What’s better for your skin? – Cleveland Clinic


It’s the eternal battle of hair removal – the debate between shaving and waxing.

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Women of all ages shave and wax to enjoy smooth, hairless legs, armpits, faces and bikini lines. Men shave and wax to sport smooth, hairless chests and backs.

But what could be easier and better for your skin (and your wallet)? Dermatologist Sarah Young, MDgives us the advantages and disadvantages of shaving and hair removal.

The shaving pros

  • Quick and easy to do at home as part of a daily routine.
  • Razors and shaving cream cost very little compared to salon waxes.
  • Shaving is not painful as it only removes the hair follicle from the surface of the skin and leaves the root intact.
  • Your hair can be any shaving length.

The disadvantages of shaving

  • Shaving can cause inflamed hair follicles, itching, ingrown hairs and razor burn.
  • Results only last 1-3 days.
  • Dull blades can cause irritation and cuts.

Hair removal pros

  • Skin may appear smoother and hair may begin to thin over time with waxing.
  • Waxing can be used as a form of exfoliation.
  • Hair removal results last between 3 and 4 weeks.


  • Waxing can be painful depending on who you ask and their pain tolerance. Because hair is removed at the root, some people say waxing is more painful than shaving. Hot wax can also burn your skin if you’re not careful.
  • Waxing can cause inflamed hair follicles, pain, redness, ingrown hairs and skin irritation.
  • Removing female facial hair while using anti-aging or acne retinoid products can lead to abrasions, infections, and even scarring, so be sure to do your homework before trying a wax.
  • Your hair should be ¼” to ½” to be plucked.

Shaving tips

Take your time shaving and use moisturizing products if your skin is sensitive. Never shave dry and prefer shaving cream to soap. Wait until after your shower or bath to shave, when the pores are open and the skin has softened. One of the biggest shaving mistakes is shaving “against the grain”, so shave in the direction of your hair growth instead to avoid ingrown hairs.

Hair removal tips

Waxing requires skill, so start with a salon or have someone more experienced teach you how to do it first. Keep an eye on the temperatures when reheating the wax to avoid burning your skin. For best results, splurge on a trip to the salon with a professional.

The bottom line

Both techniques remove unnecessary hair and leave your skin soft. But both require extra care in sensitive areas – bikini line for waxing and joints, skin folds and bikini line for shaving.

It’s worth experimenting with both shaving and waxing to find out which method you prefer (and maybe even consider laser hair removal). Hair type, skin type and the area you wish to wax will all play a role in your decision. Cost and ease of access is another important aspect to consider.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, but a board-certified dermatologist can give you solid advice and discuss which option is best for you, especially when it comes to your hair and skin.


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