We all struggle with our own bespoke beauty issues, whether that's chronically smudging eyeliner, ineffective under-eye concealer, or persistently flat hair. But excess facial hair belongs to its own special realm of beauty concerns. It's not only bothersome and time-consuming to remove, but it can also truly affect a woman's confidence.
We're all familiar with the classic hair-removal methods—over-the-counter creams, waxing, and tweezing. Although these are popular options, they're not always beneficial to your skin (personally, the redness, sensitivity, and irritation that persists for days after waxing my overgrown eyebrows is unbelievable). Not to mention these methods are so annoyingly temporary. Is there anything better out there? We posed this (rather urgent) question to a team of skincare and hair removal experts, and thankfully, the answer is a resounding yes.
Dermaplaning is a great option for removing unwanted hair while also providing the skin with a gentle exfoliation. There's even evidence that making it a habit can keep signs of aging at bay. Allison Tray, the proprietress of Tres Belle Spa in Brooklyn, says that a professional dermaplaning session can yield results that last up to a month. An added bonus? Dermaplaning increases the efficacy of your skincare products.
"When the skin is exfoliated lightly from the treatment, products are able to penetrate deep into the dermis, therefore leaving skin bright and plump," she says. If you can't make it to a professional regularly, it's easy enough to DIY with these picks from Shiseido. Trace the razor gently and carefully around the eyebrow, chin, sideburns, and upper lip.
Laser Hair Removal
According to Jane Scher, RN, an NYC-based esthetic nurse and the CEO and co-founder of the American Plastic Surgery Center, laser hair removal is the gold standard of hair removal methods. Thanks to modern technology, the process is almost painless and typically removes all hair in only two or three treatments.
But there's a catch. The lasers only pick up color, so if you have light hair, the results won't be nearly as dramatic. As Garrett Gause, MD, the Director of Medical Affairs at Ideal Image, explains, "Laser light works by targeting the pigment in the hair follicle, destroying the follicle which prevents the hair from returning. Our hair grows in stages and at any given time the hair follicle might be in a dormant or sleeping cycle. The laser will target the hair when it's in a growing phase so it takes several treatments to get the best results."
Intense Pulsed Light
Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL, is another hair removal method many recommend for its efficacy. According to dermatologist Tess Mauricio, MD, "IPL at-home hair removal provides the longest-lasting results, as it works toward permanent hair reduction by stunning the active hair follicles, breaking the hair growth cycle, and preventing future hair growth. Shaving, waxing, and hair removal creams provide temporary removal, but do not prevent future growth, which is what you want to do."
It just so happens IPL can greatly improve other dermatological issues such as hyperpigmentation and sagging skin. Scher recommends IPL for peach fuzz or light hair that wouldn't respond well to laser hair removal. Her IPL device of choice is Lumecca. "It removes the light hair while also tightening the skin, closing the pores, evening skin tone, and building collagen," she says. "You only need about four treatments and your peach fuzz is gone."
Since laser hair removal is catered specifically to dark hair, Arash Akhavan, MD, the founder, and owner of the Dermatology Laser Group in New York City, says electrolysis will better suit those with lightly pigmented hair (think blonde, gray, or white). He also points out that it can be a much less expensive option than laser hair removal if there are only a few bothersome hairs present.
Do keep in mind, though, that electrolysis isn't without some possible side effects. "Electrolysis is typically a more tedious option, and it carries a little bit more risk of causing skin discoloration around the hair follicles as a side effect," Akhavan says. Be sure to consult a certified and experienced professional in order to minimize possible side effects.
According to NYC Dermatologist Debra Jaliman, this prescription cream is formulated with eflornithine hydrochloride, which slows the growth and thickness of facial hair. Apply twice daily, and after 4 to 8 weeks, facial hair will be dramatically affected. Technically, you still have to remove the excess facial hair, as growth is halted, not stopped completely. However, Dr. Jaliman has seen otherwise. “People who use Vaniqa find it effective. Some find that they do not need to wax or use depilatories. If you do not have much hair, Vaniqa would be efficient.”
These are handheld electrical devices that go over the skin and remove multiple hairs all at once. Not gonna lie—the treatment does not make for a relaxing visit to the spa. But it is relatively quick and lasts for weeks at a time. Like with waxing, you need a bit of hair growth for this to work effectively.
You can try the battery-powered Face Epil by Epilady ($25). Coil hair removers like R.E.M. Spring ($20) are also inexpensive, but often have trouble with removing hair on the curves of the face like the chin. If you plan on using an epilator on other areas, Emjoi Emagine ($60) can take care of both the face and the body using 72 tweezers on dual heads.
Like so many other genius beauty tricks, threading originated in the East. It involves doubling and twisting a thin piece of thread, then rolling it over the skin to catch and pluck hairs. Inquire about threading at your local salon.
Hair Minimizing Moisturizer
Whatever hair removal method you use, try this hair minimizing moisturizer to keep those smooth results around longer. Its gentle formula uses thirteen different botanicals to reduce the appearance of excess facial hair.
What method should females never use on facial hair? Shaving. It creates blunt ends, making the hair appear thicker when it grows back. A caveat: If you’re undergoing electrolysis or laser hair removal, shaving may be your only option to remove hair in between treatments. If you must do it, don’t skip normal steps. Use shaving oil, cream or gel, and aftershave to get a close shave and avoid ingrown hair.