Your complete guide to getting rid of facial hair (by someone who has tried it all)
Can I start by saying there is nothing wrong with having facial hair, it's natural, normal and we all have it. From the super-fine fuzz on your cheeks, to the wispy, darker strands that form along your upper lip hair and side burns.
Not forgetting, those odd thicker, coarser, prickly chin hairs that can crop up every now and then. Facial hair comes in all shapes, sizes, colours and densities, and while we can all agree that it's totally normal, there’s also nothing wrong with wanting to remove it.
If you do choose to remove facial hair, there are a lot of options out there, and I should know. As a woman with a stubbornly hairy face (and no, I’m not embarrassed to admit it), I’ve learnt a few things over my many years of tweezing, waxing and yes, laser-ing, which I’m going to pass onto you right now.
Here's what you need to know about each of the most common facial hair removal methods:
Hair removal cream
I've been removing my upper lip hair since I was 14-years-old, after raiding my mum's beauty cupboard and finding her Veet. The pros of removal cream are that it's quick, painless and gets rid of every last hair.
The cons? It breaks down hair using alkaline chemicals, which despite being skin-safe, can irritate depending on how sensitive you are. So without wanting to sound like your mum, please, please do a patch test before slathering the stuff across your upper lip.
Works for: Smaller areas, most effective on fine hairs (peach fuzz).
Avoid if: You have any active breakouts, or your skin is prone to redness and sensitivity.
If budget allows, waxing is best done by a professional as salons can select the safest and gentlest formulas for the face. I find waxing efficient, one tug of the strip and you can kiss goodbye to those side burns for at least 2-3 weeks, but it’s not without its downsides.
For starters, the wax has direct contact with the skin, so when that strip is pulled away, it can lead to irritations if you’re sensitive. Then, there are some hairs that just don’t seem to want to come out (especially if they aren’t at least 3mm long), so instead of pulling strands clean from the follicle, they snap, which can lead to ingrown hairs. Ouch.
Works for: Hairs longer that 3mm, peach fuzz, brows, upper lip, side burns
Avoid if: You have sensitive, acne-prone skin or are suffering from rosacea.
Threading & Tweezing
I know they sound different on paper, but threading and tweezing are actually quite similar when it comes to the mechanics of hair removal - both grab onto hairs and pull out from the follicle in one swift motion.
Whilst we’ve all heard the myth ‘if you pluck out one hair, ten will grow back in its place’ that’s just not true, however what is true, is that just like waxing, both threading and tweezing can sometimes lead to broken hairs. But, unlike the hot sticky stuff, there’s no direct contact with the skin, so both threading and tweezing are less likely to irritate.
Works for: Peach fuzz, brows, upper lip, chin hair
Avoid if: You’re looking to remove a larger patch of hair, or if the hairs are shorter than 2mm.
Shaving comes in many different forms (and tbh, I’m a fan of them all). Whether it’s a single-blade facial razor, a battery-operated shaver or a professional dermaplaning treatment, shaving is possibly the quickest and most pain-free option when it comes to removal.
But it’s not without its issues, regrowth happens quickly, and because hair is cut off at the surface, it regrows blunt, not tapered, so it can appear thicker. You’ve also got to be super-careful to avoid those annoying cuts, and always remember to keep blades clean to avoid follicle infections.
Works for: Any hair, thick or fine.
Avoid if: you have sensitive, acne-prone skin or are suffering from rosacea.
Laser Hair Removal
If, like me, you’ve tried ALL of the above with limited success, laser hair removal might be worth looking into. As someone who’s been zapping my chin for over a year, I can safely say that it’s the only treatment I’ve found to minimise growth on a longer-term basis.
You have to be patient though, as it takes around 4-6 sessions (one every four weeks) to see a significant difference, plus, it doesn’t work for every skin tone or hair colour. “Laser hair removal works by targeting the dark pigments in the hair, so the better the contrast between the hair and the skin (e.g. dark hair on fair skin), the better the outcome” explains Dr. Stefanie Williams, Dermatologist and Medical Director at Eudelo.
Oh, and whilst many laser hair removal clinics promise to leave you permanently hair-free, this just isn’t a reality. “It’s always semi-permanent, the follicle is only put to sleep for a certain period of time, in most cases it’s not 'killed off', so maintenance sessions are expected.”
Works for: Dark hairs, particularly those that are thick and coarse.
Avoid if: Certain types of laser hair removal are not suitable for women with deeper skin tones, so it’s crucial that you book a consultation with the clinic offering the treatment, before purchasing any sessions.
I know this sounds a little scary, but please stay with me. Electrolysis is currently the only hair removal method that permanently gets rid of hair, but the procedure isn’t a walk in the park. “A fine needle is inserted into each hair follicle (one by one) and it emits an electric current to damage the follicle” explains Dr. Williams.
Each hair requires two-to-three treatments to stop growth completely, and these sessions can be painful (you’re having a needle inserted into your face over and over again, after all).
But successful treatment requires a great amount of skill and expertise, your therapist has to ensure the needle is at exactly the right angle and depth, in order to avoid damaging the skin around the hair, so it’s important that you do your research and find an experienced therapist with great recommendations.
Works for: All skin tones and hair colours.
Avoid if: You have a larger area of hair to remove, this is only suitable for small clusters of hairs.
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