Bare Necessities

April 14, 2015

Wearing a high-cut leo without tights is sure to give you that coveted legs-for-days look. But when it comes time for a grand plié in second position, or a slow sustained tilt to the front, you may find yourself wishing you’d spent a little more time with your razor.

Unwanted body hair is a nuisance—and it’s especially rough for dancers who wear all kinds of revealing costumes. DS turned to the experts for the scoop on a variety of solutions to hairy situations.

(Photo by Alexander Yakovlev/Thinkstock)


Shaving takes the cake when it comes to hair removal on a budget: You only need to pay for razors and shaving cream. That said, shaving yields very short-term results, so you’ll probably need to do it a few times a week to stay hair-free.

“If you shave, you also need good technique to avoid razor burn,” says Dr. Neil Goldberg, a dermatologist in Bronxville, NY. He recommends shaving in the shower, or immediately after. The steam helps soften your hair and open up the follicles, giving you a closer shave. And never shave dry skin. “Use lubricants, like shaving cream, to soften the blade,” Goldberg suggests.

Shaving leaves you with sharp follicles close to your skin’s surface, so ingrown hairs are a common side effect. To avoid them, shave in one direction—against the direction of hair growth—and be sure to exfoliate. “Dead skin has to be shed on a daily basis because hair can’t grow through it,” says Sandra Cossa-Ortiz, an esthetician who specializes in hair removal and skin care. She suggests using a simple scrub.


Jessica Wells, spa director at Bliss Boston, recommends waxing your legs, bikini line and underarms. “Unlike shaving, which cuts the hair off at the

surface, waxing removes hair from the roots,” she explains. “This gives a smoother and longer-lasting result. Depending on hair growth, you can expect to go four to six weeks between waxes.”

Here’s how it works: A salon specialist spreads warm wax over your unwanted hair and covers it with a cloth strip. She then yanks the strip off your body in the opposite direction of hair growth, pulling hair out at the root. It can be painful, and it’s more expensive than shaving (each visit can cost between $20 and $80). But it’s a winner when it comes to efficiency and results. If you’re super-sensitive, there are different kinds of waxes—like hard wax—that can help ease the pain.

Hair-Removal Creams

Depilatory creams (like Nair) can be used at home for quick hair removal. Creams don’t remove hair from the root but get close to it, which makes the method last about as long as as shaving. As the cream removes the hair, it takes some of the dead skin cells blocking hair growth along with it, so ingrown hairs are less common.

Depilatory creams are budget-friendly (around $10), and a variety of brands can be found at most drugstores. Cossa-Ortiz offers two suggestions for depilatory cream: Use it toward the end of your shower, because the more hydrated your hairs are, the more effective the cream will be; and pay attention to the amount of time it stays on your skin. The chemicals are very strong, and they can harm your skin if left on longer than the recommended time.

Laser Treatment

If you’re willing to put in a bit of time and a good deal of money, laser treatments will ultimately give you the best results.

Laser treatments beam concentrated light into your hair follicles, damaging them. In time, this damage kills the hairs.  It usually requires treatments every six to eight weeks for approximately eight months to zap all of the follicles.

But laser isn’t for everyone. Cossa-Ortiz says laser candidates must have already hit puberty. The hormone shifts that occur with puberty interfere with the hair follicles, altering the process and, ultimately, the results.

Goldberg adds that the best laser candidates have very light skin and dark hair. While girls with other skin/hair combinations will experience hair reduction, it’s typically less effective.

: If you’re on the fence about laser treatment, start with your armpits. It’s a small area that doesn’t hurt—and it’s relatively inexpensive.

The Final Word

Each person’s skin and hair are different, and what works best as a hair-removal treatment for one person may be the worst option for another. Keep this in mind when considering the different methods of hair removal for yourself, and consult a dermatologist or other skin-care specialist if you have further questions.