Hair removal! We invest time, energy, and money over a lifetime to get it done. Some methods cost more money while others cost more time. We compared the costs of shaving vs laser vs waxing, along with the effectiveness of each, and here’s what we found.
When comparing laser hair removal vs waxing vs shaving, there are some clear differences. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s define each process.
We’re all pretty familiar with shaving (cutting hair off a part of the body with a razor blade). Most of us know about waxing (removing hair by applying wax, usually heated, letting it cool slightly, and peeling off the wax and hair together). Some have heard of laser hair removal (exposing the hair to pulses of laser light that destroy the hair follicles).
Now that we have the definitions out of the way, let’s dig deeper into the questions surrounding laser hair removal vs waxing vs shaving so we can get a better view of how these three compare to each other for successful hair removal.
Shaving removes the fewest dollars from your wallet. In the long run, laser costs 3 times as much as shaving and waxing costs 6 times as much.
In comparing costs of laser to waxing, laser takes an initial investment in year-one ($2-3k) to get started with a series of treatments, but after that, ongoing maintenance with laser is less expensive than waxing. To compare, after 20 years, waxing costs an accumulated $7,000 more than laser.
That’s the money cost. However, hair removal costs money and time.
The numbers flip when it comes to your time investment. Shaving will take you 7 times longer than waxing and 24 times longer than laser. In a ten-year period, you’ll spend an accumulated 16.7 days shaving, 2.5 days waxing, or 0.7 days with laser. Shaving shaves 16 more days off of your life than laser. And consider when you spend time shaving—either at night when you’re tired and worn out or in the morning when you’re rushing to get ready and get moving. That’s valuable time!
But what about the pain? Although shaving is certainly not pain free, people generally agree that it’s the least discomforting of the three. But don’t forget about razor burns and cuts, and that you’re shaving hundreds of times a year. Waxing and laser initially give a moderate level of discomfort but after time, you get used to them. Waxing is considered more painful than laser. Laser feels like getting flicked by a rubber band. And waxing, well… it feels like getting your hair pulled out.
How Effective Is Laser Hair Removal?
Laser hair removal is the fastest growing, most requested cosmetic service…in part because of its effectiveness. Results are usually seen immediately after treatment. In fact, The American Academy of Dermatology says you can expect a 10-25% reduction in hair after the first treatment, though it does vary by patient.
The factors in how well laser hair removal works include:
- The color and thickness of your hair
- The area you’re treating
- The color of your skin
- The type of laser being used
Most patients need 4-7 laser hair removal treatments to get rid of hair completely. Treated skin will remain hair-free for several months, up to a few years. When the hair does eventually grow back in, there tends to be less of it and it tends to be finer and lighter in color. Maintenance treatments are suggested to keep hair growth at bay.
How Effective Is Waxing?
Waxing is a popular way to remove hair. So is waxing better than shaving? The upsides are that waxing can slow (but not stop) hair regrowth over time.
There are a few downsides, though. One downside is that hair length should be ¼ to ¾ of an inch long before waxing. That means you will need to grow out some stubble before you can remove it. Another downside is that waxing needs to be done regularly, about every 3-4 weeks.
There are two main categories of hair removal wax, soft and hard.
Soft wax, also known as strip wax, is applied in a thin layer in the direction of hair growth and taken off quickly in the opposite direction with a strip of thin fabric. Since many different companies make hair removal wax, the quality can vary greatly. Soft wax can be heated, cold, or in pre-made strips.
- Heated: This wax is in a pot and softened in a microwave or via warmer. The heat allows the wax to spread easily and softens the skin.
- Cold: This wax is applied directly out of its pot and onto the skin. The wax is more firm, making it tricky to layer on thinly. It is also usually found to be more painful and less effective.
- Pre-Made Strips: The wax is already attached to strips so there is no pot of wax. The strips should, however, be rubbed between the hands to heat them up before applying them to the skin. While these strips are often touted as being able to be used more than once in an area, they aren’t particularly effective even the first time of use.
Hard wax is warmed up and does not need a strip to remove it because as it cools, it hardens up and becomes a strip itself.
How Effective Is Shaving?
Shaving is widely used, mostly because it’s one of the first things we learn to do once puberty hits and many people never take a moment to consider the better alternatives. While shaving will effectively remove hair, it must be done every 1-2 days to keep skin smooth. Even when freshly shaven, unsightly stubble is often visible, especially on fair skin.
The Verdict on Laser Hair Removal vs Waxing vs Shaving
So what’s the verdict on laser hair removal vs waxing vs shaving? Well, you tell us!
Though shaving is less expensive than laser and waxing, it’s a laborious activity that eats up your time. But, if you don’t mind shaving every day and are accepting of visible stubble, shaving is a classic way to remove hair on the surface of your skin.
If you want longer-lasting hair removal, don’t mind heading back to the salon every month indefinitely, and growing your stubble out beforehand isn’t a big deal, then waxing is a worthy opponent.
However, if you want to get rid of your body hair for good with only a few easy treatments, the winner is clear: Laser hair removal wins by a long shot. Save hundreds of hours of your life and be worry-free with laser, which is thousands of dollars cheaper than waxing in the long run, takes a fourth of the time, and leaves you with the smoothest skin for the longest time.
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Assumptions used in this comparison:
- Hair removal from legs and underarms.
- Cost: $125/yr (avg: 50-150 razor + 12-36 soap/cream)
- Time: 40 hrs/yr (15 min 3x/week)
- Cost: $300/yr, after initial 8 sessions at $2,400
- Time: 1 hr/yr (after 8 hrs for initial sessions)
- Cost: $750/yr (~62/mo. x 12 mo.)
- Time: 6 hrs/yr (30 min./mo.)