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Facial hair removal for women - what are your options?

A review of both permanent and temporary methods of removing unwanted facial hair

Author: Hannah Garcia April 25 2007

hair follicles

These days, thanks to all the hair removal techniques available, unwanted facial hair should not be a problem for women. If you want a permanent solution and are prepared to pay more money up front, there's a choice of electrolysis or laser hair removal. Alternatively, there are several non-permanent methods such as waxing, sugaring, tweezing or the use of depilatories. These treatments can be received in a beauty salon or performed in the comfort of your own home.

So here's a quick guide to the most popular methods of facial hair removal. The first two options are permanent treatments while the other techniques must be repeated on a regular basis to achieve lasting results.

Permanent Treatments

1) Electrolysis

Each hair follicle is treated in turn, using a tiny needle that reaches the hair root and applies a low electric current. This destroys the hair's ability to continue growing.

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Although this treatment can take a long time (some people require several hours of treatment while other people may need regular treatment for several months) it is permanent and is the most reliable long term hair removal option.

On the negative side, the treatment creates mild discomfort and can cost a substantial amount. For example an upper lip may take up to 10 hours, while the chin area can take up to 15 hours. And these figures can be increased substantially for people who have strong hair growth and high hormone levels. So when you consider that a qualified practitioner may charge anything from $25 to $100 an hour, it's easy to see how the costs can mount up, especially if you have more facial hair to treat.

2) Laser Hair Removal

This is one of the quickest and most reliable ways to remove hair from your face permanently. Short bursts of intense laser light are used to heat the hair follicles causing them to stop producing hair.

As one session can cover thousands of hairs and only three to six sessions are usually needed to achieve permanent results, this treatment option is much quicker and more convenient than electrolysis. For example, your upper lip might only take one minute to treat and your chin area could be covered in less than five minutes. It also avoids the need to keep using techniques such as waxing or sugaring on a regular basis.

However, laser hair removal is initially much more expensive than any of the other treatments covered here. For example, a one hour session could cost $500 and you may need 3 to 6 sessions to achieve permanent results. However, you have to balance that against the ongoing cost in terms of the time and effort required by the other treatments.

However, this treatment will not work on certain people (the hair must be darker than the surrounding skin) and regrowth of hair can occur in other cases.

Regular Treatments

3) Waxing/Sugaring

The popularity of this facial hair removal technique is down to the fact that it doesn't cost much and can be done in the comfort of your own home. There are hundreds of waxing and sugaring kits available for home use and with a little practice it's possible to achieve fairly professional results for a fraction of the salon cost.

The basic idea is simple. Waxing involves applying the wax preparation to the intended area. The wax adheres to the hair and skin. It's then covered with a thin strip of material and removed at high speed to remove all the hairs from the skin.

Sugaring is similar, although the sugar paste only adheres to the hair and not the skin, which can cause less pain when the strip is pulled off. Sugaring pastes also tend to be more natural which can be kinder to the skin than many of the chemical which are used in various wax preparations.

Once an area has been treated, it should remain free of hair for three to six weeks depending upon the rate and strength of hair growth in the area.

4) Tweezing

If you have a small number of facial hairs that you want to remove, tweezing may be the quickest and most convenient option. All you need is a good pair of tweezers, a magnifying mirror and plenty of light (daylight is best). Pull the skin taut and use the tweezers to pull the hair in the direction of growth.

One of the best times to remove hair with tweezers is after a bath or a shower, as the skin pores will have opened up, making it easier for the hairs to slip out. There are also many products available that will help to soothe and reduce any redness or irritation caused by the process.

As with waxing or sugaring, the results should last three to six weeks before the hair starts to appear above the surface of the skin.

5) Depilatories

This method of facial hair removal is also popular due to the low cost and ease of use. However, due to the strong chemicals which are used to dissolve the hair, great care should be taken when using these products. Follow the application instructions carefully and before you begin, do a small test for adverse skin reactions on a part of your body that's less visible than your face. These treatments should provide you with hair free skin for up to two weeks.

6) Hair Inhibitors

These products do not remove hair. Instead they act upon the hair follicles to slow down or inhibit the rate of hair growth. Hair in the treated area will be thinner and take longer to grow. Use of hair growth inhibitors will also make sugaring, waxing and tweezing much easier and the results will last for longer.

These products often take the form of prescription creams which must be massaged into the skin twice a day. After one or two months of use, you should start to see noticeable results in the speed and thickness of hair growth. However, these hair inhibitor products are not foolproof and won't work for everyone. So it's just a case of experimenting until you find the product that works best with your skin.

And finally, shaving should be avoided at all costs as it blunts the end of the hairs causing them to appear thicker, making them more noticeable.

About the Author

Hannah Garcia writes articles for the Beauty Biz on beauty, fashion, diet and fitness.

Hannah's homepage

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Posted on 02/07/07 16:25 by: Charlie Kuchinsky

Great article. I enjoyed it!
Posted on 28/06/09 20:40 by: raheli

I too had facial hair!! At first I bleached it, but it didn't work - its just became blond... then I waxed it, which worked, but I damaged my skin. Finally I tried using "spring bars" from It's a spring that removes the hair from the roots without doing any damage to the skin!! It's amazing, I give it the thumbs up.
Posted on 12/03/10 10:47 by: cassie

I've been shaving it off for years, my ex-husband's fault, I'm blonde and he didn't like the fluff. Over the years it came through thicker, now i get a rash when I shave, I'm so down, I don't know what to do. I've just started tweezing so i feel better, my skin looks better, and I'm hoping it will give me my confidence back. I'm hoping this will slow down the regrowth.

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