Facial hair removal is a seriously hot topic, but it's also a rather taboo subject. I've made some almighty mistakes in the past when it comes to hair removal—the main one being that I've gone at peach fuzz as if it were a Richard from Friends–style 'stache. Those tiny hairs on my face have been through everything, including extra-strength hair removal creams left on much too long and wax ripped not once, but multiple times from the same bit of barely-there hair (hey, don't judge). But I know I'm not alone. We've all been there, so why not give you a handy guide on how to de-fuzz?
I like to think I've got a good grip on de-fuzzing facial hair these days, in part because my key approach is leaving it in the hands of experts. It's a tricky area, though. Then there's the matter of how to soothe a burnt upper lip if it all goes painfully wrong, or the question surrounding regrowth and whether it really comes back thicker. So I spoke to some super knowledgeable beauty experts in the business to answer all of your de-fuzzing queries. Keep scrolling to read some of the biggest questions about facial hair removal, and then find out how to do it.
Prep Skin With a pH-Balanced Cleanser
Pre-hair removal, Nathalie Eleni, Braun beauty brand ambassador, stresses that it's crucial you don't tackle fuzz where the skin is broken or irritated. Crack free? "Then use a pH-balanced face wash such as Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($10) to cleanse, and dry your face with a clean cloth," she says.
Celebrity facialist and skincare expert, Debbie Thomas recommends limiting harsh prescriptions and skin actives before hair removal, too. "If you're using Roaccutane, retinol or acid-based creams, you're more likely to see irritation, and if waxing, the skin is more likely to rip off," Thomas adds. "So don't use these for five days before going for treatment."
Know When To Leave the Hair Alone
According to Aveda wax specialist, Vanya Volovsek, there are two times you should leave the hair on the chin and upper lip alone. "I encourage my guests to avoid hair-removal methods a few days before they expect their period," she says. "Skin can be more sensitive around this time and more likely to experience a reaction." If your chosen method is waxing, avoid it during a breakout, as it can cause an increase in bacteria, raising the risk of spots spreading.
Consider Your Method If Your Skin Is Spot-Prone
First, let's discuss what you shouldn't do. Because waxing can tug away the top layer of skin and cause the pores to be exposed, it leaves you more vulnerable to spot-boosting bacteria. Strong chemicals in hair removal creams can also anger blemishes, so both methods are best avoided when you're in the midst of a breakout. Instead, try lasers or threading.
Don't Flip Over A Mistake
The rules are simple. If you experience a mild reaction, Thomas recommends applying a burn cream for one to three days. "Do not put any perfumed or strong, active products on the area, and avoid sun exposure until the skin has healed or you may see pigmentation marks—especially on the upper lip," she adds. However, if you're experiencing blistering, bleeding or scabbing post-removal, it's best to see a doctor. Yours won't be the first 'stache trauma they've tended to—trust us.
Debunk Old-Time Myths About Hair Regrowth
It's a common myth that removing facial hair will cause the strands to grow back thicker, but this is only the case when shaving with a blunt razor. We tapped into Completely Bare President and CEO, Alicia Nussdorf to debunk this myth once and for all. She confirms that this is indeed myth, but recommends snagging a hair inhibitor like their fuzz FREE Facial Moisturizer & Hair Inhibitor ($12) if quick regrowth is one of your concerns.
To add to this, European Wax Center's waxing expert, Helene Marie, says waxing can actually produce the opposite effect making hair grow back thiner and finer than before over time. "With regular waxing, your skin becomes smoother and more radiant due to the physical exfoliation so hairs grow in thinner and sparser." According to Marie, most clients notice a difference in their hair by the third visit.
Treat Skin Post-Removal
When peach fuzz has been, er, de-fuzzed, Thomas recommends using soothing, natural products such as aloe vera to cool the skin and take the redness down. If you can't face a makeup-free dash from salon to the bathroom with a red halo on your chin and lip, her go-to is the Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation ($66), available in formulas that suit yellow and blue undertones, which is also infused with aloe and encourages cell repair. Finally, if your chosen method is wax, hair removal cream or cream bleach, avoid sun exposure for three to seven days to reduce the risk of pigmentation.
In theory, this is the ideal way to rid your chin and upper lip of peach fuzz. Just slap a cream on, wipe it off (pain-free) and enjoy the smoothest, most hairless of skin. The first rule here is to only ever use a cream designed for the face because formulas for legs, underarms and the bikini line are much too harsh for skin above the shoulders. Stopwatch it, too. Always remove the cream before the recommended time and gently wipe—don't rub—it away; otherwise, the skin can burn and even bleed.
Personally, waxing is my preferred method for tackling peach fuzz. It's low on pain, super fast and can be done by expert hands, which puts me more at ease. Aveda wax specialist Vanya Volovsek explains why it's a particularly good method: "It pulls hair out completely from the root so the small black hair follicles do not show." But should you go strip or hard? Volovsek recommends strip wax on normal to dry skin, while hard wax is perfect for sensitive pores. "It only grasps onto the hair and therefore doesn't affect the skin," she explains. If you're looking for an at-home options, we recommend using the Nad's wax strip since they are mess-free (simply warm the wax strips between your palms) and they get rid of dark hairs perfectly.
Brow expert and all-around grooming guru Shavata Singh touts threading as the gentlest method of hair removal. It's able to pull strands from the root much like waxing, but unlike its zippier counterpart, it isn't prone to tugging the top layer of skin away as it whips off the hair. It can sting, though, and because only small patches of peach fuzz are removed at a time, you may have to grit your teeth through some eye-watering discomfort. There will be some redness post-removal, but this tends to fade quite quickly. Just be sure to choose a salon close to home or pack some concealer in your bag.
This method is pain-free and effective. And because the strands remain intact on your face (no ripping or tugging), there's a lower risk of developing a bumpy rash or ingrown hairs with bleach. However, Thomas says bleaching peach fuzz can make your hair more sensitive to sunlight, which can cause pigmentation. She recommends you "avoid sun exposure for several days after treatment, and use a good SPF 30 to 50 daily." If you do experience discoloration, she recommends "an SPF every day, an antioxidant every morning and an AHA cream at night" to even tone.
There are a variety of professional lasers available now, meaning most skin tones can be treated in salons safely, effectively and—honestly?—for a hefty price. However, if you're willing to pass on expert hands and invest in an at-home intense pulsed light device, you'll find the initial big spend will work out less in the long-term than multiple treatments. But it's not an instant fix so expect to have a bit of patience if you choose this route. Results can take three to six months to show, but as long as you're not looking to be hair-free by next week it's definitely worth considering. Still, when they do, you'll notice fuzz stays away for longer. It's important to note that some at-home devices can't be used on dark to very dark skin and are most effective where there's a greater difference between your hair and skin color. So we highly suggest doing some research before making this purchase. We recommend the Iluminage TOUCH Permanent Hair Reduction System ($445).
Precision epilators, like Braun Facespa Pro 911 Facial Epilator ($100), are handy devices that offer the same long-term results (around four weeks) as threading and waxing. However, unlike threading (and, in some cases, waxing), you're in complete control of the finish and can get the job done in the privacy of your own home.