Shaving creams are meant to reduce the nicks and cuts caused by shaving.

Alternatives to Shaving Legs

by Angela Bakke

Shaving remains the least expensive and most convenient, universally popular method to getting silky, smooth legs. But although razors are inexpensive and readily available, they have their drawbacks. Some women complain that keeping legs stubble-free via a razor means yet another daily beauty to-do. Shaving is also the culprit of irritated skin, nicks, cuts, razor burn and ingrown hairs for some women. If you're one of them, it's good to know you have several viable options.

1. Waxing

Leg waxing is a service you can have done in a salon or by yourself at home. In either case, hair is removed by using a wooden stick to spread warm wax on the area of skin that has unwanted hair. A strip of specialized cloth is applied over the wax in the direction the hair grows and then quickly ripped away from the skin in the opposite direction of hair growth. This process is far from pain-free, but it leaves the skin smoother with longer lasting results than shaving. A razor blade only eliminates leg hair at the surface, while waxing completely removes the hair. Salon waxing is costly and will need to be repeated after several weeks. Waxing at home is less expensive than paying a professional, but it's a messy process that takes a good amount of time and patience to do to yourself.

2. Hair Removal Creams

Sometimes called depilatory creams, when you apply a hair removal cream to your legs it works by chemically breaking down the protein structure of the hair, dissolving the follicle at its root within a few minutes. This topical solution to removing unwanted hair is completely painless, but not odorless. The strong odor and heavy chemicals of a depilatory cream are a turn-off to many women, but they do eliminate cuts and nicks and keep hair at bay for a longer period of time than shaving.

3. Laser Hair Removal

Laser treatments are making strides to beat out the competition in the hair removal industry. Modern technology behind laser hair removal is designed to zap a small section of hair follicles with a laser light, killing the follicle and prohibiting further hair growth. The procedure is a very effective long-term solution for certain skin types -- light or medium-toned skin and dark hair. Those with darker complexions will absorb too much of the laser energy because their hair and skin color are too closely matched. Furthermore, very light hair won't transmit the laser light to the follicle. So there is only a small niche of people who are perfect candidates for this option. The laser works with very small sections of skin at at time, so properly removing hair from an area of the body as large as the legs may require multiple sessions over several weeks, each lasting several hours long. There are also home-kit laser treatments on the market that have the same effects as professional treatments at a more affordable price.

4. Epilators

Probably the least popular -- but still on the table as an option -- is an epilator hair remover, which is an electrical device that you can find in drug stores or online. These are a do-it-yourself option and relatively affordable compared to other long term hair removal methods. As you move an epilator down your leg, the device grabs onto a group of hairs and yanks them out by the root. They are effective, produce longer results than shaving, and best suited for women with a high pain tolerance.

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