All women have facial hair, and for many—excluding eyebrows—it's not necessarily noticeable. But even noticeable hair on the face is normal for women. I mean, we've all examined our faces in those super-magnifying mirrors. We're hairy humans, and it's nothing to be ashamed of (oh, hey, Yara Shahidi and Bekah Martinez).
But if you're interested in removing your facial hair, there just so happens to be a myriad of ways to do so. We tapped experts Natalie Ismiel and Lisa Goodman to learn all about the dos and don’ts of removing hair in this ultra-delicate zone. However, we do have to mention, if you have concerns about excessive facial hair, it's best to seek medical advice in case it may be a sign of another underlying condition.
Meet the Expert
Below, we've rounded up the DIY tips, all-natural techniques, and in-office options to get the best facial hair removal methods for both the short- and long-term.
Tweezing is the easiest and cheapest method of removing facial hair. It's most commonly the go-to way to keep your eyebrows tamed. But it also can be used for those occasional chin hairs that pop up out of nowhere. Whatever it is that your grooming, check out our picks for the best tweezers for all of your plucking needs.
A depilatory is a strong alkaline product that breaks down hair so as to make it easy to wipe off (just use a warm towel). The whole process takes anywhere from five to 10, depending on hair texture and the product's formula.
And while depilatories are fast and convenient, it's important to be careful when choosing a product. Hair removal creams often contain harsh chemicals and can burn your skin, especially around the delicate area of the face. Try something like Nad's Facial Hair Removal Cream ($8) which is formulated with extra-moisturizing properties. Also, keep in mind that results tend to last only a couple of days. For longer-lasting hair removal methods, read on.
Believe it or not, dermaplaning is actually a version of facial shaving that involves removing the top layer of skin (and the hair along with it) using a small exfoliating scalpel. Results last for about two weeks, give or take, and although folklore will have you believe so, hair does not actually grow back thicker than before. Try using a hydrating serum post-shave for an extra dose of moisture that'll penetrate fresh, smooth skin.
Goodman recommends "using the DermaFlash, which is inspired by dermaplaning." She adds, "It’s my go-to-tool for smoothing the skin and creating a clear and luminous complexion. Afterward, I recommend applying a growth factor serum. My favorite is Neocutis Bio Serum Firm Rejuvenating Growth Factor and Peptide Treatment ($275) to calm skin and create lasting results."
Waxing is a long-favored hair removal method that rids unwanted peach fuzz from the body and face. Known to last a good four weeks, all it requires is some hot wax and grit. (We're kidding about the grit, though nobody ever said waxing was a soothing pastime.) You can go to a professional waxing service, which exists almost everywhere or purchase an at-home kit for convenience's sake—it's up to you. Ismiel breaks down the latter into simple, easy-to-follow steps:
- Make sure your hair is long enough for the wax to grasp (about two to five millimeters long).
- Cleanse your skin from any make-up, oils, or moisturizers.
- Apply the wax or waxing strip downward, towards the direction of the hair growth.
- Smooth downward firmly, three to four times, towards the direction of the hair growth.
- To remove, pull the strip in the opposite direction of hair growth. Try to remove the strip as close to the skin as possible.
- Sometimes you will have excess, stubborn hair or hairs that are too short to grasp. Remove these with tweezers.
Waxing can be a harsh exfoliation process that comes with some side effects like residual redness, especially if you've got sensitive skin. It's best to lay off the salicylic acid, AHAs, and other powerful exfoliators beforehand. Since the skin on your face is more delicate than the rest of your body, Ismiel recommends "to only use facial wax strips or hair removal creams for this area as it can become more irritated" and cautions using skincare products or makeup that will lead to further irritation. "Directly after waxing, it’s important to moisturize skin with a light, calming oil. This will help if your skin feels irritated or a little raw," she adds.
If you're looking for a technique that is less painful and more gentle on the skin than waxing, you might want to consider sugaring. There are two types of sugaring: paste and gel. Both are made with natural ingredients like lemon juice, sugar, and water and leave you hair-free for up to six weeks. Traditional sugaring methods use paste and can remove hair as short as 1/16 inch. When compared to the 1/4-inch minimum hair length needed for waxing, sugaring stands out as a cleaner and longer-lasting option.
Sugar waxing works by grabbing hair from the root, rather than at the skin's surface, with results lasting about three weeks (depending on individual hair growth), explains Ismiel. "Sugar waxing is often confused with body sugaring, but there are a few differences. While body sugaring has gained popularity in salons, it is not as great for DIY waxing because it’s harder and messier to apply," she says. And compared to using wax strips, "sugar waxing allows you to get larger area coverage and target areas more specifically."
"One of the scary things about waxing at home is the thought of removing too much hair, especially for shaping eyebrows. Sugar wax is a lifesaver for home waxing, as the formula (homemade or not) can be easily removed with water when you think you’ve accidentally applied too much or put it in the wrong places. This is not the case when using other hair removal products like tweezing and hair removal creams," says Ismiel. She let us in on her step-by-step instructions for at-home sugar waxing here:
- Remove dirt and oil from the skin with Nad’s pre-wax cleansing soap (available in the Natural Sugar Wax kit, $13.
- Very slowly spread a thin even layer of wax in the direction of hair growth. This allows the wax to melt with your body heat, for the best results.
- Place the cotton strip over the wax and smooth over three to four times in the direction of hair growth.
- Hold skin taut and pull in the opposite direction of hair growth The quicker you pull the strip back the more effective the hair removal. Remember to hold skin taut with the other hand and to pull close to the skin rather than away from the skin.
- Use warm water to remove any residue from the skin if necessary.
Typically, you should not experience any bruising when sugar waxing; however, if bruising does occur, you might want to make some adjustments to your technique. Ismiel instructs applying a thin (not thick) layer of gel and holding the skin taught when removing the strip.
Threading is an ancient hair removal method that uses a string for precise eyebrow shaping and hair removal. It’s quick, doesn't use any chemicals, and is generally inexpensive. Plus, results can last up to six weeks. With threading the rule of thumb is this: If you can feel the hair, it can be removed.
Coil Hair Removers
Perhaps you've heard of these little gadgets: They look like tiny slinkies and work by grabbing hair straight from the root. Think tweezing, but so much faster because you don't have to grab each hair individually. Tweezerman's Smooth Finish Facial Hair Remover ($20) should get the job done with ease.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal uses pulsed light to disable the hair follicle, which honestly sounds daunting, but it really isn't. Lasering is an FDA-approved method of permanent hair reduction that is safe to use on the face as well as the body. With laser hair removal, hair that returns over time will be thinner and lighter than before and eventually might not return at all.
While those with dark hair and light skin tend to see the most success after laser due to the treatment targeting pigment in the hair, don't worry—if you have blond or light hair, the at-home device, Mē Sleek Face + Body Hair Removal System ($249) is made to treat all variations of facial hair color. According to JoElle Lee, a celebrity esthetician with over 20 years experience, YAG is the most effective laser for anyone with darker skin tones. At-home devices like Tria Laser 4X ($230) and Silk'n Flash & Go Express Hair Removal Device ($299) can all be used on the face from the cheek line down for clean, convenient hair removal.
This method has the best track record as it's the only one approved by the FDA for permanent hair removal. (Laser treatments are FDA approved for permanent hair reduction.) Using an electric current, electrolysis is done with a very fine needle-shaped electrode or metal probe and zaps individual hairs.
If electric zaps don't put you off, the upside is that, unlike laser hair removal, you don’t need a certain hair or skin color to attain the best results. Do note that you'll need to book several treatments to achieve a permanently hairless result.
We turn to prescription creams for so many skin woes so why should hair removal be any different? Enter Vaniqa, an FDA-approved prescription cream that reduces facial hair in women. Allergan, the pharmaceutical company that makes this cream, says you should see improvements between four and eight weeks after the start of treatment. While it's not a permanent removal method, the cream is said to help hair grow back in slower and in finer, softer textures.