Waxing or Shaving?

Which hair removal method can work better for you – waxing or shaving?

In this article:

Waxing definition

Waxing is a method of hair removal where warm wax is applied to your skin and hair and removed quickly to remove hair. Waxing removes the entire hair, from the root or follicle.

Waxing for hair removal comes in two consistencies – hard wax and soft wax. Hard wax can be applied and removed by gripping the edge of the wax. Soft wax is applied in the same way as hard wax but requires wax removal strips that are smoothed over the applied wax and then pull away to remove the wax from the skin’s surface and to remove the hair from its root.

Like shaving, waxing also exfoliates the skin while the hair is removed from it. When the wax is applied, it is applied to the skin and hair with the intention that it will remove the hair only. However, waxing also pulls off the topmost layers of skin along with the hair. Compared to shaving, waxing exfoliates more of your skin. Unless you have particularly sensitive skin, waxing will give you very smooth skin because it will remove hair and dead skin.

Want to learn more? Read our complete guide to waxing at home here for a breakdown on how to pick a waxing kit for home use, which features to look out, and tips for painless waxing.

Shaving definition

Shaving is a method of hair removal in which you use a blade, usually in the form of a razor, to cut the hair shaft to where it exits the skin. Shaving does not remove the whole hair from the root, but cuts very close to the skin’s surface.

Shaving with a good blade or razer removes hair in a way that it is no longer visible at the skin’s surface. Shaving is the one of the common ways to remove hair, far surpassing any other longer lasting hair. Men remove their facial hair using blades or razors and women can use the razor to remove hair all over their body.

Shaving also lightly exfoliates the topmost layers of your skin. When the razor passes over your skin to cut the hair, it can also pick up shedding skin and remove it.

Compare – How often do I have to shave or how often do I have to wax?

Shaving is a nonpermanent hair removal method because it only cuts the hair off at the skin surface. So depending on how fast your hair grows, you may find yourself needing to shave again in anywhere between 2 to 4 days.

However, the upside to shaving is that you can shave at any time, no matter how much hair has grown back in.

Waxing is considered to be a semipermanent hair removal method because it removes the hair from the root. This allows you to be hair free for longer than shaving, but it can again vary with how quickly your hair grows. You could be hairless between 1 to 2 weeks before new hair growth comes in.

However, you’ll need to wait for the new hairs to be about 1 / 4 inch long before you can wax again. This is because wax does not grab hairs that are shorter than this and it is hard to get good results.

Winner: No clear winner.

If you are able to wear longer clothes while your hair grows to a 1/4 inch to wax again, then waxing is a clear winner because you can go so much longer in between sessions. But if you can’t wait for hair to grow to a certain length before hair removal, then shaving is a better option.

Cost – Is waxing more expensive than shaving?

A good value razer like the Venus Gillette or the Schick Hydro cost about $20 to $30 for 6 disposable heads total. If you are changing out your razor every 4 weeks like you should, then you end up spending between $40-60 on razors per year.

To wax at home, you need a few tools to get started like wax, a wax warmer or wax applicator sticks and these initial tools can run you an average of $30-40. If you’re waxing your whole body, a can of 8 oz Gigi wax will last about 5 sessions. So let’s say you’re waxing every two weeks, then a can of wax will last you 2 and a half months before you need to spend another $10 for a wax refill. For your first year of waxing at home, with the initial tools, you’ll spend about $80 a year waxing at home. In subsequent years, you’ll only spend $50 a year because you don’t need to rebuy a wax warmer, only wax refills (or to stock up on cheaper tools like wax applicators or wax strips that you can buy in bulk).

If you’re getting a professional full body wax, then you’re spending $300-400 per session. If you’re getting this done every two weeks, you’ll be spending several thousands of dollars a year on hair removal. At this rate, you might look into laser hair removal instead.

Winner: Waxing at home

Waxing is a clear winner when you consider that waxing every two weeks for only a few dollars more saves you a lot of time in life. We think time is money. Waxing definitely saves you a lot more time than shaving, so waxing is definitely a better deal.

Which hurts more – Waxing or Shaving?

Since shaving only cuts the hair at the skin’s surface, the actual shaving is not very painful. If you’re clumsy, you might end up nicking or cutting yourself in areas that are awkward to shave. Some people also suffer from excessive goosebumps, which can make it difficult to get a close shave and smooth skin.

Overall, shaving is a painless process.

Waxing rips out your hairs from the root or follicle, and it definitely hurts more than shaving. How much more? That depends on your pain tolerance. For some people, the pain of the wax removal is about the same as a sting, and for others, it is much more painful. It definitely hurts more the first time you get your hair waxed because you’re not mentally prepared for how much or how little it can hurt – you don’t know what to expect. This is a natural psychological response.

If you’ve only shaved your hair and then you get your hair waxed, it will hurt more the first time. This is because when you shave your hair over a period of time, the shafts and follicles of each get quite strong and are thicker beneath the surface of your skin. Ripping out these hairs by their follicles can be a little more painful than ripping out hair with young follicles. Waxing pulls out hair entirely and it will grow back finer.

This actually contributes to a myth that waxing reduces your hair. In reality your hair just grows back finer AND in phases. So immediately after waxing, all of your new hair will not grown back at once. Rather hair grows in different phases that activate at different times, so in say, 2 weeks, you may only be seeing hair that was activated into its growing phase.

With shaving, because you’re just slicing the hair somewhere along its shaft, the fully developed hair just at your skin surface continues to push up and so it seems like you have more hair regrow after shaving.

Winner: Shaving

Waxing hurts much more than shaving, which is a painless process.

Compare – How long does each hair removal method take?

Normally, people shave during their shower. A full body shave can take about 10 to 15 minutes. However, shaved hair grows back quickly and so you may be spending those 10 to 15 minutes every other or third day. If you wax every 3 days, the in the course of a month, you wax 10 times. So in 1 month, you spend 100 (1 hour and 40 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hour and 30 minutes) total shaving your hair.

You can’t wax while you’re showering. Waxing also requires some prep time to warm the wax, which take about 5 minutes. But if your wax is ready to go, a full body wax takes about 30-40 minutes. It can take longer if you’re just starting out and haven’t gotten the handle on waxing.

The average for waxing is every two weeks. That is to say that most people wax twice a month. So if you use waxing as your primary method of hair removal, you’ll spend 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes a month total waxing off all of your body hair.

Winner: Waxing

At first glance, it seems that shaving takes less time but you have to shave more often. If you look at how time you spend over a period of time, waxing takes less time because it lasts longer.

Skills needed to shave or wax

Between shaving or waxing, shaving is easier to learn. Gone are the days where you shaved with only a blade. Now razors come fitted, angled, and attached to a handle that makes it much harder to cut yourself and even have built in lotion strips that help condition your skin while you shave. Sure you can still cut yourself in awkward areas, but shaving is a fairly straight process that is easy to learn.

Waxing is no child’s game, but it’s also not rocket science. It does take a little bit of practice but it’s all worth it for 1-2 weeks of no hair. Waxing incorrectly can lead to ingrown hairs but there are preventative measures you can take to avoid them. If you’ve never gotten a wax before at a professional salon and you want to start waxing yourself at home, it could be worth it to get professionally waxed once to see good technique and care. Otherwise, youtube has countless videos that can help, and hopefully you are not the type to get discouraged quickly.

Both shaving and waxing can cause ingrown hairs, despite technique, as some people are just more prone to them. But with some attention to exfoliating regularly, you can help keep them at bay.

Winner: Shaving

Shaving is easier than waxing, and requires little skill to do well. Waxing is not difficult but takes a little bit of practice to do well.

So which is more convenient – Shaving or waxing?

Sure shaving is easier and doesn’t hurt at all, but waxing saves so much more time and lasts longer than waxing. Waxing is only slightly more expensive than shaving if you are waxing yourself. That makes waxing a clear choice between the two with having shaving as a backup for a night out when you can’t wait for hair to grow back to the necessary length required for waxing (1/ 4 “).

That said, some people suffer from skin illnesses that can be irritated by waxing. There are certainly waxes specially formulated for sensitive skin or skin that is prone to acne breakouts. But sometimes waxing is not suitable for your skin. In this case, shaving is the way to go.

Overall Winner?

Waxing wins, for us. Being hairless for up to 2 weeks far outweighs any downsides it may have compared to shaving.

Want to learn more about waxing at home and how to get started? Read our in depth guide on how to pick a wax kit, the different options in waxes, and tips for painless waxing.