What is the best way to get rid of unwanted upper lip hair?
December 29, 2017 11:42 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to decide what the best way is to get rid of upper lip hair. I always heard that shaving or waxing just makes the hair grow back thicker. I'm not sure if that is true. I have saved up money to do the expensive laser removal, but I wonder if it really is worth it? Does it really get all the hairs eventually, over time? If any of you have experience with this, please help! Thanks in advance!
posted by lynnie-the-pooh to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (32 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, waxing makes the hair grow back more sparsely, not more thickly. Over time I have had to wax less and less. Definitely do not shave unless you want stubble.
posted by amro at 11:48 AM on December 29, 2017 [13 favorites]

Apparently shaving = thicker regrowth is a myth. Japanese facial razors are amazing - a total game changer for me and my face.
posted by cessair at 11:51 AM on December 29, 2017 [20 favorites]

Shaving may give the hair a blunt end that feels thicker but has no effect on the hair. Waxing or anything that actually pulls the hair out makes it grow back thinner and eventually not at all. Lasering kills the hair, so it's permanent.
posted by theora55 at 11:52 AM on December 29, 2017 [10 favorites]

I pluck. It hurts but it is free.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:53 AM on December 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

Lasering won't work if your lip hair is lighter in color. Waxing has worked best in my experience and plucking the strays that come in between waxings.
posted by agatha_magatha at 11:59 AM on December 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Waxing (or threading) is your best bet.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:00 PM on December 29, 2017

I've been waxing my lip for almost 20 years. If waxing made hairs grow back thicker, I'd have a mustache worthy of Hercule Poirot, but nope.
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:08 PM on December 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

Another option is to use a depilatory cream. I use Nair once a week, and inspect every morning when I'm doing my eyebrows to make sure there aren't any strays popping up. I'd love to try laser hair removal though, and intend to do so if my financial circumstances ever improve to the point where I can afford such a luxury item.
posted by orange swan at 12:09 PM on December 29, 2017

I use a razor (in the shower, while I'm washing my face) and don't get stubble. Even if I did I wouldn't be able to stomach spending any more time or money on this than I already do, or having to feel pain. Use a men's razor, not one made for legs.
posted by bleep at 12:22 PM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Shaving doesn't make your hair grow back thicker, but the regrowth can look thicker and stubblier than methods that involve removing the hair from the root, because the hairs are cut at a thicker point. It's also not great if your hair is much darker than your skin - no matter how close you shave you'll still see a bit of the dark root through the skin. I shave, but mostly out of laziness.

Plucking and waxing can inhibit hair growth in the long run - I permanently killed my unibrow after a few years of plucking.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:41 PM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I wax. I get the little wax strips that you rub with your hands to warm up and it's super super easy. The first couple times I got some reddish skin and it hurt relatively bad. Then now my skin doesn't get red at all and it barely feels like anything. I've been waxing for a few months now (I have sensitive skin that gets red easily and I'm fair with pale hair, but the lip hair got thicker.)

I do it about every 1 to 2 weeks. Seems to grow in more sparsely. It's a super quick part of a routine. When I notice it, I just do the wax strip then use some jojoba oil to get off any excess wax. Really cheap too.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:47 PM on December 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I shave. It doesn't make my hair thicker or stubbly (or more obvious in any way). I just use my regular old legs-and-bits razor every couple of weeks. It helps that I'm pale with light blonde hair. If I had darker lip hair I would probably bleach it.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 12:52 PM on December 29, 2017

I use a pumice stone.
posted by basalganglia at 1:15 PM on December 29, 2017

I shave.

Sometimes I've had people seem shocked I tell them that I shave -- beauty professionals that I'm talking to face to face who would have surely noticed I shaved before that point in the conversation if it was actually as noticeable as they claim it is when they are trying to sell their much more expensive products. Maybe it's more noticeable for some people, but it's not going to affect the root of the hair and you could always try waxing or laser later on if you don't like it.
posted by yohko at 1:25 PM on December 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

(I realize it might seem a little unclear, my lip hair is thicker than it used to be BEFORE I started waxing compared to my fair pale hair-prompting me to actually do something for it. It has thinned since waxing.)
posted by Crystalinne at 1:47 PM on December 29, 2017

I shave using the executive razor from Dollar shave club - a man's razor with 6 blades. I also use their pre-shave, shave butter and post-shave products and I get very good shaves, much better than when I used products geared towards women. No stubble either. I'm black so this hair is pretty noticeable if I let it be free.
posted by Aranquis at 1:48 PM on December 29, 2017

I just shave mine in the shower every once in a while. Shaving definitely doesn’t cause the hair to grow back thicker, or else my husband would be able to grow a luscious beard by now.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:48 PM on December 29, 2017

I bought on of those lipstick-shaped hair removers - I thought it was going to be a hair ripper but it is a tiny shaver and it works beautifully. It seems to have been designed just for women, I mean, they really nailed it. It is delicate but very efficient. I love it. Have used many other things.
posted by cda at 1:57 PM on December 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

I used to wax but found it was really fiddly (I have a small upper lip and not a lot of space between nose and lips) and I would miss a lot of hairs that I would then have to pluck.

Now, I epilate (basically a bunch of tweezers moving really quickly in an electric-razor-looking fashion) or, if I'm in a rush, use a facial razor (I also use these for my eyebrows in-between waxing or plucking, they are amazing!)

Lasering works best on light skin with dark hair -- not my facial hair situation so I haven't tried it. Friends who've done it say it definitely works but takes many sessions to have the full effect - I'd rather just rip it out every couple of months for the $50 I spent on my epilator.
posted by assenav at 1:57 PM on December 29, 2017

I use one of the spring "threaders", specifically this one. You can go back and tweeze stragglers individually.
posted by hollyholly at 2:15 PM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Been getting my Tom Selleck waxed since I was 13. Barely feel it now and it's undoubtedly lighter and sparser than in past years. I go to a "nice" place and it's only like 12 bucks every 3-4 weeks--more than worth it to me.
posted by lovableiago at 2:23 PM on December 29, 2017

I’ve had electrolysis on my face (though not my upper lip). Expensive but the hair is gone forever. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
posted by fozzie_bear at 2:23 PM on December 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Wax. Most bang for the buck time and surface area wise. I use this kind from Sally.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 2:25 PM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another data point for wax: I've been waxing since puberty and if anything it's grown back less. I used to have to do between my eyebrows, but nothing grows there anymore, and I can go a bit longer between lip waxes now too.
posted by colorblock sock at 2:27 PM on December 29, 2017

I had bleached for years, but as I got older, my mustache got seriously out of control. I finally gave in and spent a lot of $$ for laser, and boy am I happy I did. I think I bought 10 treatments and got 2 free, so it took one year. For the first four or five treatments, I saw only the most minimal difference, but then it did seriously kick in. Now 99% of it is gone, and I just tweeze maybe once a month to get the persistent stragglers.

The caveat is that during the laser process, they do not want you to bleach or wax. They need the follicles to be undisturbed, and the hair to be as dark as it can possibly be. THey're totally fine with you shaving, though. I used these.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:06 PM on December 29, 2017

I have light hair and so laser did not work for me, but electrolysis did, although it takes time. (I went every two weeks for a year at a cost of about $15 per 10-minute session, but that was a few years ago.) I now have one of the lipstick-shaped hair removers cda mentions above, and find it's great for the odd bit of fuzz that pops up.
posted by rpfields at 3:26 PM on December 29, 2017

I had laser hair removal several years ago on my upper lip. Totally worth the money: any stress that I had associated with my facial hair was completely gone. Important to note though: although it's billed as being permanent, it is, at best, semi-permanent. As your body goes through hormonal changes, your hair growth is impacted as well. I've mitigated this by returning for "touch-up" services.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 4:02 PM on December 29, 2017

I have been surprised how well the at-home laser I got from Costco works. I think it's this one? I have very pale skin and very dark hair so it might work better on me than other people, but I've been using it every week or couple of weeks for about six months on my lip, chin/jaw, armpits, and bikini line, and it's at least an 80% reduction on average. I just do it right after a shower on a weekend day; it takes about 15 minutes or so to treat all the areas I'm working on.

I didn't really look into the cost comparison with salon laser, but even if it cost about the same, it's nice to just be able to take care of it at my own convenience rather than making an appointment.
posted by slenderloris at 4:22 PM on December 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wax and have for years. Some places use a wax that hardens and feels like it pulls out the hair better.

I'd recommend waxing or shaving before doing the laser hair removal process. Just make sure you really do like your face without that hair.
posted by toomanycurls at 10:06 PM on December 29, 2017

Plucking for the occasional single dark hair to the sides, a hair trimmer every week or two for fluff just below the nose where plucking is too painful. Comparing the two areas indicates shaving has no noticeable effect on hair density, and the fluff stubble is soft and unnoticeable. Unless you have dramatically dark hair on pale skin, I recommend starting with shaving and seeing if that is enough.

(And waxing gave me sores, both at-home and salon kind. Sensitive skin is a pain.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:27 PM on December 29, 2017

It might appear after any kind of removal that the hair growing back is darker if you haven’t removed hair for years since the new hair hasn’t had any sun exposure to lighten it.

I also want to put in one more vote for threading. I tried waxing a few times but found it irritating so then used nair for years but got tired of the smell and the gloop. It works well and is easy though. Eventually just started shaving but the downside is it grows back faster than nair or waxing. Once I tried threading I was sold. Quick and gentle (though a little pinchy). I get my eyebrows threaded once a month and now just have them do my lip too. Total price for both is ten bucks. Your hair regrowth rates may vary.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 4:43 AM on December 30, 2017

Nthing that waxing certainly does not make hair grow thicker; if anything over time it makes it sparser.

Wax strips for the upper lip are the easiest and most efficient solution I've found, and it's plenty effective for me; if I had a more serious stache I would laser. Laser hurts but it works and it's such a relief.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:41 PM on December 30, 2017

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