Set aside your struggles with unwanted peach fuzz -- you don't have to rock that upper-lip hair any longer. Although the mustachioed look might work for the men in your life, you may not be ready to lead the hipster charge for hirsute ladies just yet. Get ready to shave daily or wax, thread or sugar once every few weeks. Too much maintenance? Banish your hair on a long-term basis with lasering or electrolysis.
The Root of the Problem
Despite the likely pain and potential skin irritation, many women turn to waxing to remove unwanted hair, which lasts between four and eight weeks and can be done at a salon or at home. Home-waxing kits come with pre-made strips and microwavable low-temperature wax to reduce the chance of burns.
A salon professional can also pull out whole sections of hair at once with threading, which involves a cotton thread and an effective twisting action. Threading hurts just as much as waxing, but goes by more quickly, produces less mess and does not take off a layer of skin with the hair. With both methods, sneezing and eye watering are common during the procedure, and red or white skin bumps may follow. Tweezing or plucking individual hairs is typically best for touch-ups only.
If yanking hair out of your face sounds too unpleasant, you can opt for less-painful -- but also less long-term -- alternatives. Depilatory creams, lotions and gels, which dissolve hair chemically, will give you a week of smooth skin before you need to let the hair grow in again. Some creams are waterproof and will stay on even in the shower, so you don't have to waste time waiting around.
Shaving, the traditional method of removing hair, is a little less effective. Hair grows back more quickly -- sometimes within a day -- and the exfoliating action of the razor can irritate skin if performed too often. Hair also appears thicker when it grows in, due to the blunted ends. Women with light, fine hair sometimes opt for bleaching to hide hair growth instead, although the bleach makes skin sun-sensitive for a day and can burn your skin if you leave it on too long.
Waxing and chemical treatments may not be an option for you if your skin turns red, irritated and patchy afterward, or if you use retinol treatments, which make skin fragile enough to tear when pulled. Ask for elastic wax at body temperature if you still want the salon experience, or choose the gentler threading method.
A third option is sugaring, which you can also do at home with a heated mixture of sugar, lemon juice and water. You don't need cloth strips for sugaring and don't need to worry about damaging your lip -- once hardened after a minute or two on your skin, grip the sugar itself and pull in the hair's growth direction. Sugaring also leaves your skin moist and soft, unlike harsher waxing.
The longest-lasting hair removal treatments all come from a doctor's office. Alexandrite, diode, intense pulsed light (IPL) and Nd:Yag lasers target hair pigment and stunt hair follicles with high-energy heat. The results are not permanent; patients typically complete five sessions for maximum hair reduction and likely will need periodic touch-ups, as hair growth is reduced, not eliminated. Laser treatments can also be risky: Blisters, discoloration and scarring are always possibilities.
The only permanent hair-removal treatment is electrolysis, which completely destroys hair follicles, one at a time, with an electrical current. This painful process takes multiple sessions and you may end up with scabbing or a temporary sunburned look. Avoid wearing makeup just after a treatment to reduce irritation.