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Hair removal methods

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4 january 2012 | yours.ie

The weather may be changing, we may be wrapping up in extra layers - but the seasonal adjustment doesn't have to signal an end to de-hairing our lovely limbs. Sheer tights - with pokey little leg hair spikes? Your favourite vest - with underarm accessories? No, we thought not.

tube of cream
woman lotion leg

You can halt that hairiness in its progress with our low-down on methods of hair removal, which you can practice in the cosy - and relatively cost-friendly - confines of your own home. DIY means of hair removal have improved dramatically, to the detriment of beauty salon takings across the land. Of course, it's often quicker to have the job done by a professional, but if you want to tackle the work at home, or practice a little hair-line maintenance, here's our a-z on the ups and downs of what's currently on offer.

Quick and easy to use: Creams

Remember we mentioned it's often quicker - and, let us add, more thorough - to have the hair removal job done by a professional? That's where creams are a case in point. They can be handy, and relatively expensive, but sometimes they just don't work very well, or at all.

Pro: As we said above, depilatory creams are quick and easy to use at home. Reviewers seem to favour Sally Hansen's Pure Scent-sation Hair Removal Creme (although the scent-sation title seems to be misleading), or the Veet range, available in pharmacies nationwide.

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Con: Sometimes they just don't work, or remove a little patch, but leave all the neighbouring follicles fully filled. And the smell and chemical contents can be further turn-offs. You also have to watch that you don't leave the cream on for too long, to avoid getting skin burn!

Back to your roots: epilators

An investment that - hopefully - leads to at-home excellence. These devices grip several hairs and pull them out from the root. If you don't have a very high pain threshold, they can be tough going - topical cream preparations or a painkiller or two may be needed.

The No!No! Hair Removal System is a new thermal treatment from the U.S. for professional at-home hair removal. A portable device, it emits a gentle wave of heat that destroys hair and reduces regrowth. Be warned, it's pricey: over €150.

blue epilatorPro: Whipping hair out at the root equals a longer-term hairless zone when compared to other hair removal methods. Online commentators, like Fiii at boards.ie, reckons it's less painful than waxing; she recommends the Braun 3170 epilator, prices vary, from €70-€90.

Con: They can cause ingrown hairs and unsightly lumps when hairs break and grow back in a tightly-curled knot under the skin. So it's pretty important to exfoliate before you epilate, and use plenty of softening lotion afterwards.

The quickiest way: razors

They're so handy, and if there's a guy in your life then there's usually some turbo-powered climb-every-mountain version on the bathroom shelf. Just don't get caught in the act of blunting his wonder tool! Men's shaving foams are also very efficient, and less expensive than the prettily packaged versions for ladies. If you've run out of foam, hair conditioner works equally well.

Opinions vary about the best razor brand to buy, but a majority online seem to favour the Gillette Venus range of blades - and apparently the razor heads are interchangeable, so hang on to the original handle and you can try different versions of blades to find the best for your pins.

Pro: You can't beat a razor for silky smooth legs - it's advisable to lather up well and shave upwards from the ankle, against hair growth, and then back down again for best results, and to avoid the dreaded bumpy skin effect.

Con: Cheap razors are a false economy - you'll be lucky to get half a hairless leg from one before it starts to nick and nip.

razor wax hair removal

Painful but long-lasting: wax

With repeated waxing, hair will grow back weaker and may stop growing altogether so this method has a lot going for it. The results also usually last for at least a couple of weeks. But don't do your waxing the day before you plan to indulge in some sun worship.

Home waxes are used hot or cold, depending on the brand. The cold wax method usually comes in strips. You peel the strips apart, apply to the skin, press, and remove. That sounds straight-forward, but it won't be plain sailing from the beginning, although with practice it'll get easier.

With warm waxes, or hot waxes, the preparation can be a little messy - involving the heating of the wax tub over a pot of water or in a microwave. However, the warm liquid grips the hair better than the cold version, so you're on the way to finer results.

Pro: Waxing is often the method of choice in most salons, so you're going down a professional route. For cold waxing, many larger pharmacies do in-house or own-label versions that are similar to leading brands, but cost less. For hot wax, Smooth Appeal seems to be the brand-de-jour. Bliss also has a Poetic Waxing Kit, a low temperature treatment that grabs hairs as short as one mm and keep you fuzz-free for a month.

Con: The home method is seldom as efficient as the salon service. And between melting, peeling, pulling, ripping, wiping - let's just say waxing takes a fair chuck of time out of your evening.