For many women, dealing with unwanted facial hair can be a pain point. Sure, getting rid of a stray eyebrow or two isn't all that bad, but when you're talking about coarse hair that runs down the side of your face, well, that’s a different story. But let's be clear: Facial hair is completely natural and totally normal, but understandably annoying if you're after a smooth, fuzz-free complexion. Not to mention they can get in the way of your flawless makeup application, and they may even make you feel self-conscious about putting your hair up. No longer.
We talked to Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, Celebrity Cosmetic Dermatologist and Founder of PFRANKMD & Skin Salon and Jodi Shays, owner of Queen Bee Salon & Spa in Culver City, California, to see what works best in terms of sideburn removal—from shaving to lasers.
Keep reading to see the best ways to deal with your sideburns.
Meet the Expert
- Paul Jarrod Frank, MD is a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist known for his minimally-invasive skin treatments. He is also the owner, founder, and Chief Medical Officer of PFRANKMD.
- Jodi Shays is an esthetician and hair removal expert. She is the owner of Queen Bee Salon & Spa in Culver City, CA.
Put Down the Razor
"If you’re a man yes, for women, no! Our skin is way more sensitive," says Jodi Shays. Shaving can irritate the sensitive skin on your face, leading to bumps or ingrown hairs. It also doesn't remove hair from the root, so you may be stuck shaving on a regular basis to keep hair from turning into five o' clock shadow. Dr. Frank also recommends staying away from shaving your sideburns, as it can lead to annoying and regular stubble.
Disguise Your Sideburns
If you don't want to deal with removing hair, you can also bleach it. Bleaching your sideburns will lighten your hair, making it less noticeable. But, be sure you're using a bleach that's made for facial hair—other hair bleaches can be really harsh on your skin.
Make sure you choose a bleach designed to be used on your face otherwise, you could end up with burnt and irritated skin.
Use a Hair Removal Cream
For a longer lasting hair removal treatment that you can do at home, try using a hair removal cream. With a cream, you simply apply the product to the area you want to remove hair from and let it do its thing for 10-15 minutes. On areas like your sideburns, it's best to tie back any hair you don't want to remove. When you apply the cream, it works to dissolve the hair so it's either at or right below your skin's surface. Depending on how fast your hair grows, results can last up to a few days.
But, Dr. Frank says that these kinds of products work best on thin hair—meaning it could be more difficult if your hair is thicker or coarse in texture.
Thread for a Quick Fix
For a solution that removes hair from the root, try threading. Although people normally get their eyebrows threaded, it's also a great solution for removing sideburns or other unwanted facial hair. This process uses a thin strand of cotton thread to pull hair and is a great alternative if your face is too sensitive for waxing. Similar to waxing and tweezing, over time, your hair may grow back finer and less noticeable as the follicle is damaged. Plus, it generally lasts for a few weeks, meaning you have less to do between treatments.
Waxing your sideburns gives you a clean result that helps makeup go on evenly, and you won't have to deal with stubble or marks from tweezing, Shays says. Since it pulls your hair out from the root, over time hair may start to grow in finer. Shays says she typically sees people anywhere from every four to ten weeks for a wax, depending on how quickly/thickly their hair grows back. If you have oilier skin, she recommends washing with an acne wash 24-hours after your wax to help avoid a breakout.
Call an Expert
For more permanent options of hair removal, you can go to an expert for laser hair removal or electrolysis. The former uses, you guessed it, a laser to damage hair follicles and prevent hair from growing back.
Electrolysis uses a fine probe, inserted into the hair follicle, and zaps it with heat or chemical energy so it can't produce any more hair. Treatments can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and the number of sessions varies.
Dr. Frank is an expert in laser hair removal, and he says that it's really the only true way to permanently remove hair. "Laser hair removal is great for all skin types and can permanently remove the hair in 3-4 monthly treatments," he says.
At his office, he also offers a laser treatment called Motus AX. This machine can not only remove hair in fewer treatments than a traditional laser, but it can also remove light hair and is safe to use on darker skin tones.
"This laser is unique because it treats and heats the area very slowly instead of the classic stamping technique of hair removal," he explains.
No matter how you choose to remove your hair, remember to avoid any irritants like exfoliants or harsh ingredients immediately after a treatment. You definitely don't want to get rid of your hair only to get bumps, rashes, or other irritation.
Whatever you do, stay far, far away from those Groupon deals if you're considering either one of these options—there's a time and a place for bargain beauty, and this isn't it.
How can I get rid of sideburns?
You can try to disguise them with bleach, use a facial hair cream, wax, thread, or choose laser hair removal.
Why is it bad to shave your sideburns?
Shaving can cause excess irritation, stubble, and ingrown hairs, all things we definitely don't want to deal with.
What time of hair removal cream should I use?
Reputable brands like Nair and Sturgi-Cream are great—but you want to make sure you have fine, thin hair (coarse hair can be difficult to remove), and you're using a cream that's designed specifically for your face. Other hair removal creams can be too harsh for the face.