IPL vs Waxing vs Shaving - Which is Best for Hair Removal?

Let’s learn about different methods of hair removal and how they work. Is there a difference between shaving, waxing, and IPL?

Is there one method that’s better than the other? In this blog, we are going to answer these questions and help you make the decision that’s best for you. 

We’d also like to mention that body hair is nothing to be ashamed of. Just because society tells you to remove hair, doesn’t mean you absolutely have to. It’s up to you, and you should be able to make the decision that’s right for you based on your body and preferences. So, please don’t allow society or beauty standards to pressure you into doing one, all of, or any of these methods. 

So, let’s get into how these different methods work.


The process of shaving is similar to trimming grass. Hair becomes visible once it surpasses the surface of your skin, but it begins growing within the bottom of the pilosebaceous unit. Hair gets blood and nutrients from the papilla, and then, it begins to grow and stick out of the skin. Upon shaving, we only cut the hair that sticks out, and we also remove some surface-level skin cells. Therefore, proper shaving is also a form of exfoliation. But, while the skin feels smooth, the hair hasn’t been removed from the root, and it only has to grow back a little for us to feel stubble.



Given that, shaving has to be done pretty often, and it can be painful and time inefficient. If you use some of those cheap razors, it’s very inexpensive, but on the other hand, you might end up with razor burns, cuts, scars, and discomfort. Metal razors with interchangeable razors are a potentially better option, but they can be a bit expensive. Buying razor cream is another cost to consider, but did you know that you can repurpose your hair conditioner as shaving cream? 

Fortunately, reusable razors and shaving cream are available from a subscription service namedBillie. Cassandra has bought and tried this convenient brand, but she’s testing still testing them.


How do you shave?

To begin shaving, you’ll want to inspect and disinfect the razor before using it. Next, you want to wet the target area and apply a hydrating cream or gel. Wet the razor, start at the ankle (or at the bottom of the target area) and move upwards slowly. You can also start at the knee or the top of the thigh and move downwards slowly. Rinse and apply moisturizer or an SPF moisturizer since you’ve revealed a new layer of skin!


So, how does shaving differ from waxing? As an esthetician, Cassandra has had a fair share of experience with waxing. Waxing and “sugaring” (a less intense form of waxing) require substances to be spread across the skin. Sugaring is a soft paste that is made of sugar. It's applied in the opposite direction of the hair growth, and it is removed in the same direction. Waxing requires more intense pulling, and it's removed in the opposite direction of hair growth.

With both methods, not only do you remove the tip of the hair, you’re actually removing the hair from the root. The entire hair is uprooted which is why you see longer hairs on the strip after waxing. So, yes, sometimes waxing causes bleeding, and it is more uncomfortable. However, it lasts longer. 

When people wax for the first time, sometimes their hair grows back quickly. That’s because your hair grows back in cycles. For this reason, to see results, you need to make sure that you're doing it regularly. After doing it for a month or two, all of your hairs will begin to grow at the same rate, and you will be able to wax all of your hairs at the same time. 

Sometimes people who have waxed for a really long time pull out the papilla (the supplier of nutrients to the shaft), and this is what causes bleeding. If there’s scar tissue or anything that damages the blood supply, the hair might not grow back. That is why people who continuously wax may start to see less hair growth.

Is it better to wax at-home or get it done in-clinic?

Now, unfortunately, waxing is difficult to do at-home, and it can be borderline risky. In Cassandra's opinion, it's easier and less painful to let someone else do it. There's the option of doing it at a spa or an aesthetic clinic, but then, there's the price to consider too. 

Even if you have a license or are trying to save money, Cassandra still says that it’s easier and less painful to let someone else do it. Additionally, you’re less likely to get a burn. 

Depending on where you're waxing, who’s waxing, and what your pain tolerance is, pain levels will vary. While leaving it to a professional is always the best idea, there are some at-home wax kits that you can use. They just usually don’t work as well. 

How do you wax?

Also, it’s important to know how to wax properly. Avoid open wounds, and you should never rip upwards. You’re just going to break the hairs off at the top like you would during shaving. This could also cause an avulsion, a ripping off of the skin. Whereas if you press and pull the wax against the skin, it's not as abrasive.

How often should you wax?

Waxing may be quicker than sugaring, but for both, the hair starts growing back slower after doing it once a month for three months. 

To get the hairs on the same growth cycle, you could wax an average of every four to six weeks

So, unlike shaving, you have to wait longer between treatments, and that means you will have a little more stubble if not full-on growth before waxing again. 

How do shaving and waxing compare to IPL?

IPL has become quite popular over the past couple of years, but actually, IPL has been a professional treatment for some time now. IPL is intense pulsed light, but it is different from laser treatment. With both though, you’re getting rid of the hair from the very bottom of the follicle. IPL shoots pulsed light that reaches the bottom, and likewise, gets rid of that blood flow. In turn, that hair doesn’t grow back. The quality of IPL depends on if you’re doing it in-home or in-clinic. Based on Cassandra’s personal experience, she does like the in-home one because she thinks it’s more convenient. However, going in-clinic does have benefits even though some people still don’t get a good outcome. The at-home devices work really well, and they are much less expensive. For example,Kenzzi is $299, but they do have coupons that give you $50 off.

Kenzzi IPL ICE Cooling Handset - $299

Should you do at-home or in-clinic IPL treatments?

At-home IPL treatments like Kenzzi don’t fire unless it is pressed to your actual leg. Additionally, you have to shave while using IPL. You need a small amount of hair visible at the surface of the skin for the IPL light to effectively destroy the follicle (Medical News Today). Also, you can’t wax and use IPL. The average cost of doing it at-home is about $200, but it’s supposed to be permanent whereas waxing and shaving are meant to be temporary. Moreover, It was pain-free for Cassandra 

For IPL treatment in-clinic, you’ll pay around $300 - $600 per treatment or even more. But both at-home and in-clinic IPL treatments will eradicate hair from the bottom. 

These are the most accessible hair removal methods, but what’s best is subjective. To decide which one is right for you, it helps to consider three major factors: cost, your tolerance for discomfort, and the other is patience level. If you can’t get into the habit of using IPL and commit to using it for six months to a year, it’s not going to work. 

And with waxing, if you don’t do it every single month or so, those hairs are going to start growing back unevenly. And of course, shaving causes stubble. Overall, beware of cuts and wounds for all three methods. Also, waxing and shaving is a form of exfoliation so apply SPF, and don’t sit under the sun afterward, especially after waxing.


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