If it were possible for me to see a show of hands, how many of you have checked their face in the car mirror before getting out and noticed unwanted facial hair? Yup, my hand is up, too. For most women of a certain age – and that age can start right after puberty – unwanted facial hair can be a fact of life. So what gives? Most women will have some amount of very fine hair, called vellus hair. It usually shows up on the perimeter of the face along the cheeks, jaw line, chin and upper lip. Then there are those coarse thick hairs, common along the chin and upper lip area, which annoy us. As we age, these coarse hairs may even turn gray or white but stay coarse.
Feel free to blame your heredity and hormones. Indeed, heredity can play a role in how much unwanted hair you have but also imbalances of hormones such as androgens, menopause, and certain medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome can cause unwanted hair not just in the face but also the body. Please talk to your physician if you have health concerns related to unwanted facial and body hair.
It is important to know that hair grows in three stages and it is for this reason that procedures from body waxing to electrolysis require several treatments for excellent results. The hair that you can see is your late phase hair while the two younger phases are waiting below the surface and in the hair papillae.
Let me do away with a myth that keeps sticking around: no, your hair does not grow back stronger with any of these hair removal methods. It’s simply not possible. Hair growth is determined by factors such as DNA, heredity, hormones, medication, etc. a blade will just give the cut off hair shaft a bit of a sharper edge.
Here are 7 choices for hair removal:
1. Tweezing: you pull out individual hairs by the root with tweezers.
This method is best for small areas and lasts from a few days to a few weeks. It is possible to develop ingrown hairs from hairs that broke off and were not completely removed by the root. It is easily done at home and therefore inexpensive. If you do this frequently, invest in a good pair of tweezers, it makes the job easier.
2. Waxing: From your eyebrows to your toes, it is possible to wax every area of your body. This should be done at a Salon or Spa – Leissa’s provides the full range of waxing services – and requires warm wax to be applied to the area of the face or body to be waxed. The hair is then removed by the root. Contraindications for waxing are prescription Vitamin A preparations, doctor prescribed Acne medication, active fever blisters at the area to be waxed or predisposition to hyper-pigmentation. The hair to be removed must be at least ¼ inch long for the wax to grab on to. Yes, there is a certain amount of pain involved with waxing, after all it is removed by the root. Please follow the after care instructions, particular of the bikini area to avoid ingrown hairs. Redness and irritation can occur. Re-growth depends on the area and person and can last from two to five weeks.
3. Shaving: unwanted hair is removed with a sharp blade or electric shaver at skin level. Although shaving can be effective because it is quick and done at home, it is also the method with the fasted re-growth rate, can lead to skin irritation as well as ingrown hairs. Be sure to use calming and hydrating skin care products after shaving to avoid irritation.
4. Laser/Pulsed Light: this is a semi permanent way of hair removal. A technician will use a laser or IPL (intense pulsed light) to destroy the roots. This method can be quite effective but be sure you understand the expected outcome, length of treatment and cost. There are certain conditions that need to be met for good results i.e. contrast between skin and hair. The laser is attracted to the contrast/pigment in the hair and will not work for light skin with light hair, neither on white or gray hair. Redness, irritation and scarring can occur.
5. Electrolysis: this will permanently remove hair. A trained technician will place a tiny needle inside each hair follicle and destroy the root with electric current. This method is best for small areas like the upper lip or chin. Women with white, blond or gray hair who cannot get laser or IPL may see results with electrolysis. Just like with the laser hair removal this will require several treatments, be sure you understand how long the treatment will last, expected outcome and cost. Redness, irritation and scarring can occur.
6. Depilatory creams: these creams work with an alkaline solution to dissolve the hair at skin level. Be sure you read the instructions on the product carefully to understand for what area of the face or body it can be used and never exceed the recommended time the product stays on the skin. Possible chemical burns or irritations can occur. Similar to shaving this is easily done at home but re-growth will be quickly because the hair has not been removed at the root. Again, ingrown hairs may happen.
7. Prescription creams: there are prescription creams that can be applied to the skin. These creams will not remove hairs but slow down how fast they grow and make them grow finer and softer. This method is sometimes used together with laser treatments or shaving because it gives you a little extra time between treatments.