Main content
A person using a razor to shave their legs.


Hair Removal 101: Shaving, Waxing, Depilatories, and More

Kiehl’s goes through the pros and cons of various popular forms of hair removal. Learn more about which hair removal method is right for you.

Whether it’s cleaning up your eyebrows, trimming your beard, or waxing your legs so they’re silky-smooth, some form of hair removal is a part of nearly everyone’s grooming and body care routine. Despite that, there’s no real consensus on the best way to remove hair—which makes sense when you consider how many hair removal methods there are (shaving, waxing, plucking, laser hair removal…you get the picture). The truth is, there is no one “best” method; all of these types of hair removal can be effective. What it boils down to is that some methods may suit your needs better than others.

To help you determine which is the best hair removal method for you, we spoke with board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick about four common hair removal options. Ahead, the New York-based Kiehl’s expert breaks down the pros and cons of different types of hair removal and provides her recommendations on how to keep your skin looking and feeling its best between hair removal sessions. Read on for the ultimate Kiehl’s guide to hair removal.


A wildly popular form of hair removal, shaving involves using a blade or razor to cut hair at the surface of the skin.


The biggest benefit of shaving is that it provides immediate results—one swipe of a high-quality razor should leave the area smooth and hairless, at least temporarily. You can do it in the shower or out (so long as your skin is wet), and it’s relatively easy to do, making it a great option for hair removal newbies. It’s also a viable option for hair removal almost anywhere on your person, from your legs to your face.

Things To Consider:

While shaving is undoubtedly popular and typically well-tolerated by most, it “may present challenges” for some, Dr. Garshick says. The two most common side effects of shaving are razor bumps (a.k.a ingrown hairs) and razor burn. Razor bumps typically develop when the hair is cut at a sharp angle, as it is when you shave. As the hair begins to grow back, Dr. Garshick explains, it can curl inward and re-enter the skin, causing a red, irritated bump to form. The coarser and curlier the hair, the more likely ingrown hairs are to occur. The good news is that, while temporarily uncomfortable, razor bumps often resolve on their own with time.

Razor burn, meanwhile, refers to skin irritation caused by the friction between the razor and your skin. It generally develops immediately after shaving and can be accompanied by redness, dryness, and flaking, Dr. Garshick says.

Prep and Aftercare:

Aside from getting your skin wet, there’s nothing specific you need to do to prep your skin for shaving, Dr. Garshick says, though using a shaving cream or gel can help protect your skin from friction and minimize the chance of developing razor burn. At Kiehl’s, we have a few different shaving products to choose from. Try Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream White Eagle, which is suitable for all skin types. The brushless cream formula with menthol and camphor smooths on easily (no water required) and helps prime skin for a close, comfortable shave.

Kiehl's Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream

After shaving, we suggest using Ultimate Razor Burn & Bump Relief to help keep ingrowns and irritation at bay. This gentle formula, which contains aloe vera and lipo-hydroxy acid, nourishes and moisturizes for more resilient skin. It also provides gentle exfoliation to help reduce the appearance of ingrown hairs. Apply it with your fingers and let it dry before moisturizing for a sting-free finish to your shaving routine.

Kiehls Tip: If you’re a guy who’s on the road a lot, snag our Ultimate Shave Collection Gift Set. The four-piece set contains everything you need for a close, comfortable shave, including a facial cleanser, shaving cream, aftershave cream, and a facial moisturizer.


Waxing is a longer-lasting form of hair removal that involves applying heated wax to the hair, allowing it to dry, then ripping off the wax after it hardens, either with a fabric strip (if it’s soft wax) or by pulling on the hardened wax itself (if it’s hard wax). It’s similar to sugaring (also known as sugar waxing), which uses a sticky sugar mixture in place of traditional wax. Typically, waxing is done by a professional, though you can do it at home, too—it just takes a bit of practice to get the technique down.


Waxing is a great option for those who don’t want to shave every day—it removes the hair out at the follicle, which (while, admittedly, a bit painful) enables you to go longer without re-growth. As Dr. Garshick explains, it’s also “a good option for areas where you might want to shape [the hair],” which is why it’s often employed on areas like the eyebrows and bikini line.

Things To Consider:

Waxing is generally suitable for all skin types, Dr. Garshick says, though those with highly sensitive skin may want to exercise caution when removing hair this way. The rapid removal of the wax can trigger irritation, which for some may lead to skin discolorations. This risk is greater in those with darker skin tones, which may be more prone to developing dark spots.

Prep and Aftercare:

Growing out your hair is essential prior to waxing—it needs to be about a quarter of an inch long (about the size of “a grain of rice,” Dr. Garshick says), for the wax to adhere properly. Similarly, exfoliating a few days beforehand “can be helpful,” she says, as it may help soften the hair.

If you’re waxing your face (say, your eyebrows or facial hair), we suggest prepping a few days in advance with a gentle face scrub, like Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion. The effective formula with shea butter and diatomaceous earth instantly smooths the skin while helping to improve the appearance of fine lines and discolorations over time. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used up to three times per week for more refined skin.

Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub

To prep your body skin (think legs or bikini area) for a wax, we recommend reaching for a body scrub, such as Gently Exfoliating Body Scrub. The indulgent formula provides gentle exfoliation and leaves the skin feeling silky-soft and velvety smooth.

Pro Tip: Sometimes, you’ll find that despite your best efforts, waxing doesn’t remove every single hair in a given area. If that occurs, you can use tweezers to pluck any stray hairs.


Depilatories are creams, gels, or lotions that remove unwanted hair. They’re typically applied directly to the skin and left on for a few minutes before being rinsed or wiped away.


Because there are no tools (like razors or hot waxes) involved, depilatories are generally considered easy to use, even for beginners. They work quickly and leave the skin feeling silky-smooth. This method of hair removal may be ideal for those looking to eliminate peach fuzz without shaving or waxing, Dr. Garshick says, or for those looking to remove hair on larger areas of the body.

Things To Consider:

The ingredients that enable depilatories to work their magic can sometimes be irritating when left on the skin, Dr. Garshick says. For this reason, they may not be ideal for those with sensitive skin. If you’re worried about irritation, you may want to seek out gentle formulas and steer clear of artificial fragrances—they’re added to a lot of depilatory products to improve their smell.

Prep and Aftercare:

Generally speaking, there isn’t anything special you need to do to prepare your skin if you plan to use a depilatory—that’s part of the beauty of them. That said, you do want to follow the instructions on the product you’re using to ensure that you get the best results.

Creme de Corps Body Lotion with Cocoa Butter

Aftercare, too, is pretty simple. Since the formulas can be irritating if left on the skin for too long, we recommend washing the area with a gentle cleanser and water after removing the product. Then, pat your skin dry and nourish your skin with a body lotion or cream. Our pick: Creme de Corps Body Lotion with Cocoa Butter. This squalane and cocoa butter-infused lotion has been a Kiehl’s favorite for more than 40 years. It absorbs quickly with a non-greasy texture and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth. Plus, the fragrance-free formula is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.

Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is one of the most popular methods for long-term hair removal. The in-office treatment involves the use of laser light to effectively disable the hair follicle. Similar to laser hair removal is electrolysis, which uses an electric current (rather than light) to target the follicle.


According to Dr. Garshick, laser hair removal is “a more definitive option” when it comes to hair removal than shaving, waxing, or depilatories. That said, it’s not necessarily permanent. The term “laser hair removal is a bit of a misnomer,” Dr. Garshick explains. “We really think of it as laser hair reduction, in the sense that you may not completely or permanently remove all of the hairs, but you're going to reduce the overall density.”

Things To Consider:

Generally speaking, laser hair removal is done at a spa or salon and left in the hands of a professional. This can be pricey, and it takes several sessions to see results. Plus, you may need occasional touch-ups. While there are at-home devices you can use for laser hair removal, they’re less effective than in-office treatments.

Prep and Aftercare:

With laser hair removal and electrolysis, both prep and aftercare will be set by your aesthetician. They’ll give you a list of do’s and don’ts for immediately pre- and post-treatment—be sure to follow them as closely as you can for the best results.

Next: Now that you know how to remove hair you don’t want, learn how to take care of the hair you do want in our article How To Curate The Right Haircare Routine For Your Strands.

Orientation message
For the best experience, please turn your device