The Best Methods to Remove Underarm Hair at Home, According to Experts (2024)

The Best Methods to Remove Underarm Hair at Home, According to Experts (1)

If you're trying to eliminate, or reduce, body hair you already know the underarms are the biggest challenge. If the contours of the area didn't make it difficult enough, the thick, course texture of the hair itself really ups the ante. To say that sweat and tears are usually involved would be an understatement. But, wait, there's more! Armpit hair is also the quickest to grow back and set you right back where you started: facing a particularly prickly situation.

If you're on the hunt for a better way to remove underarm hair, we're way ahead of you. Changing up your method can potentially save you time, energy, and frustration—not to mention ingrown hairs, razor burn, and other common pitfalls (ha, ha) of underarm hair removal. The trick is finding which method works best for you and your skin. Luckily, the armpits' somewhat concealed nature provides a bit of safety for experimentation.

"The underarms logistically may be more difficult to do procedures like at-home waxing as it can be harder to reach or maneuver but given the underarms are often concealed, it may be less of an issue if a reaction develops as compared to the face," says board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick. "While the devices for at-home laser hair removal are designed to be safe for at-home use, it is important to remember there is a risk of burn or discoloration if not used correctly."

We spoke with Garshick, board-certified dermatologist Loreta Ciraldo, and licensed esthetician Ali Tobia about at-home hair removal methods and how to discern which is a best fit for you skin. Ahead, we break down the top seven methods for armpit hair removal at home.

Meet the Expert

  • Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Dr. Loretta skincare products.
  • Marisa Garshick, MD, is a board-certified dermatologistand a clinical assistant professor at Cornell University.
  • Ali Tobia is a licensed esthetician based in New York City.

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Laser Hair Removal

Recent years have brought about massive improvements in at-home hair-removal products and devices, such as at-home hair removal lasers, making underarm hair removal easier and even—shockingly—kind of pleasant. "Laser hair removal works by targeting the pigment of the hair follicle to help destroy the hair follicle and as a result, reduce hair growth," explains Garshick. "This is why dark hairs tend to respond the best to laser hair removal, when compared to light hairs and why darker skin types require careful consideration regarding which type of laser is used, because the darker skin may be targeted by the device which can lead to risk of scarring and pigmentation."

"Unfortunately, not all hair types are a candidate for laser hair removal," echoes Tobia. "If you have very light or thin hair, it makes it harder to be picked up by the laser."

Byrdie Tip

For best results with laser hair removal, stick with it. Plan to do a DIY lase session once a month for about eight months, Tobia says.

According to Garshick, "laser devices are best for those who are prone to razor bumps or ingrown hairs. By targeting the hair follicle, when done properly, it can minimize trauma to the surrounding skin." However, it's important to note the at-home devices tend to use lower energy levels than in-office treatments, making them safer for at-home use, but also less likely to be as effective.

Laser hair removal is "relatively painless but expensive," Ciraldo says, adding that users "eventually get permanent hair reduction." The Tria Hair Removal Laser 4X ($499) is one of the most powerful lasers for at-home hair removal—not to mention it's the first laser of its kind approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

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IPL Hair Removal

IPL, an acronym for "intense pulsed light," uses multiple wavelengths of light to poof underarm hair away. "It is using heat to destroy the hair follicles and these devices can also be used for photorejuvenation," explains Garshick.

"The main difference between IPL and laser hair removal devices is the light source used," Tobia shares. Although IPL treatments are usually quicker than lasering for underarm hair removal, IPL typically requires more treatments for successful hair removal than lasering does.

The caveat? Much like lasering, IPL is "not suitable for darker skin tones," Tobia says. It also may not be suitable for ultra-light hair colors. "At home IPL devices tend to be best for those with light skin and dark hairs to offer maximum benefit and minimal risk," says Garshick.

If your hair-to-skin contrast fits the bill, Kenzzi's sleek IPL hair removal device ($99) promises to remove hair anywhere on the body—yes, even your face—which may help justify its hefty price tag.

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If armpit stubble is your fear, you may just love waxing. "While waxing may be a little uncomfortable, it can provide a longer lasting hair removal option compared to shaving," says Garshick.Waxing works for all skin tones and hair types, and with repeated use, it can make underarm hair more manageable. "Over time, waxed hairs grow back softer and thinner, which can help you spread out the time between hair removal," Tobia explains.

The main drawbacks of waxing: It's painful, and unlike some armpit hair removal methods, waxing won't ever stop hair from growing back. "There’s no permanency to this so you will be waxing for the rest of your life, compared to something like IPL or laser," Ciraldo warns. Another downside: Your underarm hair has to be pretty long in order to be yanked out by the wax. "You need to let the hair grow at least a quarter of an inch to wax properly, which means that you'll need to have armpit hair for a bit before you can get waxed again," Tobia adds. "For some people, that’s a total dealbreaker."

Flamingo's wax kits ($10) include 24 ready-to-go strips that eliminate two major hassles of traditional waxing: microwave heating and messy application.

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Sugaring is like a homespun version of waxing; it involves pulling out underarm hair from the root using ingredients that are probably in your pantry right now. DIY sugaring requires heating a mix of sugar, lemon juice, and water until it boils and reaches a syrup-like consistency; when it cools to a comfortably warm temperature, you spread it directly on underarm hair and rip it off. It's a slightly tricky process for the uninitiated. "The consistency is hard to master and the learning curve can be frustrating," says Tobia.

Byrdie Tip

Do remember hair needs to be about a quarter-inch long (about the length of an eyelash) for good results.

According to Ciraldo, this particular method is a good alternative for people whose skin is too sensitive for wax. "Sugaring is safe for all skin types including those with sensitive skin as it is thought to cause less irritation and pain when compared to traditional waxing," adds Garshick.

If you don't want to DIY your sugar wax, there are store-bought sugaring kits like the Blue Milk & Honey Hard Sugar Wax ($18), which doesn't require any strips to use.

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We all know it but may not love it. Shaving is quick, cheap, and easy for removing armpit hair if a teeny bit high-maintenance. "Shaving cuts only the hair to the surface of the skin and does not remove it from the root, which means the hair will grow back within a day or two," Tobia says. For best results, it's important to invest in a high-quality razor. "A low-quality razor will dull more quickly, leading to more nicks and cuts on your skin, and a greater risk for razor bumps and inflammation," continues Tobia.

"While shaving can be a quick and effective option, for someone who is prone to ingrown hairs or razor burn, it may be best to avoid shaving," says Garshick.If you have sensitive skin prone to razor burn, try a single-blade product. Oui the People's rose gold razor ($55) is non-irritating and an undeniably beautiful addition to your bathroom shelfie.

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Depilatory Creams

If you're so over shaving, depilating is the next best option in terms of ease and affordability. "If someone is unable to tolerate shaving or waxing due to ingrowns or skin irritation, at-home hair removal creams may be an option," says Garshick. "They can also be an option for someone who is not a candidate for laser hair removal or doesn’t want to do laser hair removal."

Depilatory creams are applied to the skin to dissolve visible hair. "It uses active ingredients to break down the keratin bonds of the hair follicle to the surface of your skin," Tobia explains. The biggest risk of depilatories is skin reactions: redness, itching, hives, burns, and even blisters. "Chemical irritation is always a potential side effect of depilatories when the product is improperly rubbed onto skin instead of just spread across the hair," Ciraldo warns.

If you have sensitive skin, start by doing a patch test on a small, hidden area of your body; after 72 hours, you'll know whether it's safe to spread it on your pits. Try Nad's Sensitive Hair Removal Cream ($6), a cruelty-free option with minimal stink factor.

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Like waxing and sugaring, epilators for hair removal work by pulling underarm hair from the root. "[Epilating] can be used for all types of hair removal as it works to grab multiple hairs at the root, unlike shaving which works to cut the hairs at the skin level," explains Garshick. "The pros of using an epilator is that because the hair follicle is eliminated at the root, it can take longer for the hair to grow back as compared to shaving. Results from epilating are long-lasting, and your hair doesn't have to be super long for an epilator to yank it successfully. "You can do it as soon as you even see a visible hair," Tobia says.

There's one major downside: There is a lot of pain associated with epilating. Plus, ingrown hairs and pimples are a bit of a risk, but you can help avoid those issues by giving your armpits a quick scrub first. "Exfoliate your skin before using an epilator to give the device the clearest access to the hair at the surface level," Tobia says. "Glo’s Sugar Melt is a great body exfoliator."

11 Natural Hair Removal Methods to Try at Home, According to a Derm

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  1. Karegoudar JS, Prabhakar PJ, Vijayanath V, Anitha MR, Surpur RR, Patil VM. Shaving versus depilation cream for pre-operative skin preparation.Indian J Surg. 2012;74(4):294-297. doi:10.1007/s12262-011-0368-5

The Best Methods to Remove Underarm Hair at Home, According to Experts (2024)
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