Unwanted Facial Hair - Normal Skin - iVillage Beauty Skin Clinic

Unwanted facial hair on women often appears on the upper lip, chin and sides of the face. Before you decide on the proper removal method, however, first determine that the cause of the hair growth is not hormonal. If you are experiencing an abnormal growth of hair on these facial areas or if the hair is very thick, you should consult your physician to determine the underlying causes before you embark on a removal regimen.

If the hair growth isn't caused by hormonal abnormalities, you have a number of different options for removal. I find that women often choose to tweeze the hairs. Overall, this is not the best solution because repeated plucking can cause irritation in the hair follicle and, on darker-skinned women, can also result in scarring. Unless you have just a few stray hairs that occasionally pop up, save the tweezers for other uses.

Depilatory creams dissolve the hair at the base of the follicle. They are ideal for widespread areas (like the legs), but can be problematic when used on the face because they irritate the skin and usually don't remove all of the hairs. On the plus side, depilatory creams are a relatively inexpensive option. On average, results will last for one to two weeks.

Reviewed: March 21, 2002

Waxing is one of the most popular solutions. Generally, it is an effective method to remove hair on the upper lip and fine hair on the side of the face, but it is not recommended for the chin area, where hair tends to be more coarse. Waxing can also be problematic for darker-skinned women, who sometimes experience discoloration due to irritation and inflammation. Depending on the type of hair you have, waxing results should last from two to six weeks.

Electrolysis uses low-level electricity to kill the hair follicles. On the upside, results last longer than with waxing and depilatories. However, the process can be time consuming and costly. Finding a reputable practitioner is key, because electrolysis performed incorrectly can cause scarring. Before you begin treatment, ask for referrals from former clients, and make sure that a new needle is used for each session. Electrolysis is generally recommended for women with white or very blonde hair and for women who have areas with isolated hairs.

Laser hair removal is the newest weapon in the hair-removal arsenal. The ideal candidate for laser work has fair skin and dark hair, but good results can be achieved by an experienced laser practitioner on darker-skinned women. Overall, laser hair removal is not very effective on light blonde or white hair.

Before you begin treatment, you should consult a dermatologist to determine if you are a good candidate for laser removal. You also want to make sure that the person treating you (whether it's a doctor, registered nurse or licensed esthetician) is experienced. The three most important questions to ask during a consultation are:

  • Do you own the laser or rent it? If the doctor owns the laser, this indicates they have a high level of commitment and experience.
  • How many patients have you treated?
  • What kind of results can I expect?

Although laser hair removal is often billed as permanent, a 50 percent to 70 percent reduction after three treatments, performed six weeks apart, is more realistic. On facial areas, maintenance treatments are usually necessary for complete removal. Depending on what part of the country you live in, charges for laser hair removal should range from $150 to $300 per facial area.

Finally, avoid laser treatment around the eyes -- on the brow area and in between the eyes. Because laser rays can penetrate deeply, this is an area better treated by tweezing, waxing or electrolysis.

Reviewed: March 21, 2002

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