Smooth operator

The arrival of summer means the quest for the perfect hair removal method begins again. You can help by informing customers about the various methods available and offering advice for achieving the best results


Summer is the prime season for hair removal sales, and the signs indicate that this is a healthy sector. According to Mintel, it’s currently worth around £598 million and grew by 6.5% last year. However, the increasing popularity of discount outlets is a threat, and these saw sales rise by 12% in 2016. Razors and blades continue to dominate the market, with wet shaving remaining the most popular home hair removal method. Depilatory cream is the worst performing sector, says Mintel, with sales down 3.8%. While shaving remains a popular option, women are reluctant to buy shaving preparation products and this is a potential growth area, Mintel states.

Which method works best where?

One question you’re likely to be asked is: “Which hair removal method would work best for my legs/underarms/bikini line/face?”


There is a large area of skin to be covered, so customers will need to compare a quick and easy method, such as shaving, with the benefits of a longer-lasting (but more time consuming) one such as waxing or IPL. Legs are regularly bared during summer, so women want super-smooth results. “The trickiest zones on legs are the knees, backs of thighs and toes. Thicker skin on knees and toes makes hair harder to remove and prone to rashes,” says Alley Laundry, waxing expert at Parissa.

If your customer wants a quick and easy option, they’ll need one that fits easily into their grooming routine. In-shower depilatory creams are a good choice, as results last a little longer than with shaving.

Women’s razors are now designed to embrace female curves and help minimise cuts, and many have lubricated strips that eliminate the need for a separate shaving gel. For a longer lasting option, warm waxing gives super-smooth legs for four to six weeks.


Hair grows in two different directions, and skin is more sensitive in this area. Some women can react to shaving gels and depilatory creams, so it’s a good idea to test a small patch of skin first. If women want to wax underarms for longer lasting results, they will need to cut strips to size or use smaller strips specifically designed for this area. If they opt for shaving or a depilatory cream, recommend a sensitive skin product and test a small area first. “Fragile underarm skin is more susceptible to rashes and more vulnerable if nicked with a blade,” warns Laundry.


This can be the trickiest area to remove hair from effectively and without irritating skin. While shaving is quick, it may irritate delicate skin and cause ingrown hairs. Depilatory creams are tricky to use in this area and you need to ensure the cream doesn’t make contact with intimate areas. Hairs are coarser here, so waxing can be more painful.


Hair is finest on the face, but skin tends to be the most sensitive here, so product and method choice are important. A patch test is essential before using any method all over your face. “Facial skin is very mobile, making it harder to hold taut while waxing,” Laundry says.


Which hair removal method?

With so many hair removal methods available, advising customers on the benefits of each and offering technique tips for best results can really help with their purchasing decisions.


There are three different types of waxing that can be carried out at home:

Soft waxing uses warm, runny wax that is heated before use. It’s applied thinly and removed with a muslin strip. It’s best suited to larger areas, and is better at removing fine hairs.

Hard waxing uses a block of hard wax, heated up to melting consistency. You smooth the wax onto skin with a spatula. When it hardens, you grab the edge of the wax and pull it off against the direction of hair growth. It’s good for coarse hair such as the bikini line and underarms.

Wax strips are strips of paper or cellophane that are pre-coated with soft wax. You simply warm the strips between your hands, place the waxed side onto skin, then pull off against the direction of hair growth. Strips are best for fine hairs and good for novices.

• Waxing takes a little practice to get right. Some areas, such as the bikini line, can be tricky to do yourself
• It can be painful, though this lessens with time
• Hair needs to be at least 2mm long for best results.

Top waxing tips

• “Read the instruction sheet, then read it again. Be sure you completely understand the directions before you start,” says Laundry.

• “Exfoliate the day before, then wash the area with warm water and dry it carefully immediately before waxing. This removes some of the oils from the skin that can interfere with the wax, and also helps open pores so the hair comes out much more easily,” advises Elise Cockley, Veet Marketing Manager.


Veet Oriental Wax Essential Oils & Floral Vanilla (RRP £11.20) is a warm wax kit with strips.

Parissa Strip Free Hot Wax (RRP £9.79) for face, brow and bikini is a specially designed hard wax for short, coarse hair.

Nair Washable Roll-On wax with Argan Oil & Orange Blossom (RRP £13.65) is quick and easy to use and removes short hairs.

Parissa Wax Strips for legs & body (RRP £8.13) are mess-free and ideal for beginners.


Shaving is quick, easy and inexpensive. It can be done on super-short hairs, so you’ll always have smooth skin. However, shaving can dry the skin, and there is the risk of cuts and razor burn rash, especially on the delicate bikini area. Using a shaving preparation like gel or foam will help to prevent these issues by providing better glide and moisturising the skin.

Top shaving tips

• Bathe or shower before you shave, as hydrated hair is easier to remove

• Use a light touch with little pressure, and shave against hair growth for smoothest results.


Gillette Venus Snap portable razor (£9.99) is great for holidays or a gym bag.

Wilkinson Sword Quattro for women razor (£7.99) has four blades and a pivoting head.

Gillette Satin Care Pure & Delicate Shaving Gel (£3.55) is designed for sensitive skin.

Depilatory creams

These work by dissolving hair just below the skin’s surface, giving longer lasting results than shaving (up to four days). There is no risk of nicks or cuts and it can be used on short hairs. Some products can be used in the shower and regrowth is soft. There’s less risk of ingrown hairs than with waxing or shaving.

However, creams can be messy, may smell unpleasant and feel cold to use. They can irritate sensitive skin and take longer than shaving.

Top depilatory tips

• Test a small area of skin first to check for a reaction.

•“Never use directly before or after being in the sun as skin becomes more sensitive and prone to reaction in the sunlight,” warns Cockley.


Veet In-Shower Hair Removal Cream with Lotus Milk & Jasmine (£7.10) gives smooth skin in three minutes.

Nair Sensitive Hair Removal Cream (£6.19) for legs and body is gentle on skin.

Nad’s Facial Hair Removal Cream (£5.25) has a precision angled applicator for accurate use.


These are great for tidying up brows quickly and painlessly. They can also be used on the bikini area and help avoid ingrown hairs. These are good for use in between waxing sessions However, results won’t last as long as with waxing and they’re not as cheap as razors.

Top trimmer tip

• Use the trimmer in the direction of hair growth.


Veet Sensitive Precision Beauty Styler (£23.99) for brows and bikini line.

Philips Bikini Genie (RRP £25) won’t nick or cut delicate skin and can be used wet or dry.


IPL (intense pulsed light) therapy works by emitting a light pulse. The light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair and hair follicle, which kills the hair growth cells and puts the follicle into a ‘resting’ phase. Repeating the treatment prevents the hair root from triggering regrowth.

The treatment is painless, avoids rashes and ingrown hairs and, in time, gives permanent results. “The Philips Lumea has been proven to reduce hair growth up to 92% in just three treatments,” says Adelina Vlad, Marketing Mananger at Philips Beauty. “After the initial four treatments, you should only need to top up every month or two to keep skin smooth.”

While IPL can be used on short hairs, it isn’t suitable for light blonde, red or grey hair or very dark skin.

Top IPL tip

• “Ensure hair is shaved or trimmed prior to using IPL for effective results,” says Vlad.


Philips Lumea Prestige (RRP £575) has four attachments for face, body, underarms and bikini line, and a sensor to advise which setting to use.

Babyliss True Smooth IPL Radiance 200 (RRP £200) is safe for face and body, promising 90% less regrowth in eight treatments.

Stay smoother for longer

• Ingrowing hairs occur when the hair follicle becomes clogged and the hair curls back and grows inwards. To prevent them, exfoliate skin one or two days before removing hair, then once weekly afterwards. Treat ingrown hairs with tea tree oil to prevent infection.

• Avoid putting anything perfumed on your skin for 24 hours after waxing or epilating. If you’re shaving, pick a deodorant designed for sensitive skin to avoid stinging. A soothing product like witch hazel will help calm skin after waxing, or try tea tree oil or lavender cream. Moisturise skin after shaving; use an unscented lotion if skin is sensitive.

• Hair minimising products could help keep skin smoother for longer.


Soft & Gentle Hair Minimise APD (£2.75), which helps slow regrowth.

Inhibitif Hair-Free Face Serum (£19.99) claims to make facial hair finer when used after waxing or shaving.

Laidbare Hair Minimising Moisturiser (£6.99) claims to slow hair regrowth.



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