Short-Term Hair Removal Methods

Information on short-term hair removal methods, including pros, cons, safety tips, and considerations for choosing a hair removal method.

Shaving is the most popular method of hair removal for the face and legs. The common methods are dry shaving with a foil or rotary head electric razor and wet shaving with a razor blade. Wet shaving with a razor blade cuts hairs closer to the surface, producing a smoother shave. Contrary to popular belief, shaving does not make the hair grow back thicker.

Before both dry and wet shaving, some people use a pre-shave lotion to remove sweat and oil from the skin, making for a smoother shave. For wet shaving, you can use a shaving lather or gel to soften the hair and cause it to stand straight up. This makes the hair easier to cut and minimizes skin irritation. After either method, you can apply aftershave to soothe any discomfort the razor causes to your face.

To minimize irritation:
  • use a clean, sharp razor
  • shave every other day, rather than daily
  • keep the skin loose (not pulled tight) while shaving
  • don’t shave over the same area multiple times
  • use mild, scent-free shaving cleanser
  • use a scent-free aftershave that contains witch hazel, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or salicylic acid.


Shaving is fast, cheap, painless and convenient.


Hair grows back in 1 to 4 days and feels stubbly. May cause ingrown hairs, folliculitis (a skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed), rash or cuts.

Safety tips

If you have diabetes or use blood thinners, shave using an electric razor rather than a manual one. To avoid transmitting infections, don’t share razors with others.


Plucking involves using tweezers to remove, one hair at a time, the entire hair shaft. It is most practical for small areas like the eyebrows. Make sure you pluck the hair in the direction you want it to grow.

Do not pluck areas on which you may wish to have electrolysis. Plucking distorts the hair follicle, making it more difficult for electrologists to work with.


Easy and inexpensive. Effects last longer than shaving (2 to 6 weeks).


Tedious and sometimes painful, especially on sensitive areas. (Numbing the area with ice can help reduce discomfort). Hair may grow back thicker, darker and faster. May lead to ingrown hairs if the hair breaks off below the skin’s surface.

Safety tips

To avoid infection, do not pluck your nose hairs. Clip them instead. Be aware that some companies market electronic tweezers as home electrolysis units. Unlike electrolysis, electronic tweezers do not offer permanent hair removal. They also emit radiation, so it’s important to follow the instructions if you use these devices.

Threading (khite or fatlah)

Threading (also known as khite or fatlah) is a hair removal technique that has been used for centuries in the Middle East. It involves rolling a long, twisted cotton thread against the skin to pluck several hairs at once. It is commonly used to remove facial hair, including hair from the cheeks, ears and forehead.


Professional threading is inexpensive compared to professional plucking. Quick. Well tolerated by sensitive skin because no potentially irritating substances are used. Many consider it to be less painful than plucking, waxing or electrolysis. Can be done more often than waxing or plucking because even short hairs can be removed. Results last 2 to 6 weeks.


Mass plucking can cause irritation and itching. Ineffective for large parts of the body. May lead to folliculitis (a skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed). Folliculitis can lead to changes in skin pigmentation.

Safety tips

Do not use this method on broken, irritated or sunburned skin or skin with active eczema, psoriasis or herpes lesions.


Waxing is the second most popular method of body hair removal, next to shaving. It involves applying a layer of hot or cold wax to the skin, and then quickly pulling it off.

The two common methods are the non-strip method (hard wax) and the strip method (hot wax). The non-strip method causes less irritation. The strip method is faster but the hair grows back irregularly, rather than in one direction.


Because this method pulls hairs out at the level of the hair bulb, it lasts 6 to 8 weeks. Often the hair grows back softer. Many people have reduced hair growth after multiple treatments.


Wax can be irritating to the skin. It can cause redness, bumps, swelling and folliculitis (a skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed). Folliculitis can lead to changes in skin pigmentation. These side effects are more common with facial waxing. Incorrect waxing can cause burns, bruising or skin removal. Waxing can be messy. It’s also painful. You must be willing to have stubble or regrowth of 2 to 3 mm until the hairs are long enough to be waxed again.

Waxing is not a safe method for everyone. If you are performing your own waxing treatment, check the instructions that come with your kit. If you are paying a practitioner to wax you, they will conduct an assessment to determine whether it is an appropriate method for you. They will not wax people who have a blood or circulatory disorder, epilepsy, diabetes, hemophilia, inflamed or irritated skin or lupus. They will not wax an area that has a fracture or sprain, an active herpes outbreak, varicose veins, a sunburn, scar tissue, moles, skin tags or warts.

Several medical treatments react negatively with waxing, including blood thinners, tetracycline, Retin-A, Accutane, Differin, chemotherapy and radiation. You may want to ask your healthcare provider if waxing is safe for you.

Safety tips

Don’t wax sensitive areas like the eyelids, ears, nose or nipple area. Don’t wax your own eyebrows, as wax may drip into your eyelashes or eyes. Avoid tanning 24 hours before and after waxing.


Sugaring involves using a syrup made from sugar, water and lemon juice to grab many hairs at once and remove them at the bulb. In this way, it is similar to waxing. The hair must be 2 mm to 3 mm long before treatment. This method can be used on any area except beards, the nostrils, inner ears or genitals.

There are two methods of sugaring: application and removal by hand and application by spatula with removal by cotton strip. The main difference is that the hand method is slower but more gentle and the spatula method is quicker and as a result, less expensive. For faces that don’t have a lot of facial hair, hand-applied sugaring is preferable to waxing because it doesn’t distort the hair follicle.


You can wait 6 to 12 weeks between treatments, and this time may increase the more you use this method alone. Less skin irritation compared to waxing, particularly with all natural ingredients. Minimal or no risk of burning or bruising. No risk of skin removal. The same area can be treated more than once without irritation. Regrowth is softer and less dense. Easy clean-up because the syrup is water-soluble. The syrup has natural antiseptic properties, which reduce bacteria and the chance of breakouts.


Some pain, but not as much as waxing. Possible side effects include folliculitis (a skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed) and ingrown hairs, but these are less common with hand-applied sugaring.

There are some people who should not use this method of hair removal, and even more people who should not use the spatula method. Your sugaring practitioner will conduct an assessment to determine if sugaring is safe for you and, if so, which method is most appropriate. If you are performing your own spatula-applied sugaring treatment, get your doctor’s approval. If you are performing your own hand-applied sugaring treatment, avoid treating areas that are chapped, broken or sunburned or have pimples, pustules, moles, skin tags, warts or active herpes outbreaks. Get your doctor’s approval if you have phlebitis, diabetes or hemophilia.

Safety tips

Follow your practitioner’s after-care advice. This will likely include instructions to avoid fragrances and deodorants on treated areas and avoid sun and tanning beds for 48 hours.

Chemical depilatories

A chemical depilatory is a paste, cream or lotion that is left on the skin for 3 to 15 minutes, depending on the brand. The mixture breaks down the hair’s protein structure, causing the hairs to break off, so they can be wiped away. It is usually used on the arms and legs. This method is more effective on light, fine hair than dark, coarse hair.


Usually painless. Hair will grow back a bit more slowly compared to shaving (2 to 10 days). Regrowth will feel softer.


Can cause skin and eye irritation. If you are sensitive to scents, this may not be the method for you.

Safety tips

Do not use this method on any skin that is irritated or broken or has signs of infection. Do not use on the face unless the label specifies that it is safe to do so. Do not use on any skin close to mucous membranes, like the vagina* or anus.

Considerations for short-term hair removal

Choose the hair removal method that works for you and your needs.

The hair removal options available depend on your goal, how often or conveniently you can remove your hair, and whether the hair removal is pre-surgical. Only two methods, electrolysis and laser hair removal, can achieve long-term or permanent results. 

Be sure to work with your hair removal provider to identify any contraindications from your health history and medications that might impact the selected hair removal method. Read our safety tips for each hair removal method.

What you can afford can impact your ability to achieve your goal for hair removal. Generally, the costs for the short-term hair removal methods are low, and depend on if you are using home-based or service-based methods. Electrolysis and laser hair removal are costly and can take time and commitment to meet your hair removal plan and achieve the results you are looking for.

Find a hair removal service provider who is experienced, knowledgeable and comes recommended in providing gender-affirming service.

SOURCE: Short-Term Hair Removal Methods ( )
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