Woman shaving her leg
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Mini skirts, shorts and other leg-baring styles call for legs worth baring. In American culture, this often means getting rid of leg hair. Shaving and waxing are two methods readily available -- all you need for either technique can be found at drugstores or even supermarkets. Each process has pros and cons; your choice may depend on how much time you have or how much money you're willing to spend.


Waxing and shaving are both temporary hair removal methods, but waxing wins for longer-lasting effects. The effects of shaving may last only a single day or up to three days, depending on the hairs’ thickness and quickness of growth. Women often add shaving their legs to part of their daily shower routines. By contrast, the effects of waxing can last from three to nine weeks.


Shaving beats waxing when it comes to cost. Shaving creams and gels can cost under $3, with disposable razors costing about the same, though fancier models will cost more. Home leg waxing kits start around $14, as of time of publication -- but only for a single waxing application; the razor and cream give you many shaves. A full leg waxing appointment at a spa can start at $75 or more, depending on the spa -- and the tip.


If you need smooth legs fast, shaving is your best choice. It usually takes only a few minutes to wet, lather, shave and rinse your legs. Waxing takes a lot more time, since you have to melt the wax, apply it, wait for it to harden and then pull it off your legs. You might need to factor in extra time if you spill the waxing kit and have a big mess to clean -- or your spa appointment is running behind schedule.


Shaving can be done on any hair length, while waxing needs hair to be 1/4 to 1/2 inch long so the wax can fully adhere to the strands. This means you’ll be stuck with hairy legs for the waiting period between waxings until the new hair is long enough for the next session. On the plus side, repeated waxing eventually makes hair follicles weaker -- fewer hairs grow in over an area that is constantly waxed.

Side Effects

Pain is often a side effect for both shaving and waxing. Shaving can hurt if you cut yourself or end up with razor burn. Yanking dried wax off your skin can also be painful. Skin can become red, irritated and even swollen after waxing, conditions that usually go away in a couple of hours but can last a few days. Ingrown hairs -- where hairs curl under and grow back into the skin instead of out of the follicles -- are another possible side effect of shaving or waxing.