A Fundamental Guide to Hair Removal Methods for Women

Discover different tools and techniques for removing body hair at the surface or at the root, and find the best hair removal methods for you.

A Fundamental Guide to Hair Removal Methods for Women

Discover different tools and techniques for removing body hair at the surface or at the root, and find the best hair removal method, or methods, for your specific needs. You can remove body hair in a number of ways, whether at the surface or by the root. Some women may just use one method to remove body hair, while others will use multiple hair removal methods depending on what body part they want to remove hair from and for what occasion. Either way, learning about the various options can help ensure you choose the right one(s) for you.

Surface Hair Removal Methods

Surface hair removal methods cut hair at the surface of the skin, not the root.

Manual shaving

Venus Refillable Razor for Manual Shaving

Shaving with a manual razor is one of the most popular hair removal methods; it’s easy, affordable and fast. Soak your skin in warm water via a shower or bath for a few minutes, apply shaving gel and use a sharp razor blade in light, steady strokes. After you finish shaving, rinse, pat your skin dry and apply a moisturizer. Wet shaving with a sharp razor can be used anywhere, however it’s particularly great for legs, armpits, arms and bikini line. In general, we recommend women shave every one to three days during a shower or bath if the goal is to maintain smooth skin. Learn more about how to properly shave individual areas of the body.


  • Can do daily
  • Quick and effective
  • Inexpensive
  • Can do anywhere


  • Can cause razor burn and ingrown hairs when done incorrectly
  • Frequent upkeep

Electric shaving

Electric Razor

An electric razor has a moving blade under a fine screen that glides across your skin, trapping and cutting away the hair from the surface. What makes an electric razor different than a manual razor is that you typically shave dry skin rather than wet skin. Dry shaving with an electric device can be used anywhere. It works well for legs, arms, underarms and bikini line. Electric razors usually do not cut the hair as closely as manual razors do; so if you want to maintain smooth skin, you may need to shave more often — in general, every one to two days. Learn more about electric and manual shavers.


  • Can do daily
  • Can dry shave
  • Safe and easy to use
  • Can come with several attachments and features


  • Typically takes longer than wet shaving and isn’t as effective
  • Frequent upkeep
  • Can be expensive and is larger than a manual razor

Depilatory creams

Woman shaving her leg on dry skin

Depilatory creams chemically dissolve body hair at the surface of the skin. Apply the cream, let it sit for several minutes and then use a clean wash cloth to gently rub off the cream and hair residue. Rinse off your skin and apply a moisturizer. This hair removal method is better for smaller areas of the body, such as armpits, bikini line and upper lip. Depilatory creams can slow down hair growth for a few days up to several weeks, depending on the person.


  • Risk-free of cuts and nicks
  • Hair appears softer when it grows back because it has not cut a blunt edge


  • Can be messy
  • May have unpleasant smell
  • Can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions due to chemical ingredients

Root Hair Removal Methods

Root hair removal methods work to remove hairs by the root rather than the surface of the skin.


Eyebrows Tweezing

Tweezing works by pulling out hair strands by the root with a pair of tweezers. To help lower chances of infection, be sure to clean the tweezers after each use. This hair removal method can last two to six weeks and works best on smaller areas of the body, such as the eyebrows and upper lip.


  • Long-lasting results
  • Effective, inexpensive and easy to do
  • Can be quick when used on small areas


  • Can be painful, cause skin irritation and ingrown hairs, especially if the hair breaks vs pulling out cleanly
  • Not efficient for larger area hair removal needs


Legs Waxing

Waxing can be done by a professional at a salon or at home with a waxing kit. You apply a hot or cold wax to your skin in the same direction as the hair growth. After letting the wax set, grab a fabric strip, smooth it across your skin and quickly remove the strip going against the direction of the hair growth to pull out the hair from the root. Waxing can be used on any area of the body, and works well on legs, bikini line, underarms, eyebrows and upper lip. Waxing frequency will vary but, in general, wax every three to six weeks to maintain smoothness.


  • Long-lasting results
  • Fast and effective


  • Can be painful, and cause skin irritation, redness and ingrown hairs
  • Can get costly if applied by a professional
  • Does not always pull away all of the hairs in a single strip
  • Not recommended to wax until body hair grows to a certain length


Woman using epilator on her leg

Epilation removes hair for up to four weeks by using a device called an epilator that has tiny electric rotating tweezers that move across the surface of the skin to quickly pull the hairs away. Epilators can be used on all parts of the body, and work great for legs, arms, underarms, bikini line and face.


  • Long-lasting results
  • Easy to use
  • Versatile attachments and features
  • Can work on wet or dry skin


  • Can be uncomfortable on sensitive areas and cause irritation

Laser or pulsed light treatments

Laser and Intense Pulsated Light Devices Provide a More Permanent Hair Removal Method

Laser and intense pulsated light (IPL) devices provide a more permanent hair removal method with regular treatment. You can get laser and IPL treatments performed be a professional or purchase an IPL device to use at home. Laser hair removal uses a single laser beam to target melanin in hair follicles to prevent regrowth. IPL works similarly but uses broad-spectrum light. Both hair removal methods can be used anywhere but work best on darker body hair. Lasor and IPL can offer a more permanent hair removal solution in four to 12 treatments; some women may need a touchup every six to 12 months.


  • A more permanent hair removal solution with regular treatments
  • Effective results


  • Can cause irritation, burns, swelling and reddening of skin
  • Can be uncomfortable
  • Is more costly than other hair removal methods
Method Manual Razor Electric Shaving Depilatory Creams Tweezing Waxing Epilation Laser & IPL
Cost effective        
Long Lasting      
Convenience & Comfort          
Skin Experience          
Best For Legs, Armpits, Arms, Bikini Line, and Upper Lip Legs, Armpits, Arms, Bikini Line Armpits, Bikini Line, Upper Lip Eyebrows & Upper Lip Legs, Armpits, Arms, Bikini, Eyebrows and Upper Lip Legs, Armpits, Arms, Bikini, Eyebrows, Upper lip Legs, Armpits, Arms, Bikini, Eyebrows, Upper lip