Body Hair Removal Methods for Men

Man putting a razor to his leg like he's pretending to shave
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Everyone has an opinion when it comes to how much and where anyone should have body hair. Of course, fashion trends and lifestyle dictate body and facial hair too, particularly for men. And there are men who remove their body hair for athletic or performance reasons. For example, men who race bicycles like to keep their legs shaved, because rashes or ingrown hairs can come from the where skin-tight Lycra or spandex shorts they wear.

Swimmers often go totally hairless to make themselves more dynamic in water. Bodybuilders will wax or shave their entire bodies to highlight the definition of their muscles. Most men don't go to those extremes, and prefer to show a certain amount of body and facial hair.

For dudes who want to remove or trim body hair, there are a variety of methods available. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since the rudimentary razors of the past. Modern methods are much easier—although not always painless. We've put together the basics of hair removal, so you can decide which method is best for you.

Shaving: Shaving can be done with a myriad of razors, from a straight edge to a manual, or even an electric device. Shaving is the fastest method for hair removal, because it's immediate and shaves off with just a simple stroke. Be sure that you've moistened skin from warm water beforehand, you're using a good quality shaving cream or gel, and make sure you shave in the direction of the hair growth, not against it.

The drawback of shaving is that the hair grows back feeling coarser because of the blunt edge a razor leaves on the hair, which can make sensitive areas itchy and uncomfortable—although it doesn't always. 

Trimming: When the goal is to trim the hair but not eliminate it, naturally trimming is the best method.

You should keep handy a pair of hair cutting scissors (shears) for longer lengths of hair such as a full beard. For areas that need more careful attention, such as the eyebrows, nose, upper lips and ears, have a small blunt-nosed pair of scissors on hand. Also, a small clipper called a trimmer is perfect for cleaning up the nape hairline and sideburns in between haircuts. Trimmers are available in plug-in, disposable battery and rechargeable battery versions.

Tweezing: To dislodge a pesky ingrown hair or a stray hair on your face or body, a tweezer is incredibly handy to have. Many tweezers are small and may be difficult to handle, therefore, look for kinds that have a larger handle that is convenient for a man’s hands. Be sure not to tweeze a hair growing from a mole, as tempting as it is, due to potential irritation you can cause to the mole. Simply trim back the mole hair with a small pair of scissors.

Threading: Threading is a method traditionally found in Eastern Asian or Middle Eastern cultures that has recently gained great popularity in America, and for good reason. A thread of string is used to wick away the hair—however, this method is only really used for grooming the eyebrows.

Many agree that it's less painful than waxing, and less irritating than tweezing. You'll need to visit a professional esthetician that can perform this method on your face properly.

Waxing: Different types of waxes are used for different areas of the body, so it's important to know what you're getting into with waxing. Home kits are available to purchase, but your first experience should be with a professional esthetician before you ever attempt to wax yourself. A thin layer of warm wax is spread over a particular region, in the direction of the growth of the hair. Then with a muslin-type strip of cloth is gently pressed over the wax and pulled in the direction against the hair growth, keeping the skin nice and taut. This is an excellent method for semi-permanently removing unwanted hair and the hair typically grows back softer.

Again, do not attempt this method on yourself if you have not been properly trained—you can maybe burn your skin, or even it off.

Sugaring: Sugaring is similar in application and method to waxing, but the main ingredient is different. However, instead of wax, a sticky substance made from sugar and other food-derived ingredients is used. The upside to sugaring over waxing is that you're not typically left with an uncomfortable sticky residue, because the sugar removes easier than the wax. It also doesn't hurt as much. The downside to sugaring is that you have to wait longer between appointments than waxes, meaning the length of the hair needed to adhere to the sugar has to be longer than is needed for waxing.

Depilatories: A depilatory typically comes in a cream form. The active ingredient, which is alkaline-based, breaks down the hair follicle till it’s a mushy substance that can be wiped or rinsed away. This method is easily available in any drug store and comes in a body or facial version. Much like shaving, you're only removing the hair down to the surface of the skin; therefore, you'll need to use this method more frequently (unlike a wax, which removes the hair from below the skin’s surface.) Be aware that this is a chemical product, and it omits a strong odor. Also, be sure to do a patch test first on your skin before attempting a full application because you may find your skin is too sensitive for this kind of product. And never—never—use depilatories anywhere near your genitals.