Having thick, coarse hair on your face can be distressing for many women. While some facial hair is normal, excessive growth can be caused by hormonal imbalances or conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The good news is that there are many effective options for removing unwanted facial hair safely and affordably at home.
What causes excessive facial hair in women?
All women produce low levels of androgens like testosterone. An excess of these hormones can trigger thicker, darker facial hair growth called hirsutism. Common causes include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a hormonal disorder that results in excess androgens
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia – a genetic condition affecting the adrenal glands
- Cushing’s disease – excess cortisol production that can stimulate androgen production
- Medications like steroids, cyclosporine, or phenytoin
- Menopause – dropping estrogen levels cause testosterone to become more prominent
- Ovarian or adrenal tumors
Seeing your doctor can help determine if an underlying hormonal condition is causing your unwanted facial hair. Treating it could help resolve excess growth.
How can I remove facial hair at home?
Shaving, tweezing, waxing, depilatory creams, at-home laser hair removal devices, and electrolysis are common techniques for removing facial hair at home. The best option depends on your individual needs and preferences.
Shaving only trims the hair above the skin’s surface. It will quickly reappear as stubble. However, shaving is affordable, quick, and painless. Use a clean, sharp razor each time and shave in the direction of hair growth to avoid irritation. Apply a lubricating shave gel or cream first to protect skin.
Tweezing involves plucking individual hairs out by the root using tweezers. This provides longer-lasting results than shaving since it removes the entire hair, but can be time-consuming for larger areas. Tweeze after showering or applying a warm towel when pores are open. Plucking the same hairs repeatedly can damage follicles, so avoid over-tweezing.
Waxing strips away larger sections of hair by adhering to the hairs and pulling them out from the root. Hard wax or soft strips can be used. Waxing provides smoother skin and slower regrowth than shaving, but it can be painful. Wax every 3-6 weeks to maintain smoothness. Exfoliate and avoid sun exposure for 24 hours pre- and post-waxing.
Chemical hair removal creams dissolve hair at skin level, leaving it smooth. Look for creams with calcium or potassium thioglycolate. Follow instructions carefully to avoid chemical burns. Depilatory creams offer longer-lasting but temporary removal. Hair could grow back within 3 days. They work best on small areas of thin, dark hair.
Laser Hair Removal Devices
At-home laser hair removal flashes intense pulses of light into hair follicles, damaging the root so hair falls out or doesn’t regrow. FDA-cleared devices like Tria and Silk’n Flash & Go use safe light technology to provide permanent hair reduction over 3-4 months of treatments. They work best on fair skin with dark hair. Evaluate your specific skin and hair type to see if home lasers could work for you.
Electrolysis destroys hair follicles by applying heat or chemical energy through a tiny needle-like probe inserted into the follicle. Permanent hair removal is possible after about 12-15 sessions. A technician must perform each 30-60 minute electrolysis session. The process targets one hair at a time, so numerous treatments are needed for larger areas.
What is the most effective facial hair removal method?
The most effective facial hair removal method depends on your specific needs and goals:
- Longest-lasting: Electrolysis and professional laser treatments provide permanent hair removal after a series of sessions.
- Cover large areas: Waxing removes more hair at once compared to tweezing.
- Precision targeting: Electrolysis precisely targets individual hairs you want gone.
- Least painful: Shaving and depilatory creams are the quickest, easiest methods involving little to no pain.
- In-home convenience: At-home laser devices allow private treatments on your schedule.
Consider your pain tolerance, budget, desired smoothness duration, and skin and hair characteristics. Mix and match methods as needed. For example, use an at-home laser treatment followed by quick touch-up tweezing or shaving as needed.
How can I avoid irritation from facial hair removal?
Removing facial hair can lead to redness, bumps, and ingrown hairs if not done properly. Here are some tips to minimize irritation:
- Exfoliate gently before and after to prevent ingrown hairs.
- Use a clean, sharp razor and shave in the direction of hair growth.
- Apply a soothing gel or serum after shaving or waxing.
- Avoid over-tweezing the same hairs repeatedly.
- Apply a cool compress after waxing to calm skin.
- Use depilatory creams carefully by doing a patch test first.
- Moisturize daily and apply sun protection after treatments.
- Avoid picking at ingrown hairs that may form.
See a dermatologist if irritation persists and disrupts skin health. They can provide prescription medications to calm inflammation and treat discoloration.
What natural remedies reduce facial hair growth?
Natural remedies offer milder alternatives for slowing hair growth between other removal sessions. However, keep in mind they may not permanently remove hairs or sufficiently tackle hormonal imbalances causing excess growth.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel contains gibberellins and auxins that inhibit hair growth. Apply pure aloe gel on the skin after removing hair by shaving or waxing. Rinse after 30 minutes. Repeat a few times per week.
Papaya may slow hair regeneration after it’s been removed. Eat more papaya or use a papaya-based face mask 1-2 times per week. Mash papaya flesh into a paste and apply on facial hair growth areas for 30 minutes before rinsing.
Turmeric’s antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties may inhibit hair growth. Create a turmeric mask by mixing ground turmeric with milk or yogurt. Apply on the face for 20-30 minutes 1-2 times per week before rinsing.
Green tea’s antioxidants interfere with hormonal activity triggering hair growth. Consume 2-3 cups of green tea daily or use cooled green tea as a facial toner after shaving or waxing. You can also apply green tea bags or powder mixed with water on the skin.
Sugar or Honey
These natural exfoliants remove dead skin cells and hair debris within follicles that could cause ingrown hairs. Gently rub a damp face with white sugar or honey for 2-3 minutes before rinsing.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar balances skin pH levels and acts as a mild chemical exfoliant. Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 2 parts water and apply it on the face with a cotton ball after facial hair removal. Rinse after 15-20 minutes.
When should I see a doctor for facial hair concerns?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience:
- Sudden increased facial hair growth
- Hair growing in unusual male-pattern areas like the chin or chest
- Excess hair coupled with irregular periods or infertility
- Hair growth along with male-pattern balding
- Dark, thick hairs and acne starting in adolescence
- Hair removal methods cause severe irritation or infections
A doctor can check for underlying conditions like PCOS or hormonal imbalances contributing to unwanted hair. They may recommend blood tests, hormonal treatments, and prescription topicals to get excess growth under control.
When to see a dermatologist for help removing facial hair?
Consult a dermatologist if you experience:
- Ongoing redness, burns, and bumps from hair removal
- Severe ingrown hairs and infected follicles
- Dark spots or scarring left after hair removal sessions
- No improvement after 6 months of at-home laser treatments
- An interest in professional laser hair removal or electrolysis
A dermatologist can provide medical-grade hair removal techniques to successfully target thick hair or stubborn areas. They may also prescribe medicated creams to reduce inflammation and skin discoloration caused by excessive hair growth.
When should teenagers see a doctor about facial hair?
Teenagers should make an appointment with a pediatrician or family doctor if they experience:
- Facial hair growing at age 8-9 years old or younger
- Excess hair appearing over a short time before age 12
- Sudden increased body and facial hair around age 13-14
- Dark upper lip hair and hair on the chin or cheeks
- More hair growth than peers of the same age and gender
Early puberty or a hormonal condition like PCOS may be causing premature hair growth. A pediatrician can make sure puberty and hormones are progressing normally. They may refer to a specialist like an endocrinologist if an underlying condition requires treatment.
Thick dark facial hair can be distressing but is typically manageable. Start with affordable at-home removal techniques like shaving, depilatory creams, tweezing, or waxing for temporary smoothness between long-lasting professional treatments. Consult a doctor if hair growth seems abnormal or causes emotional distress for proper diagnosis and treatment. With consistent removal methods and hormone regulation as needed, you can keep stubborn facial hair under control.