The Friday of this past memorial day weekend as we were scrambling to get our things packed to make the long trip to Toronto I had other priorities in mind besides packing necessities. I hadn’t shaved my legs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my preferred hair removal method: my tried, true and much loved epilator. Fortunately (sort of …and for reasons I still don’t understand) we had 3 different types of wax strips in the house. I quickly tucked them into my bag so I could use the time in the car to wax my legs.
Being Eastern European I’ve been raised on the irrefutable truth that hair removal is far superior to shaving. Shaving is frowned upon by every Eastern European woman I’ve ever met and I have it on good authority that many women across the world also follow this long held beauty rule.
I know that the hair doesn’t actually grow back thicker when you shave. I know shaving is more convenient a lot of the time. But I also know that removing hair gives you way more hair-free worry-free days and much smoother skin. So although I shave in the winter as soon as the summer months roll around and I know my legs are going to be on display, I put down the razor.
I’ve been removing hair for almost 15 years. I’ve tried literally every kind of hair removal product on the market.
As such, my finely tuned hair removal quality scale goes as follows:
old country salon no strip wax > at home epilator > at home no strip wax > salon wax strips > at home wax strips
As you can see, at home wax strips fall at the very bottom of the scale. Believe me I’ve tried…again and again. Every time I’m disappointed by the results, annoyed by the sticky mess, and just plain irritated and covered in bumps. If given the choice, I would never ever use at home wax strips. The frustration of my car waxing experience only convinced me more of this and I knew I had to share it.
The Better Alternatives
I won’t bore you with wax strip comparisons if you’re just here for the goods. If you do want to see my review of strip waxes then keep scrolling down.
No Strip Hot Wax
After years of testing I’ve narrowed down my favourite two products after old country salon wax: epilators and no-strip hot waxes.
At beauty salons in the old country no strip hot wax is the only way waxing is done. The wax is a dark brownish/green color. It’s heated in an electric heater and applied with a wooden spatula. It’s left to harden slightly (but not too much) and pulled off leaving no hair or sticky residue.
It removes all hair quickly and easily even if it’s super fine or very short. It also causes much less irritation than the sticky strip wax they use in North America (that always breaks out my skin in itchy hives). It is literally the holy grail of hair removal. Many women in the old country also use it at home, heating it in a small pot on the stove. I’ve seen my mother, mother in law and aunt do this. If it wasn’t so difficult to find in North America it’s all I would use.
The closest products I’ve found are Nair Cire Divine Microwaveable Wax and Gigi Brazilian Waxing Kit. Both are no strip and work beautifully on most areas. No strip hot wax is also my preferred method for delicate areas like the face or bikini area. They give you more control than an epilator would. However, no strip hot wax isn’t ideal for maintenance. It gets pretty costly and time consuming. As such, an epilator is my preferred method for maintenance.
Epilator: Your Hair Removal Best Friend
First lets just get it out there: epilators are terrifying. But they are going to be your hair removal best friend for one simple reason: after the initial hair removal session they provide virtually painless maintenance.
I was first introduced to the concept of epilators as a teenager in Romania. The only thing worse than removing your hair seemed to be removing it with a fast moving row of snapping tweezer teeth. I was reluctant to try for a really long time. I had been using Cire Divine exclusively when I finally took the plunge and bought my Braun Silk Epil Wet & Dry Cordless Epilator. The Cire Divine is an excellent product but gets a bit pricey and time consuming if you’re using it for maintenance.
I did a bit of research before buying my epilator and chose this particular model because it’s waterproof, rechargeable, and very highly rated. I was really scared at first so I also bought Numb Master. Of course, it didn’t hurt and I was very happy with the perfect results. The epilator removes fine and short hair almost as well as old country salon wax.
3 Wax Strips Compared
Again, don’t ask how we had this many wax strips in the house, especially when I actually hate them. Still, I was happy we had them when I couldn’t find my epilator as we were rushing out.
As you can see, I actually did this in the car! The things I do for you guys…
First let’s start with the (surprising) dud: Nair Brazilian Spa Clay. Unlike the other two products, I actually purchased this one myself. Nair Cire Divine is such a great product that I thought the Nair Brazilian Spa Clay wax strips might break the wax strip mold and actually work. I was so wrong.
I didn’t even get a chance to try them because they had dried out by the time I opened the sealed package. I had them for less than a year – which doesn’t seem like a long time to me. I had jars of Cire Divine for longer than that and it worked just fine. Disappointing to say the least.
It was down between the Nads and Veet wax strips. So I spent the next several hours in the car testing these products.
Again, the things I do for you guys :p
The Nads strips are made from a waffled thin fabric typical of wax strips. The Veet strips are on plastic! I had never seen this before and was suspicious.
I can’t say there was a tremendous difference in their performance. The Nads strips probably worked slightly better than the Veet strips but not by much. It was incredibly frustrating wasting an entire strip to remove such a small amount of hair. I tried reusing strips as long as they were sticky but after the first pull they were pretty much spent.
Overall, it took me two entire packages of wax strips to do the lower part of my legs and even for that relatively small area it wasn’t enough. My epilator would have made me legs totally smooth in a fraction of the time and without all the waste.
Although the Nads strips worked slightly better, they had the added risk of breaking apart which they did quite often and into many pieces. How is this a thing?
Reasons I Hate Wax Strips
- They take a long time, don’t work very well, and break often.
- Expense: an epilator will pay itself off within a year whereas you have to keep buying strips every time you want to wax.
- They always leave a sticky mess.
- They irritate your skin.
Also, in case you’re wondering where this fabled epilator is the answer is that I still haven’t found it. One silly night some weeks ago we pulled it out after a few glasses of wine so a determined friend could try epilating his arm…for fun or something. I haven’t seen it since but I’m going to keep looking because my legs are a mess and I’m not going back to shaving after spending close to 3 hours “waxing”.
Moral of the story: wax strips just plain suck. Save yourself the stress and get an epilator.