Home hair removal user trial

Wax on, wax off? What type of hair removal product is the easiest and best to use?
 
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  • Updated:2 May 2007
 

01 .DIY hair removal

Waxing

User trial of 23 home hair-removal products

We sent out wax kits, wax strips, depilatories and epilators to 141 voluntarily hairy-legged trialists. They were asked to assess each product for overall effectiveness, ease of application, ease of removal, how painful the product was to use, whether they experienced skin irritation and the time it took to use.

Findings:

  • If you’ve got a high pain threshold, epilators are a very easy way to keep your legs hair-free.
  • Epilators and depilatories are much easier to use than waxes and more effective at removing hair.
  • Wax kits rated below average for ease of use.
  • Cold wax strips were the least effective method of removing hair from the lower leg.
  • Paying more for a product won’t guarantee effectiveness. For three types of hair removers, the least expensive ones came out tops.

Please note: this information was current as of May 2007 but is still a useful guide today.


Brands trialled

Epilators

  • Braun Silk-epil EverSoft 2075
  • Braun Silk-epil Xelle 5580
  • Emjoi BodyBare Chic AP975
  • Emjoi BodyBare Ultimate AP98R
  • Philips Satinelle HP2844

Depilitories

  • Andrea Extra Strength Hair Remover Lotion
  • Marzena Hair Remover Lotion
  • Nads Hair Removal Creme
  • Nair Pretty Hair Removal Spray
  • Sally Hansen Extra Strength Hair Remover Lotion
  • Veet Hair Removal Mousse
  • Veet In-shower Hair Removal Cream
  • You'll Love Coles Hair Removal Cream 

Wax kits

  • Hot Legs Cool Hair Removal Gel Wax
  • Julienne Soft Wax
  • Nads Sangria Punch Natural Warm Gel
  • Nair Salon Divine Body Wax
  • Veet Warm Wax Kit

Wax strips

  • Andrea Body Wax Strips
  • Marzena Large Wax Strips
  • Nads Hair Removal Strips
  • Nair Pretty Large Wax Strips
  • Veet Ready To Use Wax Strips for Normal Skin

What you'll get in this report

  • Trialists' ratings of 23 home hair removal products.
  • Prices for all products.
 
 

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The following products scored the best results in our user trial.

What to buy
Brand Price
Epilators
Braun Silk-epil Xelle 5580 $140
Emjoi BodyBare Ultimate AP98R $140
Philips Satinelle HP2844 $55
Depilitories
Marzena Hair Remover Lotion for Legs and Body $3.70/100g
Veet In-shower Hair Removal Cream $6.55/100g
Wax kits
Veet Warm Wax $3.20
Julienne Soft Wax $3.20
Nads Sangria Punch Natural Warm Gel $5.95
Wax strips

Nads Hair Removal Strips

$0.40/strip

Veet Ready To Use Wax Strips for Normal Skin

$0.50/strip

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below.

Results
Epilators (in rank order)* Overall score (%) Effectiveness score (%) Ease of use score (%) Price ($)
Braun Silk-epil Xelle 5580 (12) 80 80 80 140
Emjoi BodyBare Ultimate AP98R (9) 80 80 80 140
Philips Satinelle HP2844 (8) 80 80 80 55
Braun Silk-epil EverSoft 2075 (10) 70 70 80 60
Emjoi BodyBare Chic AP975 (9) 60 60 70 70

Results
Wax kits (in rank order)* Overall score (%) Effectiveness score (%) Ease of use score (%) Ease of application score (%) Ease of removal score (%) Price per
100 g ($)
Veet Warm Wax Kit (25) 75 75 80 80 75 3.20
Julienne Soft Wax (23) 70 75 75 75 80 3.20
Nads Sangria Punch Natural Warm Gel (23) 70 75 75 75 80 5.95
Hot Legs Cool Hair Removal Gel Wax (23) 55 60 60 55 65 4.40

Nair Salon Divine Body Wax Sensual Orchid (25)

50 55 55 55 60 5.10

Results
Wax strips (in rank order)* Overall score (%) Effectiveness score (%) Ease of use score (%) Ease of application score (%) Ease of removal score (%) Price per strip ($)
Nads Hair Removal Strips (23) 75 75 80 85 80 0.40
Veet Ready To Use Wax Strips for Normal Skin (25) 70 65 75 80 80 0.50
Marzena Large Wax Strips (25) 60 60 70 70 75 0.40
Nair Pretty Large Wax Strips (22) 60 60 75 75 75 0.45
Andrea Body Wax Strips (23) 40 40 55 60 65 0.65

Results
Depilatories (in rank order)* Overall score (%) Effectiveness score (%) Ease of use score (%) Ease of application score (%) Ease of removal score (%) Price per 100 g ($)
Marzena Hair Remover Lotion for Legs and Body (35) 80 80 80 80 80 3.70
Veet In-shower Hair Removal Cream (33) 75 75 80 85 85 6.55
Nads Hands Free Sensitive Hair Removal Crème (34) 70 75 75 70 80 4.75
Nair Pretty Hair Removal Spray (28) 70 75 80 85 85 5.80
Sally Hansen Extra Strength Hair Remover Lotion (32) 70 75 80 85 85 5.05
Veet Hair Removal Mousse (28) 70 80 75 80 80 6.40
You'll Love Coles Hair removal cream (37) 65 70 70 70 70 5.50
Andrea Extra Strength Hair Remover Lotion for the Body (34) 60 65 70 80 75 11.40

* The number in brackets is the number of trialists for each product.

How we tested

A group of 141 volunteers tested the wax kits, wax strips, depilatories and epilators. They were each sent four brands of one type of product to use and evaluate. Trialists tested two products (one on each leg) and then the two remaining products one week later for depilatories and three weeks later for wax kits and strips and epilators.

Trialists rated them on an 11-point scale (0–10) for overall effectiveness, ease of application, ease of removal, how painful the product was to use, whether they experienced skin irritation and the time it took to use. The average score of each product was converted into a percentage and rounded off to the nearest 5%.

Philips Satinelle epilator

Epilators use a series of tiny, rotating tweezers to pull the hair out. They work in a similar way to wax, but without the mess and, because they remove hair from the root, the results should last for several weeks.

Of those surveyed, 40% thought epilators were either ‘very’ or ‘moderately’ painful to use and 43% also experienced some form of skin irritation (such as redness and itching). Despite these bad points, epilators were found to be the easiest to use and are very effective at removing hair from the lower leg. The gadgets were also very speedy, most taking 10 minutes or less to use.

Epilators are more expensive to buy than the other forms of hair removal, but the cost is a one-off, as opposed to the ongoing costs of other products.

Our top three epilators are all very easy to use and are effective at removing hair. At only $55, the Philips Satinelle HP2844 is a great buy.

Profiles - what to buy

The recommended models are listed below. See the results tables for ratings of other models.

Braun Silk-epil Xelle 5580

Price: $140

Braun Silk-epil Xelle EpilatorThis epilator received equal best ease of use and effectiveness scores and most testers said it fitted comfortably into their hand. It also has a light designed to show hairs and also comes with attachments for the face and underarms/bikini line. It was the equal-most expensive epilator tested.

Trialists' comments:

  • “This was by far the best epilator [I tried] — extra features, the least painful and [has a] handy light.”
  • “Epilator is nicely moulded to fit comfortably in the hand.”

Emjoi BodyBare Ultimate AP98R

Emjoi Bodybare Ultimate Epilator

Price: $140

The EMJOI has two sets of tweezers for faster hair removal and it’s cordless, which is handy if you’re travelling. It received equal best ease of use and effectiveness scores but was the equal most expensive epilator tested.

Trialists' comments:

  • “So much better than the epilator that I usually use — I’ll definitely buy one of these.”
  • “Quick and not too painful, but nothing mind blowing.”

Philips Satinelle HP2844

Philips Satinelle Epilator

Price: $55

This epilator was the cheapest tested and received equal best ease of use and effectiveness scores. It comes with an attachment so it can be used on delicate areas such as the bikini line and underarms.

Trialists' comments:

  • “I had no idea it was such a handy little gadget. I usually go to a salon for waxing. This is preferable.”
  • “Compact and lightweight, which was a plus.”

tube of hair removal lotionDepilatory creams act like a chemical razor blade. They contain thioglycolate, a chemical that dissolves the protein structure of the hair, causing it to separate easily from the surface of the skin — they don’t remove hair from the root as wax and epilators do.

They’re often smelly and messy to apply and regrowth can be bristly. All depilatories can be irritating to the skin, so follow the instructions carefully. Don’t apply them to broken or inflamed skin, and always perform a patch test before using a new product.

Our trialists tested creams, mousses and sprays and found that overall, depilatories were second from the top. They were also found to be the least painful form of hair removal trialled.

Surprisingly, the cheapest product, Marzena Hair Remover Lotion for legs and body received the highest rating and the most expensive product, Andrea Extra Strength Hair Remover Lotion for the body, was least favoured by trialists.

One trialist said of the Andrea lotion, “You need to wait about 12 minutes … to end up with a poor result and need to repeat for decent hair removal.”

Profiles - what to buy

The recommended models are listed below. See the results tables for ratings of other models.

Marzena Hair Removal Lotion for legs and body

Price: $3.70 (per 100 g) marzena hair removal lotion

Good points:

  • This is the cheapest product from this category and received a very good overall score. It’s very easy to both use and remove.

Trialists' comments:

  • “I would use this product (depending on cost) instead of shaving or waxing. I wouldn’t [have] considered using a depilatory product on my legs previously, but I would definitely use this one. Very time-efficient and effective.”
  • ”My legs felt very smooth afterwards despite the stubbornness of a few fine hairs.”

Veet In-shower Hair Remover Cream

Price: $6.55 (per 100 g) Veet inshower hair removal cream

Good points:

  • This was a fast product to use, with 32 trialists saying it took 10 minutes or less to use. It can be applied in the shower so that waiting time passes while soaping up, and uses water-resistant ingredients, so you don’t have to keep your legs completely dry.

Trialists' comments:

  • “Great, although I found it annoying to keep my leg away from the running water prior to removing hair.”
  • “This was the best to use. Easy to use in the shower, very effective and I was left with an excellent result. I would continue to purchase this product myself.

Pot of hair removal waxWax is applied (warm or cold) to the skin in a thin layer. It’s then either left to harden or a fabric strip is applied. The wax or strip is then pulled off against the direction of the hair growth, removing the hair with it.

Waxes shouldn’t be used by anyone susceptible to infection, such as people with diabetes of circulatory problems, and they shouldn’t be applied over varicose veins, moles and warts or on irritated, chapped sunburnt or broken skin. Test a small area for an allergic reaction beforehand.

Veet Warm Wax rated the highest for ease of use and ease of application and was also one of the cheapest products tested in this category. Nair Salon Divine Body Wax Sensual Orchid was rated for the lowest for effectiveness, ease of use and ease of removal and was one of the most expensive tested.

One tester said of the Nair product: “Used much more wax than usual, did not remove the hair. The pot had no lid so if you decided to try again, [it would be] very difficult to store.” Perhaps surprisingly, only three trialists rated a product ‘very painful’, with most respondents rating the kits ‘slightly painful’ or ‘not at all painful’.

Profiles - what to buy

The recommended models are listed below. See the results tables for ratings of other models.

Veet Warm Wax

Price: $3.20 (per 100 g) Veet warm wax

Good points

  • This was one of the cheaper pot waxes tested and received a very good overall score. It also has a handy temperature gauge on the spatula that warns the user when the wax is too hot to use.

Trialists' comments

  • “Easy to apply, excellent cotton strips and plenty of them, no pain and smooth skin.”
  • “It glided on and came off easily.”

Julienne Soft Wax

Price: $3.20 (per 100 g) Julienne soft wax

Good points

  • This was the cheapest product tested in this category with a good overall score. It is also very easy to remove. This wax also makes the claim that it’s not tested on animals (see Animal testing).

Trialists' comments

  • “Easy to use, not messy and did the job the first time.”
  • “The only complaint with this wax kit is that the spatula was slightly too narrow. Otherwise this kit was excellent.”

Nads Sangria Punch Natural Warm Gel

Price: $5.95 (per 100 g) Nads sangria punch natural warm gel

Good points

  • Besides sounding like a Spanish beverage, this product was very easy to remove but was the most expensive in the category.

Trialists' comments

  • “Very thick. Used half a jar on one leg. Not cost effective.”
  • “Really smooth and easy to remove. The cloth strips are really durable and stick to the wax easily.”

Wax hair removal stripsWax strips are a lot more convenient than pot waxes — you simply pull off the backing strip and (in most cases) warm it between your hands, lay it on the skin and then rip it off, removing the hair with it. The strips come in different sizes for use on different areas of the body.

Our testers found that for lower-leg hair removal, strip waxes aren’t an effective option. They received a score of only 60% overall for effectiveness. They were also found to be the most painful form of hair removal, slightly higher than epilators in the pain stakes.

But some were better than others. Trialists said that the Nads Hair Removal Strips were very easy to apply and remove and effectively removed the hair, while Andrea Body Wax strips were much less effective and received a poor overall score of 40%. They were also the most expensive product.

One trialist said of Andrea strips: “I found this product quite useless. Had to abandon trial due to its ineffectiveness …”

Profile - what to buy

The recommended models are listed below. See the results tables for ratings of other models.

Nads Hair Removal Strips

Price: $0.40 per strip Nads hair removal strips

Good points: This product rated the highest overall for effectiveness, ease of use and ease of application. It included “soothing and finishing” wipes, which may have contributed to its equal highest ease of use score. It was the second cheapest in the category.

Trialists' comments:

  • “I have very strong hair and these removed it easily — I was really surprised. They were easy to use, left hardly any residual wax and removed most of the hair.”
  • “Less need to repeat process as fine hair removed more easily. Less residual wax and skin softer and smoother to touch.”

Veet Ready To Use Wax Strips for Normal Skin

Price: $0.50 per strip Veet hair removal wax strips

Good points: This product was the second-top scorer and is very easy to both apply and remove. It did however only receive an OK effectiveness score.

Trialists' comments:

  • “These strips are overall very good and are actually larger than the others I tested."
  • "Fantastic. I would definately use these again. They are easy to use. I only used about one quarter of the pack, which for my hair, I thought, was very good. They only left a little wax residue which cleaned off easily with the wipes."

07.Safety and ethics

 

Case study: Flammable wax

In December 2004, Jacqueline from Sydney was heating some wax in a saucepan when she received a phone call from her boss. She momentarily left the wax to heat up. “When I came back into the kitchen I found the wax had caught fire”, she says.

She tried to get the hot saucepan outside, but in doing so, the boiling hot wax splashed onto her hand. She immediately rushed to hospital. “I had pretty bad burns to my right hand and was in bandages for about a month,” she says.

While many people would heat up the wax in a microwave, there are still real risks associated with using hot wax, particularly if you don’t read the safety precautions on the instruction leaflet. The NSW Severe Burn Injury Service told CHOICE that in 2006, 24 people were treated for burns caused by hot wax in three major NSW hospitals. Three of these patients needed skin grafts. These burns most commonly occurred when removing a scalding-hot tub from the microwave.

The service’s Burn Injury Prevention and First Aid brochure advises you to read the instructions carefully before use, heat the wax for short periods to avoid overheating and leave it to stand for three to five minutes before removing it from the microwave. If burning occurs, apply cold running water for at least 20 minutes, and seek medical attention if the burn is bigger than a 20 cent piece, if it blisters, or if you have any concerns.

Animal testing

If you’d prefer that no animals were harmed in order to bring you hair-free legs, it gets a little complicated. On inspecting the products’ packaging, we found three made the ‘Not tested on animals’ claim: Sally Hansen, Julienne and Hot Legs.

However, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) lists Sally Hansen as a company that does test on animals. We contacted Sally Hansen which told us that despite PETA's claims, they do not test any cosmetics on animals, but in vitro laboratories or testing on humans.

Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) told us labelling on product packaging can’t always be trusted. Even though the finished product may not be tested on animals, some ingredients may have been. CCF offers accreditation to companies to join its Preferred Product List. To become accredited, companies must fill in a legally binding questionnaire assuring that no animal testing has been conducted during the formulation, manufacture or packaging of its products or product ingredients. This questionnaire must be signed by the company director.

Only two hair removal brands are listed on the CCF Preferred Product List. These are the professional hair removal and beauty brand Caron Laboratories (www.caronlab.com.au) and Waxaway (www.waxaway.com.au), which is manufactured by the same company. Neither brand was included in our user trial.

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