News center
Quality is our top priority, which is why we continuously evolve our techniques to provide the best services.

The Best Creams and Tools for Removing Hair (2023): Creams, Wax, and More

Mar 28, 2024

Medea Giordano

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED

Getting rid of hair on your body can be frustrating and painful, especially since no two bodies are the same. Hair can be curly or straight, dark or light, coarse or fine. Shaving is popular because it's easy and provides instant results, but for some people (including me), it's a painful nuisance.

I have stubborn, sensitive skin that gets razor burn and ingrown hairs. My skin gets so itchy between shaves that I've drawn blood by mindlessly scratching. But I can't resist the feeling of super-smooth legs against fresh sheets, and so I set out to find alternatives that were easier on my skin, and hopefully yours. It's also important to say: You absolutely do not need to get rid of your body hair. Regardless of what social norms might say, it's a personal choice.

If you're worried about the hair on your head, see our how-tos on cutting and dyeing your hair at home. Also, check out our ultimate guide to self-care for other grooming tips.

Updated September 2021: We added more picks, including the Panasonic Wet/Dry Shaver, Nair Whipped Cream, and more.

If you're trying out a new hair-removal process, especially with something harsh like a depilatory (hair-removing) cream or a laser, keep a few things in mind:

I didn't think something as easy as applying cream and wiping it off could work for my coarse hair, but there's a reason Nair has been around since 1940. Its Leg Mask is my favorite of all the products I tested for this guide—I can now have smooth legs without itching and ingrown hairs. It's affordable! But if you use it as your only form of leg hair remover, you'll go through a bottle fast, as you need a generous layer to cover the hair.

I've tried the charcoal and shea butter masks, but there's also a clay and seaweed version. I didn't see a noticeable difference between them—both removed hair just as well, leaving skin soft—but the charcoal didn't have as strong a scent. These are only for legs, hence the name, and cannot be used on the bikini area.

Another favorite: Nair's Bladeless Shave Whipped Cream ($9) is another standout, meant for more body parts. It smells a little better and removes hair just as well, but the bottles are smaller, so you'll go through it faster.

Waxing gives you a much smoother finish and lasts longer than shaving or using creams. I much prefer to budget for professional waxes, but they're expensive. Thankfully, there are pre-waxed strips that are easy to use at home. For larger areas, Glee's wax strips are affordable and are recommended by WIRED staff. Another favorite is Parissa's Waxing Pen, which is great for eyebrows or your upper lip, because the precision tip can get into those small areas without making a mess (or risk ripping off half a brow).

I prefer the hard wax used at some salons, especially in sensitive areas like your bikini line, because it adheres to hair follicles and not skin. It hurts way less than ripping a strip off, but it's pricier and requires a trip away from home. If you do it yourself, it can be messy. (You can buy a hard-wax kit for home use, but the warmers can be several hundred dollars.)

Intense-pulsed-light (IPL) devices target the root of the hair, causing it to fall out and greatly reduce regrowth over time. It's not something you'll see results from immediately or uniformly, but after a few weeks of zapping my legs with the HoMedics Duo Lite, I was happily surprised to see the hair growing back in patches (and therefore not growing back in other patches).

Again, make sure you read the directions of the device you get! But in general, you need to shave the area you want to treat first, then run the device over that area, clicking the button once on each patch of skin. That flash of an IPL light might feel a bit like a rubber band snapping against your skin, but barely. IPL is generally not safe for use on blonde, red, or gray hair, nor on very dark skin. Even if you have pale skin and dark hair, do a patch test and start on the lowest setting. It will take some time to see results, but you don't want to permanently mark your skin by rushing or using something that's not appropriate for you.

A luxurious alternative: The SmoothSkin Pure IPL ($379) (also available here) is much more expensive, but it claims to have unlimited flashes. For reference, the HoMedics lasts for 100,000 flashes. The Pure also has a skin tone sensor that it uses to adjust intensity levels, so there's little chance that you'll be left with damaged skin.

Adrienne So

Julian Chokkattu

Medea Giordano

Reece Rogers

The human body is covered in vellus hairs, also called peach fuzz. They're mostly not noticeable to anyone but you, and just like the rest of the hair on your body, there's no need to get rid of it. But I was finding that, in combination with my textured skin, the extra hair meant my makeup didn't sit smoothly.

This $10 spring can remove most of that peach fuzz without much effort. By twisting the handles as you run it over your face, the spring removes the hair without catching the skin. It sounds painful, but I did it fairly mindlessly while watching TV (though my upper lip area was particularly sensitive). Don't use this around your eyebrows, as you may end up ripping out more than you wanted.

Another way to remove that peach fuzz is with an exfoliating wand like the Dermaflash Luxe. WIRED writer Louryn Strampe started using the Luxe after she noticed the hair on her face showing up a bit too prominently in her Zoom meetings. Wash your face first, then hold your skin taut and drag the wand in short strokes. She says the result is "disgusting, if satisfying," with a pile of dead skin and peach fuzz falling to the bathroom sink. But she had ringing words of endorsement: "My skin was flawless, glowy, and smooth, and more importantly, my mustache was obliterated."

It's not perfect, though. It's incredibly expensive and has wasteful single-use blades. It also has a learning curve; you might have to watch several YouTube videos before your first attempt to avoid the reddish skin some users report. But there's no pain; Louryn says it's like rubbing an electric toothbrush handle on her cheeks.

An inexpensive alternative: The Jill Glow Kit ($25) (or $20 plus $6 monthly subscription) is a much cheaper way, although not as luxurious, to achieve a similar result. It didn't irritate my skin, and though it's sharp, I didn't feel like I was risking cutting myself either. It comes with two blades for larger and smaller areas like eyebrows or the upper lip. A subscription gets your replacement blades each month. We haven't used these Japonesque razors ($10) ourselves, but they operate on a similar principle and we love other products from this brand.

You don't need to remove hair completely to manage it. Trimming can help get things under control. The Philips BikiniGenie ($20) has a small head, so it's safe and easy to use in the sensitive nooks and crannies of your nether region (or knees and ankles). But if you want to trim larger areas, like your legs or chest, the Philips Norelco ($20) is a better choice. It comes with a bunch of attachments, including a precision trimmer, so you can handle every area.

If you get occasional bikini waxes and you have a steady hand, you may want to consider trimming with a good pair of hair scissors instead of clippers. If you normally visit a waxer, one told me that they prefer this since close trims or shaves can change the hair texture and progress. A WIRED staffer likes the Tweezerman Stainless 2000 Shears ($37). Just don't get too close to the skin.

Adrienne So

Julian Chokkattu

Medea Giordano

Reece Rogers

I had almost no hope this cheap electric shaver would work, but after a compelling TikTok, I took a chance and was pleasantly surprised. Electric shavers typically don't get you that silky smooth feel of regular shaving or waxing—they just can't get that close to the skin—but this one comes awfully close. It also doesn't pull or irritate my skin, the way regular, analog razors do.

It's also not recommended that you use an analog razor to shave dry skin, but as you might guess by the name, you can use this on wet or dry skin! I actually prefer the latter for an easier shave. It also fits directly on top of its charging block, so you don't have stray wires hanging around your bathroom sink.

Laser hair removal is the most intense option on this list if you want to get rid of your hair once and for all. It's an expensive, painful, and long process, but it might be worthwhile if you know you don't want hair in a particular area anymore.

Previously, laser hair removal only worked if there was a big color contrast between your hair and your skin—for example, if you had dark hair and pale skin. However, the technology has advanced to include more of the population. As with IPL devices, it doesn't always work well for people with blonde and red hair—though some lasers can now treat the former. For this reason, I wouldn't gamble on an at-home device. Even if you're going to a salon, ask for a patch test first. We recommend doing your research on the facilities in your area to see what types of lasers they use. Your dermatologist might also have good recommendations.

There are some people who swear by epilators. If that's you, keep doing what you're doing, but I am not one of them. Epilators remove your hair at the root, like waxing or tweezing, so you won't have to do it as often as shaving or using a depilatory cream, but it's not as fast as waxing, and it hurts much more.

I tried the Philips Satinelle, and I could only manage one leg in a single sitting—and I regularly get my entire lower body waxed. Not only was it painful, but it also removed only patches of hair. Where it did remove hair, I was left with red spots that lasted for two days and hurt when they came into contact with warm bathwater. I even tried it a few more times on different hair lengths to make sure it wasn't user error, but I encountered the same results. I'd rather spend the money on waxing than sit through another painful session.

Adrienne So

Julian Chokkattu

Medea Giordano

Reece Rogers

I favor alternative methods of hair removal, but sometimes you just need a regular old razor. We have a few options to consider, and at the top of the list is a single-blade razor. A lot of old-school barbers shave their clients' faces with a straight razor because they get a closer, smoother shave with less irritation, as compared to a 3- or 5-blade razor. You can use one of those at home, but single-blade safety razors are a little less terrifying (I'm looking at you, Sweeney Todd).

There are a ton of options, but the one I tried and loved is from Henson Shaving ($70). It's pricey, but it felt good in my hand and left me with super-smooth legs, without a lot of irritation. The price includes five razor blades, but for $10 more you can opt for 100 blades instead. Any standard double-edge blade will fit.

Subscription alternative: Not ready to go the single route just yet? Razor subscriptions like Dollar Shave Club and Billie (the latter is the first brand I've seen to show women's body hair in its ads) will keep you stocked with replacement blades for a fraction of the price of standard replacement heads from CVS or Target—a subscription is typically $10 or less every few months.

Brenda Stolyar

Brenda Stolyar

Jaina Grey

Scott Gilbertson

Erica Kasper

Medea Giordano

Nena Farrell

Nena Farrell

TurboTax coupon: Up to an extra $15 off all tax services

20% OFF All H&R Block 2023 Tax Software | H&R Block Coupon

Instacart coupon: $50 off $100+ orders + free delivery

Extra 20% off sitewide - Dyson promo code

GoPro Promo Code: 10% Off all sitewide purchases + Free shipping

Do some research.Read the directions foreachproduct.Do a patch test first.Use it only on the body parts it's meant for.Another favorite:A luxurious alternative:An inexpensive alternative:Subscription alternative: