The technique of buffing away body hair has indeterminate origins, although this rather unorthodox method of hair removal was definitely popular in World War II when razors were rationed and women resorted to "sandpapering" their legs. Today, women still have the option of picking up strips of fine sandpaper at their local hardware stores, or they may even use a pumice stone. Consumer products such as the Smooth Away use dark pads with the texture of very fine, malleable sandpaper attached to a plastic mitt. Andrea James of the consumer website HairFacts.com states that hair removal by buffing may be good for those with fine leg hair or to clean up errant follicles in between waxing sessions. Buffing is also inexpensive and relatively quick, and can be done in the privacy of your own home.
Start with skin that's clean and dry -- don't put any lotion or cream on your legs or the body part to be buffed. Make sure that body hair is no longer than 1/4 inch in length.
Apply a clean, dry mitt, pumice stone or sandpaper to the skin using one hand. With the other hand, pull the skin taut.
Briskly but gently buff the skin using small, circular motions -- don't use up-and-down strokes. Start by going clockwise for a few rotations, then reverse the motion for another few rotations. Continue to buff the skin in this manner until hair is removed. Then move on to the next portion of hair.
After you're through, rub lotion into your skin. As you work, you'll notice that your skin may turn white as your "buffer" exfoliates the top layer of skin cells. Moisturizing reduces the appearance of white skin and soothes your skin.
If you use a consumer item, such as the Smooth Away, replace the pad once you notice that it no longer effectively removes hair.
Buffing is a form of epilation, so unlike waxing, it removes hair at the surface of the skin only. James indicates that your results can last a few days or only a few hours. If you have dark, coarse hair, you make notice a "hair shadow" under your skin.
Do not rub the pumice stone, sandpaper or buffing mitt on the skin too hard -- not only will this be painful, it will make your skin raw.
Don't use the buffing method of hair removal on skin that's irritated or sunburned.
If your skin becomes raw and inflamed, stop immediately -- this might not be the hair removal technique for you.
Some consumer products state that you can use them on all parts of the body, but James warns you not to buff away hair on the face, bikini line or underarms.
Lisa Sefcik has been writing professionally since 1987. Her subject matter includes pet care, travel, consumer reviews, classical music and entertainment. She's worked as a policy analyst, news reporter and freelance writer/columnist for Cox Publications and numerous national print publications. Sefcik holds a paralegal certification as well as degrees in journalism and piano performance from the University of Texas at Austin.