How to get rid of my beard...for good?
November 5, 2011 9:00 PM   Subscribe

Sick and tired of shaving! I'm going to get electrolysis. Here's the catch: I'm a guy. Anyone out there undergone the process before want to tell me what it's like? I imagine it's quite different for men rather than women as our beards are quite a bit coarser.

Specifically, my problem is this. I'm 27, and I've always had a pitiable beard. I can wait a week without shaving and it looks like I'm just getting a five o'clock shadow. It's shitty, of course, because I scrape myself with stubble as it's sharpest when it's freshest. I'd like to undergo electrolysis (laser won't work for my blond hair) but I'd like to hear more about it first. Specifically, any MTF transsexuals or just fellas who hate to shave? I'd like to hear more! Thanks for all your feedback.
posted by satyricaldude to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have a couple MTF friends who have undergone extensive electrolysis. Both of them are extremely happy with the results. The two caveats are 1) it's painful and time consuming and 2) they were both taking androgen inhibitors as well. One woman calculated that she's spent more time in electrolysis than she has in therapy. But apparently? Totally worth it.
posted by KathrynT at 10:01 PM on November 5, 2011

Response by poster: @KathrynT, thanks for letting me know that! Could you ask them or let me know a few follow up questions?

On a scale of one to ten, how painful?

Roughly how much does it cost to undergo treatment? I know it's about $80 per hour-long session in my neck of the woods (NYC) but that seems to be industry standard.
posted by satyricaldude at 10:40 PM on November 5, 2011

Best answer: Not MtF, just a woman who gets electrolysis. For me (with coarser hair in a sensitive area, but not my face), I would call the pain a 6 or 7; I can have a conversation with my electrologist while it's happening, but I shut up and hold my breath (even mid-sentence) when I know she's about to zap me -- how much it hurts probably has a lot to do with your general pain tolerance, though. The pain is really the least of it, in my opinion. More importantly:

It will take a long time.

No, really: a loooooong time (in months and years, not per session).

The electrologist will clear the entire area each time you go in, but in between sessions, you will have to let the the hair in the area grow back. At first (when your sessions are more frequent), it will appear that you're growing back everything. When the sessions become less frequent, it will seem like you made progress before, but are not any longer. I suggest taking pictures so that in a year or so you will be able to SEE how much progress you've made: just know that this is a slow process.

In between treatments, you have to grow the hair back anyway (my electrologist said that women getting treatments tend to stop when they start dating someone, because they don't want to appear hairy to their new beaux). Just further warning that it's a long-term solution, and in no way a near-term solution.
posted by emumimic at 11:27 PM on November 5, 2011

A [gay male] friend of mine did just this maybe 5 years ago. It took three years (don't know how much $), but he's been happy with the results.
posted by june made him a gemini at 1:16 AM on November 6, 2011

Relating to what KathrynT said, androgen blockers don't really have any effect on facial hair, alas. Most everyone I know who's had it done started with laser, and had the recalcitrant bits cleaned up with electrolysis. Apparently the former is cheaper and less painful, but a little less effective.
posted by Dysk at 4:01 AM on November 6, 2011

Best answer: A big +1 on what KathrynT said, none of the methods are fast, your looking at years and its going to cost but you maybe able to get a discount for a block booking, a good place should be able to give you an idea of how long it'll take for your skin/hair combination. Hairfacts is what I used when to research back when I started, the forums maybe useful to find other blond people and what worked best for them.

As for the pain. I had laser, I'm pale skinned and had dark coarse fast growing hair on my face, I started pre hormones and the only thing the hormones seem to change was the speed of regrowth. Talking to the people where I have mine removed, male hair is generally coarser, so harder to kill, so more painful. The more bony, less soft area, chin and cheeks were more painful but it has varied lots between sessions.

After a session I was exhausted physically and emotionally so am not great for the rest of the day usually, something to watch out for. Making sure your not dehydrated and laying off the caffeine in seems to help in my very non-scientific experience, as does practising meditation.
posted by Z303 at 5:16 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am a hirsute dude and I once experimented with getting electrolysis for my honkin' uni-brow (which I otherwise shave.) The one session I went to took a while, especially considering this was a 1/4" by 1/4" area. It kinda hurt, but not too bad. However, I can't imagine having the patience to get my entire face done, much less repeatedly, much, much less over the course of months.
posted by griphus at 7:04 AM on November 6, 2011

Have you thought about laser hair removal instead? It's done over several sessions, but for your face, each session should only take about 10 minutes. Then you wait 6 weeks or so for your hair cycle to renew (you can shave during this time) and go back in for your next session.
posted by Addlepated at 10:03 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I know this is not what you're asking, but have you considered changing your shaving routine? I used to hate shaving, it always left my face raw and torn up, and never seemed to quite get everything. The day I switched to a Merkur safety razor changed my life. Good shaving soap, quality badger brush for lathering, and good blades for the Merkur... it's an entirely different experience. Cut my shaving routine in half, time-wise, and I've never had a closer, or more comfortable shave. For about $100 in kit it may be worth a shot, before diving into more expensive treatments.
posted by xedrik at 11:31 AM on November 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all your responses! I'm definitely going to move forward with it soon then.

As for shaving with a razor, for me it's a futile exercise. I have immensely sensitive skin and I break out after shaving. On top of that, I have mostly fine hairs on my face that a normal razor seems to miss.

As for laser, that normally does work for people, but I have a blond beard, so no dice.
posted by satyricaldude at 4:23 AM on November 10, 2011

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