May I start by saying there is Nothing wrong with having facial hair, it’s natural, normal and we all have it. From the superfine fuzz on your cheeks to the wispy, dark locks that grow along your upper lip hair and sideburns.
Not to mention those odd thicker, coarser, spiky chin hairs that can pop up every now and then. Facial hair comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and densities, and while we can all agree that it’s completely normal, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get rid of it either.
If you choose to remove facial hair, there are many options, and I should know. As a woman with a stubborn hairy face (and no, I’m not ashamed to admit it), I’ve learned a few things over my many years of epilation, waxing, and yes, laser, what I’m about to do now passes you by .
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 mom’s beauty closet and finding her Veet. The advantages of removal cream are that it is quick, painless and removes every single hair.
The cons? It breaks down the hair using alkaline chemicals, which despite being skin safe, can irritate, depending on how sensitive you are. So without wanting to sound like your mom, please do a patch test before smearing the stuff on your upper lip.
Works for: Smaller areas, most effective on fine hairs (peach fuzz).
Avoid if: You have active breakouts or your skin is prone to redness and sensitivity.
Budget permitting, 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 on the strip and you can say goodbye to those sideburns for at least 2-3 weeks, but it is not without its drawbacks.
For starters, the wax has direct contact with the skin, so when that strip is pulled away it can lead to irritation 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 the strands cleanly from the follicle, they pop, which can lead to ingrown hairs. Ouch.
Works for: Hair longer than 3 mm, peach fuzz, eyebrows, upper lip, sideburns
Avoid if: You have sensitive, acne-prone skin or suffer from rosacea.
Threading & Tweezers
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 hairs and pull them out of the follicle in one swift motion.
While we’ve all heard the myth ‘when you pull out one hair, ten will grow back in its place’, that’s just not true, but what’s true is that it’s just like waxing, both threading and tweezing can sometimes lead to broken hair. But, unlike the hot sticky stuff, there’s no direct skin contact, so both threading and plucking are less likely to irritate.
Works for: Peach fuzz, eyebrows, upper lip, chin hair
Avoid if: You want to remove a larger strand of hair, or if the hairs are shorter than 2 mm.
Shaving comes in many different forms (and tbh, I’m a fan of them all). Whether it’s a single-blade facial razor, battery-powered razor, or a professional dermaplaning treatment, shaving may be the fastest and most painless option when it comes to removal.
But it’s not without problems, regrowth happens quickly, and because the hair is clipped on the surface, it grows back blunt, not tapered, so it can appear thicker. You also have to be super careful to avoid those nasty cuts, and don’t forget to keep the blades clean to avoid follicle infections.
Works for: Any hair, thick or fine.
Avoid if: you have sensitive, acne-prone skin or suffer 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 has been zapping my chin for over a year, I can safely say that this is the only treatment I’ve found to minimize longer term growth.
You do need to be patient though, as it takes about 4-6 sessions (one every four weeks) to see a significant difference, plus it won’t work for every skin tone or hair color. “Laser hair removal targets the dark pigments in the hair, so the better the contrast between the hair and the skin (e.g. dark hair on light skin), the better the result,” explains Dr. Stefanie Williams, dermatologist and medical director at Eudelo.
Oh, and while many laser hair removal clinics promise to make you hair-free permanently, this is simply not a reality. “It’s always semi-permanent. The follicle is only put to sleep for a certain amount of time. In most cases, it’s not ‘finished,’ so maintenance sessions are expected.”
Works for: Dark hairs, especially those that are thick and coarse.
Avoid if: Certain types of laser hair removal are not suitable for women with a deeper complexion, so it is crucial that you book a consultation with the clinic offering the treatment before purchasing a session.
I know this sounds a little scary, but please stick with me. Electrolysis is currently the only hair removal method that removes hair permanently, but the procedure is not a walk in the park. “A fine needle is inserted into each hair follicle (one at a time) and it sends out an electrical current to damage the follicle,” explains Dr. Williams out.
Each hair takes two to three treatments to stop growing completely, and these sessions can be painful (after all, you keep getting a needle in your face).
But successful treatment requires a great deal of skill and expertise. Your therapist should make sure the needle is at just the right angle and depth 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 colors.
Avoid if: You have a larger hair area to remove, this is only suitable for small hair clusters.