Unless your hemline is at your ankles all year long, you've no doubt had to deal with hair removal on your legs. Whether you typically wax, shave or alternate between the two, you may be wondering which method is actually best for you and your legs. The answer isn't always simple. Everyone's body reacts differently to these treatments, and the one that works best for you depends on your body and your priorities. Understanding the key differences so you can judge which one suits your lifestyle best.
The Pain Factor
Face it -- both waxing and shaving come with a little pain. Consider it the cost of smoothness. The question is, though, how much pain are you willing to endure -- or what type? Even with all the requisite moisturizing lotions, shaving your legs can result in mild razor burn. You may even sustain a tiny cut or two. Waxing is a much more acute type of pain, as it literally involves ripping the hairs out of your skin with warm wax. But because the effects last so much longer than shaving, you don't have to experience it as often.
Smooth for How Long?
Shaving your legs takes commitment, because when those hairs surface once again, you have to lop them off all over again. Many women have to shave two or three times a week, depending on how fast your hair grows and how it blends in with your skin tone. Waxing, on the other hand, removes the entire follicle instead of just cutting off the end. It's a longer-lasting effect -- you may only need to wax once every few weeks -- and over time, it encourages the hair to grow in thinner.
Neither shaving nor waxing are without their unintended side effects, so consider the potential worst-case scenarios before you go down either path. Shaving, for example, can encourage ingrown hairs to form, which are irritating and painful to remove -- and prone to infection. On the other hand, waxing can leave you with a stinging rash, especially if you have sensitive skin. Sometimes, the process removes more than just hair follicles, exposing your skin to potential irritation and infection. Before you begin either hair-removal regimen, be prepared to take preventative measures that keep side effects to a minimum. For example, treat your skin with an antibacterial lotion after waxing.
See a Pro
While you can shave or wax your legs in the comfort of your own home, you may want to see a professional to get the most out of waxing. A waxing expert knows the type of wax to use, the methods for preparing and treating the skin, the types of strips used and the best way to remove the strips. You may find that seeing a waxing professional leaves you with smoother legs and significantly less pain. Shaving, on the other hand, is a process you can easily handle on your own from the comfort of your bathtub.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.