Looking for a really inexpensive, low-tech way to cope with unwanted hair? Consider hair buffing.
If you watch television at all, you’ve probably seen ads for hair buffing kits. They usually come with a palm-sized pad that has a strap to slip over your hand and a smaller version which fits over a finger. You attach the sticky-backed buffing strips (included in the kit) to the pads and using small, circular motions “buff” the unwanted hair away.
In the ads, it works like magic. Of course, in the ads, everything works like magic.
So what’s the real low-down on hair buffing?
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A Really Brief History of Hair Buffing
Hair buffing is not a new technique and was very popular during World War II. Razors were rationed at the time, so many women resorted to using fine sandpaper (or sometimes pumice stone) to rub away unwanted hair. The “modern” version of the system described above is a refinement that makes buffing more convenient, a little easier, and of course, since you have to keep buying the specialized pads, more expensive.
Buffing requires minimal equipment and is a pretty straightforward technique, but there are some guidelines that will definitely make the experience both more pleasant and more effective:
- Begin with clean, dry skin – absolutely no lotions or creams on the area to be buffed and hair no longer than ¼ of an inch in length.
- With a clean buffing pad (or a new piece of fine 400-600 grit sandpaper) in one hand, pull the skin taut with the other.
- Using small, quick, light, circular motions, buff the area a few times in one direction, then a few times in the other direction. Continue with this pattern until the hair has been removed, then move to another area. (Note: If you apply too much pressure when buffing, your skin could end up raw. If this happens, stop buffing immediately.)
- Buffing can be somewhat drying to the skin, so when you’re finished, apply a lotion or cream to your skin. This step will also help reduce any appearance of white skin caused by the buffing, which exfoliates the top layer of skin.
But Does It Work?
The short answer to this is: Yes.
I’ve used it and can honestly say that it does remove hair. It’s easy, inexpensive, and painless. Yes, it really is painless if you do it correctly. And it can be done in the privacy of your own home. On the downside, it can be time-consuming and the results can be very temporary.
I read an article by one user who claims that buffing twists the hair and thus pulls it out by the root, but I have to say that that doesn’t seem like my experience. From my own use, I’d say that buffing does smooth away superficial hair. But unlike some methods of hair removal (e.g, waxing), it does not remove hair below the surface of the skin. And what that can mean is that the hair will grow back fairly quickly, in some cases within a few days (or even hours!). Also, if you have dark, heavy hair, you may be left with a “hair shadow,” i.e., hair under the skin, in the buffed area.
Speaking of heavier, coarser hair, at least one user claims that the hair in the buffed area (in her case, the sideburns) grew in considerably coarser. That, of course, means she no longer has the option of living with peach fuzz: She now has to buff her sideburns. Forever.
Although many commercial products claim they can be used to buff away hair anywhere on the face or body, some hair removal experts recommend you avoid using buffing on the face, bikini line, or underarms.
Like every hair-removal method, buffing has its pluses and minuses.
- It’s easy, inexpensive, painless, and can be done at home.
- But it’s also very temporary, can be time-consuming, can result in coarse regrowth, and probably shouldn’t be used in every area of your body.
Since you can easily and cheaply try buffing on your own, I’d say that if you’re bothered with unwanted hair, buffing is probably worth a try. I would not recommend that you start your experimentation on your face (or bikini line or underarms) though. Maybe try it on your legs (it’s great for cleaning up stray hairs after waxing) and see how it works for you, then do a little more research yourself, and decide if it’s a technique you’d like to pursue.