July 19, 2010 3:08 AM   Subscribe

Ladies, a couple of questions about how you handle your facial hair.

Particularly the hair on your upper-lip. I do not wax this hair, as I am a sissy about pain and also it necessitates letting the hair grow till it's long enough to wax. Not a great look. My hair is dark and my skin quite light, which does not help...

I have had my best results with waxing followed by threading the remainder, however this is doubly painful AND quite expensive as you have to go to a salon to do it. So, I use facial hair removing cream - pain-free and cost-effective. My questions:

a) Is it safe to use this cream about once a week or am I doing horrible chemical damage to my skin? I use the cream for sensitive skin so in theory it should be quite gentle. My hair grows very fast and if I leave it for any longer it starts to show and look quite awful. My doctor thinks I might have PCOS and I am going to get this checked, but that would apparently explain the luxuriant facial hair-growth.

b) Do I have any other options?

Any advice or insight would be welcome.
posted by Ziggy500 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (35 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
b) [I am not a lady but] many women I've known have used specifically formulated bleaching products to make their facial hair less noticeable. Possibly a useful stop-gap until it's long enough to wax.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:17 AM on July 19, 2010

In reply to (b) -- Have you considered threading yourself? There are tutorials online: several popped up when I googled for "threading own" including YouTube guides. I find it less painful, though slower than going to a salon, and the upper lip should be far easier to do well than eyebrows.
posted by tavegyl at 3:17 AM on July 19, 2010

I go to a salon for waxing, then do home maintenance for as long as I can with a good pair of tweezers. When I begin to lose the battle, I cough up the dough for another professional wax. I don't have any experience with hair removing cream.
posted by goblinbox at 3:19 AM on July 19, 2010

I have similar skin/hair tones and frankly, after decades of bleaching the hair on my upper lip, I bit the bullet and went for laser hair removal. I wish I'd done it 20 years ago (except I guess there weren't lasers back then). Anyway, I won't lie: it can be painful. But you can apply a numbing cream (which I haven't used) and the whole thing takes 10 minutes. I did three treatments at $75 each, spaced 4-6 weeks apart. I haven't had any hair growth in seven months. Previously I used a bleaching cream about every two weeks and in addition to the stinging and fumes (this even with the sensitive bleaching cream), I just had less and less time to do it - and would end up not doing it for weeks when I really needed to, then feeling down about my looks.

You mention PCOS which is the only thing which might not recommend laser for you, since hormonal hair growth can come and go in long cycles, and the laser is a more effective (i.e., permanent) solution for hair that's not hormonally driven. So, the laser technician warned me that some women will have hair return as they get older and their hormones change with menopause and normal aging.
posted by cocoagirl at 3:39 AM on July 19, 2010

threading is the first choice

then there is a peel off paraffin wax you could ask for in "little india" type places where you'd get local salons

there's a whole slew of products for this from south asia - check out a salon or shop if you have such a neighbourhood in your city
posted by infini at 3:52 AM on July 19, 2010

its called "katori wax" but that could be region specific to delhi - I actually had it recommended to me by mom as its a new development. this and "lightening" creams seem to the most innovation driven product lines in india ;p
posted by infini at 3:53 AM on July 19, 2010

Have you ever tried using a numbing cream/other topical anesthetic before waxing? It can help a lot, especially in the beginning -- the more you wax the less it hurts over time, and although you do have to wait for the hair to grow back, a lot less grows back with time.

The downside of the lightening creams is that they also bleach the skin of your lip, and then you can develop a funny reverse-shadow there.
posted by Ashley801 at 4:06 AM on July 19, 2010

I tweeze mine but that's painful and sometimes leads to unsightly infected ingrown hairs.

FYI, I researched long-term solutions and it seems like electrolysis is a better option than laser hair removal. The former is more permanent and the latter can cause burning and scarring.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:06 AM on July 19, 2010

I used electroysis and now its all gone and I don't have to think about it. You do have to do it multiple times and it does hurt a bit. Took about a year and all finito!
posted by zia at 4:13 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

i used the depilatories for years, but now my skin is way too sensitive to leave the cream on for as long as is necessary to remove the hair. so, i just shave it. i don't have that much hair, really, but it's bothered me since middle school and i've been treating it since then (first bleach, then depilatories with the occasional waxing when i could afford it). but just a couple of swipes with the razor is quick, painless, and easy. and i certainly don't need to do it every day!
posted by misanthropicsarah at 4:50 AM on July 19, 2010

I had very fair and relatively sparse facial hair, but after my second child was born the 'moustache' hair thickened up and lengthened somethin' shockin. I think it's very noticeable when left unchecked.

I tried waxing quite a few times but it hurts (me) more than a brazilian, then it went numb, and stayed numb, red and swollen for a day or two. And my skin's reaction never improved, no matter how often or how many times I had it waxed, or what sort of after-care product I used.

I've used Nair depilatory cream for sensitive skin on and off for years. The only problem is that it grows in a bit spiky, I reckon, it feels prickly. For the thicker ones that are really noticeable, I pluck them individually as I can see or feel them coming through, then I do the whole area again when the finer hairs have all grown in and I'm starting to notice the peach fuzz when I look in a mirror.

I've been told by a beautician that laser is better than electrolysis (she didn't explain why and I didn't think to ask), but she also said that laser won't work on me because the colour of the hair is key - darker hair gets 'picked up' by the laser while fair hair doesn't.

She recommended electrolysis for me. It doesn't sound like much fun either.

I'm sticking with Nair.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:53 AM on July 19, 2010

Shaving. I can't stand the smelly chemical stuff and I'm sure as heck not paying for some kind of fancy treatment.
posted by JanetLand at 5:00 AM on July 19, 2010

I did electrolysis. Compared to other parts of my body, this area was painless and took only a few sessions to get rid of.
posted by spec80 at 5:11 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've tried a few things, but the one that works best is the Sally Hansen Microwavable Eyebrow, Face & Lip Wax. You pop it in the microwave for a few minutes (usually takes that long, though they suggest 20 seconds or something) and apply it with a little plastic stick. It dries after 20-30 seconds and you pull off the wax directly. It's fast, works remarkably well, and hasn't irritated my skin. I use it probably once every 2-3 weeks or so.

Avoid the ones with the strips that you rub, as these aren't really reliable -- the wax tends not to be hot enough and it often doesn't pull out the hairs. This particular kit is the only SH product for hair removal I've really found helpful.
posted by aintthattheway at 5:41 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wax monthly and both tweeze and bleach as the hair grows out.
posted by kidelo at 5:43 AM on July 19, 2010

I shave. It's not ideal, but I'm cheap and lazy and I dislike pain.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:07 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

A pro tip if you decide to shave.... in between shaves, store your razor in a little bowl of oil.. baby/olive/vegetable... to inhibit the rust. It makes the razor last forever and is much less likely to cut you. Just wash it and dry it after use then leave it in a little bowl of oil. You'll get miles and miles out of the razor then. This also works for men who shave their faces and chicks who shave their other bits.
posted by taff at 6:20 AM on July 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

I've done waxing for many years and it really doesn't hurt a lot. Now they are using something called "sugaring" and it's much gentler and it lasts A LOT longer between visits.

Don't shave - you will so so so regret that. (My mom did it and it was not pretty.)
posted by Mysticalchick at 6:45 AM on July 19, 2010

I wax sporadically and tweeze in between. Threading hurt me more than waxing though I only did threading once and I'm told that if someone knows what they're doing it shouldn't hurt much at all (to which I say, yeah right).

That said, a friend of a friend was telling me that she once bought a full laser hair removal package for *everything.* It sounds scary but they do touch-ups for free for the year after and she has never looked back. I'm a big sissy but I'm definitely tempted by the idea of never having to worry about it again.

Also, a family member has or had PCOS and she still got laser hair removal. I definitely recommend getting it checked out but it doesn't seem like something to worry about a lot. I'm concerned that I might develop PCOS because like I said, it runs in my family, and I got checked last time I went to the lady doctor. However, it doesn't really seem to be a problem unless you want to have kids and are having a hard time, in which case there are things you can do and it just takes a little longer. YMMV though.
posted by kat518 at 6:47 AM on July 19, 2010

I use this tool, which is supposed to be for eyebrow trimming, but it works very well for upper lip fuzz.

I used to use depilatory creams on my legs and arms and never did any chemical damage to my skin, and the sensitive skin formulations should be gentle enough to use weekly. If it works for you and you don't have any adverse reactions to it, I'd say keep using it.
posted by bedhead at 6:51 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

My mom shaves (and I tweeze, as my dark hairs are as yet sparse and infrequent enough that anything else would be overkill). She lathers up with my dad's brush and soap, and uses a regular disposable razor. Since she began doing it regularly (I'm not sure if it's every day or a little less frequently) I have never noticed any hairs. When I asked her what her trick was, she said she took her time—the only times she's had any issues were when she tried to take care of it too quickly.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:55 AM on July 19, 2010

I tried electrolysis, many sessions over many months, more expensive than waxing (which makes sense), and it's more painful than waxing. (And I don't have a problem with the pain from waxing.) It's worse if you're on your period when you go. Apparently this makes you more sensitive to pain. (I do recommend popping a few Tylenol before an appointment- it does help.)

Electrolysis did not work for me. It is years later and the growth is the same. I use the cream you're describing. I use that most of the time. I do not think it is causing you any long term damage. I get a wax if I need it when I get my hair cut, which is not very often. I use the bleaching cream sometimes. I tweeze. I've never tried threading, but it does interest me. My college town has a threading parlor at the local mall.
posted by aabbbiee at 6:57 AM on July 19, 2010

I wax on my own, at home, with stuff you heat up in the microwave. After a while (months? I've done it for years and haven't found it painful in years), I'm used to it and don't find it painful.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:28 AM on July 19, 2010

Thanks for your help everyone. I've highlighted a couple of answers because I want to try out the methods mentioned (sugaring for lip and eyebrow touch up for eyebrows) - but everyone's answers have been really useful.
posted by Ziggy500 at 7:34 AM on July 19, 2010

I do the cream. Sally Hansen has a face bleach that is pretty good. You'll probalby have to do it twice a month? I tried waxing and got a horrible reaction with nasty bumps so it looked like I had some herpes rash or something. Not pretty and wouldn't do it again.
posted by stormpooper at 7:40 AM on July 19, 2010

we sound about the same complexion, and i just leave mine. it doesn't bother me, and i actually kind of like it. cheapest and easiest option!

i can tell it bothers others sometimes, but that's their problem :)
posted by crawfo at 7:41 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Electrolysis is the more permanent solution.
In the meantime, here is my experience: I have dark hair and light skin and thick growth on my upper lip.

Threading is the best option and it does hurt initially. If you go to an experienced threader who is fast at moving the thread at an East Indian salon it will hurt lesser. (on a sidenote: I talk to myself to mentally prepare myself for the process by saying positive things like: it will be quick, I will not have to come back for 15-20 days) Give yourself a little reward for going through with it :)
It generally takes 10 mins for the salon lady to do my upper lip and I appreciate the no hair for 15 days result I get from it.

The second option I use is at home waxing: I use Veet Ready To Use Wax Strips for Face & Bikini, Sensitive Skin, you can find them at Kmart, walgreens, and most other big chains. I cut a double sided strip into half which makes it easier to use for the upper lip. I get about 15days of no hair from this method.

In the in between period, I recommend using Jolen bleach for the hair if needed. My mom has used that for 20 years with no side effects. Make sure you make a light mix and leave it on longer if necessary to bleach till you get the result you want.

FWIW: Waxing on the face is damaging to the skin because it pulls and stretches the collagen on the face. Repeated waxing leads to mroe wrinkles in that area at an older age.
On the other hand, Threading does not pull on the skin and just pulls the hair out from the root. It is a more gentle process.

Here is a tutorial for threading, if you need more help with it feel free to MeMail me.
posted by VickyR at 7:55 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

a) ask your doctor! I don't think that you're going to have any horrible side effects but I'm not a doctor. Maybe even a dermatologist consultation would be a good idea if you can swing it financially. They know stuff about hair, too, and might have some ideas. They often have hair-removal services themselves, which is a conflict of interest, and I would avoid those.

b) I wax when I have the cash, when I don't I either ignore it (meh, frida kahlo rocked it) or tweeze, but it's better to do that not all at once. I do it until the pain is too much, then quit. Then I do more later. You can also tweeze them a few at a time as they grow in.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:56 AM on July 19, 2010

If you have light skin and dark hair, you are the ideal candidate for laser removal. It won't cost much at all to have just your upper lip treated (way less than you're going to spend over the years with other methods), and then you'll be done with it forever.
posted by HotToddy at 9:06 AM on July 19, 2010

Bleaching can give you some sadly ridiculous results. One woman in my office has an extremely noticeable luxurious white-blonde Confederate General's moustache that I am still working up the nerve to tell her about, as we are not particularly close.

I wax maybe once every three weeks, and do some maintenance in between with tweezers. But dude, if the depilatory cream is working for you and you're not getting rashes, why fuck with a good thing?
posted by elizardbits at 10:02 AM on July 19, 2010

I had laser treatments. Laser hair removal isn't permanent, but for me it lasted for 4-5 years (and only about 25% grew back).

How to get the best results: Laser works best on hair that's actively growing, and that happens most vigorously with new growth. So remove the hair by pulling it out with wax, tweezers, threading, etc. Go for laser when the returning hairs are young; maybe 8 or ten weeks after you removed them. For your second treatment, leave a similar interval.
posted by wryly at 10:13 AM on July 19, 2010

According to my wife, "bleaching makes the hair thicker; if she ever wants to wax/thread it, it will hurt twice as much." She is also pretty shocked people shave. To quote, "OMG people shave?!" She threads her face at a salon once a month or so. I think this is pretty common for Persian ladies.
posted by chunking express at 10:22 AM on July 19, 2010

Another vote for sugaring. Here's a

I buy waxing strips (the fabric kind without the wax, like this) and cut them to upper lip size.

The sugaring recipe works better for me than store-bought wax. Aside from the fact that it works better, it's biggest advantage is that it's water soluble and is much easier to clean off your face and your bathroom countertop than wax is.

Leftover sugaring stuff can be stored in a jar. Heat it in the microwave until liquid when you're ready to use it again. Make sure to let it cool, but not harden, before applying it to your skin -- it's basically hot caramel and will burn you like crazy.

I go through this routine about once a month. After the first couple times, my hair grew in much lighter -- it's basically blonde now. So, even between treatments, it's less noticeable than it was before.
posted by Seahorse, rode hard and put away wet at 11:23 AM on July 19, 2010

I have very light peach fuzz on my upper lip, and I shave it. Takes about 10 seconds every so often. Hasn't grown back in any horrifying way as a result, and I love that smooth just-shaved feeling it creates. I also (extremely carefully) shave the tiny little hairs that pop up between my brows—they're so tiny that it's too much of a pain to pluck, but they're dark enough that I have to do something. [shrugs] YMMV.
posted by limeonaire at 6:35 PM on July 19, 2010

Light skin, dark hair...I got rid of extra hairs between my eyebrows and hairline, and in between my eyebrows. (laser). Not too expensive due to the small area. Took 4 visits. Easy and practically painless. Haven't seen that hair since. (it's been about 10 years.)
posted by serena15221 at 9:21 AM on July 23, 2010

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