When I was about five years old, my dad told me that someday, because I was a Luck, my arms would be so hairy I wouldn’t need to wear a coat in the winter. I accepted this as a point of family pride until puberty hit and I discovered that he wasn’t far wrong. I now have more arm hair than my husband, though mine is—I’m happy to report—much finer and lighter in color.
Because I have such hairy arms, I’ve always been jealous of women with little or no arm hair. I notice them in movies, in magazines, ahead of me in line at the grocery store. And since I myself am relatively low-maintenance, it didn’t dawn on me until recently that most of them probably didn’t come by their smooth, hairless arms naturally. Most of them, I now suspect, rely on one of the hair removal techniques below in order to get rid of arm hair. Curse society’s rules!
Best Ways to Get Rid of Arm Hair
Waxing is a popular way to get rid of arm hair. It’s painful, sure, but that part is over quickly and then your arms are smooth and completely hairless for at least two weeks. Depending on how quickly your hair grows, you may only have to wax your arms once every couple of months. If you have a tight budget or just a do-it-yourself spirit, you can use an at-home waxing kit to yank the hair out of your arms. If you’d rather have your arms waxed professionally, most salons offer a choice between a whole arm wax or a less expensive half arm wax, which should do the trick as long as you don’t have much upper arm hair. Veet has wax strip kit from Amazon that may help you here.
Trimming is a good option for long, light-colored arm hair. Because of the way arm hair lies flat across the surface of the skin, shorter hair actually looks like less hair. My hairstylist, who claims her arm hair naturally grows long enough to braid, swears by this method of arm hair removal. Trimming arm hair is best done the way she does it: with an electric hair clipper that has an adjustable blade to keep the length of the hair consistent and not too long or too short. As long as you don’t shave all the way down to the skin, you should only have to trim your arm hair once every month or two.
Shaving arm hair is a convenient way to get rid of it as long as you’re on board for frequent upkeep. Contrary to the oft-told myth, shaving doesn’t actually make hair grow back darker or thicker, but because individual hairs are tapered and the razor cuts them off at one of their thickest points, they are temporarily less soft when they start to grow back.
If you choose to shave your arms, you should expect to see stubble a few days later—and you should plan on shaving them at least once or twice a week thereafter. Just like people who shave any other part of their body — face, back hair, or legs — shaving arm hair requires regular maintenance and upkeep.
Hair Removal Creams
Hair removal creams can be used to get rid of arm hair. Like shaving, depilatory cream removes the hair at the surface of the skin, so it grows back at about the same rate. Because it dissolves the hair with chemicals instead of slicing it off with a blade, some claim that hair removal lotion reduces the stubbly appearance of the hair as it regrows. If you use a depilatory to remove unwanted arm hair, you may need to reapply it as often as once a week to keep your arms smooth. You can order creams like Nair from Amazon.
It’s very common to bleach arm hair instead of actually removing it. Bleaching cream can also be used in conjunction with trimming to reduce the appearance of arm hair. Hair bleaching products use hydrogen peroxide to remove the pigment from unwanted body hair. How long your arm hair will stay lightened after bleaching depends on how quickly it grows; some people only need to bleach their arm hair a few times a year. It’s also possible to bleach arm hair naturally in the sun, but then you risk running up against that whole skin cancer issue. I hear that’s a big deal.
Remove Arm Hair Permanently
Electrolysis is the only method of hair removal that is recognized by the FDA and the American Medical Association as being permanent. It’s a process in which a tiny electrode is inserted into the skin alongside each individual hair shaft. Electrical current passes through the hair follicle, destroying it and preventing the hair from growing back. Because the arms are such a large area, if you choose electrolysis to remove arm hair, it will probably take several months of repeat treatments before you see the permanent results you’re looking for.
Laser Hair Removal
While not technically permanent, laser hair removal can keep your arm hair out of the picture for years. Brown or black hair follicles absorb the intense heat of a laser beam aimed at the skin, which damages the follicles enough to slow the growth of hair from them. If your arm hair is blonde or your complexion is dark, laser hair removal won’t be very effective. Even if you are light-skinned with dark arm hair, you can expect to undergo several laser hair removal treatments before you no longer have any noticeable hair regrowth on your arms.
Using a Hair Inhibitor
Hair inhibitor cream is becoming increasingly popular, and lately its active ingredients (plant extracts, usually, that slow the growth of the plant or help keep buds dormant) have been crossing over into other products like antiperspirants and shaving creams. You can use a hair growth inhibitor in conjunction with any of the arm hair removal techniques on this page, but you’ll get better results if you’re waxing, sugaring, or using another method that removes the hair at the follicle. Kalo Post Epilating Solution, one of the more popular hair inhibitors, is offered as a lotion or a spray, and Aveeno Positively Smooth Moisturizing Lotion should be available wherever you shop.
Natural Hair Removal Products
Body sugaring is a popular natural alternative to waxing. Recipes are widely available for making your own sugaring on the stove, using a base of water, lemon juice, and granulated sugar. Or, if you’d rather just warm up a jar, ready-made sugaring products are available from plenty of sources, including The Body Shop.
Nad’s offers a large selection of natural products for removing arm hair and other unwanted body hair. Try their Hair Removal Gel, Hair Removal Wax Strips, or Sangria Punch Warm Gel to quickly pull out arm hair by the follicles, or the HandsFree Hair Removal Crème to dissolve visible arm hair.