There are many techniques for hair removal. Shaving is arguably the most popular, but its main drawback is that the hair quickly regrows. A more effective technique involves ripping out the hair and root. This process is called epilation. I tried my hand at epilation recently, using an electro-mechanical device, and lived to tell the tale.
Most people are aware of waxing as a method of body hair removal, but less are aware that devices exist that act as automated tweezers. They are like electric shavers, only operate using a spinning set of tweezers that can rip out large areas of hair quickly. The model I tried had forty tweezers on a spinning cylinder.
My goal was to remove the unsightly hair from my torso, which is rather dense on my abdomen. I took on the task with confidence, unaware of the horrors I faced. Turning on the device filled me with sudden dread, with the sound of forty tweezers striking fear into my heart. I gingerly touched it to my abdomen and suddenly realized how sensitive the chest is to pain.
With great agony, I pushed the device across my abdomen, watching tiny dark hairs fly out of the machine and bounce off of my skin. The pain was immense, but I managed to cleanse a small strip of skin over the next five minutes. Upon examination, it was indeed devoid of hair and smooth the touch, but still very sore. I continued, gritting my teeth the whole way, enduring the pain.
After an hour or so, half of my abdomen was clear, but the skin was reacting badly to the abuse, with red raised bumps around the formerly occupied hair shafts. The irritation persisted for several days, but eventually healed, with perfectly smooth and hair-free skin. Some hairs had regrown, probably because their roots hadn't been ripped out, but they were few in number and it is much less painful to remove a stray hair than a group of twenty or more simultaneously.
The benefits of epilation are clear: you can get rid of hair for four or more weeks without having to constantly shave. However, you need to have the strength of will to survive hours of intensely painful initial work. Epilation is very VERY painful, but I think it is a lot easier to maintain than shaving IF you get the initial work done. After all the hair is ripped out, it should regrow sporadically and in lighter forms, so it is easy to periodically remove what regrows. Some people even report permanent reduction in hair density.
The pain may be lessened by applying topical anesthetics or ice, but when I tried ice it didn't help very much. Taking some acetaminophen might help a little, but I really think it would take some serious painkillers to totally remove the pain. You are ripping out clumps of hair, after all.
I think women probably have it easier than men with epilation, since they generally have lighter and less dense hair. I think the thick dark chest hairs are the worst since they have a higher surface area and hence more pain receptors. Nonetheless, I encourage any fellow brave male comrades to try this method of hair removal, since it takes great strength to take the pain and it has great results. Just don't expect to be able to use it on your beard unless you can take morphine or something beforehand. :D