Everything you need to know about hair removal at home options—including cost, pain levels and effectiveness

If you're after hair removal at home, these are the best options to consider depending on your budget and lifestyle

seven images cropped in circle templates of women using different options for hair removal at home on a colorful pastel background
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

Body hair is totally natural, so whether you decide to show it off, or utilize hair removal at home, the choice is yours. If you do decide to get rid of your body hair though, there is a myriad of options for doing so yourself—whether you want to tame your brows or de-fuzz your limbs, underarms, upper lip and bikini line. 

While, of course, getting hair removed by a professional or laser hair removal is a great option, sometimes we don't have the time, money, or inclination to go for regular maintenance appointments, meaning hair removal at home is our preferred option.

But before splashing out on at-home devices, there are several things to consider: including which body part you want to de-fuzz, the costs, and your pain threshold—not to mention lifestyle, how committed you can really be to a program of regular at-home treatments. To manage expectations and budget, we’ve created the ultimate guide to hair removal at home.

Meet the experts on hair removal at home options

  • Emily Buckwell (opens in new tab) is a product expert at CurrentBody.com
  • Karunesh Jigyasu (opens in new tab) is the Brand Manager at Flamingo
  • Laurretta Power (opens in new tab) is Benefit Cosmestic's national eyebrow expert
  • Shavata Singh (opens in new tab) is the founder and CEO of Shavata Singh London Brows & Lashes
  • Dr Jinah Yoo (opens in new tab) is a consultant dermatologist

What is the best option for hair removal at home?

Shaving with a razor is without a doubt easy, cheap and fool-proof. But when it comes to long-lasting and effective results, using one of the best lPL hair removal devices is generally the most effective method.

IPL devices rapidly flash light at the melanin (pigment) in your hair follicles, which converts to heat beneath the skin. This damages hair at the root, effectively ‘putting it to sleep’, so that the strand falls out and grows back much finer, if at all.

What is the healthiest hair removal method?

Threading is largely considered the healthiest hair removal method, as it only involves a piece of cotton thread that’s twisted and tugged along areas of unwanted hair. It's a great option for those pondering the age-old question of how to remove pubic hair without shaving, if you want to target smaller areas and can stand the temporary pain. 

There are no chemicals, artificial waxes or invasive techniques involved, meaning it's one of the best and most gentle options for your skin—even if it doesn't feel that way at the time!

How can I remove hair permanently at home?

No at-home device offers completely permanent results—but if you're wondering how long hair removal methods last, using any of the at-home removal methods listed below means the hair will grow back finer, slower and, in some cases, not at all.

It’s also worth noting that body hair can grow back due to hormonal changes like childbirth and menopause, so mastering an at-home hair removal method is not only convenient, but it means not forking out for salon sessions if you encounter an unexpected growth spurt.

There are plenty of options for hair removal at home—almost all of the possible hair removal methods can be done from the comfort of your own four walls, including laser hair removal, threading, and waxing. It's all about nailing the technique, and choosing the option that works best for your pain levels, budget, and schedule.

At-home hair removal methods explained

IPL

Best for ease and reliable results

woman getting IPL by a professional

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Cost range: $100- $500
  • How long does it last? Top up treatments will be needed every six to 12 months
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Difficulty level: 3/5
  • Pain/discomfort level: 2/5

Most of the best IPL hair removal devices look like a cross between a hairdryer and a speed gun. Held against the skin on the upper lip or body they use gentle pulses of broad spectrum light to heat hair follicles at the root and prevent regrowth. Although the initial course of IPL will remove your all your hair follicles, these can grow back, which is why IPL is classed as semi-permanent rather than permanent.

How it works: IPL hair removal devices transfer light energy to the hair shaft. Emily Buckwell, product expert at CurrentBody.com (opens in new tab), says:  “Once absorbed, this light energy is converted to heat, which prevents further hair growth. As hair grows in cycles you will need to repeat your treatments until you eventually catch each phase of growth, resulting in reduced hair over time.”

How to do it at home: You should shave the area first. Buckwell says: “If you treat with hair present, the energy goes into the hair shaft and doesn’t reach the root, where the growth comes from.” Then simply press your device onto the skin, where it will deliver a flash of light.

How it works with different hair types: IPL devices aren’t suitable for everyone as there needs to be a sufficient amount of contrast between the skin and hair color. For example, IPL won’t work on naturally light blonde, red, white and gray hairs as they contain little pigment. It's also not one of the best hair removal options for dark skin (five or higher on the Fitzpatrick scale) as IPL is also absorbed by the melanin found in the skin, causing it to heat up and potentially burn. 

Typically, those with pale to medium skin and naturally dark blonde, brown and black hair are the best candidates for IPL. If you're unsure, there's no need to worry, as many of today's IPL devices come with a built-in skin scanner and simply stop flashing if they detect skin and hair color that won't be suitable.

Waxing

Best for hair removal novices

woman getting her leg waxed professionally with candles next to her

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Cost range: $8-$50
  • How long does it last? Around 4 weeks
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Difficulty level: 4/5 
  • Pain/discomfort level: 4/5

If you want to know how to remove pubic hair without shaving, look no further than waxing. This versatile hair removal method involves pulling the hair from the follicle and can be used on the face (brows, moustache) and body (underarms, legs and bikini line). There is one caveat, though. Dermatologists warn against waxing your eyebrows at home. The skin in this area is thin and sensitive. Hot wax, in amateur hands, could cause burns and scarring. You’ll also get a better shape when a professional works on your eyebrows, rather than using DIY waxing strips. However, used elsewhere on the body a little know-how will ensure you get silky smooth skin.

How it works: There are two options; the first involves applying a thin layer of warm wax to the hairs you wish to remove. A paper strip is placed over the top, the wax solidifies and the strip is quickly ripped away. The second uses pre-waxed strips that don’t need to be heated, and is simply applied and stripped away. These tend to be easier and less messy to apply. 

For the latter, Karunesh Jigyasu, Flamingo (opens in new tab) Brand Manager, advises: "Treat the wax like you’re sealing an envelopment by completely rubbing the hair into the wax. Once this is done, hold your skin taut as this will ensure tension and allow the wax to pull out the hair."

How to do it at home: Do the prep work: test an area of skin 24 hours beforehand to ensure the wax formula doesn’t cause an adverse reaction. Then wash away any makeup or moisturiser and wait about 10 minutes before you start waxing to ensure your skin is dry. 

When defuzzing your upper lip, place a waxing strip on one side, following the angle of your lip line. Jigyasu says: “Rub the strip firmly, and then pull the skin taut at the base of the strip. Remove the strip quickly, pulling across, not up, like you’re applying lipstick. If you don’t get all the hair off on the first try, wait 24 hours and try again to prevent irritation. Once you’re done waxing, clean away any excess wax residue on the skin.” 

While it’s normal for leg hair to grow in multiple directions, it’s important to rub a soft-gel wax strip firmly in the direction of hair growth for an effective wax. Jigyasu says, "Pubic hair often grows down and inwards, meaning you’ll need to place the wax strip at an angle."

How it works with different hair types: Waxing works on all hair types. But it’s worth noting that you are causing trauma to the skin barrier, so darker skin tones may experience post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or darkening of the skin where the wax strips were applied. 

Ingrown hairs can be another issue, Jigyasu says. "Pubic hair and underarm hair are described as terminal hair, which means that it’s thicker and coarser than lighter vellus hairs found on the upper lip or legs. Terminal hair grows from further in the dermis, and while it can still be removed using wax, it is often more prone to forming an ingrown hair." If you do get one, here's what to do with ingrown hair: exfoliate the area to remove the dead skin that could be preventing the hair from breaking through the skin’s surface. 

Tweezing

Best as a quick fix for facial hair

woman tweezing her eyebrows using a mirror, with a gray couch behind her

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Cost range: $13-$45
  • How long does it last? 3-4 weeks
  • Value for money: 4/5
  • Difficulty level: 1/5
  • Pain/discomfort level: 1/5

If we were to take a wild guess, most people’s experience of DIY tweezing hasn’t been ideal. If you’ve been left with skinny tadpoles instead of what you were aiming for, which was a full brow that looks like it's been achieved through microshading, continue reading!

How it works: Using a pair of tweezers, the idea is to pull the hair out of the follicle at the roots. As it’s a fiddly process, it doesn’t lend itself to large areas, so stick to tweezing your brows and upper lip. 

How to do it at home: Ideally you should always visit a professional to have your brows shaped with wax firstly. Then in between waxes, use tweezers to keep strays at bay. Laurretta Power, Benefit Cosmestic's (opens in new tab) national eyebrow expert, says, “Always use clean, slanted tweezers for more control and to prevent breaking the hairs. Hold the skin tight, grip the hair from the root and then pluck at an angle, in the direction of growth. This will protect the hair follicle and ensure it grows back properly—this is important if you accidentally overpluck!” As it's a temporary fix, tweezing isn't the way if you're looking for how to remove facial hair permanently

However, if it’s an emergency and you really can’t book in at brow bar, start by using a brow pencil to fill in the desired shape. Power says: “Then tweeze the hairs that fall outside of this shape. Use a larger mirror so you can see your entire face when shaping your brows and finally, use damp cotton to wipe over the brow, cooling your face and collecting any unwanted plucked hairs.”

How it works with different hair types: Power says: “Tweezing will work for all hair types, however it takes longer and can be uncomfortable, so we’d always recommend waxing brows first of all.” 

Shaving

Best for speed and cost

aerial view of woman shaving her legs with a razor

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Cost range: $6 - $22
  • How long does it last: Skin can stay silky smooth for up to three days
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Difficulty level: 0/5
  • Pain/discomfort level: 0/5

It’s thought that about 75% of women are wedded to their razors for removing hair from the bikini line, whichever side of the bikini vs brazilian wax side they fall on. And for good reason: shaving is fast, easy, cheap, and effective and can tackle all types of hair from the neck down.

How it works: The sharp blade of a razor cuts the hair off close to the skin, removing the tip of of the hair shaft that pokes out of the skin.

How to do it at home: If you're constantly dealing with ingrown hair, red bumps and stubble that seems to grow back in a matter of days, there may be room for improvement in your shaving routine. For a start, ensure your skin is well-hydrated before shaving, otherwise the hair will be more difficult to cut and you increase the chance of razor burns. If you’re shaving your bikini line, exfoliate the pubic area to prevent irritation. Apply shaving gel and use long steady strokes with the razor, working in the direction of hair growth. On the legs, shave against the grain and bend your leg to shave the knee cap better. 

How it works with different hair types: All hair types can use a razor. But you may encounter the same issues shaving as you do waxing the stubborn terminal hair along the bikini line.

Threading

Best for lovers of natural treatments

woman getting her eyebrows threaded

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Cost range: $15-$45
  • How long does it last? 3 - 4 weeks
  • Value for money: 5/5
  • Difficulty level: 5/5
  • Pain/discomfort level: 3/5

Where at one time shaving and waxing reigned supreme, threading has risen in the ranks to become one of the most popular hair removal treatments to achieve the perfect eyebrow shape. Normally, a highly skilled professional uses one hand to stretch your skin taut, and the other to wield a thread that speedily plucks out hairs and shapes your arches. However, with a lot of practice, it’s possible to get to grips with the technique yourself for hair removal at home.

How it works: After wiping the brow area clean with cleanser or alcohol, the thread is fashioned into a lasso, which moves backwards and forwards to tug out the hair.

How to do it at home: Threading your own brows can be complicated, so whatever you do, don’t practice on the face. Find a good online tutorial and start on your upper thigh to get a feel for rolling the thread. Shavata Singh, founder and CEO of Shavata Singh London Brows & Lashes (opens in new tab) explains, “I also recommend starting on a small area like the upper lip that doesn’t require so much stretching.” She adds that it’s also important to only work above eye—"Your eyelid is the thinnest layer of skin on your face so I wouldn’t recommend threading below the brow as the skin can get caught in the thread and cause cuts or grazes.”

How it works with different hair types: Singh told us, "Threading works for all hair types. Whether the strand is coarse or fine, it can pick it up and remove the hair from the root."

Laser hair removal

Best for quick results

woman getting laser hair removal professionally

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Cost range: Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X costs $469
  • How long does it last? Top up treatments are needed once a year
  • Value for money: 3/5
  • Difficulty level: 3/5
  • Pain/discomfort level: 4/5

Diode laser technology is a long-lasting form of hair removal that targets the active follicles that lie beneath the skin on the body. Facial hair on the upper lip can also be lasered away. When each follicle gets zapped, it might sting a little—a sensation not unlike a rubber band being snapped on the skin.

How it works: Consultant dermatologist Dr Jinah Yoo says, “Lasers use one single narrow wavelength of light to selectively damage the hair follicle without affecting the surrounding skin. The melanin [natural pigment] in your skin, then absorbs this light energy and converts it into heat, ultimately damaging the hair itself. The eventual outcome will be a reduction in the amount and thickness of the hair.”

How to do it at home: Laser is possible at home, but it's not advised. The only FDA-cleared at-home laser hair removal option on the market is the Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X, which claims to reduce up to 70% of hair growth after two treatments. According to Dr Yoo, there’s a very simply reason laser hair removal is best left to the professionals—safety. She explains, "Lasers, if operated inappropriately, can cause considerable harm to your eyes and skin. If you’re interested in laser hair removal, it’s important to do your research and choose a qualified medical practitioner."

How it works with different hair types: Dr. Yoo says, "For laser treatment to work, there has to be a big colour contrast between skin and hair, which is why dark hair and light skin tones traditionally see the best results. Problems arise for very dark skin tones because some lasers become confused and target the melanin in the skin instead of the pigment in the hair, which results in burning, pigmentation and scarring." For more info, consider this electrolysis vs laser hair removal summary. 

Hair removal cream

Best for pain-free hair removal

professional applying hair removal cream to a woman's arm

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Cost range: Up to $8
  • How long does it last? 2-3 days
  • Value for money (out of 5):
  • Difficulty level (out of 5): 1
  • Pain/discomfort level (out of 5): 0

Officially know as a depilatory cream, hair removal cream is a thick substance that you smooth over your skin to remove hair.

How it works: Ingredients commonly found in depilatory creams include salts of thioglycolic acid and thiolactic acids, which dissolve the disulphide bonds and keratin in the hair, so that they are easily removed without any pulling or scrapping of the hair. 

How to do it at home: If you can get past the smell of rotten eggs, always patch test 24 hours before using a hair removal cream to ensure that your skin doesn’t react adversely to the ingredients of your chosen purchase. Also, don’t apply a hair removal cream to skin that is weeping or irritated. 

Outside of that, apply to areas of unwanted hair before taking a shower—save the hot bath benefits for another day. Leave it on for three to 10 minutes depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, then use a washcloth and warm water to remove the paste-like combination of hair and cream. Do not exceed the recommended amount of time as you run the risk of a chemical burn. 

How it works with different hair types: Hair removal creams can be used on any area of the body but since you’ll be using a fair bit of cream and it can get a bit messy, they lend themselves better to use on the legs and underarms rather than the bikini line. Results don’t last long though, as hair removal creams only tackle the hair below the skin’s surface rather than at the root.

Electrolysis

Best for lasting smoothness—but it can't be done at home

woman getting electrolysis on her face

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Cost range: From $300/£300 for the face
  • How long does it last? Permanent
  • Value for money: 3/5
  • Difficulty level: Not applicable
  • Pain/discomfort level: 2/5

Unfortunately, it isn't possible to do electrolysis at home, but if you're after a long-term hair removal option, it's well worth going to see a professional about it.

Electrolysis is an in-clinic only treatment that zaps hair follicles with electric current. If you’re wondering how to remove facial hair permanently, electrolysis is also the only method the FDA calls ‘permanent’. 

How does it work: Electrolysis involves using heat to destroy the reproductive hair cell. A fine probe is inserted into the hair follicle, which then sends a current to stop unwanted hair from growing. The strand is then removed with tweezers. Electrolysis goes deeper into the skin—getting under the follicle—resulting in a truly permanent solution.

How to do it at home: This is a professional only treatment, so hair removal at home is not possible with electrolysis. However it’s worth noting that it’s not the quickest or cheapest hair removal option, as the process involves probing each individual hair follicle. Given that most of these follicles contain several individual hairs, they won’t all be zapped in a single session.

How it works with different hair types: The bonus of electrolysis is that it suits all hair types and ethnicities, and is considered to be one of the best hair removal options for dark skin.

Fiona Embleton is a multi-award-winning beauty editor who has tested over 10,000 products in her 10 years +  of writing and shooting beauty stories. For the past four years, she was the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire, having previously worked in the role of Beauty Editor at both Stylist and Cosmopolitan. She has recently gone freelance and alongside My Imperfect Life, she has written for titles including ELLE UK, ELLE Canada, Buro 247, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Vogue Scandinavia, and ES Magazine. Beauty journalism allowed her to marry up her first-class degree in English Literature and Language (she’s a stickler for grammar and a self-confessed ingredients geek) with a passion for make-up and skincare, photography, and catwalk trends. She loves jumping on the latest internet-breaking beauty news, dissecting the best red carpet looks, and having the crème de la crème of dermatologists, make-up artists, and hairstylists on speed dial so she can tap them for the best advice. She’s a discerning beauty shopper and knows it can be confusing trying to navigate what’s hype and what really works. So if she really likes something, you can trust that she has reached that opinion by vetting it against everything else she’s ever tried. Her career highs? Interviewing Cate Blanchett and winning a Jasmine Award for the deeply personal feature Cancer Stole My Mother’s Scent.