Facial hair is a problem for millions of women. Luckily, there are several options available for reducing or eliminating unwanted facial hair. You can go the simple route (bleaching, tweezing) or more advanced procedures (Electrolysis, IPL).
The goal is to get rid of that hair but what works well for one may not for another (none are perfect). You might favor a method that can be done in the privacy of your home. For professional services, you will want to consider the expense, effectiveness and possible side effects (redness, swelling).
Read on to discover helpful descriptions of five popular facial hair removal treatments...
Depilatory creams contain chemicals that dissolve the hair's keratin structure thereby effectively removing the hair. The cream is applied to the desired area(s) of the face and left on for a few minutes. Removing the cream removes the hair.
This is a popular facial hair removal procedure because it can be done in the privacy of the home and it is cheap, quick, effective and considered safe to use. Works best on fine hairs.
Disadvantages: 1) the chemicals in depilatory creams only dissolve the hair just below the surface of the skin so the process must be repeated every few weeks; 2) leaving the cream on too long can irritate the skin causing redness and swelling (to avoid an allergic reaction, testing on a small area of the skin first is recommended); 3) has strong, sulphurous odor.
Electrolysis uses a short-wave electric current to permanently destroy hair at its roots. A fine needle is inserted into the follicle of each hair to be removed and a small electric current is applied at the base. The root of the hair is destroyed by the current which can then be pulled out.
Electrolysis is ideal for a small area of the face or an area that doesn't contain much hair. Electrolysis works best for hair that is still growing. It is possible that old hair (in the process of being shed) won't be killed.
Disadvantages: 1) depending on the number of hairs to be removed, this procedure can be both time-consuming and expensive (a dozen sessions or more is not unusual); 2) a common complaint of electrolysis is a stinging sensation and possible short term redness.
Electrolysis requires the services of a trained, skilled professional who performs this procedure on a regular basis. Choosing an electrologist who is not properly trained or is inexperienced can result in painful, ineffective treatments and even permanent disfigurement.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) uses specific wavelengths of short but powerful light pulses to "zap" unwanted hair. The light is converted to heat energy which thermally destroys the root of the hair. IPL is considered more of a permanent hair reduction process than a permanent hair removal process.
IPL is growing in popularity, especially over the more well known laser hair removal procedure. The pulses of light produced by IPL equipment are short by design to limit damage and discomfort to the skin. Most people that have had IPL treatments only experience slight irritation not unlike that of a minor sunburn.
Disadvantages: 1) It is pricey - a full course of IPL treatments takes several months (with a one to three month gap between treatments); 2) the degree of pain experienced will be greater on sensitive skin (depending on the IPL instrument intensity setting); 3) IPL treatments can result in inflamation and raised "bumps" around the hair follicle lasting 3-4 days; 4) little effect on white, grey and red hairs due to lack of pigment.
Intense Pulsed Light requires the services of a trained, skilled professional who performs this procedure on a regular basis.
With this procedure, a low energy laser beam is focused on an area of unwanted hair while minimizing the risk of injury to the surrounding skin. This laser beam is attracted to and absorbed by the pigment of the hair which destroys the follicles beneath the skin surface. After a course of treatments, facial hair will be permanently reduced and may be stopped for good.
Laser hair removal is normally done in a series of four to eight treatments. The reason being each treatment is only effective on those hair follicles that are in the growth phase (hair that is dormant - non-growth stage is not affected). So after each treatment less and less hair follicles remain.
Disadvantages: 1) pain associated with laser treatment described by some as painful (like a series of "bee-stings"); 2) not recommended for fine hair or the absence of pigment (white, grey, blond hairs); 3) it’s costly and can take time -there needs to be a four or more week gap between treatments; 4) skin must be protected from sun damage after treatments.
Laser treatments require the services of a trained, skilled professional who performs this procedure on a regular basis. The potential for burning and skin damage/disfigurement, including permanent lightening or darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation) are all possible with inexperienced practitioners.
Waxing is a very effective method of removing facial hair. It can be done at home with readily available wax strips from drugstores or at many salons across the U.S. Facial waxing appeals to many women because it is quick, inexpensive and considered less "exotic" or extreme than other procedures.
In a common waxing procedure, warm wax is applied to an area with a spatula or similar device. Fabric strips are applied to the warm wax and then pulled off thereby removing the hair. This treatment works best on fine hair, less so for coarse hair.
Disadvantages: 1) regular waxing is required - hair starts coming back in 2-4 weeks; 2) hair must be long enough before waxing (or rewaxing) can be performed. Every 4 weeks is the norm; 3) can result in a temporary rash; 4) is better for fine hair (such as the upper lip) than coarser hair (such as on the chin); 5) reported to have caused skin discoloration on darker skin.
Disclaimer: I have made every reasonable effort to produce an informative and helpful article on Facial Hair Removal based on my research and experiences. However, I make no representation or warranties of any kind with regard to its completeness, accuracy or suitability for any specific situation or purpose. See our Warranty Policy for more info.
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