What is the best way to remove female facial hair?
August 9, 2005 12:05 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to remove female facial hair?

I have plenty of white 'wispy' hair on my chin and upper lips. At the moment, this is kept under bay by regular plucking, but this is both time-consuming and ineffective.

I've been told (second-hand anecdote) that laser treatment is not that effective and would require me to stop plucking for six weeks, which on its own is something I'm reluctant to do unless I can be sure of the results.

Is there a best method and what would the success rate be? I am in the UK, so price approximations and recommendations for places (either London or the Midlands), would also be great.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total)
Laser won't work on white hair. It usually works best one people with light or medium skin, with darker hair, although there is a new one for people with darker skin and darker hair. White, blonde and usually red hair is usually a poor candidate for laser, or so I understand, because it doesn't absorb the laser light. Wikipedia has more info, although you may be able to find a place that has a newer or experimental laser set-up. Don't pluck; that may make it grow in thicker and darker. Why not wax or thread instead? Waxing and threading pulls the hair out from the root, so it eventually grows back thinner, softer and sparser. For best results, wax regularly every 4 weeks. I suppose electrolysis would also work, but I don't know much about that. Many, many women wax their upper-lip and/or chin. It's super common, is fairly cheap at a salon (but find a clean and reputable one), and you can make a standing appointment so you don't miss a cycle. The first time it hurts, and will usually make your eyes water, but you get used to it, and has the hair follicles get damaged, the pain gets less and less.
posted by fionab at 12:28 PM on August 9, 2005

Electrolysis. It's the only method of hair removal that's allowed to advertise as "permanent hair removal", unlike laser (which advertises as "permanent hair reduction").

It hurts, sure, since it's using electricity and heat to kill the hair follicles under the skin. It can also take a some time, depending on the skill of the person doing it and the amount and density of the areas to clear. American prices for it tend to run around $50/hour.

Anything else, and you'll have to continue doing it for life.

A warning though - the follicle damage that comes over time from waxing, threading, or plucking can also make electrolysis tougher to do, since it becomes more difficult to get the little "probe" they use to the base of the follicle.
posted by evilangela at 12:51 PM on August 9, 2005

Echoing fionab: wax is totally the way to go. I've mentioned it before on AskMe, but I've been waxing my lip and eyebrow for a decade and there's hardly any hair left. It's painful at first but does get easier.
posted by sugarfish at 12:59 PM on August 9, 2005

Don't know if you have this product in the U.K. but I use Sally Hansen's wax strips for this very purpose. They're designed for facial use and don't irritate my super-sensitive skin.

You warm a strip up by rubbing it between your hands. Then apply it to the area you want to wax, pressing to make sure the strip is really adhering. Wait a few moments, take a deep breath and and yank it off very quickly. Sort of like an industrial-strength band aid. You can also trim the strips to fit; I tackle my husband's unibrow with them.

I did try going to a salon for waxing but it was just too harsh. My skin would stay red and splotchy for days.
posted by Sully6 at 1:40 PM on August 9, 2005

If you're not feeling the wax, you could always try a depilatory - I've been using Surgi-Cream on my upper lip since I hit puberty (around 11 or 12). I'm 26 now. The only difference I've noticed in that time is that I have to leave it on for a bit longer - about 10 minutes as opposed to the reccomended 8.

One thing though - I have to do it about once a week. It's not really a big deal for me though, I just put it on in the morning right after I get out of the shower, and then I wipe it off after I get dressed. I don't even bother with the after lotion that's in the package...I just wipe it off with a tissue, rinse with a bit of water, and use my normal moisturizer on my whole face.

No offense to you waxers, but I just can't deal with having hair ripped out of my face - I actually caved and finally had my eyebrows done professionally a couple weeks ago, and I will never, ever do it again. The wax wasn't working (she ripped and said "oooh, you have strong hair!"), so she had to pluck my eyebrows. Normally I do this, on my own, right after a shower (so it's a bit easier). Seriously, it was the worst 10 minutes of my life thus far.
posted by AlisonM at 2:05 PM on August 9, 2005

I'm not sure I understand fionab's advice: isn't plucking just like waxing, except one hair at a time? Waxing is faster and often more convenient, but if plucking can lead to thicker hair, surely waxing can too. (In fact, my electrolysis woman prefers I neither pluck nor wax the areas we treat, since she says that there is often a rush of blood to the waxed follicles, which feeds the site and makes the new hair thicker. Also she says the hair may grow in crooked after waxing [e.g. it exits the skin in a slightly different location when it grows back in], which makes electrolysis harder to do successfully.) If I had white hairs and light skin and the hairs weren't pokey, I'd just trim them to make them as unnoticeable as the surrounding peach fuzz.
posted by xo at 2:08 PM on August 9, 2005

Threading! It's a South Asian technique, so I'd guess you can get it in London. Tends to be very cheap (less than $10 in New York.) Can be irritating to the skin because the thread rubs a bit, but is much gentler than waxing. Here's a list I found of threading salons in London.
posted by footnote at 2:48 PM on August 9, 2005

Tweezing the hair can pull out the hair and the root, but it just snaps it out of the follicle, and doesn't really damage it enough to lead to thinning of the hair itself. It is thought that this leads to stimulation of the hair follicle, (I can't find a great source, but here's an article on eMedicine), resulting in thicker hair. Waxing actually damages the follicle over time (like electrolysis) and results in less hair and thinner hair.
posted by fionab at 3:22 PM on August 9, 2005

posted by radioamy at 10:48 PM on August 14, 2005

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