Men with facial hair is one thing, but having facial hair of our own is another subject entirely. Errant stray hairs on our chin, upper lip, and elsewhere can be annoying and embarrassing and, to top it all off, expensive to deal with. Fortunately, there are a few options that can arm us in the fight against facial hair—the only trouble is finding the one that’s right for you.
The first step in dealing with facial hair removal is to figure out if you are dealing with a hormonal problem, in which case you should see an endocrinologist, says Dr. David Bank, Board Certified Dermatologist and founder of The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery. Aside from hormones, the most common cause of unwanted or excess facial hair is genetics. Sneak a peek at your close relatives—if they sprout lots of hair in similar places, chances are that you inherited that predisposition, too. If you have any doubts about which category you might fit into, it’s best to see a doctor before starting any method of treatment, Dr. Bank says.
Several lasers, such as the diode laser, have proven highly effective at reducing hair growth, says Dr. Bank. “Lasers work by targeting the melanin pigment in the hair and hair follicles. Unfortunately,” he adds, “none of these treatments take out all of the hair follicles in one shot, so you’ll need several treatments to achieve 80 to 90-percent reduction.” However, lasers do have a permanent effect on hair removal because they change the quality and texture of the hair. Hair regrowth is thinner in diameter and lighter in color, but the major drawback is the cost, not to mention the possibility for slight skin irritation.
Electrolysis can be painful, says Dr. Bank, as it requires the insertion of a needle into individual hair follicles—and it can only treat one hair follicle at a time, which means plenty of tiny needles. It can also be expensive, and requires numerous visits to achieve results, but it works best on the upper lip and eyebrows.
Waxing is quick and easy but can also be painful, Dr. Bank says. It’s great for short term results because it rips the hair directly from the root … but that same efficacy can also cause minor irritation. Dr. Bank warns that this method can cause ingrown hairs, as well as inflammation of the hair follicle. Professional waxing errs on the cost-conscious side of the spectrum, but there are also many over the counter at-home waxing options, too.
Depilatories are another quick and easy option that can be done at home. However, they can also be painful and there’s a chance that5 they can burn the skin, as well as cause skin irritation and dryness, says Dr. Bank. Let’s also not forget that deeply unpleasant smell.
“Brazilian women never shave facial hair, they bleach it,” says Anna De Souza, an on-air trend reporter. “You never have to risk ingrown hairs, and you can do double-duty by using leftover bleach on your dark forearm hair.” Noted.
Shaving is certainly the least traumatic way to remove unwanted hair—it’s quick and easy and can be done anywhere. However, it has to be repeated frequently, and it can cause ingrown hairs and irritate skin, particularly if you have sensitive skin, Dr. Bank says. It’s worth mentioning that it only removes hair from the surface of the skin rather than treating the follicle directly, which is why it must be done so often.
For those few stray chin hairs, simply pluck them out with a pair of tweezers, says Ramy Gafni, Celebrity Makeup Artist and Brow Guru. It’s fast, efficient, and won’t irritate the skin.
“Unwanted facial hair isn’t a good look for anyone, especially when it’s accentuated by foundation and makeup. For removing unwanted facial hair, I tell my clients to use no!no! MICRO, the newest hair removal device from no!no! that uses heat, not light, to instantly remove and treat unwanted hair,” says celebrity Makeup Artist and Beauty Expert Cynde Watson.
Read more: Hair Removal 101