How to Get Rid of Unwanted Facial Hair
AHHH! Help! Dearest Amalah, I am asking you this question because I do not know where else to turn and am so ashamed! Before my pregnancy I had a chin hair or two that would pop up every now and again. A tweeze here, a tweeze there and all would be fine. During my pregnancy I noticed these little hairs popping up more and more often. I began having to pluck weekly and then almost every other day.
My daughter is 10 months old now and my chin situation is frightening. I have two patches on either side of my chin and under my jaw going all the way back to my neck line and it is a disaster. Recently I was getting ready for a big event, and since I have a baby and a full time job and hubby to take care of I was running short on time..I eyed the little pink razor in my shower and …well… now I have an even BIGGER problem. I have these two little patches and the section under my chin that have essentially turned into a girl beard (I am not kidding, I even get a 5 o’clock shadow and everything). I am 26! Is this hormonal? Is it because I am Italian? Who do I go to? A dermatologist? My obgyn? I have dark, dark hair and fair skin so when it is bad, it is really bad (I didn’t shave it but I am also sporting a pretty nice ‘stash too). I also have eczema and bleaching and waxing always caused serious skin issues for me but at this point I would take red itchy patches over a beard any day. Do any of those “rub away the hair” products work?
Please any thing at all will help, at this point I shave it every morning because I don’t know what else to do!
The bearded lady
Facial hair! On the wimmins! Sooooo much more common than you’d think. Brows, lips, chins, sideburns…a lot of women deal with a bit of extra hair than they’d like to admit. For some, it’s due to ethnicity and genetics, for others, it’s from shifts in hormones. Childbirth, PCOS, menopause, fun stuff like that. It sounds like you’ve got both causes here, since the growth amped up so noticeably after your daughter was born. It’s POSSIBLE, if you’re still breastfeeding, that you’ll see an improvement once your daughter weans, but…maybe not. So it’s SOLUTION TIMEZ.
First up: shaving. Definitely not the recommended tactic. There’s a myth that shaving causes hair to grow in thicker, but it’s more about the blunt cut of a razor that makes it look that way. Either way, shaving produces stubble — and as you’ve noticed, the stubble can appear really quickly. Rough, noticeable, notgood. So back away from the razor. Here are the options, and as much as I know about them: (Which is admittedly limited — all my unwanted hair is blond and still tweezable, and I’m not prone to bad waxing reactions.)
Bleaching. If your facial hair is simply darker than you’d like but still on the thin side, bleaching is a painless way to make it practically invisible. I have friends who bleach their upper lips and I NEVER would have noticed if they hadn’t said anything. Pros: can be done at home and cheaply (kits are usually under $10), no ingrown hairs, no pain. Cons: can sometimes temporarily lighten darker skin, doesn’t work for all skin types, and (as you’ve learned) can irritate sensitive skin. Look for kits designed specifically for the face and TEST IT OUT on your leg hair first to check for allergies or other bad reactions. A little tingling and redness afterward is normal, but should fade within a few hours. Anything longer than that, toss it, it’s no good for you. (And never, ever bleach skin that’s actively have an eczema break-out or something.)
Depilatory creams. Now, I haven’t used one of these since I bought a cheap-o bottle of Nair back in high school. (And I can’t even remember why I bought it. Legs? Bikini? Why was I fighting what was little more than peach fuzz?) Yes, they do work…kind of. They smell bad, they’re messy, they do not remove everything 100%, and only remove from the surface. They’re better for smaller areas, where you can go in afterward with tweezers and clean up what gets left behind. They’re also best for fine hair — if your chin sports really coarse hair, it’s unlikely that a cream will be all that effective. And while the creams formulated for the face do tend to be a bit gentler than ones for underarms and bikini lines…they can cause similar reactions to bleaching. So again, TEST ELSEWHERE FIRST. But! If you’re at a point where you don’t mind SOME tweezing but would like a bit of a shortcut to thin the herd first, perhaps a reader can recommend a specific brand to try.
Waxing. Self-explanatory. The quickest way to get rid of everything right from the root, giving you entire blissful days and weeks of a hairless appearance. Along with possible rashes, ingrown hairs, red angry skin. If my years of writing this column have taught me anything, it’s that some women are just incompatible with waxing, no matter what after-product they try. (And there are about 1,409,292,290 after-products out there, all promising to solve our waxing woes.) If I were you, and had hair like you’re describing, I’d probably continue to try different waxing techniques (hot, cold, hard wax (no strips), sugar, etc.) with different after-care approaches (azulene, diaper cream, exfoliating lotions) to see if I couldn’t come up with something that works. I’d also shun the at-home kits and see a professional.
Prescription medications.. There is indeed a prescription-strength medication for women who suffer from extra hair (hirsutism). Vaniqa. I’ve heard very, very mixed things about it — it’s an extremely high-maintenance thing, since you use it twice a day, every day, and it can take up to two months before you see any different. After that, clinical trials report that only 58% of users saw improvement, and the hair will come back pretty much immediately if you ever stop using it. You can’t use it if you’re pregnant or nursing, insurance usually won’t pay for it, and I don’t really know just how hairy you need to be before a doctor will prescribe it.
Electrolysis & Laser Hair Removal. Also known as The Big Guns. The Big, Permanent, Expensive Guns. Electrolysis is cheaper per-treatment than lasering, but you’re all but guaranteed to need multiple treatments. Lasering off facial hair can often be done in a single visit, since it can wipe out a hundred hairs while electrolysis targets individual hairs one by one. (I don’t know how accurate this is, but here’s a general idea of average costs per laser treatment across the country, and here’s one for electrolysis. Since the latter requires a LOT more treatments, the higher price per treatment of lasering might not really be that scary.) Both approaches have a mixed track record: worked great from some, while other people report that their hair did eventually grow back. There are some at-home gadgets that promise similar results, but are NOT recommended for use on the face, so don’t even get tempted. Facial hair < facial scarring.
A lot of women eventually decide to go for laser hair removal despite originally thinking it was too expensive: even if you DO find an at-home regimen that works, or figure out how to survive a waxing with minimal irritation...do the math. Regular salon waxing, twice-weekly bleaching or depilatory creams, twice-daily prescriptions, all that time spent tweezing and yanking and coloring and fretting. For the rest of your life. It's one of those awesome "spend the money all at once" vs. "spend even more over time" conundrums. Maybe throw a few dollars in a jar every time you reach for the razor or wax, or redirect some of that discretionary money that never seems to buy anything of real value (lattes! impulse buys!). Keep it by the mirror and remind your reflection that you're worth it.