hairless week

The Absolutely Mess-Free Wax Strips I Use on My Happy Trail

Clean as a whistle. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Hair: It’s a natural part of being a human (and typically, a cat). But when the temperature climbs, and skin is exposed, it’s one of those things that a good many of us want to control. This week, we’re tackling hairlessness, not just the process of hair removal (electric shavers and ingrown-hair treatments and aesthetician-approved tweezers) but also what to buy when you’re losing your hair. 

Writer Mara Altman’s nonfiction book Gross Anatomy: Dispatches From the Front (and Back) will be published by Putnam on August 21.

I have a happy trail, a gathering of coarse and conspicuous black hair reaching from belly button to bush. Though impressive in its territorial acquisition and overall girth, I don’t always want shrubbery in that place.

I don’t shave because it leaves incongruous stubble on my otherwise sweetly doughy abdomen and plucking in that area never fails to give me ingrowns. And because I’m cheap, I’m not going to pay upwards of $15 for a pro waxer to remove it. The only product that has successfully extracted my pube trellis over and over again is Sally Hansen Hair Remover Wax Strip Kit for Brow, Face & Bikini. Despite the product name — Brow, Face & Bikini — I recommend the wax strips for the happy trail.

You could use it for your brows and bikini, but I like it on my abdomen.

The translucent plastic sheets are already loaded, but have the consistency of a sticker on steroids more than of goopy wax. There is no mess. 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. When your mission is complete, there might be some leftover sticky bits, so slather the spot with the included oil infusion.

And that’s it. From start to pelt-free, the whole process takes about two minutes. The sheets are so small and thin that you could keep them in your wallet. I’ve been known to stow some permanently in my suitcase in case I find myself fully grown in a foreign location. Added bonus: Hold up your used strip to the sunlight and contemplate all that you’ve ripped off. I may not always want the hair on my body, but I always enjoy taking a moment to revel in my outer beast.

Fiona Byrne’s go-to body-hair removal device is 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.

Though designed and sold as a beard trimmer, this gadget is the right size and shape to tame a bikini line. “This thing is as long as my hand and about the diameter of my thumb, which makes it easy to hold and easy to handle. What’s more, in the year or so that I’ve had it, I don’t think I’ve ever replaced the batteries. And since its extra-fine teeth can easily handle wiry, male facial hair, the Braun doesn’t blink (or easily clog) at the prospect of cutting through pubic hair on either sex,” explains writer Nikita Richardson. Plus, it’s less than $10.

If you’re looking for a nose-hair-waxing solution, these strips are highly reviewed on Amazon, with 4.3 stars after over 800 reviews. As one hyperenthusiastic Amazon reviewer raved, “I am VERY pleased with the results … I feel like I can breathe much easier, and the inside of the nostrils now feel smooth.”

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The Absolutely Mess-Free Wax Strips I Use on My Happy Trail