Get the lowdown on all the ways to remove pesky facial hair—from the brand new to the tried and true.
Step 1: Try something ancient Try threading, an ancient Eastern method of hair removal that works by twisting a cotton thread around hair and then yanking the hair out. Eyebrows are the most popular areas for threading, but the upper lip and chin are good spots to target. Threading lasts two to four weeks.
Step 2: Go high tech Go for a more permanent solution with laser hair removal, which destroys the actual hair follicle. It takes several treatments—spaced four to six weeks apart—to kill about 75 percent of the follicles, and touch-ups are needed to wipe out all the hair roots. The cost is a few hundred dollars a session.
TIP: At-home laser hair-removal kits are available, but can cause infection and even scarring if not used properly.
Step 3: Lighten up For a gentler light therapy than laser—albeit a less permanent one—consider IPL, or intense pulsed light. It weakens follicles so that hair grows back more slowly, as well as sparser and thinner. This method requires about six treatments.
: Laser and IPL treatments carry risks of burning and scarring. To minimize your risk, have a board-certified physician perform the procedure.
Step 4: Electrocute it Consider electrolysis, which destroys unwanted hair by electrocuting it. Hair removal is permanent, but the procedure is painful and 20 to 30 one-hour sessions are required to get rid of every hair.
Step 5: Camouflage it If your facial hair is fine, try bleaching it. But be aware that it still will be visible in certain light, like bright sunshine.
Step 6: Wax until it wanes If you can take pain, waxing is a fast option. Hot wax is applied to the skin, a piece of cloth is placed on top, & then it’s ripped off, taking the hair with it. You can get waxed at a salon or use a do-it-yourself kit. There’s some initial redness, then your face will stay smooth for 2-4 weeks; regrowth will be softer & finer with each waxing.
TIP: Sugaring is similar to waxing, except the sticky mixture is all natural and room temperature.
Step 7: Can the creams Avoid over-the-counter hair-removal creams and gels: The chemicals they contain can irritate sensitive skin, and you have to be very careful not to get them near your eyes, nose, or mouth. Plus, the hair begins growing back almost immediately.
TIP: Prescription creams tend to work better. Ask your dermatologist about Vaniqa, which complements hair-removal techniques by reducing hair growth.
Step 8: Pluck out errant hairs If you have just a few stray hairs here and there, pluck them out. Disinfect the tweezers with rubbing alcohol before each use to avoid infection.
FACT: Nancy Hawkins, a woman with a medical condition that caused excessive facial-hair growth, became P.T. Barnum’s first bearded lady after her husband divorced her in 1859 and she had no other way to earn a living.