Which Hair Removal Method (Besides Shaving) Is the Least Painful, According to Editors

Getty / Javier Zayas / Javier Zayas Photography

With the obvious exception of shaving, very few hair removal methods have gained a reputation for being painless. Ask anyone several years ago what getting laser hair removal felt like and you’d likely have gotten the famous “snapping rubber band” comparison, while the pain from electrolysis – the only real “permanent” hair removal method that involves damaging the hair follicle via electric current – has often been compared to getting a tattoo. And then there’s waxing which, albeit very popular, has its own set of pros and cons.

These days, if you happen to prefer being hairless, you’re not short on reliable options that’ll either keep your body fuzz and stubble-free for weeks at a time or dramatically reduce the amount of hair that grows on your body over time. Either way, if you’re wondering which of the many options out there will leave you with the least amount of pain or irritation, we’re here to help. We’ve chosen to steer away from the obvious, tried-and-true method of shaving, but keep reading to see our editors’ opinions on which hair removal methods are the least painful.

Laser Hair Removal

“Aside from shaving, which is the obvious answer here, I think laser hair removal is the least painful hair removal option. Hear me out: sure, it feels like you’re being flicked with a rubber band a few times, but it’s a lot better than the pulling sensation that leaves your skin feeling hot that you get when you wax or sugar. Also, laser hair removal is over relatively quickly.” – Jessica Harrington, associate beauty editor

“Ten years ago, when I tried laser hair removal for the first time, I thought it was the most painful thing ever. At that time, I compared it with the level of pain I felt when I got my first tattoo, which I used to describe as “being slowly burned with needles.” But the technology has changed so much since then. I’m trying it now on full legs, and it’s nothing compared to what it used to be. The slow needle-burning feeling is gone now, thanks to a cooling technology that delivers super cold air on your skin while applying the laser, so you don’t feel the pain – and it works.” – Irene San Segundo, Latina editor

“Speaking bikini specifically, I think laser is the least painful. Distant second is hard wax. There’s just something about the small surface area of a laser vs. the large chunks of hair removed by wax that makes a huge difference.” – Dawn Davis, executive beauty director

“I used to be a fairly regular bikini waxer, and despite having a pretty low pain threshold and sensitive skin, I never minded it that much. My skin would be super red for a few hours though. Laser always felt like a huge commitment, but I finally bit the bullet about two years ago and could not be happier. I ended up doing my bikini and my armpits, and I swear I could barely feel it. Even when I could, it was over in seconds. After six sessions, I’m 99 percent hair-free – need to do a touchup at some point. No more ingrown hairs or last-minute shaving over the sink is so liberating. I dream of doing my legs, too, so I never need to use a razor again.” – Joanna Douglas, executive director of Brandshop at Group Nine Media


“I’ve been getting waxed for so long – 14 years, to be exact – that there’s actually something calming about it whenever I go in. The key is to go somewhere that uses hard wax, like European Wax Center, and do not (I repeat: do not) shave a week before. That makes it 10x more painful.” – Kelsey Castañon, beauty director

“Let me make this clear: waxing is always going to be just a little painful, but as someone who’s been getting waxed faithfully for almost a decade now, I’ll say that it’s definitely something that gets a lot less painful and irritating over time – so long as you keep up with your monthly appointments. But just as a general note, don’t ever make the mistake of shaving in between waxes – it is never a good idea.” – Danielle Jackson, assistant beauty editor

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