Men with facial hair is one thing, but having facial hair when you’re a woman is another subject entirely. Errant stray hairs on your 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 aid you in the fight against facial hair—the only trouble is finding the one that’s right for you.
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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 board-certified dermatologist David Bank, M.D. 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, says Bank.
Several lasers—such as the diode laser—have proven highly effective at reducing hair growth. “Lasers work by targeting the melanin pigment in the hair and hair follicles,” says Bank. Unfortunately, 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, as it requires the insertion of a needle into individual hair follicles, says Bank. And it can only treat one hair follicle at a time, which means plenty of tiny needles. This method can also be expensive and requires numerous visits to achieve results, but it works well on the upper lip and eyebrows.
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Waxing is quick and easy but can also be painful. 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. This route can cause ingrown hairs, as well as inflammation of the hair follicle, says Bank. Professional waxing can be a little costly, but there are also many at-home waxing options, too.
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, says Bank. 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.
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For those few stray chin hairs, simply pluck them out with a pair of tweezers, says celebrity makeup artist Ramy Gafni. It’s fast, efficient, and won’t irritate the skin.