HomeBlogSmooth Operator: A Guide to Natural Hair Removal Methods

Smooth Operator: A Guide to Natural Hair Removal Methods

Even Julia Roberts cannot pull off a hairy underarm. When she revealed a dark bush while waving to fans at the premiere of Notting Hill, it caused uproar in the following weeks and months. It is unfortunate that while body hair symbolises masculinity in men, the sight of it on women is shunned so much that we try all sorts of methods and products to remove hair on our upper lips, underarms, bikini line and legs.

The most common hair removal methods that women use are shaving, plucking, waxing and the use of hair removal creams. Those who are tired of having to remove the hair regularly would opt for permanent hair removal methods such as Intense Pulse Light (IPL) and laser hair removal. Almost everyone else you know uses either one of these methods, so they should be effective and harmless, right? Wrong. Here’s a lowdown of the method that you’ve been using all this while:

Method: Tweezing/plucking

How it is done:

Hair is plucked using a pair of tweezers or pincers.

As tweezers are used to pluck the hairs, plucking hair out of its follicles is sometimes referred to as tweezing. Tweezing is painful especially when hairs are removed from sensitive areas such as from the nipple. The process is time-consuming too as each hair is removed individually.

After a tweezing session, the skin is red, painful and has little bumps all over. Ingrown hairs are a common problem arising from the practice of tweezing hairs. In more severe cases, scars and pits could form too. People also tend to pluck hairs from their moles but this should never be done as inflammation could occur and result in a painful lump beneath the mole. Instead, use a small pair of scissors to carefully trim the hair from the mole.

Method: Shaving

How it is done:

Legs and underarms are shaved with either an electric or a disposable razor.

Shaving is one of the most common methods done to remove hair on the legs and underarms but many fail to realise that shaving actually thickens hair growth in the long run. Frequent shaving causes hair to grow coarser and rougher, eventually making it more difficult to shave with a razor. Constant shaving also results in the skin dying and becoming darker. This is the reason why deodorants now come with whitening function to lighten the underarms of women who wish to wear sleeveless tops.

Shaving must also be done carefully as nicks and bleeding may occur especially without the use of shaving creams. Needless to say, these are unsightly and also pose a risk of infection. A good electric shaver is needed to do the task well but one could be quite pricey, therefore an alternative would be to constantly invest in disposable razors for a clean shave and to minimise cuts.

Method: Laser hair removal

How it is done:

A laser beam is passed through the skin into a hair follicle where the intense heat of the laser damages the hair follicle, inhibiting future hair growth.

Laser is capable of removing tattoos and cutting corneal flaps in the LASIK method of correcting vision. Therefore, the use of laser in hair removal techniques is indeed one of high risks. People with sensitive skin could possibly suffer burns or skin discolouration from the laser. Those with acne, fever, lip sores and other medical conditions such as epilepsy and diabetes are not advised to undergo laser hair removal.

Despite the medical risks, the outcome of laser hair removal isn’t necessarily satisfactory. Results vary depending on the colour of the skin and the hair colour. Laser hair removal is less effective for gray, blonde or red hair. Laser is also not recommended as a method to remove hair from the face due to the close contact with the eyes, which must stay protected throughout the removal of body hair. Treatment is lengthy and pricey too, taking several sessions to deliver satisfactory results and costing hundreds each time.

Method: Electrolysis

How it is done:

Needles connected to low-level electric current are inserted into the hair follicles. The current kills the hair follicles, preventing further hair growth.

The thought of needles itself is enough to scare anyone off, furthermore with the needles punctuating your follicles with electric currents. Needless to say, the combination of needles and electricity is a painful one, so much that some have said that the pain is 20 times more painful than laser hair removal. There is also a risk of being scarred from the process should the needles enter the skin instead. Pitted scarring is common when flash thermolysis electrolysis is used on thick hair that is deeply rooted instead of shallow fine hair. Thus, it is important that the electrologist is licensed and experienced to perform the task with minimal pain and risk of scarring.

As each follicle has to be ‘killed’, electrolysis will take time to render an area hair-free. Therefore, treatment is often broken down into several sessions, which can be time-consuming and troublesome to keep to the schedule. Another downside is the cost of electrolysis which will easily set anyone back a couple of hundred per session. Buying the sessions in a package gives you some savings somewhat but would still cost several thousands.

Method: Electronic epilators

How it is done:

These electronic devices contain rotating disks or multiple tweezers that pull out hair from the roots.

Using an electronic epilator is similar to waxing, where hair is pulled out from the roots. Thus, complaints of pain are common and redness, skin bumps and ingrown hairs are bound to happen too. Most epilators are not able to grasp short hairs, therefore you would have to wait until your hair grows a bit before you can use an epilator. Some models of epilator do not work well with thick hair or deep follicles, causing the epilator to either work sub-optimally or get stuck.

Method: Depilatory creams

How it is done:

The cream contains ingredients that dissolve the keratin in hair. This causes the hair to break just underneath the skin, enabling the hair to be scraped off.

Depilatory creams were initially intended for the removal of hair on cattle hide. These days, depilatory creams are commonly used for hair removal due to their easy availability in pharmacies. However, users often complain about ineffective hair removal, dryness of the skin, inconvenient usage and unpleasant odour emitted by its key component, thioglycolic acid. Skin irritation is the most common problem due to the fact that our skin itself is also rich in keratin which is targeted by the ingredients to dissolve. So you’re not only dissolving unwanted hair but your skin as well.

Method: Bleaching

How it is done:

Hair is lightened to make them less visible.

Bleaching isn’t a hair removal method but rather, the hair is lightened in order to make them less visible. This method is not effective for thick growth or coarse hair. The bleach may irritate the skin as well by causing acne, itchiness, thinning, skin discolouration and change in texture. Even worse is that the bleach is potentially carcinogenic and contains ingredients that are linked to illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, neurological disorders and polycystic ovary syndromes.

Method: Oral medication and topical creams

How it is done:

Drugs and creams contain ingredients that interrupt with the chemicals that cause hair growth.

As with any drug, there are bound to be side effects of hair removal oral medication or topical cream. Common side effects include itching, redness, skin irritation, burning or stinging sensations, tingling and hair bumps. The medication and cream only serve to reduce hair growth and will not remove existing hair. Treatment must be ongoing, for hair growth will resume when treatment is stopped or interrupted. Since treatment can be expensive, be prepared to fork out a sum for long-term treatment.

Remove Hair… Naturally!

Hair removal need not be harmful, painful and expensive. There are natural hair removal methods that eliminate the risks the methods above possess but are as effective:

Method: Sugaring

How it is done:

A thick sugar paste is applied, strips of cotton cloth are laid over it before being removed swiftly, taking along with them the unwanted hairs.

Sugaring is an ancient hair removal technique originating from the Middle East. Many refer to sugaring as Persian waxing, natural waxing or sugar waxing due to the similarity in techniques. However, unlike the wax used in salons, the sugar mixture is made from natural ingredients that you can make them yourself with items from your kitchen, namely sugar, lemon juice and water. Some pastes also contain honey, cornstarch and molasses. Even the commercially available sugar mixtures are made of natural ingredients such as citric acid, gum Arabic and guar gum. Therefore, you are spared contact with wax which is primarily made up of resin and artificial fragrances that potentially causes allergic reaction.

Pain is main disadvantage of waxing. Just imagine how painful it is to have large quantities of hairs ripped off sharply from the most sensitive parts of your body. Sugaring doesn’t invoke as much pain as the sugar paste sticks to only the hair as opposed to wax that sticks to the skin as well. This not only causes a sting when the waxing is done but live skin cells are also removed in the process. Furthermore, pain is less felt as hairs are removed in the same direction of growth in a traditional sugaring technique, unlike waxing which rips off hair in the opposite direction of growth. You also don’t have to contend with hot wax being poured on your body as the sugar paste used only needs to be lukewarm, thus there are no burns or discomfort.

Being relatively painless, sugaring is suitable to be done on sensitive parts of the body such as the upper lip, bikini line, genital areas and around the breasts. At the end of the process, you just have to rinse off any remaining sugar paste with water, unlike having to remove wax residue with petroleum jelly, baby oil or special wax remover. Sugaring is also convenient that it can be done at home with paste made on your own; simply use one of the many ‘recipes’ found online. So you have a hair removal method that is less painful, effective and cheap.

Homemade Sugaring Recipe


  • 4 cups of sugar
  • ½ cup of Lemon juice
  • ½ cup of water


  1. Mix the sugar, water and lemon juice in a sauce pan. It is always good to mix the ingredients before keeping it on flame.
  2. Keep the container on a low flame after mixing.
  3. Keep stirring the mixture until the sugar solution melts and you have a thick brown liquid. Normally it takes 10 to 15 minutes on low flame.
  4. The temperature needed to stop cooking the sugar solution is 100-110°C. It is called ‘Soft ball’ consistency. If a small amount of syrup is dropped into chilled water, it forms a soft, flexible ball, but flattens like a pancake after a few moments.
  5. Let it cool. Hot sugar wax can burn skin so don’t rush to use it after it is prepared and it is still hot.
  6. Remove a small amount of sugaring from the jar with your fingers. It should be thick, but flowing. Knead the sugaring between your fingers until the sugaring turns opaque. Leave the jar in the bowl of hot water for 5 to 7 minutes, but never more than 10 minutes. The sugar wax should be warm, but not hot when it’s ready to be applied.

Tips & Warnings

  • One cannot sugar or wax hair that is less than 1/4 inch generally.
  • The sugaring should be warm, NOT hot, when you handle it.
  • The first time you try body sugaring, test on a small area of skin beforehand. If you have any adverse reaction to the paste, do not attempt hair removal with this method.
  • Though not as painful as waxing, please expect some discomfort with body sugaring. Pain will lessen with repeated use, as hair thins and softens.

The above recipe is courtesy of Vasthraa de Beaute. For expert sugaring, contact Vasthraa de Beaute (Beauty & Medi Spa) 4, Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

For more information, visit: vasthraadebeaute.webs.com

Method: Threading

How it is done:

A strand of cotton thread is twisted around the unwanted hairs to slowly pluck them from the roots.

Threading is an ancient hair removal method originating from India. The process is mainly used to shape eyebrows but can be used to remove hair from the upper lip too as the procedure is much painless compared to tweezing. Hair removal by threading is also faster than tweezing as the thread removes multiple hairs at once. The procedure costs much less too. There are also no qualms about hygiene as each thread is used only once and discarded after each removal.

Many have flocked to Indian beauty parlours having discovered this painless, effective and cheap method of eyebrow-shaping and facial hair removal. This technique is also getting increasingly popular among those who claim that threading is able to shape their eyebrows much better than tweezing, waxing or sugaring. The best thing about threading is that if it is done frequently, results could be permanent as the damaged follicles stop growing hair.

Method: Natural bleaching

How it is done:

Juice and substances derived from fruits are applied onto the unwanted hair to lighten the colour and reduce visibility.

Certain fruits have known bleaching properties. Using these eliminate the risks of developing cancer and skin changes associated with chemical bleaches. There are three popular methods that can be applied to deliver lighter-looking hair that are less visible. You could cut a tomato into half and rub the juice on your face, leaving the juice on for a few minutes before rinsing off with cold water. A concoction of lemon juice and honey is also an effective natural bleaching agent that is applied using the same method as the tomato juice.

If you have some papaya pulp, mix these with some milk and apply the paaste to your face. Massage the mixture into the unwanted hair, leave on for 10 minutes and wash off repeatedly with cold water. Any of these three methods listed above are effective hair bleaching agents minus the health risks associated with chemical bleach.

Natural methods are always best as they do not expose you to the risks of skin irritation, scarring, allergies or health hazards associated with shaving, plucking or electrolysis. Now that you have learnt of some natural methods, make a switch from your regular one.

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