Hair removal which method is suitable for whom

Shaver, epilator, wax, cream – there are many methods to get rid of body hair. The experts from Stiftung Warentest introduce them and give tips on hair removal.

  1. For the industrious: shaving
  2. For experienced users: epilation
  3. For fearless ones: Wax
  4. For the anxious ones: Enthaa-rungs-creme
  5. For the annoyed: laser and flash lamp
  6. Avoiding rashes and injuries
  7. What helps against ingrown hairs
  8. Things to know about hair removal

For busy ones: shaving

Popular. For men and women in Germany, shaving is the most common method of removing unwanted body hair. © Shutterstock / Rido, Thinkstock (M)

The razor cuts the hair on the surface of the skin. Stubble grows back after just one to three days.

Hair does not grow back thicker. Some people have the impression that the hair grows back thicker and darker after shaving. But it is an optical illusion. Maja Hofmann, senior physician for dermatology at the Charite University Clinic in Berlin, explains: "Since the hairs are cut off directly on the skin at their thickest point in a cross-cut, they appear thicker when they grow back. The effect is comparable to a visit to the hairdresser, after which the hair seems to have more volume."

Dry or wet? There are three types of devices: disposable, system and electric razors. Thanks to interchangeable blades system razors can be used for a long time, disposable razors end up in the trash after a few shaves. System and disposable razors should be used with shaving foam. Only an electric razor is suitable for dry shaving. Some men also shorten chest or leg hair with a trimmer.

Many directions. To prepare the skin for shaving, it is advisable to first shave in the direction of growth and only then against it – especially in the intimate area. Since underarm hairs grow in whirls, they should be shaved once from top to bottom, from bottom to top and crosswise from both sides.

Cheap variant. Disposable razors are available in larger packs from a good 25 cents each, system razors about from 3 euros. Replacement blades cost between 70 cents and around 4 euros each, depending on the supplier. By the way, we cannot confirm the statement that shavers for women are systematically more expensive than those for men. System razors for women, however, with their rounded shaving heads, adapt particularly well to body contours. This facilitates shaving in hard-to-reach places in the bikini area and armpit.

Tip: Good razors can be found in the test reports on the women’s wet razor test and the men’s wet razor test by Stiftung Warentest.

For the experienced: epilating

Painful at first. The skin can get used to epilation over time. © Shutterstock / EverGrump, Thinkstock (M)

At the word epilator most people contort the face. Like rotating tweezers, the device pulls out the hair directly at the root. Stiftung Warentest has tested epilators.

Not for the faint hearted. People with very pain-sensitive skin should rather not reach for the epilator. However, with regular use, the skin can get used to epilating. What helps: Tighten the skin with one hand and place the epilator vertically. It can optimally grasp the hair when they are about 2 to 5 milli-meters long. If the device plucks long hair, it is more uncomfortable.

For the shower. In addition to epilators that are used dry, some suppliers offer waterproof devices. They can be used with shaving foam in the shower. Two devices, which according to the provider are also suitable for the shower, proved to be leaky in the epilator test, however: when we immersed them in water, water drops were subsequently found in their housings.

Longer rest. Epilators are comparatively expensive, with a price range from 20 to 150 euros. For it the hair grows up to one month no more after.

With the thread. So-called thread epilation is particularly suitable for removing unwanted hair from the face. Hairdressers or beauty salons offer them. The method works with a thread loop crossed several times in the middle. By snapping the fingers open and closed, the crosshairs twirl to the left and right, catching the hairs and pulling them out. The technique is considered well tolerated and thorough. The skin remains smooth for up to four weeks.

For the fearless: Wax

Waxing. Since waxing also removes the hair roots, the treatment is not completely pain-free. © Getty Images / Thinkstock (M)

With wax courageous hair at the root tear out. The reward: up to one month of hair freedom. Although the procedure is not entirely painless, the skin can get used to the jerky removal of the wax.

Warm or cold. The choice is between warm and cold wax. In the first type you apply heated liquid wax. But be careful: heat only slightly, otherwise there is a risk of burns. The solidified wax can be removed either as a piece or with a strip of cloth. Cold wax strips work in a similar way, but are only heated with the hands. If hair remains, the procedure should be repeated only after a few days, so that the skin can recover.

Sugar paste. The oriental paste of sugar, lemon juice and water, known in English as sugaring, is also popular. In Arabic it is called Halawa, which means sweetness. You mix the ingredients, heat them, knead them until soft. The mixture is applied to the area to be depilated and then removed. Unlike wax, it pulls off only the hair and not living skin cells.

At home or in the studio? Large cold wax strips in a pack of 20 are available from about 4 euros. Waxing in the studio can be more expensive. This also depends on which parts of the body are being freed from hair.

For anxious people: Enthaa-rungs-creme

Scrape off. Enthaa-rungs-creme is removed after the impact time with a spatula. © Thinkstock [M]

Hair removal creams get to grips with hair painlessly. Among women they are quite popular after shavers and epilators. Men, on the other hand, hardly use them. The tube of dehairing cream is available for just over 1 euro.

Resolved. The cream is applied to the area to be depilated. Then they are left to work. Certain ingredients – mostly thioglycolic acid – weaken the keratin, i.e. the horny substance in the hair, during this time. Thus it dissolves. What remains can be removed with the spatula provided. The rest is washed off. The result lasts slightly longer than after a shave.

Nothing for allergy sufferers. People prone to allergies and sensitive skin should be careful. Best to test the cream on a small spot. In the intimate area be careful that the cream does not come into contact with mucous membranes. Also, do not apply to injured or irritated skin.

Independent. Objective. Incorruptible.

For the annoyed: laser and flash lamp

Laser. It attacks the hair roots so that they do not produce new hair for a long time. © Getty Images / Andrey Popov, Thinkstock (M)

If you want to have peace and quiet for a long time, you can consider permanent hair removal with a laser or flash lamp (IPL, Intense Pulsed Light) – in a studio or by a dermatologist. In the meantime there are also home appliances on the market. Both can be priced in the hundreds of euros.

Attacked hair root. The laser used by the expert works with light in a special wavelength that reaches the hair root via the hair’s melanin and strongly attacks it. This prevents it from producing new hairs for a long time. Flash lamps work with short, intensive light impulses. It works similarly with home devices, but the impulses are weaker.

Reduced hair growth. After a few sessions with a professional, the hair does not grow back for up to six months. Several treatments are necessary, because not all hairs can be captured immediately. Home appliances must be used at shorter intervals at the beginning for long term success. For both applies: With the time less hair grows again. But too much is not to be expected, says dermatologist Maja Hofmann: "You achieve a reduction in hair growth, but not the general absence of new hair."Lack of scientific studies proving the effectiveness of home devices.

Not for everyone. The ideal combination for a treatment is a light skin and dark hair. Very blond or gray hairs cannot be removed with this method, as they lack the pigment melanin.

Shave before treatment. During the treatment, the light impulses reach the hair root directly via the melanin, the color of the hair. This destroys it. If the hair is not shaved off, the root does not absorb the light. This can cause pain during the treatment and burn the hair on the surface.

Not over-all usable. Users should concentrate: Moles, freckles, tattoos and piercings must be avoided during treatment.

Know the risks. The method is not risk-free. Light impulses of home devices are lower than those of professional devices in the studio or at the dermatologist, but with careless or improper use there is a risk of burns and skin discoloration. Therefore, be sure to follow the instructions. In addition, self-removal of hair lacks a specialist medical diagnosis. A doctor can judge whether moles or marks speak against laser treatment. You are on the safe side if an expert performs the depilation. Since this year, a new regulation on radiation protection requires all professional users to have a certificate of competence, for example through training.

Avoid rashes and injuries

Change blades regularly

Blunt blades are a frequent cause of injuries, reddening of the skin or an itchy rash after shaving. Therefore, the following applies: change blades regularly! There is no general rule about how often you should change blades. Change the blade if it tugs at the skin or no longer gives the usual smooth result. Contaminated blades can also cause cuts: So when shaving, rinse out the hair and foam with water in between.

Tip: Stiftung Warentest regularly tests women’s wet razors and men’s wet razors.

Do not press on so strongly

Also note: Do not apply too much pressure. Let the blades do the work and run the razor gently over the skin at a small angle – especially if the blades have just been changed, as they are still particularly sharp.

Do not use wet razors dry

It is also advisable to wet the skin with warm water before shaving and then use shaving foam or shower gel. How to make the blades glide smoothly over the skin. Especially practical in the shower. The warm water relaxes the pores. A wet razor should not be used on dry skin, as this increases the risk of reddening of the skin and also of cuts. In addition, a disinfecting cream after shaving can help to prevent inflammations.

Care for the skin after hair removal

Any form of hair removal stresses the skin. It needs a soothing care afterwards, for example by mild, moisturizing lotions. We advise against using creams that are particularly rich in fat, says Charite dermatologist Maja Hofmann: "They can worsen the bacterial colonization of the skin. Shaving causes microtrauma, which is the smallest injury to the skin. Bacteria can colonize here. Greasy creams form an impermeable greasy film on it, so that the bacteria are held in place."

Shaving helps against underarm odor

In principle, hair removal under the armpits helps to reduce the smell of sweat. Hofmann says, why: "Sweat can flow off faster and bacteria, which cause the smell, cannot settle in the hair."How you can prevent unpleasant body odor can be found in our special What helps against underarm odor and wetness? Good deodorants and anti-transpirants can be found in our test deodorant sprays.

Salt water can irritate shaved skin

If people with very sensitive skin bathe in salt water directly after shaving, this can irritate the skin thoroughly. "In general, however, visits to the swimming pool after shaving are unthinkable," says dermatologist Maja Hofmann. If you go out in the sun, you should always make sure you have adequate protection against UV radiation, such as using sunscreen. However, during the treatment period with laser or flash lamps, intensive sunlight should be avoided. This also applies before and after.

What helps against ingrown hairs

Hair grows in when it can no longer reach the surface of the skin. This is what happens when dead skin cells and sebum block the wax-tum channel. Tight-fitting clothing can also cause this. That’s why, for example, tight jeans affect the thighs or, because of the underpants, the intimate area. The type of hair is also responsible: people with curly or thick hair are more likely to have this problem than people with fine and straight hair.

Peeling prevents

Skin peeling can be used as a preventive measure to avoid clogging of the pores. But be careful: don’t exfoliate immediately before removing hair – rather one or two days beforehand. According to senior physician Hofmann, ingrown hairs occur less frequently after epilation. During epilation the hair is torn out at the root. "This causes less hair to grow back over time and as a result there is less risk of ingrown hairs."

Disinfect, don’t pick

If all this does not help and ingrown hairs still occur, it helps to disinfect the affected area to avoid inflammation. Above all, patience is important: do not try to pluck out the ingrown hairs with sharp objects or scratch them with your fingers, otherwise the area can become inflamed. If the inflammation covers a large area or if there is severe pain, those affected should consult a doctor.

Things to know about hair removal

In the biological ancestors of man, a strong body treatment protected the skin from the sun and infections. It also served as heat insulation and kept certain parasites away – mosquitoes, for example, could not penetrate the dense covering.

Hair removal has tradition

But already in ancient Egypt, ancient Rome and the ancient Orient, women and men removed their hair. This was done for hygienic, religious and – just like today – aesthetic reasons. For example, oriental depilatory paste made from sugar, lemon juice and water was popular. Some people carefully burned off their hair with a small torch or caught the hairs with a crossed thread wrapped around their fingers and plucked them out.

Hairlessness as an evolutionary step forward

Later, the teachings of Charles Darwin in particular are said to have influenced social attitudes toward body hair, says Rebecca Herzig, a professor of gender studies at Bates College in the United States. The scientist researched the cultural significance of body treatment and wrote the book "Plucked". A History of Hair Removal"("Plucked. A History of Hair Removal"). Herzig explains to test: "Darwin interpreted it as an evolutionary advance that humans are less hairy than their ancestors. This is also how they distinguished themselves from animals."For Darwin and his followers, hairlessness was a sign of cleanliness and beauty. "The cosmetics and advertising industries picked up on these considerations and made a lot of money off of it," Herzig says.

This special is updated regularly. Latest update: 26. May 2021.

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