In a lot of ways, I'm a California hippie.
When I moved into my L.A. apartment, I put on a Joni Mitchell record and burned sage to cleanse my new home of negative energy. I firmly believe that essential oils can totally transform your mood. And beauty or cleaning products that aren't eco-friendly or contained toxic hormone disrupters were tossed from my medicine cabinet ages ago.
But as much as I ascribe to a clean, alternative lifestyle, I can't go full hippie—I'm in love with the feeling of silky smooth legs. And I can't seem to break up with my razor blade. I've tried waxing again and again, and every time it's so painful. I have seriously considered leaving mid-appointment, with a wax strip fully attached to my leg, and just wearing pants in the interim until it falls off naturally. Anything but the agony of ripping hair out from the root.
But buying razors can be expensive, and the kind you buy at the drugstore aren't exactly green. So I decided to compare a few at-home regimens that could offer me soft, hairless legs without nicks, debilitating pain, or hurting the earth.
Option 1: Sugar Waxing
Here's the great thing about these DIY hair removal recipes—they usually have very few ingredients and are pretty inexpensive to make. This recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar, and 2 tablespoons water brought to a boil, which makes a gooey substance that looks similar to wax.
This recipe is all over Pinterest, where users promise it's way less painful than waxing! And because the internet is never wrong, I decide to go for it: I added all the ingredients to a sauce pan, heated until it bubbled, let it cool a bit, and then applied the taffy-like concoction to my shins.
The internet lied.
For the record, sugar waxing is JUST as painful as regular waxing. The mixture affixes itself to the hair follicle, and then you yank the sticky stuff back to pull up the offensive body hair. Or if you're me, it takes you half an hour to master the proper yank-and-pull technique, and by then the sugar has cooled and it doesn't work. The only thing I enjoyed about this? When you give up, you can just wash the stuff off with soap and water.
Option 2: Basil-Onion Paste
There are a lot of home remedies that involve a mélange of ingredients that you apply twice or three times a week every week, which slowly thin hair growth. Let's be real—nobody's got time (or patience) for that, but I thought I'd try one of the more interesting recipes to test its effectiveness. It calls for two onions and ten leaves of basil mashed together to form a poultice; then you rub that on your body hair, and after about 20 minutes, it should make hair growth less noticeable.
I wanted this to work so bad. You guys, if I could smell like a pizza and never have to shave my legs again, do you know how happy I would be? Alas, as great as this potent combo could taste when spread over thin crust and topped with mozzarella, it didn't impress me when it came to eliminating body hair.
Maybe it works if you try it three times a week for a month, but that seems like a lot of onions and basil to waste, if you ask this Italian.
Option 3: Eco-Friendly Razors
I’ve tried Preserve's products before—I’m a fan of their line of toothbrushes. Typically, I stay away from disposable razors because they either don’t really work, or they work too well and I cut myself. I decide to try them out, because it’s either a razorblade alternative or I have to try a recipe that involves rubbing camphor and pepper on my legs, which sounds incredibly uncomfortable and dangerous for my sensitive skin.
The blades work well; they’re pretty sharp, and I manage to shave both of my legs without major bloodshed. The only bummer: Just like with any razor, within a few days my legs are a little prickly with regrowth.
Bottom line: If you want silky smooth legs without a razor, there are some options out there for you. However, you’re probably trading in convenience and ease for something that requires a little more time (and a higher pain tolerance).
Photo credit: Alicia Cho