Nonlaser Hair Removal Techniques: Overview, Temporary Hair Removal, Temporary Hair Reduction (2024)


Shaving is the method used most frequently to temporarily remove unwanted hair. Shaving is fast, easy, painless, effective, and inexpensive. The results are temporary—lasting from mere hours for facial hour to up to 3 days; as a result, shaving requires a constant commitment in order to maintain a hair-free appearance.

Shaving is performed with a razor on wet skin using shaving cream or other lubricants. The razor is often oriented against the direction of hair growth. For sensitive areas, shaving with the direction of hair growth may reduce cuts. Contrary to a widespread misconception, shaving does not result in increased hair growth or thicker hair. [10] The primary disadvantages and/or adverse effects of shaving include skin irritation, cuts in the skin, ingrown hair pseudofolliculitis, the need to shave daily, and stubble.

Compared with waxing, shaving is associated with considerably less discomfort. Both shaving and waxing, however, were found to significantly reduce body odor in the axillae when followed by soap washing. [11]


Epilation involves the removal of the entire hair shaft and is the most effective method for temporarily removing hair. Epilation includes waxing, plucking, threading, sugaring, and using abrasives or mechanical devices (eg, Epilady). For epilation to be effective, treated hairs should be long enough for the device to grasp them. The long-term effects of epilation on the hair follicle are not known. Epilation wounds the hair follicle; therefore, repetitive epilation over several years may result in permanent matrix damage, resulting in finer or thinner hairs and, perhaps, as anecdotal evidence suggests, long-term permanent reduction in hair growth. Long-term clinical trials demonstrating the effects of repetitive epilation are lacking.


Plucking is best performed using tweezers and is an economic method for removing the occasional coarse hair or a small cluster of hairs, such as those found on the eyebrows, chin, or nipples. The results of plucking last longer than shaving because hair is pulled from the hair shaft, as in waxing. This method is time consuming, tedious, and painful. Generally, plucking does not reduce the number of hairs that ultimately regrow. [12] The reaction of the hair follicle to plucking can be unpredictable, possibly resulting in adverse effects such as folliculitis, hyperpigmentation, scarring, ingrown hairs, and distorted follicles. Adverse effects from plucking include pain, hyperpigmentation, scarring, folliculitis, and ingrown hair pseudofolliculitis.


Waxing is essentially mass plucking and involves applying warm or cold wax onto hair-bearing skin and quickly stripping off the hardened wax—along with the embedded hairs—against the direction of hair growth. [10] Waxing is the most expensive yet most effective method of epilation because hair is removed completely from the hair shaft in large quantities. Often, hair can take 2-3 weeks to regrow after waxing. The effects of long-term waxing on the hair follicle are unknown. Theoretically, this modality may reduce regrowth since repeated waxing may destroy follicles. While many kits are offered for use at home, an experienced salon-based operator is able to apply wax quickly to large body surface areas for faster and more successful hair removal.

Preparation of hot wax for hair removal.

Although no formal studies have been conducted, the recommendation is that patients using systemic retinoids (ie, isotretinoin [Accutane], acitretin [Soriatane]) refrain from waxing until treatment has been discontinued for a minimum of 6 months to 1 year to avoid skin tearing and scarring. Patients using topical retinoids (ie, tretinoin [Retin-A, Avita], adapalene [Differin]) should also be careful when waxing to avoid injuring the skin. It is recommended that a clearly visible sign be placed in waxing salons warning clients not to wax while using systemic or topical retinoids.

Waxing should not be performed on moles, warts, or irritated, sunburned, or broken skin. Pay special attention to the temperature of wax to avoid burning skin. Adverse effects from waxing include pain, hyperpigmentation, scarring, folliculitis, and ingrown hair pseudofolliculitis. A life-threatening Streptococcus pyogenes and herpes simplexvirus infection of the external genitalia occurred in a 20-year-old diabetic woman following a routine perineal "Brazilian" bikini wax. [13] Additionally, while the pathogenesis is not entirely clear, epilation by waxing more frequently results in follicular lesions (folliculitis) in the proximal extremities despite the fact that distal extremities are waxed more often. [14]

Studies have also found that epilation by waxing induces hair follicles to adopt the growth stage. This can be used to significantly enhance the immune response to transcutaneous DNA immunization by applying plasmid DNA to a recently waxed area of skin. The antibody responses to the topical application of a DNA vaccine post waxing are as strong as those following intramuscular injections. [15, 16]


Threading is an ancient manual technique, popular in the Middle East, that involves the use of a long twisted loop of thread that is rapidly rotated across the skin. By maneuvering the twisted string, hairs are trapped within the tight entwined coils and are pulled or broken off. Adverse effects from threading include pain, hyperpigmentation, scarring, folliculitis, and ingrown hair pseudofolliculitis. One report suggests threading may be beneficial in patients on isotretinoin therapy, which may cause increased skin fragility. [17]


Abrasives such as pumice stones and devices or gloves made of fine sandpaper work by physically rubbing the hair away from the skin surface. This method can be irritating to skin and is not commonly used for hair removal.


Sugaring is similar to waxing. The sugar mixture is prepared by heating sugar, lemon juice, and water to form a syrup. The syrup is formed into a ball, flattened onto the skin, and then quickly stripped away. Similar to waxing, the hair is removed entirely from the hair shaft; thus, sugaring is an alternative to waxing for people sensitive to wax. Adverse effects from sugaring include pain, hyperpigmentation, scarring, folliculitis, and ingrown hair pseudofolliculitis.


Chemical depilatories remove part of the hair shaft and are easy and painless to use. The standard chemical depilatory agents, available in gels, creams, lotions, aerosols, or roll-on forms, are mixtures of thioglycolic acid and sodium or calcium hydroxide. Thioglycolate depilatories work by hydrolyzing and disrupting the disulfide bonds of keratin in hair, causing hair to break apart and allowing it to separate from skin. Common brands of thioglycolate-based depilatory products include Nair, Magic Shave, and Veet. Depilatories are good for use on the legs, bikini line, face, and underarms, and they perform best when hair is at a reasonable length. Before using a depilatory, carefully read the manufacturer's instructions. Test a small site before use to assess for irritation or allergic reactions. Do not use these agents on eyebrows, near mucous membranes, or on broken skin.

Results last up to 2 weeks. [18] Adverse effects include skin irritation, burns, folliculitis, ingrown hairs, pseudofolliculitis, and allergic contact dermatitis to either thioglycolate or fragrances.


Bleaching is not a method of hair removal; however, patients use bleaching as an inexpensive method of disguising the presence of unwanted hair by removing its natural pigment. Common sites for bleaching include the upper lip, beard area, and arms. The active ingredients in over-the-counter bleaching agents are hydrogen peroxide and sulfates. Together, this combination lightens, softens, and oxidizes hair, reducing its noticeability. As with chemical depilatories, perform a test on a small patch of hair to assess for allergic reaction.

The disadvantages of bleaching include skin irritation, temporary skin discoloration, pruritus, and the prominent appearance of bleached hair against tanned or naturally dark skin. Reports exist of generalized urticaria, asthma, syncope, and shock in reaction to the persulfate activator added to boost the effect of hydrogen peroxide bleach.

Nonlaser Hair Removal Techniques: Overview, Temporary Hair Removal, Temporary Hair Reduction (2024)


Nonlaser Hair Removal Techniques: Overview, Temporary Hair Removal, Temporary Hair Reduction? ›

There are numerous hair removal options that are considered temporary. With varying results, these would include waxing, shaving, sugaring, and depilatory creams. Treatment after treatment, these hair removal methods may reduce hair and/or hair growth, but they are not permanent.

What are the 3 types of temporary hair removal? ›

Temporary hair removal: Shaving, epilation, depilation, bleaching.

What is non laser hair removal? ›

Some popular alternatives to laser hair removal include depilation methods like shaving – removing hair at the surface level – as well as epilation techniques that remove hair at the root – including waxing, threading, sugaring, and tweezing.

What is the only permanent hair removal method as it destroys the hair? ›

Electrolysis has been around for more than 100 years. It was first invented to remove irritating ingrown eyelash hairs. Electrolysis is the only FDA-approved method for permanent hair removal.

What is the best non permanent hair removal? ›

Waxing has quickly become the gold standard in temporary hair removal because it lasts several weeks and is less likely to cause ingrown hairs and red bumps than other forms of hair removal.

What is the most common method of temporary hair removal? ›

The most common form of temporary hair removal is: shaving.

What is the cheapest temporary hair removal method? ›

The quick option: shaving

You know this one for sure. Shaving is a simple method to remove body hair, because you can manage it inexpensively and quickly at home. It is suitable for any area of the body. You can use a manual shaver and simply follow the contours of your body against the hair growth.

Can you remove hair permanently without laser? ›

Electrolysis can permanently remove unwanted hair. Once your hair is gone, you won't need maintenance treatments. It works on all hair types, including light-colored hairs, which lasers cannot remove.

What is the best hair removal method for private parts? ›

Temporary methods like shaving can help you remove hair for a few days quickly and painlessly, but you risk irritation like razor burn. Using a hair removal cream will last just about as long as shaving. Waxing is more painful and has more infection risks, but it will last for weeks.

What is the hair removal that kills the root? ›

What removes hair from the root? Root hair removal methods, such as epilating and IPL are one of the best ways to remove body hair because they focus on how to remove body hair by the root, and it takes weeks for the hair to grow back. And when the hair does grow back, it is usually softer and thinner than before.

How can I remove facial hair at home in 5 minutes without? ›

Ways to naturally remove facial hair
  1. Sugar and lemon juice. You need to mix two tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice along with 35 ml of water. ...
  2. Lemon and honey. Start by mixing one tablespoon of honey, two tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice. ...
  3. Egg white and rice flour. ...
  4. Oatmeal and banana. ...
  5. Papaya and turmeric.
Sep 18, 2023

What are the three methods of permanent hair removal? ›

The three most popular permanent hair removal methods are laser, IPL, and electrolysis.

What is the difference between a depilatory and an epilator? ›

And though the words are similar, the difference between them is huge. During depilation, only the part of the hair above the skin is removed, while epilators remove hair with roots and follicles themselves. One of the most commonly used depilatory devices is a regular razor.

Which temporary and permanent hair removal methods are least painful? ›

Shaving. Generally considered to be the least painful method of hair removal, it involves using a small blade to cut the hair off at the level of the skin. The downside of shaving is that it often needs to be done daily because the hair grows back quickly.


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