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Body hair is a normal thing. It’s on all bodies. We grow it everywhere, from our brows to our big toes. And whether you choose to keep it or remove it, it’s all about your preference, not anyone else’s.

But here’s the catch: If you have thicker or more abundant body hair and prefer to go bare, traditional DIY methods may not be up to par.

You might have more prominent body hair simply because of genetics. And that includes some conditions, like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Cushing’s disease, or certain cancers. These hormone changes may cause excessive body hair that may be darker or thicker.

Thicker body hair may also be harder to remove or seem to grow back at lightning speed, so the standard tips won’t be as effective. That doesn’t mean you have to spend oodles of cash at the waxing salon or opt for even pricier treatments, though.

DIY tools and solutions still work. You just need our tips on how to nix unwanted hair in the privacy of your own bathroom.

Regardless of what body part you’re freeing of fleece, you need to follow a few important steps.

4 steps to smooth, hair-free skin

  1. Clean skin
  2. Exfoliate
  3. Perform hair removal
  4. Pamper after

1. Clean skin

You always want to work with a fresh slate. Suds up with soap in the bath or shower to remove any bacteria or grime that could cause folliculitis or other irritating bumps, especially when removing thicker hair.

2. Exfoliate

Exfoliating helps slough off dead skin cells that have accumulated around the follicles so you can get the best possible hair-removal results.

To keep irritation to a minimum, avoid chemical exfoliants before shaving, waxing, or using a depilatory. Stick to clean loofahs and mitts or even a gentle body scrub.

3. Perform hair removal

Each removal method requires its own technique. If you’re waxing, you’ll want to work with dry skin.

A light powder can help keep moisture at bay. If you’re shaving, wet your skin and use a lubricating shave soap or a light cream that won’t clog a razor. If you’re using a depilatory, apply it to damp skin.

4. Pamper after

Pampering your skin after any hair-removal technique is essential to prevent infection, itch, and other irritations that larger hair follicles are prone to. Moisturizing is key! You can also look for extra ingredients, like AHAs (e.g., citric acid) or BHAs (e.g., salicylic acid) to keep dead skin cells and bacteria at bay to prevent ingrown hairs.

One such aftercare product is the ingrown hair concentrate by fur ($50), which is noted to be actress Emma Watson’s favorite pube oil. It includes an oil with bacteria-fighting ingredients, a spot treatment to tackle any bumps that do crop up, and a cream to soften stubble as it grows back.

Faces can get furry in all sorts of spots, including between the brows, on the upper lip, and along the jawline, chin, and neck — and facial hair can sprout on anyone’s face. Hair removal on the cheek is ideal for people who want a smooth makeup application or maximum ingredient penetration to the skin.

Here are some options for defuzzing your face when you want to.

1. Shaving

No matter your hair status, you can totally shave your face. If your hair grows fast, though, and you don’t want to irritate your skin by taking a blade to it every day, skip to our other options below.

The do’s and don’ts

  • Method. For best results, shave with the grain. Go downward on your upper lip, for example. Rinse the razor after each stroke.
  • Pro tip. Dedicate a razor to use only on your face. If you like one shaver for your bod, swap out cartridges with different colors to designate destinations, or get a second handle.

Razor brand billie, which features women shaving their faces in ads, is a great option. With five blades tucked in a rounded cartridge, the billie razor is perfect for navigating all your fluffier features, even those with thicker thatches.

Don’t worry. Shaving won’t make hair grow in thicker. That’s a hair-removal myth that’s perpetuated about all hairy parts. What you may notice a day later is stubble, since a razor lops the hair off at the base.

2. Waxing

Waxing is the way to go if you want a fur-free effect that lasts for three to six weeks. Waxing may sound complicated or messy, especially for thicker hair, but it’s easier than you think.

The do’s and don’ts

  • Method. Smooth the strip on the direction of hair growth, hold skin taut with one hand, and pull fast in the opposite direction with the other. If you don’t remove all the hair the first time, you can use the same strip again for touching up, which is great for woollier sections.
  • Pro tip. Before peeling apart, cut strips to fit tinier spots, like the downy divot under your nose or the caterpillar-y crest between your brows.

Note: Not all waxing styles are made equal! We recommend getting waxing strips to avoid facial burns. Nad’s ($10) has two strips sandwiched together that you can heat up by rubbing the strips between your hands. No messy trips to the microwave.

Another strip that attracts hair away from the face is flamingo ($17), which doesn’t even need to be heated up.

3. Threading

In salons, threading, which lasts as long as waxing, is the process of using a thread twisted on itself to grip hairs and pull them out. Yep, that sounds tricky. But you can achieve similar results at home without needing to study this ancient technique.

There are coiled steel devices that mimic gripping threads that cost around $8 to $18. It may take a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, this tool is an easy and convenient way to pluck pesky facial hair.

You’ll have to replace these as the coils loosen up. When that happens depends on frequency of use.

The do’s and don’ts

  • Method. Place the bent coil against your ’stache, cheeks, or chin, and gently twist the handles. It’s not recommended for use near eyes.
  • Pro tip. Threading the face can stimulate the trigeminal nerve, which can make you have a sneeze fest. If this happens to you, it may help to pop an antihistamine an hour before you tackle hair removal in the future.

It’s no secret that your pits sweat and that underarms are a prime area for chafing against clothing, especially during exercise. Plus, armpits have curves and folds. For all of these reasons, underarms can get easily irritated from hair removal. They deserve special care.

1. Shaving

The trick to shaving thicker armpit hair while minimizing irritation or ingrowns is to use the right products.

The do’s and don’ts

  • Method. Stretch your arm high so the skin is as taught as possible. Shave the area up, down, and then from each side.
  • Pro tip. Avoid armpit shaving right before a workout.

Seek out a decadent cream or shave soap that combines bentonite clay with grapeseed oil or tea tree oil. The clay creates glide-able texture and goes to work with the oils to banish bacteria.

Pit hair can grow in all directions, so you might have to make multiple passes. For this reason, using a single-bladed razor rather than one with several blades will help keep irritation to a minimum and lessen the chance for ingrown hairs.

Grab a safety razor, like the raved-about Edwin Jagger ($26), for this sensitive area.

2. Waxing

Hot-waxing the underarms is a great option if shaving brings on irritation and leaves you with an armpit shadow from stubble, or if you just want results that last longer. Note: For hot wax, you’ll likely need to purchase a warmer ($15 to $30) as well.

The do’s and don’ts

  • Method. Test the wax temperature first on the back of your hand. Hold your arm high to get skin taut. Apply wax to your armpit, smoothing downward. Wait 30 seconds before pulling the wax off in the opposite direction. To avoid contaminating your wax or body, don’t double-dip your applicator stick.
  • Pro tip. Powder your armpits to keep them dry before waxing. Press the hand of the arm you’re waxing high up against a wall to give the pit its full extension and ease the pain from the pull.

You can’t go wrong with Vidasleek’s Spa Wax ($16) for thick, coarse hair. As it hardens, hard wax adheres to the hairs, then you peel off the wax itself. It works wonders if you have deep pits, where strip wax wouldn’t quite work.

Although you might be used to shaving your legs, hair removal from your torso can be tricky for the simple reason that it’s hard to reach all your parts for shaving or waxing maneuvers. Plus, shaving larger sections of your body can leave you feeling itchy when the stubble starts to grow back. That’s why a depilatory is your best all-in-one bet.

1. Depilatory

A depilatory can be easily applied and then rinsed off in the shower so you can be on your way and hair-free for days.

You can find depilatories at your local drugstore, but test before you use. These creams are known to be irritating to the skin as they work to dissolve the hair and need to be kept on for a while. If your skin is sensitive, we suggest skipping this method.

The do’s and don’ts

  • Method. Slather on damp skin, wait 7 to 10 minutes, and rinse. It’s that simple.
  • Pro tip. Do a patch test on a small spot your first time using to make sure your skin doesn’t have a reaction.

2. Waxing

Hot wax or strips: It depends on your body. We think hot wax is the way to go for the legs, but on the arms, toes, fingers, or even stomach, strips may be the answer. No matter which method you choose, remember to pamper after.

Pro tip!

  1. If you’re going for full-body bare skin, set yourself up on a waxing schedule. One week do your arms, the next week legs, and the next week torso. You get the drift. This makes waxing less of an arduous, painful chore. For fingers and toes, definitely stick to strips.

3. Shaving

The do’s and don’ts

  • Method. Always shave with the grain to lessen the stubble effect.
  • Pro tip. Pair your razor with billie’s creamy body wash ($9) rather than a true shaving cream. This works better for helping your razor navigate thicker growth while still giving you smooth skin.

The billie razor ($9) is an excellent choice because it has five blades encased in charcoal soap for an unparalleled glide experience. Ample and even spacing of the blades prevents the usual clogging you’ll see with many other razors when shaving denser hair.

If you’re one who likes to primp your pubic pelt or go completely bare below the belt, you’ve got several options even for the thickest of thickets.

1. Waxing

If you’re game for a DIY groin glam-up, hard wax rather than strip wax is going to be the easiest option. Hard wax will form to your thigh creases and the curves of your butt cheeks.

The do’s and don’ts

  • Method. Don’t forget to test wax temp on your arm first so you don’t burn your tender bits. Work in small sections. Always smooth wax on in the direction of hair growth. Wait 30 seconds. Hold skin taut, and then pull fast in the opposite direction.
  • Pro tip. Pre pull, take a deep breath, and then exhale as you yank. Place your fingers on the bare skin directly after to ease any sting. That’s how the pros at the salons do it.

Yes, you can use the same tub of Vidasleek’s Spa Wax ($16) for thick, coarse hair that you may have purchased for your pits. Just make sure you’ve never double-dipped your applicator sticks.

2. Shaving and grooming

If you’re a pube shaver, you need a dedicated razor for this. The tool you use on your rug shouldn’t touch your mug and vice versa. Don’t use it for the rest of your bod.

The do’s and don’ts

  • Method. Always hold skin taut, and make delicate strokes in the direction of hair growth.
  • Pro tip. If it’s been several months since your last sensitive spots shave-up, you may need to enlist the comb-and-scissor cleanup method first.

The Men’s Schick Hydro 5 Groomer ($10) is one of the best options for hair down there, regardless of gender. It’s got multitasking talents and the ability to tackle bushier business. One end is a waterproof-powered trimmer with three adjustable settings for grooming tasks. Then, if you want a closer shave of your sensitive parts, just flip it around to access the five-blade razor.

As you can see, you’ve got many options for defuzzing if the mood strikes, even if your body hair is on the thicker or more abundant side for whatever reason.

Of course, you don’t have do to anything with that hair at all. This is simply a how-to if you want to.

You can keep it in some places and remove it in others or opt for removal some months and then go through a growing period. And you can just own it altogether all the time, like the inspiring Rose Geil.

Body hair is a natural part of every person. No one else but you should determine your preferences or practices regarding it.

Jennifer Chesak is a medical journalist for several national publications, a writing instructor, and a freelance book editor. She earned her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill. She’s also the managing editor for the literary magazine, Shift. Jennifer lives in Nashville but hails from North Dakota, and when she’s not writing or sticking her nose in a book, she’s usually running trails or futzing with her garden. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.