How do I permanently remove chin hair?
September 26, 2007 12:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm female, and I have hair on my chin. How to best remove it?

I started to get the occasional chin hair in my late teens, and I would pluck them as soon as they were long enough to be tweezed. One day I had the stupid idea that it would be easier/faster to shave just that spot instead of waiting for the hairs to grow long enough to tweeze. Don't ever, ever do this. They started to grow in thicker, and they started to spread everywhere the razor touched; instead of fine vellus hair, I have stubble like a guy. I have to shave this every day. (FYI, my hormonal levels test within normal ranges, but I am naturally more hirsute than most women.)

I'm sick of shaving, sick of having this on my face, and I figure there must be some permanent solution. I imagine MTF transsexuals must go through this? I'm not scared of the pain of electrolysis or laser treatments, however I am scared of any permanent scars or redness on my face. I'm also quite poor. What are my options?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I have had both electrolysis and laser treatments. Electrolysis is more painful, slower, less effective, and can leave scars (I have some small pock-like scars in inconspicuous spots). I loved laser treatments--the progress is fast and the pain is fairly minimal (or, at least, the treatments are quite quick so it's not so bad to suffer through it). I ran out of money and haven't done a complete round of laser treatments, but just a couple reduced my (very very heavy) facial hair to a dramatically more OK level for me--I do shave, and now when I do I don't still have 5 o'clock shadow. I plan to go back for laser treatments as soon as I can set aside the bucks.

I'd say, too, that the laser treatments might not be more than electrolysis when you consider what a long-term project electrolysis can be. I did MONTHS of electrolysis with only minimal results; I did two laser treatments that took only a few minutes for $250 each and the difference was dramatic.

YMMV, but I am laser girl all the way!
posted by not that girl at 12:10 PM on September 26, 2007

Laser, all the way. Works wonders. Pay by the session, only use as much as you need. You may have to go back in a year or two for a touchup, but it's worth it. There absolutely should not be any scarring or redness from it. Find a good place (not just some spa place with a laser), talk to them about what kind of laser it is, and research it. There are some older threads on here about the kinds of lasers that are out there, and there are new ones that are even better with slightly darker skin.
posted by barnone at 12:10 PM on September 26, 2007

If your hair is dark and your complexion light, laser is the best way to go. Good companies will often offer a rate for a suite of treatments (usually six at a go). Force yourself to sit through the six or so treatments, even if the hair doesn't look like it's growing back, and be forewarned that this will only get rid of dark hair. Save up for this, if needs be.

Do a quick background check on the company offering the laser service. A reputable company will tell you the type of laser used, and you can check with the FDA to see if it's approved. Also check with quackwatch to see if the company has been listed. A reputable company will also start you on a low setting if you've never tried laser before. Ask them to do a spot test in an inconspicuous spot, if you're really worried.

I have never, ever found electrolysis to be of any use at all, despite the esthetician's claims to the contrary. Although it's cheaper per session, you wind up spending more because you have to go back each week ad infinitum.
posted by LN at 12:16 PM on September 26, 2007

Here's quackwatch's webpage on laser hair removal.
posted by LN at 12:27 PM on September 26, 2007 [3 favorites]

I have the same problem, and I've had success with laser treatment through my dermatologist's office (not a "med-spa" place or the back room at my hair salon).

I found that it hurt quite a bit more than I thought it would, but then afterwards they told me that there was a numbing cream that I could use next time (would have been nice to know before ... grrr). So if you do the laser, be sure to ask for the numbing cream. You have to rub it on an hour before the treatment.

Also, I don't doubt that shaving left you with stubble, but it's not physiologically possible for shaving to "spread" the hair growth. It's not like hair is caused by bacteria that moved from one place on your chin to another via the razor blade. It probably just seems like the hair "spread" because all the little hairs around the big ones also got stubble-ized by the razor and therefore became more noticeable.

I doubt there's a way to get insurance to pay for the laser treatment -- if you can make that happen, please let me know how! But you might find that your doctor's office will work out a payment plan for you. Those kind of treatments are high-value profit centers for them (as opposed to insurance-reimbursed medical appointments). They might be willing to work with you in order to get you as a customer.

Good luck!
posted by mccxxiii at 12:37 PM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

There are many threads full of personal experience with laser hair removal on the forums at I remember reading anecdotes from a few women for whom laser hair removal on their face had the reverse effect: thicker, darker, more prolific hair. (IIRC, the women to whom this happened had darker skin.) So, that's a possibility, albeit a small one, and probably a risk worth taking. If you're sick of shaving but need time to save up for laser treatments, see if you can find a local salon that does threading.
posted by junkbox at 12:52 PM on September 26, 2007

Well, I am a middleaged female and I get these.

I just pluck them. If one does that they do come back sparser and sparser. You do realise that shaving has NOTHING to do with the increased growth, right? Just made things more noticeable.

I guess laser treatment and all that would work, but unless you truly are much hairier than the average woman I wouldn't bother.
posted by konolia at 12:54 PM on September 26, 2007

Amplifying Konolia's statement - cutting the lifeless top off a hair with a razor does not and cannot make the hair intrinsically fuller or cause more hair to grow, because shaving has no effect on the hair roots which determine the qualities of the hair's growth. Consistent plucking does make hair grow in more finely, and in some cases a plucked hair will stop growing entirely, because plucking affects the root of the hair. Hair growing back from shaving also appears coarser as it leads with the portion cut at the thickest part: hair that grows untouched tapers naturally.

So, the increasing number of hairs would have happened anyway, the increased thickness may have been partly real but unrelated to shaving (another aspect of whatever hormonal/physiological/genetic axis caused the hair in the first place and led to its increase/thickening), otherwise it is just the contrast to the plucked hair. As far as alternatives/interims to permanent removal, threading and waxing both basically have the same effect as plucking.
posted by nanojath at 1:28 PM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

I used to have this problem, perhaps not to the degree you have, but after gynae surgery a few years ago (which must have upset something hormonally) I started to get, um, bristles where I never used to. I use an epilator, in particular this one, which is battery-powered and small enough to slip into a handbag.

It takes some getting used to, as it's ripping the hairs out and so is not painless, but it's no worse than getting your eyebrows waxed or pulling off a bandaid from your arm. At first you may get a few ingrowing hair and/or pimples, but this will soon stop, especially if you use it after bathing and before moisturising. The hair grows through finer and finer with time and it is no longer a problem for me.

If you decide to use an epilator, make sure you choose one that is suitable for facial hair. Not all of them are.

*wishes she could post this anonymously*
posted by essexjan at 1:34 PM on September 26, 2007

If it's available in your area, what about threading?

It's inexpensive; maybe it would be something you can have done until you save enough money for something that is permanent.

More info here.
posted by splendid animal at 2:29 PM on September 26, 2007

what about waxing? it's cheap, doesn't hurt much, and lasts a lot longer than shaving (and is faster than tweezing).
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:32 PM on September 26, 2007

I don't think waxing is a good idea, since you have to wait for the hair to grow enough. And I'm guessing anonymous doesn't want 1/8 inch hairs on her chin.

I suggest laser. I would think it wouldn't be so expensive on an area so small as the chin. (I'm getting it done on my legs, underarms and bikini area...and so far no complaints.)
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:45 PM on September 26, 2007

I strongly and from personal experience recommend against waxing or threading (or tweezing). These methods CAN and have made hair grow back thicker and stronger. It is true what the other posters have said about shaving, but yanking out the hair by any means really can make them horrendous. I foolishly waxed for a while and now I have the same problem as you, except much worse. The electrolysis will work but takes a loooong time. It's probably affordable if you don't mind waiting for the final result for a long time -- I go twice a month when I can afford it, and after ages, it's finally starting to have an effect. Laser had no effect on me (anecdotal evidence only). Seriously, don't wax or thread.
posted by Hey, Cupcake! at 4:52 PM on September 26, 2007

What about bleaching the hair regularly? You then could do some trimming with scissors if length is an issue and pluck out the rogue ones that don't take bleach?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 2:21 AM on September 27, 2007

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