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treat your skin right

No matter what method you choose, you might find your skin hurting afterward. Here are our tips for taking some of the sting out of your newly shorn self.

  • Use witch hazel or an alcohol-free astringent to keep the area clean and prevent infection.
  • Try to stay away from makeup, lotion, and the sun for at least the first 24 hours.
  • As your hair grows back, use a gentle exfoliating scrub on the area to prevent ingrown hairs from forming.

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Everything You Need For Your Wedding:

beauty - hair removal

Bridal Beauty: Hair Removal How-Tos

Dare to go bare without unwanted hair! Get down to the root of this all important grooming problem and explore the options.

Photo: Kate Wood

Whatever your bridal style, we can pretty much guarantee there's one accessory you don't want -- body hair. Here's everything you need to know to get fuzz-free for your big day.

Shaving

I Do: Razors cut the hair where it meets the skin, and they're hard to beat for cost and convenience (DIY doesn't get much easier than this). If you use a good shaving cream or gel, your result will be silky smooth skin.
I Don't: Unfortunately, these results don't last (most people see stubble again within 24 hours). Razor burn, ingrown hairs, and the occasional nick are also par for the course. Also, since your hair isn't starting over from scratch, re-growth is coarse.
Best For: Your legs and pits. Shave slowly and carefully working against the grain of the hair.

knot note

Depending on what method you choose, you may want to give it a test-drive 6-8 weeks before your wedding. You'll need time to be sure it suits your skin -- your wedding day is no time for a rash or reaction.

Waxing

I Do: Hair is coated with (usually hot) wax, then covered with cloth. Both are then ripped off of the skin, bringing the hair and root with them. You'll be stubble-free for about two weeks (or more!). Many women claim that their hair grows back finer with repeated waxing.
I Don't: Ouch! Waxing hurts, is hard to do yourself, and can also cause in-grown hairs. Heading to a salon is your best bet. Also, since the wax needs at least 1/3" of hair to grab onto, you'll have to grow it out between sessions.
Best For: Legs, bikini line, and upper lip. Many women wax their eyebrows as well, but other methods are more accurate. No matter where you're waxing, if you're a first timer book a test drive six weeks before your wedding. That way, you can deal with any weird reactions to the wax while you've got time (not while you're on your honeymoon).

Depilatories

I Do: These are creams that dissolve the root of the hair, making it fall out when you wipe the cream away. Don't worry, they've come a long way since you were in high school. Those razorless shaving kits you see everywhere? Yep, those are depilatories. And yes, they're less painful than waxing, and they last a little longer than shaving.
I Don't: If you've got sensitive skin, you could feel the burn with some products. Also, some formulas don't work as well on coarser hair.
Best For: Your upper lip and arms. No matter where you're spreading it, do a test on a small patch of skin to be sure it agrees with you before you go whole hog.

Threading

I Do: In this Indian technique, thread is rolled around hairs to gently pluck them out one at a time. It's way less painful than waxing, and can last longer -- often up to a month.
I Don't: It's not quite as accurate as tweezing, and since this method is relatively new in the states, it may be hard to find a salon or spa near you that offers it.
Best For: Brows, naturally.

Bleaching

I Do: Bleaching creams strip hair of it's color (it's still there, it's just harder to see). It's relatively cheap, painless, and there's no stubble.
I Don't: Doesn't work if you have darker skin (the lightened hair may stand out more), and you may have a "calico" appearance as new hair grows in. There's also a risk of accidentally bleaching your skin.
Best For: Upper lip or your arms. Make sure you leave the product on for the amount of time recommended on the box -- less could leave the hair brassy and yellow instead of bleached.

Tweezing

I Do: Tweezers lift strands of hair out from the root individually (never try to grab more than one at a time). You'll be fuzz-free for a week or more. And once you've made the investment in a good set of tweezers, you've covered your costs completely.
I Don't: It's a bit painful, and very time consuming -- definitely not recommended for large areas.
Best For: Brows. Even if you use another form of hair removal, like waxing or threading, you can always tweeze errant hairs in between appointments. If you've got nose hairs that are bugging you, your tweezers can tackle those as well.

Electrolysis

I Do: An electronic needle is inserted into the hair's root, burning the area that supplies it blood and allows it to grow. After several treatments, it's not just effective -- it's usually permanent.
I Don't: Time-consuming, painful, and expensive. It's definitely not for everyone. Some people also experience minor scarring. Since this procedure takes a while, you should only include it in your bridal beauty plans if you have a year or more to go before your wedding day.
Best For: Small areas, like the patch of hair on your big toes or your upper lip, though you can think bigger (bikini lines are common targets). If you're interested in trying it, your big toes are a great place to start -- a small area that's not too hairy makes the perfect test patch.

Lasers

I Do: Doctors use several different types of lasers or intense light pulse systems for hair removal, but they all work in basically the same way. The intense heat and light cause damage to the hair follicles, preventing re-growth. A single treatment session can cover a large area, so you're not limited to small stuff.
I Don't: Since only a certified dermatologist can perform this procedure, it'll cost you a pretty penny. Also, you'll need multiple sessions to get the most permanent results. Some people may experience hair regrowth that's lighter and softer; scarring is also a rare but not unheard-of side effect.
(Knot Note For a slightly cheaper option, look into IPL -- intense pulsed light -- which is a laser-like procedure that an aesthetician can do.)
Best For: Bikini line and legs, although theoretically you could zap hair anywhere. Like electrolysis, this is best for the bride who's got some time on her hands before her honeymoon.

-- Kate Wood

See More: Bridal Beauty Secrets