Over the past several years, the skin around my mouth and chin has become extra sensitive. It’s prone to breakouts, but also plays host to a recurring rash — itchy red bumps I treat with a prescription steroid cream. So as not to rouse the rash dragon, I intervene as little as possible: no touching, no makeup, no full-face sheet masks. When it comes to hair removal, I steer clear of anything that irritates a large area of skin, like shaving or chemical depilatories. I’ll wax (gently and sparingly) and tweeze (which takes forever).
But my fretful hair-removal regimen is also supported by a third pillar: the R.E.M Spring Facial Hair Remover, a tight metal coil about five inches long, with tapered metal grips at each end. I use the spring mostly on my chin between waxes, especially for the efficient collection of fine, fragile, or otherwise hard-to-tweeze hairs. The process is staggeringly straightforward: Simply bend the stainless-steel coil into an upside-down U shape and roll it along your face. Here’s a video if you need a visual aid. I adjust the shape of the coil depending on what part of the face I’m targeting, alternating between a tight U and a looser curve (like a half-opened umbrella).
Unlike tweezing, it can be done without a mirror or decent lighting. (It pinches slightly less, and causes almost no redness either, unlike wax strips.) That means it can be used anywhere; I’ll do it mindlessly while watching old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries. My favorite part about using the spring is surveying my work at the end. If, like me, you derive a perverse pleasure from staring at the little hairs on used wax strips, the R.E.M Spring scratches a similar itch. It’s usually a fine harvest, and there are always more hairs caught in the spring than I expect. Cleanup’s a breeze. I rinse the hair off in the sink, wipe the coils down with rubbing alcohol — less often than I should, probably — and let it dry before putting it away.
More Strat-approved hair removers
According to the Cut’s beauty editor, Kathleen Hou, these are the best facial razors. “They’re small enough to fit under your chin, with enough of an edge to remove peach fuzz, yet not so sharp that they’ll nick you. And the fear that shaving your chin hair will make it grow back with a vengeance is unfounded. Japanese celebrity makeup artist Munemi Imai claims it’s been a long-held beauty secret in her country. ‘In Japan, we do shave our face,’ she says. ‘It brightens it up and makes it much easier to apply makeup.’”
For catching individual hairs, sometimes a tweezer is still best. We talked to aestheticians to find their favorites, and Lara Kaiser, an aesthetician at Brooklyn’s Shen Beauty, sold us on the Tweezerman Ultra Precision Slant Tweezer: “They are a little more expensive up front, but they do free sharpening for life, and thus are an incredible value. My favorite ones are the gold Ultra Precision. I have, like, five pairs of them in my kit. They can easily grab all the little fine hairs and are just perfection.”
Writer Fiona Byrne dumped her razor in favor of this epilator from Braun, which has “a rotating head with inset tweezer-type things that spin around akin to a paint roller. You move it over your skin as you would a razor, except instead of shaving your hair, it’s plucking each one out. Even the short, fine ones.” That’s why it’s more similar to waxing than to shaving and has comparably long-lasting results.
Writer Mara Altman says the Sally Hansen wax kit is the only thing that’s ever worked on her happy trail: “You simply rub the sheet between your hands like you’re trying to start a fire on Survivor, pull the sheet apart, and stick it on your beast patch. Pat it down. Rip it off in the same direction of your hair growth (i.e., the direction that hurts most) and repeat maybe two to three times, if you’ve got gorilla hair like mine. The pain level is plenty tolerable — on par with a minor toe-stubbing or brushing out a stubborn knot.”
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