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We Tried a Bunch of At-Home Hair Removal Products So You Don't Have To

No pain, no gain, right?

Photo: Imaxtree

Photo: Imaxtree

It's almost the Fourth of July, and if you haven't yet already, chances are you're going to be exposing a lot more skin in the next few weeks. And no matter what your feeling is about bikini line landscaping--whether it be a light trim now and then vs. the full-on topiary treatment--I'm pretty sure no one wants any stray "leaves" hanging out of their swimsuits. (I'll stop with the gardening metaphors now. But it's better than saying "pubes"...)

While it's nice to be able to get a professional wax, that's not always feasible. Luckily there are tons of at-home options out there. From wax strips to an actual hand-held laser, I tried five different hair removal products. Click through for my experiences with each one, including--this is important--a pain scale. (No before and after pictures, though. No one needs to see that.)

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Nads Bikini Underarm Wax Strips, $7.99. 

I was really skeptical about these, mostly because I don't like the name of this brand (heh heh) and also because the strips seemed really flimsy. Let me tell you--never judge a wax by its name. This product was kind of amazing.

Ease of Use: You can cut the strips to whatever size you need. Basically you just rub the strip between your hands to warm it up, peel off the protective paper, and apply to the area you're waxing. Rub the wax strip on, then (gulp) yank it off, holding skin taut.

Mess: Minimal. It didn't leave much wax residue behind, but Nads provides some "Post Wax Calming Oil Wipes" that cleaned up the area well. They could provide more though--the box only came with two.

Efficacy: Surprisingly effective. I used two strips and there was not a single hair left in the area I waxed. Disclaimer: Like any wax, you need to have about 2mm of growth, or it won't work. There needs to be some length for the wax to "grab" onto.

Pain factor: 3/5. The anticipation was worse than the reality. There's also a mental hurdle about self-inflicted pain to overcome (at least for me). One issue, though, was that this product left my skin really red, even the next morning, despite using the included calming wipes and Soothing Body Balm. But it calmed down within 24 hours and again...the hair removal was impressive.

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Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Hair Removal Trio, $20.50:

Hair removal creams are usually my product-of-choice when I can't make it for a wax (which is most times, because I am 1) exceptionally lazy and 2) hate waxing). So I've tried a lot of them, and Nair is always a go-to brand for me. This one is from the brand's new Brazilian Spa Clay line.

Ease of Use: It'a a three part system and comes with pre-wipes to prep your skin, a big tub of remover cream (complete with a sponge and spatula for application), and post-depilatory moisturizer.

Mess: This one is supposed to hold up to the shower--you apply it one minute before you get in, then you can get in the shower while it sits for two more minutes. I found this way too messy and and got some uneven results from the cream dripping off. So I did it again using my preferred method of sitting on the side of the tub and reading a magazine for five minutes.

Efficacy: After my second dry attempt, it removed everything I wanted it to. My complaint with depilatory creams is that hair always grows back faster than if you wax (since it doesn't pull it out at the root the way wax does), but you can use it on really short hair.

Pain Factor: 0/5, but when is someone going to invent a truly odorless depilatory? This one was pleasant smelling, but I could still smell that lovely ammonia-y/sulfur scent.

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Remington Smooth and Silky Body and Bikini Kit, $22.99. 

This little miracle multi-tasking grooming device wins for best overall product that I tested. It has a trimmer with guards to trim hair, a foil shaver for closer shaves, and an exfoliator brush for after you shave. Plus you can use it in the shower.

Ease of Use: Relatively idiot proof. All the attachments pop on and off easily.

Mess: Cleaning out the foil attachment after the first few shaves is sort of a gunky job, but it rinses out quickly.

Efficacy: The foil attachment gives a surprisingly close shave, and the trimmer is perfect for some quick pruning. The battery requires charging every few shaves, though, so plan accordingly.

Pain Factor: 0/5. I didn't experience any pulling or razor burn.

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Veet Easy WaxElectrical Roll-On Kit, $47.55: 

Ease of Use: This is the most complicated of the bunch that I tried. There's a wax cartridge that you insert into a warmer and it requires 30 minutes to warm up before you can use it. The instructions warn that it may take a "few sessions to become proficient." That's accurate.

Mess: When you roll the wax on it's sticky and warm. You have to cut the included cloth pieces to fit the size of the area you're waxing. This one left a bit of residue, but it wiped off easily.

Efficacy: It didn't remove hair quite as well as the Nads strips did, but it also didn't leave me quite as red either.

Pain Factor: 3/5, but the linen did a nice job of pulling the wax off without too much trauma.

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Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X, $499:

Everything about this is heavy duty, from the price to the weight of it in your hand. This is a new and improved version of the only laser device that's FDA-approved for home use.

Ease of Use: Once you register and get the code online for how to turn it on, it's pretty easy to use. You just hold it on the area you want to treat and move it around while pressing a button.

Mess: Clean! You're basically just zapping yourself with a red light.

Efficacy: It takes a full three months of weekly treatments to see complete results, but you can see as much as a 70% decrease in hair regrowth after two treatments. I have been treating a small area for the last two months (with the occasional forgotten week) and the hair is essentially gone. Miraculous. As with all laser hair removal treatments, though, it can only be used on light to medium skin tones, with brown to black hair. It can cause serious injury if people with darker skin tones try to use it.

Pain Factor: 4/5. You can adjust the intensity, but it's recommended that you use it at the highest you can tolerate for better results. I had to turn it down a few times. It's like a very hot rubber band zapping you. No redness after treatments, though.