You might not believe it, but there is such a thing as hair removal for sensitive skin. While some women's skin is less tolerant of treatments and products than others, there is no reason why, if you use these tips and tricks, you can't get your legs, underarms, and bikini line looking and feeling as great as you want them to.
Dermatologists and beauty experts are well versed in the issues raised by sensitive skin, so take note! Their recommendations on the best methods of hair removal for sensitive skin, as well as general skincare routines, mean that irritation and pain can be a thing of the past.
It might take some trial and error, but there are tried-and-true methods out there for sensitive skin. Whether it's finding the best razors for women, or trying a new, little-known waxing method, it is possible to achieve the silky-smooth skin you want.
Tips to deal with hair removal for sensitive skin
Take care of your skin, every day
If your skin gets irritated during or after hair removal, ask yourself this question before any other: do I give my skin the attention it needs regularly enough?
It won't help to blame the hair removal method if you're not making sure to do everything possible to keep your skin happy and healthy on a daily basis.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends easy remedies for dry or irritated skin that you can apply daily. These practices range from moisturizing right after washing to choosing extra-gentle clothes and laundry detergents.
“Truly any method of hair removal can be suitable if the right precautions are taken to soothe and protect the skin,” says Dr Erum N Ilyas, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology and founder of AmberNoon.
When you give your skin the love and care it needs, the options for hair removal for sensitive skin open right up.
The less contact, the better
Although Dr Ilyas argues that any procedure can work, she acknowledges that some methods are better than others when it comes to hair removal for sensitive skin.
“Most hair removal methods such as shaving, depilatory creams, and waxing irritate or inflame the skin in the process of hair removal,” says Dr Ilyas. “Threading or plucking tend to be ideal for the simple reason that these two methods do not impact the skin directly in the same way that other hair removal methods do.”
When you think about it, it makes sense. Razors, creams, and waxes come into complete contact with the skin, whereas threading and plucking only aim to touch the hair itself. They also don’t involve the application of topical products, which could also be the source of irritation for some women.
That being said, threading and plucking are slow-going, and therefore not great options for larger areas, such as arms or legs.
Similarly, laser hair removal can potentially be a good option for sensitive skin as, while it takes some time, once the sessions are over the results should be nearly permanent.
Try gentler products
You may also be able to perform the hair removal methods that have irritated your skin in the past by upgrading to less harsh products.
There are beauty products out there designed by and for women with sensitive skin, and they’re worth your attention. Have you ever heard of sugar wax, for example?
“Having tried every method out there, I can confidently say that sugaring is the best hair removal for sensitive skin by leaps and bounds,” says Salome Sallehy, founder of Sugar Sugar Wax.
Sugar wax only adheres to dead skin and hair—not healthy skin—when it's applied. That means that when it’s removed, it only strips away the stuff you don’t want on your legs, leaving you with smooth, shiny skin.
Salome also explains that traditional waxing techniques remove hair in the opposite direction to that that your hair grows, which is what causes pain and irritation for some women. Sugar wax, on the other hand, removes hair in the same direction as the hairs grow, limiting strain on the hair follicles.
“Sensitive skin doesn’t like to be pulled and prodded,” explains Salome. It’s important that skin gets to rest between waxing, so she recommends using sugar wax every six weeks.
Sugar wax isn’t the only product out there that offers an option removing hair from sensitive skin. People are discovering new beauty solutions every day—just keep an eye out for new products and innovations.
Your favorite hair-removal methods—quick tips for sensitive skin
Good old-fashioned hair-removal methods might still work for you, even if you have sensitive skin. The key is to choose gentle products and take good care of your skin before, during, and after whatever process or technique you opt for.
Have you ever heard a chef say “a sharp knife is a safe knife?” Well, the same principle can be applied to razors.
Dull blades can lead to more nicks and potential razor burn, which in turn results in skin that's more irritated. Make sure your razors are sharp, whether that means sharpening them yourself or getting new razor heads as needed. The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends sharpening or changing your razor every 5-7 shaves.
Additionally, gently wash your skin with warm water and/ or a facial cleanser before shaving to smooth and relax your skin.
When it comes to waxing, technique is everything. It’s important to keep the skin taut while removing the strip, and it’s essential that you remove the strip in the direction that the hair is growing.
Make sure you apply gentle products to your skin beforehand to prepare it, and then apply a cooling gel or lotion—as well as a cold compress—to the skin afterwards. Additionally, taking an ibuprofen or anti-inflammatory 30 minutes before waxing can help with pain and redness. Waxing can be slightly less painful for some, which is why it's often a good facial hair removal option.
Threading or plucking
Threading or plucking are processes that grab the hair at the root and force it out of the skin. Ideally, nothing touches the skin, and the motion is so swift that it doesn’t tug the skin either. What’s important is that the process is done correctly and efficiently, to prevent damage and ingrown hairs, so the best advice we have for this process is to see a professional and don’t attempt it at home, especially without help. This is because there are some hairs you should and shouldn't pluck—and a professional is best placed to know the correct way to do things.
If you’ve never had luck with depilatory creams like Nair because of your sensitive skin, chances are it just might not be the hair removal method for you.
Depilatory creams are some of the harshest hair removal products because they use strong chemicals to literally dissolve hairs. Instead of experimenting with different products, experts recommend trying a different method all together, such as shaving, waxing, plucking or threading.
Eunice Lucero-Lee is the Beauty Channel Editor for woman&home. A lifelong creative writer and beautyphile, she graduated from De La Salle University in 2002 and was hired a year later to front all beauty coverage for Pink Magazine, a teen lifestyle publication, after submitting a page-long thesis on why Stila was the best brand to come out of the Aughts. She was hired an hour later.
Her writing—which has since then expanded to cover pop culture and astrology, both equal passions—led her to spearheading columns in Chalk Magazine, K-Mag, Metro Working Mom, and SugarSugar Magazine. Upon receiving her stripes at New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute in 2008 she was immediately headhunted to work as the Beauty Editor, thereafter Managing Editor of Stylebible.ph, the digital home of Preview, the Philippines’ best-selling fashion magazine, where she also did double-duty as Associate Editor of the print edition.
It was during this stint that the hallyu wave started taking hold and when she was tapped to co-found Sparkling, Asia’s first-ever English K-Pop print magazine. Originally planned as a one-off, the project became a runaway hit and saw her taking Korean classes on the weekends for three years, as she found herself frustrated by the lack of breadth translators provided for celebrity profile coverage. She was Editor-in-Chief until her move to New York in 2013. The now-iconic magazine has remained in publication since 2009 due to massive fan support.
A beauty, astrology, and pop culture obsessive and insider for over 18 years, Eunice is an internationally published editor (and now certified astrologer) whose work has been featured in publications such as Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and The Numinous, among many others. The former Editor-in-Chief of All Things Hair and a (very) proud cat mom, she spends her time in Manhattan figuring out the correct Pilates-to-sushi ratio, obsessing over celebrity natal charts, luxury skincare, and Scandi-noir crime procedurals, as well as finding the perfect K-Pop vid to save the day. She can still order drinks perfectly in Korean. Find her on Instagram @eunichiban.
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