Pros And Cons Of Different Hair Removal Methods (2024)

If you’re interested in getting rid of body hair, you have a plethora of hair removal methods to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a quick fix, like shaving at home, or a more permanent solution, like laser hair removal, each method comes with positives and negatives.

Different hair removal methods vary in terms of the overall process, time, cost and how much expertise is required. The right option for you depends on the solution you’re after and how much you want to spend, as well as what you’re comfortable with. To assist in the decision-making process, we’ve compiled a list of the pros and cons of various hair removal methods so you know exactly what to expect.

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Pros and Cons of Different Hair Removal Methods

There are pros and cons to consider for each hair removal option. Some hair removal methods, like shaving or plucking, might be easier, faster and less expensive than others, but they also might not produce long-lasting results. And while options like laser hair removal and electrolysis might result in permanent hair removal, they can also be expensive and potentially more painful.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each hair removal method to determine what’s best for you.


Epilation is a temporary hair removal method that involves removing both the hair shaft and the hair root, according to Reshmi Kapoor, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and owner and founder of Brooklyn Dermatology in Brooklyn, New York.

One of the biggest advantages of epilation is that it has lasting results. “Removing hair at the root will give longer-lasting results than shaving, and repeated plucking can cause the follicle to scar down and stop growing hair,” explains Jessie Cheung, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Willowbrook, Illinois. “Cons include minor discomfort and potential irritation, and broken shafts can lead to ingrown hairs or infections.”

There are a few different types of epilation. Below is how to achieve each method, along with their pros and cons.

Epilator device. An epilator is a handheld electric device that pulls hairs out of your skin. “Similar to waxing or threading, an epilator essentially pulls hair out from the roots instead of cutting at the base like a razor,” explains Dr. Cheung.

Epilator devices individually pluck out each hair, as opposed to other methods that can sometimes break the hair, says Dr. Cheung. She says that while results can vary, most people will have results that last for up to four weeks. However, epilator devices might cause discomfort or irritation, especially for those with sensitive skin, notes Dr. Cheung.

Plucking. Another form of epilation, plucking your hair (typically using tweezers) is something you can do yourself at home, or through a paid, professional service. Since you have to pluck individual hairs, this is a better option for smaller areas, like your eyebrows.

“Particularly for areas like the eyebrows, plucking is perfect because it doesn’t introduce the open follicle to any foreign waxes or oils,” says Dr. Cheung. If done from home, it’s easy to learn, inexpensive and relatively fast. Care should be taken to avoid plucking too aggressively or with unclean tools, both of which can lead to infections and scarring.

Because plucking is so precise and time consuming, it’s not a realistic option for larger areas of the body. It should also be performed very carefully because it can cause ingrown hairs, scarring or irritation if done too close to the skin, adds Dr. Cheung. Additionally, it may not be as effective as other hair removal methods.

Waxing. During this process, hot or cold wax is applied to your skin, then quickly removed to pull hair out by the root. Waxing can be done on large or small areas and results can last for several weeks or longer. It can be done at home or by a professional. “There are different types including waxing strips, hard wax, sugaring and at-home kits,” says Dr. Cheung.

“Waxing results can last over three weeks, depending on hair growth,” notes Dr. Cheung. She also notes that consistently waxing over time can weaken the hair follicle and cause the hair to grow back thinner.

Waxing may not be beginner-friendly and is typically recommended to be done by a professional, which can be expensive. Dr. Cheung recommends finding a reputable spa or wax center to avoid irritation, infection and burning. Removing the wax can be pretty painful and it can also leave your skin red, sore and irritated for a short time afterward. You also have to be careful about the temperature of the wax, as it can burn your skin if too hot.

Threading. Threading is a hair removal option that uses a piece of thin, cotton thread that is rolled and twisted over hairs that you want to be pulled out. “If done correctly, threading is a great alternative for those with sensitive skin,” says Dr. Cheung. “Threading is a precise method to remove hair and some prefer it to waxing because of the oils often used in waxing that can cause breakdowns/irritation.”

Threading is a precise hair removal option that works better for smaller areas, such as your eyebrows, and it’s faster than plucking because it removes more hairs at once. The results can last several weeks and it doesn’t cause much irritation.

“Threading is more time consuming and if done incorrectly can cause micro tears due to friction from the cotton threads on dry skin,” adds Dr. Cheung. Since it’s so precise, it’s also not a fitting solution for larger areas of the body.

Sugaring. Sugaring is similar to waxing: you apply a paste of lemon juice, sugar and water in the opposite direction of hair growth and then pull the hair off in the direction it grows. This pulls the hair out by the follicle to remove it.

Sugaring uses more natural ingredients instead of chemicals, making it a preferable option for some, notes Dr. Cheung. “It is also said to be less painful than waxing, however, both methods rip hair out by the follicle and will bring a certain level of pain,” she adds. This method can be done on almost any part of the body, unlike threading or plucking.

According to Dr. Cheung, sugaring has a softer grip on the skin than some other methods, so it may not be as effective at precisely removing hair. It can still cause some irritation, especially for sensitive skin. And while there are sugaring kits you can use at home, it’s recommended to get this service done by a professional in a salon.

It’s important to note that lemon juice may cause skin irritation in some individuals. If you are unsure of how your skin will respond, it’s best not to perform sugaring at home and seek professional guidance.

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“Shaving removes hair at the skin surface level by using a razor or blade to cut the hair,” says Dr. Kapoor. A depilation method, shaving doesn’t actually remove the hairs entirely, it just cuts them so they aren’t visible.

As both Dr. Kapoor and Dr. Cheung note, shaving is probably the most commonly utilized method of hair removal because it’s inexpensive, convenient and fast. It can be done on large areas of hair and is easy to learn. It’s often less painful than something like waxing, unless you cut yourself.

“The most notable con of shaving is its transient effect, with hair regrowing within a day or a matter of days,” says Dr. Kapoor. It can also cause hair to grow back with blunt tips that can cause ingrown hairs and folliculitis. As Dr. Cheung notes, using the wrong tools, like a dull blade or not enough gel, can lead to skin irritation, nicks, cuts and other potential infections.

Intense Pulsed Light

Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a light device that uses a flashlamp to emit a broad wavelength of light, explains Dr. Kapoor. “This makes it fundamentally different from a laser, which by definition, emits a single wavelength of light,” she adds. She also notes that the wide spectrum of light an IPL emits makes it more versatile, allowing it to target a variety of skin issues, like redness, pigmentation, sun spots/freckles and unwanted hair.

Filters are applied to the IPL to narrow the emitted wavelength depending on what its target is. For hair removal, the IPL wants to target melanin in the hair. “When the IPL is filtered to emit the wavelength that targets melanin, it selectively heats up the melanin in the hair shaft and its stem cells and destroys it, causing the hair to fall out and leading to a reduction in hair growth,” explains Dr. Kapoor.

IPL is similar to laser hair removal, but it’s cheaper, notes Dr. Kapoor. It also covers a larger surface area over time compared to a laser, says Dr. Cheung, adding that when hair grows back, it’s lighter and thinner. Research has shown that IPL devices are safe and effective at reducing hair growth over time, can produce more effective hair removal and are less painful than hot waxing.

This is not a hair removal method you can do at home–you need to see a professional, which can be costly. It also may not be the best hair removal option for everyone. According to Dr. Kapoor, it’s most effective for those with lighter skin and darker hair, and is not safe for those with dark skin tones. IPL can also lead to side effects such as burns, blisters, hypo- or hyperpigmentation and permanent scarring. And while it’s cheaper than laser hair removal, you do need more sessions to achieve similar results, according to Dr. Kapoor. You also need to avoid other hair removal methods like plucking or waxing before your IPL session, since the hair shaft has to be present for the session to be effective, says Dr. Cheung. This means you may have visible hair between sessions.


Electrolysis is a procedure that destroys the hair follicle. During electrolysis, a fine needle or wire is inserted into individual hair follicles to deliver an electrical current that damages or permanently destroys the follicle, explains Dr. Kapoor.

Electrolysis can result in permanent hair removal after just one treatment, adds Dr. Cheung, which means follow-up sessions and maintenance likely won’t be required. And unlike IPL, it can be used on any hair color.

This is not something that can be done at home and is usually performed by an electrologist, says Dr. Kapoor, which can be expensive. It’s also time consuming because each follicle has to be treated individually. The heat and chemicals used in the electrolysis procedure might irritate the skin and cause scarring and unwanted pigmentation, as well as crusting, infection and discoloration, according to both Dr. Cheung and Dr. Kapoor.

Laser Hair Removal

Similar to IPL, laser hair removal uses a device that emits light that targets melanin in the hair to damage and ultimately destroy it, explains Dr. Kapoor. “Lasers are selective because the intention is to heat up the intended target only and spare the surrounding tissue from heat injury,” she notes. “In the case of those with pigmented skin, specific lasers with longer wavelengths are used. This helps to more selectively target the melanin in hair but spare the melanin in skin that contributes to darker skin tones.”

Multiple sessions of laser hair removal can reduce hair growth significantly and target areas effectively and quickly, Dr. Kapoor says. It can also permanently get rid of hair, except on a person’s face.

There are at-home kits you can use, but Dr. Cheung and Dr. Kapoor agree that laser hair removal should be done by a professional. It does require several maintenance sessions, so it can be costly. According to Dr. Kapoor, laser hair removal is not as effective for light-colored hair. A 2019 study backs this up, as it found that laser hair removal is not as effective for light blonde or white hair. However, researchers also found that laser hair removal is also not always ideal for darker skin tones, either, as it can result in unwanted side effects such as blistering, pigmentary changes and scarring[1]Zulfikar Arsiwala S, Majid I. Methods to overcome poor responses and challenges of laser hair removal in dark skin. Symposium-Lasers. 2019;85(1):3-9. .

“It is incredibly important to seek out a board-certified dermatologist with experience in using lasers in skin of color to properly select the correct laser and settings for hair removal and to avoid complications,” adds Dr. Kapoor. After a laser hair removal session, you also need to keep the area covered and out of the sun as it heals, unlike other methods like waxing or shaving.


Chemical depilatories are often found in the form of topical cream or lotion. “Depilatories are chemicals that break down keratin bonds and melt hair away at the surface of the skin, leaving a stubble-free surface for a few days,” notes Dr. Kapoor. They penetrate and affect the hair follicle, but they don’t get to the roots of the hair, adds Dr. Cheung.

Depilatories can be used at home and are simple, fast and inexpensive. According to Dr. Kapoor, results can last longer than shaving. They help you avoid the potential nicks, cuts, ingrown hairs and stubble of shaving, since the hair will be tapered as it grows out of the skin, adds Dr. Cheung.

Applying depilatories can be messy, and many come with a strong odor, according to Dr. Kapoor. “They must be applied with caution as accidental application to sensitive areas like ears, eyes and nose can cause chemical burns,” she notes. “Chemical depilatories can also cause contact dermatitis, a reaction or rash on the skin to the chemical ingredient.”

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Choosing the Right Hair Removal Method for You

“Factors to consider when deciding which hair removal method to use include cost, pain tolerance, the efficiency of the method, hair type and body area affected, as well as the efficacy and longevity of results,” says Dr. Kapoor.

You will also need to consider how much you want to spend, if you want to go to a professional and how much maintenance you want to keep up with.

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Safely remove unwanted hair with The Flasher 2.0 by Nood. You can use it everywhere that hair grows, including bikini, Brazilian, underarms, legs and face

Shop Now

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Pros And Cons Of Different Hair Removal Methods (2024)
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