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Waxing vs. Shaving: Everything To Know About The Benefits, Tips, Cautions & More

Emily Rekstis
March 23, 2022
Emily Rekstis
Contributing writer
By Emily Rekstis
Contributing writer
Emily Rekstis is a freelance writer who has worked at Harper's Bazaar, Self, And UsWeekly. Her bylines appear in Healthline, Byrdie, Women's Health, MyDomaine, BuzzFeed, The Cut, Allure and many more.
March 23, 2022
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When it comes to hair removal, there are all kinds of new and innovative methods. But waxing and shaving are the real OGs. Both hair removal methods provide effective, efficient results. With that being said, the two methods couldn't really be more different from one another. 

Shaving cuts the hair at the skin's surface, trimming the hair to deliver a silky smooth finish. Meanwhile, waxing completely removes the hair's root, damaging the hair follicle, which requires the hair to completely regrow from scratch.

So, which method is the best for you? Keep scrolling to check out all the tips, tricks, pros, and cons to both shaving and waxing so you can determine what's best for your lifestyle and needs.

Waxing benefits.

Waxing offers a variety of benefits that shaving does not:


Waxes last longer.

Possibly the most popular reason waxing is favored over shaving is its long-lasting results. While hairs can grow back two to three days after you shave, waxes can last up to three weeks. "Wax is applied in the same direction as hair growth and removed against the growth, removing hair from the root," says Lorena de Olivera, co-owner and lead esthetician at The Wax & Skin Lounge. This means that the hair has to completely regrow from scratch. "Our guests are recommended to wax every four to six weeks for optimum results."


Hairs grow back sparser and thinner.

Not only do the hairs stay away longer, but when they do come back they grow back much lighter. "Waxing removes hair from the root, causing damage to the hair follicle," de Olivera explains. "So over time and with consistency, hair growth will become finer and patchy." This means that hair removal will be easier and less frequent over time. 


Waxes have a smoother finish.

Using a razor you can run the risk of razor burn or cuts. But when you get a good wax from a trained professional using proper techniques, de Olivera points out that you can "reduce ingrown hair and post-inflammatory pigmentation often caused by lesions."

Waxing cons.

With every set of benefits come some inevitable downsides. Waxing may deliver serious results, but at what cost?


Waxing can be painful.

Unlike the nearly painless act of shaving, waxing can be painful. This is especially true if you're waxing for the first time or even the first time in a long time. "Your first wax will be the hardest because the hair is thicker, and you may be coming off shaving," says licensed esthetician and skin care expert Gina Petak, who works at the European Wax Center. "Every time you wax, it will get easier and easier and the hair thinner and thinner. You want to give waxing at least three visits to determine if it is the best method for you."


Waxing costs more money.

Professional waxes can cost anywhere between $20 and $80, depending on the body area, says de Olivera. For some, that might be worth it for a smoother finish and longer-lasting results. But for others, the cost of a razor might be all they want to spend on body hair removal. 

Waxing tips.

If you do decide waxing is the hair removal method for you, there are a few key tips and tricks the professionals recommend for optimum results: 


How to prepare for a wax

Since the hair has to completely regrow, you'll need to wait at least three to four weeks between waxes and at least five days after shaving. Petak points out that the hair should be at least one-quarter inch long, which is about the size of a sprinkle. However, she also notes, "Don't worry, your hair can never be too long to come see us!" 

In terms of prepping the skin for your wax, you can exfoliate the skin for a smoother surface, but this should be done a few days beforehand. Then the days leading up to your appointment, you'll want to make sure to moisturize the area. "It is essential that skin is hydrated prior to appointment," de Olivera says. "Dehydrated skin tends to 'hold' the hair, which can result in breakage."


Post-wax care

It is recommended to wear loose-fitting, comfortable, ideally cotton clothes to your waxing appointment so your skin can breathe without irritation post-session. As de Olivera notes, the hair follicles will be open for the 24 hours following the appointment. "We suggest avoiding any rigorous activities such as exercising, sexual intimacy, tubs, and pools." 

Petak continues, if you are planning on showering, use lukewarm or cooler water, as hot water can easily dehydrate the skin. "Also remember your skin is freshly exfoliated from your wax, so don't use any harsh soaps or body washes that contain too many oils or leave a film on your skin." (Here's a list of gentle, hydrating soaps—if you're curious).


Find a good professional

Just like any other professional beauty treatment, finding a well-trained professional that's right for you is key to a successful experience. 

Shaving benefits.

Just like with waxing, some people prefer shaving for an array of reasons: 


Shaving is much more convenient.

This is possibly one of the most obvious yet key reasons people opt for shaving over waxing. People can shave whenever they want in the comfort of their own home instead of making and following through with a professional appointment.


Shaving is cheaper.

As previous noted, waxing can be pricey, especially over time as the cost of the regular appointments add up. Meanwhile, the only cost of shaving is the razor, and those can typically be used multiple times, making shaving even more cost-effective. 


You don't have to wait for the hair to grow out to shave.

Unlike waxing, which can only be done every three to four weeks, you can (and will need to) shave more often. Though this might be too time-consuming for some people, others may like that they don't have to plan out a waxing appointment carefully and thoughtfully. 

Shaving cons.

There are many reasons to be cautious about shaving, specifically when it comes to results: 


You run the risk of razor burn or bumps.

There's nothing more frustrating than spending time shaving only to be left with bumpy, irritated skin. Razor bumps are pimplelike red spots that are essentially ingrown hairs. The free edge of the hair gets trapped just underneath the skin's surface, causing the skin to feel slightly sore. Meanwhile, razor burns happen almost instantaneously and are more of a stinging, inflamed hot rash that flares up post-shower.


Shaving doesn't last as long as waxing.

Unlike waxing, which will keep the area you waxed hairless for well over a week, shaving will only keep the area hair-free for a few days.

Shaving tips.

Do you think shaving is the route for you? With the below tips and tricks, you can avoid razor bumps and burns and achieve a silky smooth finish with nearly every shave: 


Invest in a good razor.

Using the proper tools is always a good idea when it comes to self-care and personal grooming. Though there are lots of good razors on the market, one of our current favorites is Billie Razor Starter Kit. The blades are held in a charcoal shave soap, which helps draw out oil and impurities to help avoid ingrown hairs. Plus, they have a subscription service you can sign up for so that your blade is replaced once, twice, or three times a month, guaranteeing a clean, fresh shave. 


Cleanse and exfoliate before you shave

This small step can go a long way when it comes to clean shaves. "Shaving prep should include gentle exfoliation to release any hairs that may be trapped under the skin," board-certified dermatologist Tiffany Clay, M.D., says. She recommends Bushbalm's Nude Exfoliating Scrub for all skin types, including sensitive skin. "Also cleanse using warm water and a moisturizing cleanser to soften the hairs in the area." 


Hydrate after shaving.

"After trimming, the skin should be patted dry gently, and then a gentle hydrator may be applied to reduce any post-trim irritation and dryness," Clay explains. If you're shaving your legs, you can use your regular skin care moisturizer like mindbodygreen's postbiotic body lotion. But if you're shaving the bikini area, stick to products made specifically for this purpose like Fur Ingrown Concentrate

The takeaway.

If you decide to partake in body hair removal, there are plenty of options available to you—including the classic options: shaving and waxing. Both have their positives and negatives but overall are great options for most skin types. Now, who wants to learn about sugaring?

Emily Rekstis author page.
Emily Rekstis
Contributing writer

Emily Rekstis is a freelance writer, editor and content creator. After serving as the beauty assistant at Harper's Bazaar and Self magazine, she went on to cover celebrity beauty and fashion as UsWeekly's Style Editor. Consistently curious and always willing to learn, she indulges in her variety of interests writing about everything from beauty trends to health habits to design tips for publications like Healthline, Byrdie, Women's Health, MyDomaine, BuzzFeed, The Cut, Allure and many more.