest access to the hair at the surface level," Tobia says. "Glo’s Sugar Melt is a great body exfoliator."
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Karegoudar JS, Prabhakar PJ, Vijayanath V, Anitha MR, Surpur RR, Patil VM. Shaving versus depilation cream for pre-operative skin preparation. Indian J Surg. 2012;74(4):294-297. doi:10.1007/s12262-011-0368-5