Gone are the days when only women, pretty boys and athletes did away with unwanted fuzz. Now, hair removal for men is a booming business – back, chest, shoulders, even feet (Frodo-alert), all the while fighting to keep as much hair as we can up top.
And, cause not every system of hair removal for men is the ‘one’, making sense of the hairiness can be too much for some. From permanent to temporary, expensive to pretty cheap, here’s how to navigate the scary world of hair removal for men, leaving you with smooth, baby-ed skin that you’ll be a little happy camper in.
Laser Hair Removal
Despite the Star Wars name, laser is a fast and gentle way to remove unwanted hair with relatively permanent results.
“Lasers are safe enough to be used on any part of the body and target different skin types whilst ensuring maximum results,” explains Louise Grammer from Laser Clinics Australia.
The laser uses a specific wavelength of light to target hair melanin, which is the compound that causes hair colour. “It works when a concentrated light hits the hair follicle,” adds Grammer. “This inhibits the hair’s ability to grow without disrupting or damaging the skin’s surface.”
Best for: large body areas such as the chest and stomach or the back and shoulders. “But underarms and legs are also proving popular,” says Grammer.
Pros: laser is permanent hair removal and considered less painful than electrolysis. “Our lasers feature a unique dynamic cooling device that helps to calm, soothe and protect the skin.”
Cons: Blond, grey or white and some types of red hair do not respond to treatment. “Laser hair removal cannot treat these colours as they do not produce enough pigment. Therefore, the laser will not be able to be attracted to this colour and will essentially miss them.”
What it takes: gents can see results after 5 to 8 treatments. “Our lasers use a wide beam which allows the removal of multiple hair follicles at the same time,” says Grammer. “Some clients will require maintenance sessions to keep the hair growth minimal after their initial sessions.”
Cost: a full body treatment is priced at around $399, while an area like the back and shoulders is $199.
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A form of laser, electrolysis destroys the growth centre of the hair with chemical or heat energy. After a very fine probe is inserted into the hair follicle, the hair is then removed with tweezers.
Best for: large areas as well as smaller, problem areas from men like ears, eyebrows and feet.
Pros: it suits all hair and skin types because it doesn’t target hair pigment (like laser treatment), but the follicle itself. It’s the most effective as a permanent hair removal solution for men.
Cons: multiple treatments are needed, making it extremely time consuming and expensive. Skin is known to get discoloured if not done to a high standard, so shop around before picking a therapist.
What it takes: the total number of sessions for permanent hair removal varies from person to person based on hair colour and thickness and the size of the area being treated. Treatments usually take place weekly until no longer needed, but it’s usually 10-plus. Each lasts anywhere between 15 and 60 minutes.
What it costs: approximately $95 for 30 minutes.
Ouch! Yes, the sticky, messy flesh-ripper has made many a man cry. While it still hurts, today’s waxing methods are far more upmarket and civilised, especially when you seek professional help.
Best for: small areas on the body and face such as eyebrows (both monobrows and shaping), hair on ears and neck, legs, underarms, and arms.
Pros: it suits all hair types and colours, and is a good precursor for men considering permanent hair removal via laser or electrolysis. Wax your hair off first to see if you like the look, before you hit laser.
Cons: The pain, oh, the pain. Especially for sensitive areas like the groin. The thicker or coarser the hair the more painful, and some men are prone to redness or bleeding.
“Expect your skin to be sensitive and a little red,” say the crew at Essential Beauty. “The skin should look evenly red and spotty where the waxing has occurred.”
Waxing isn’t permanent. So, it’s an ongoing love affair (with the pain!) you’re getting yourself in to.
What it takes: the day before, gently exfoliate skin with a scrub to remove any dead skin cells (and reduces the likeliness of ingrown hairs later on). On the day, keep the skin free of creams and lotions. In just one session you will have the hair removed.
“For men, it’s especially important to use an exfoliant and loofah mitt to prevent ingrown hairs between waxes,” says Essential Beauty crew.
“You will have soft smooth hair free skin for up to two weeks. After this, the returning hairs will be softer and lighter. You can easily have another wax after 3 weeks, though some clients like to wait 4 weeks.”
What it costs: depends on the waxing area and how luxurious the salon. Eyebrows approx. $20 while chest and stomach costs $50.
Bit of a skirt when it comes to pain? Hair removal creams are a wax-free way to remove hair from the body.
Best for: small areas such as the armpits, hands or feet and lower stomach, where waxing hurts. Also, good for hard to reach areas such as the tops of the shoulders and
Pros: it’s relatively inexpensive and most creams can be bought from your local chemist or supermarket. And it’s quick and very DIY for a home-job. Plus, cream hair removal products do not affect hair thickness at all, meaning hair stays the same density. And, according to Veet, hair removal creams acts closer to the root, “with results that last up to twice as long as shaving.”
Cons: apply the cream, carefully! Once it’s on any area with hair, that hair is coming off, even if you try washing or wiping it away. It’s a cream with chemicals in it too, so do a skin sensitivity test before applying to a large part of your body. Finally, don’t apply over scars, moles, broken and sunburnt skin to avoid irritation.
What it takes: Exfoliate the skin area 24 hours before, and apply the cream. Just leave the cream on the area for 3-6 minutes, and presto, you’re a baby again. Like waxing, wear breathable clothing for several hours afterwards and avoid getting too hot and sweaty.
The oldest trick it the book, shaving is man’s best friend when it comes to grooming and is a proven and trusted hair remover for men.
Best for: easy to reach places where the hand can stay steady (shaving nicks aren’t nice, especially down ‘there’).
Pros: it’s one of the easiest ways to get rid of unwanted. And it’s cheap. Do it in the shower, which softens the skin and you’re also getting a clean.
Cons: shaving cuts hair off at the skin, not the root. Impatience will only lead to bloodshed, so shave slowly, especially over larger areas like the legs and shins.
What it takes: again, exfoliate the day before to avoid ingrown hairs. Trim back longer hairs to minimise hair pulling. Then, select a quality razor and apply a liberal amount fo shaving cream to ensure a clean glide. Post-shave, use a soothing balm.
Not into baby-faced skin? An electric shaver is your best bet, leaving you with a natural stubble look, which some guys prefer.