In North America, it is rare to see a woman with hairy underarms, and if a woman does forget to shave, she’ll be loathed to show you. Even countries like France and Italy, which were once renowned for their free and easy attitude towards armpit hair, have jumped on the bandwagon, with women shaving, waxing and undergoing laser hair removal every day to achieve a clean and smooth look under the arms.
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The best ways to remove underarm hair
If you are wondering what the best way to remove underarm hair is, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve experimented with a variety of hair removal methods in my time, and have found that each method has its pros and cons depending on the situation and the sensitivity of your skin. On this page, I’d like to share these pros and cons with you so you can make an educated decision about which method is right for you.
1. Shaving your underarm hair
Shaving your underarm hair is probably a method you’ve tried at least once in your life as it is undoubtedly the cheapest, quickest and most common way of removing unwanted hair. All you have to do is lather soap under your armpits, and gently run the razor downwards and then upwards along the skin, and voila: smooth, hairless skin.
There are two types of razors one can use. The first is the manual razor with disposable blades. This is the cheapest kind of razor and can usually be bought in bulk packs of five or more. This type of razor will give you a close shave, but after using it a few times, the blade will begin to dull and develop rust around the edges. At this point, it is time to throw away the razor and start using a new one.
The second type of razor is an electric shaver such as the popular Close Curves shaver by Panasonic. This type of shaver was made to fit the contours of your body, catching even the most difficult-to-reach hairs. It uses specialized blades that give you the closest shave possible without any irritation.
The Pros and Cons of Shaving
- shaving will leave you with a very close and smooth shave if done correctly
- it is the most economical way of removing armpit hair
- it is the fastest way of removing hair under the arms
- it is the least painful way of removing hair
- shaving may leave you with razor burn, irritation or ingrown hairs
- hair grows back very quickly (within 2-3 days)
- is far from a permanent solution
- hair that grows back is coarse and prickly
2. Waxing your underarm hair
Waxing is another common method many women use to eliminate hair under the arms. Waxing can be performed either in a professional beauty salon or at home with hot or cold home waxing kits.
If you decide to visit a beauty salon, you’ll usually end up spending around $10 to wax your armpits, and around $30-40 if you want to depilate your legs and bikini line as well. Since I am a wimp when it comes to inflicting pain on myself, I actually prefer to visit a salon as the entire process is in the skilled hands of the beautician. Plus, she always does a much better job of removing the hairs than I do on my own.
If you have a high threshold for pain, however, you may want to try an at-home waxing kit such as the GiGi Mini Pro Waxing Kit. The average kit comes with a container filled with wax and a series of paper strips. All you have to do is spread the wax evenly across your armpit, place a paper strip firmly on top, and have the courage to rip it off in one quick motion. It is best to let the armpit hair grow out before you do this to get the best grip possible on the hairs.
The Pros and Cons of Waxing
- waxing lasts for a number of weeks
- if done frequently, hair growth may decrease over time
- hair is left finer and less prickly than with shaving
- is quick and relatively inexpensive considering the duration of the results
- is quite painful, especially under the armpits and around the bikini line
- may result in ingrown hairs
3. Epilation to remove underarm hair
Epilation refers to the removal of hair from the root. It is done with an epilator, a small hand-held machine with a number of rotating tweezers.
To remove as much of your underarm hair from the root as possible, you must make sure that your hair is trimmed down to a few millimeters in length so the machine’s tweezers can easily grab them. You must also make a point to move the epilator slowly, or else it won’t have the time to lift the hairs out of the pores and may end up snapping the hairs in two.
I am not going to lie – epilation is an extremely painful process if you aren’t used to it. In fact, I never use my epilator under my arms or along my bikini line because the skin is too sensitive. That being said, there are many women out there with higher pain thresholds than me who manage to epilate their underarms without issue.
It is said that exfoliating, having a warm shower, or placing a cold ice pack on the area beforehand may help ease the pain. You could also try taking ibuprofen or Tylenol a half an hour before beginning the process.
The Pros and Cons of Epilation
- lasts as long as waxing (a few weeks) if done correctly
- you only pay once for the epilator and it will last for years
- very efficient at pulling out hairs from the root
- very painful at first
- takes a long time to do
- difficult to use for those with a low pain threshold
- the epilator must be thoroughly cleaned every time
- may leave you with ingrown hairs
4. Hair removal cream for underarms
Another underarm hair removal option which many woman use is hair removal cream such as Veet or Nair. I recommend Veet as it is the brand I use most frequently on my arm hair and underarms.
To use hair removal cream, slather on a thick layer of the product under your armpits so that it completely covers the hair. Make sure your hair is at least a couple of centimeters long before using the cream, as it tends to not work on short hair or stubble. Wait a maximum of six minutes before removing the product. If you leave it on any longer, you risk burning your skin, especially if it is sensitive. You should notice the hair frizzle up and remove itself naturally from your skin when you gently wash the product away under lukewarm water.
In all honesty, I tend to use hair removal cream more frequently on my arm hair than under my arms. This is because it is more effective on fine light hair than on thick coarse underarm or bikini hair. However, if you aren’t particularly hairy “under there”, you’ll definitely want to give hair removal cream a chance.
The Pros and Cons of Hair Removal Cream
- removes hair in a matter of minutes
- lasts a long time if you only use it on small areas like your underarms
- relatively inexpensive
- leaves your skin smooth, soft and stubble-free if used correctly
- the result lasts slightly longer than shaving
- the product does not have a pleasant smell
- may burn your skin if you leave it on too long
- is not as effective on underarm hair as it is on an ordinary arm and leg hair
- 5. Underarm Laser Hair Removal
The best ways to remove armpit hair
Underarm laser hair removal has become extremely popular in recent years despite its sizeable cost. To give you a ballpark figure, I had laser hair removal performed on my legs and bikini line and it cost me well over $3000 for twelve sessions. However, it was worth it, as I now have 60% less hair on my legs and 70% less hair along my bikini line to deal with.
Given the small area of your underarms, there is no doubt you will pay less than I paid for a full lower-body treatment. Happily, laser hair removal works extremely well on the thick dark hair, making underarm hair the perfect target. The result on underarm hair is near-permanent, though you may have to go in for “touch-up sessions” every one to two years.
So, what’s the catch? Besides the cost, there is also the fact that laser hair removal is quite painful. The thicker and darker the hair, the more it stings. Most compare the pain to an elastic band snapping against your skin. I would compare it to a red-hot needle searing your skin. The good thing is that the pain passes in an instant, leaving you with a slight sunburned feeling at the end of the session. To keep your skin moisturized and healthy, it is very important that you use the before-and-after creams with which the beauty salon provides you.
The Pros and Cons of Laser Hair Removal
- the results are near-permanent
- works extremely well on people with dark coarse hair and fair skin
- less painful than epilation or waxing
- does not work well on people with dark skin
- an element of pain involved
- extremely expensive
- a long process (may take up to two years to complete)
My Personal Hair Removal Recommendations
The methods I personally use on a daily basis.
Currently, I use a combination of all five hair removal methods mentioned above. As each method has its merits, it also has its shortcomings. Below, I’ll explain exactly when I use each method on my underarms and why.
Shaving, in my case, is a quick fix. If I find out at the last minute that a trip to the swimming pool is in order, the razor is the first tool I turn to. If I have more time on my hands, I’ll use a hair removal cream like Veet or I’ll book an appointment at my local beauty salon for a waxing session. I almost always go in for a waxing session at the beginning of the summer so that I am covered for the month of July. All my epilator did because my pain and suffering under my arms, so I save the torture device for my less-sensitive legs. I have yet to try laser hair removal under my arms, but after seeing the results on my legs and bikini line, I am tempted to try when my wallet looks a little less vacant!