Beauty aisles are chock full of creams, lotions, scrubs and serums with sophisticated ingredients and a bounty of benefits. While there are plenty of solutions for crow’s feet and wrinkles, the remedies for facial hair can seem lacking by comparison. But don’t worry — you aren’t destined to a future filled with errant hairs. Many effective options can help. Explore their pros and cons to see which method is the best one for your needs.
What causes facial hair growth?
Excess facial or body hair appears on women of all backgrounds, so you’re certainly not alone. Multiple factors weigh in, including hormones, stress, heredity and ethnicity. It’s normal to find dark hairs on your face, neck and even your upper lip or cheeks. Hair can also grow in areas like your chest and back. Some women have just a few extra hairs, while others experience more dense growth.
Do it yourself
From plucking, shaving and waxing to depilatories and bleach, there’s certainly an array of hair removal methods. Finding the best method will depend on factors like how much hair you have and how fast it grows back. Fortunately, most of these at-home treatments are low in price and offer good results.
Pros: One of the easiest methods, tweezing works best for stray hairs on the chin or eyebrows. When properly tweezed, hair is removed from the root. For the best results, invest in high-quality tools, such as Billion Dollar Brows Tweezers. When tweezing, grasp the hair and then pull it out slowly and carefully in the direction of hair growth.
Cons: Due to inefficient tweezers or rushing, sometimes only a portion of the hair is removed, leaving stubble and ingrown hairs. You also might have to deal with redness, a tingling sensation or white bumps where the hair was plucked. What’s more, tweezing takes time, since each hair must be removed individually. And the results don’t last as long as other methods.
Pros: A good option when hair growth is thick and tweezing becomes too time-consuming.
Cons: Results only last a day or two, after which the tell-tale stubble will surface. Shaving can also cause bumps, ingrown hairs and razor burn. Because facial skin is much thinner and more delicate than the legs, irritation is more noticeable.
Creams or depilatories use chemicals to dissolve the hair shaft below the skin’s surface.
Pros: Quick and inexpensive; results should last one to two weeks. Also, as the hair grows back, it should be finer.
Cons: The chemicals that dissolve the hair can be irritating to skin, especially on your face. Additionally, many women find that depilatories don’t completely remove the hair, leaving behind stray hairs that must be plucked individually.
Importantly, don’t use depilatory creams around the eyes. Use extra care with other sensitive areas on the face, such as around the nose or mouth.
Waxing is one of the oldest, most popular hair removal treatments for facial hair. Several varieties of wax are available, including azulene and beeswax, to effectively remove stray hairs from anywhere on the face. Typically, after the wax is heated, it’s applied to the skin. Then strips are pressed down and pulled off, removing the hair.
Pros: Results last anywhere from two to four weeks. With each treatment, hair should grow back softer and finer. Many women visit a salon for their waxing, but you can also do it at home. Thankfully, today’s waxing kits are user-friendly. Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit is formulated with gentle blue azulene wax that’s kind to sensitive facial skin. The wax grabs even the tiniest hairs, removes them from the root and ensures a smooth, hair-free appearance.
Cons: Depending on your personal tolerance levels, waxing can be painful. The other downside? You must wait until the hairs have grown out slightly, at least a week, before waxing again.
Pros: Considered the most painless option, bleaching is generally used for the upper lip.
Cons: Because bleaching doesn't actually remove hair — it just makes hair lighter and less noticeable — it remains thick and visible, especially in the sunlight.
Today’s best options are electrolysis and laser hair removal. Choose a reputable practitioner before starting any treatments.
- Electrolysis uses a thin needle and electrical current to destroy the hair follicle.
Pros: When done properly, electrolysis removes hair permanently. Because this method removes one hair at a time, it’s ideal for areas with stray hairs, such as the eyebrows, chin, cheek or upper lip.
Cons: Permanent results require several sessions, which can take up to a year or longer. Done improperly, electrolysis can lead to continued hair growth, or worse, scarring. You also can’t pluck stray hairs, shave or wax between treatments, because this strengthens the hair, thereby hindering effectiveness.
- Laser hair removal uses a laser to vaporize or destroy the hair root with pulsated beams of light.
Pros: Results typically keep hair re-growth at bay for three months, and side effects are minimal. Best of all, laser hair removal can treat large areas in a short amount of time. It’s also a great option for areas such as the upper lip.
Cons: Many incorrectly assume this is a permanent method of hair removal, but it’s actually considered permanent hair reduction. Also, because the laser doesn’t target individual hairs, it isn’t recommended for precise areas like the eyebrows or stray hairs on the chin or cheek.
Similarly, it’s not ideal for people with light skin and light hair or dark skin and dark hair. The best candidate is someone with light skin and very dark, coarse hair. Due to the laser’s reaction with skin's melanin, hyperpigmentation can occur with darker skin. As with electrolysis, long-term benefits take commitment and perseverance.
- After any type of hair removal, irritation and redness are common. Be prepared with soothing products ahead of time. Try Peter Thomas Roth Aloe-Cort Cream. With its hydrocortisone and whole-leaf aloe vera, this gentle cream minimizes itching and redness and soothes sensitive skin.
- Keep a supply of Bliss Ingrown Hair Eliminating Peeling Pads on hand. Infused with alpha hydroxy acids, these cotton pads exfoliate dead skin, reducing the risk of ingrown hairs or bumps between salon appointments.
Naturally, each method will have its pros and cons, so it boils down to personal preference. By choosing the hair removal method that best fits your needs, facial hair is one problem that doesn't have to rule your life.
Electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal: What’s best for you?