Friendly reminder: Facial hair is totally normal, everyone has it, and by no means do you have to remove it (we love a unibrow). But if you’d rather not have it, there are several safe and effective ways to get rid of facial hair. Deciding the right way for you is the first and most crucial step. We spoke with Dr. Mona Gohara, board-certified dermatologist, associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, and president of the Women’s Dermatologic Society, to break down several facial hair removal methods — and how to choose the best one for your skin type and pain tolerance.
Dr. Mona Gohara, dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine
What are my facial hair removal options?
The ‘right’ method for you depends on your personal preferences and the amount of pain you can handle. But Dr. Gohara explained that the most important thing is to make sure it’s done safely.
Shaving your face
Shaving your face is a temporary (it lasts up to three days) and easy way to remove facial hair. It’s also the best method for sensitive skin, according to Dr. Gohara. Because with shaving, she said, you have more control over the process — like the kind of razor and how much lubrication you use.
Myth-busting time: No, shaving your face won’t cause the hair to grow back thicker afterwards.
How to safely shave your facial hair:
Cleanse. Wash your skin with warm water.
Apply lubrication. Think: Lather your face with shaving cream. It will prevent irritation to the skin.
Pick your razor. Use a single or double-bladed razor, Dr. Gohara advised, to prevent irritation from the friction caused by multiple blades.
Shave. Guide the razor in the direction of hair growth.
Keep it hygienic. Change your blade every five to seven shaves.
Waxing your face
Unlike shaving, the results from waxing can last up to four to six weeks. That’s because the wax pulls the hairs out from the follicle instead of cutting across the top. But if you have sensitive skin, waxing might irritate the skin.
At least a week before waxing, stop using retinol and alpha hydroxy acids (if that’s part of your regimen) to prevent irritation, Dr. Gohara said. And avoid waxing altogether if you’re currently applying retinoic acid, are taking antibiotics, or are taking — or have taken — a prescription acne treatment in the past six months.
How to wax your facial hair:
Test the temperature. Before you start, make sure that the wax isn't too hot.
Cleanse. Wash and dry the area you want to wax with a cleanser to remove dirt, oils, and makeup.
Take it one section at a time. Apply a small amount of wax to each section of hair you’d like to remove.
Apply the strip. Press the cloth strip firmly over the wax. Leave it for a few seconds.
Remove the strip and wax. With one hand holding the skin taut, remove the strip in the opposite direction of hair growth in one swift motion with your other hand. Insert expletives here.
Gently clean off any remaining residue. Once you’ve waxed the whole area, skincare is the next priority. Dr. Gohara advised washing the skin with a gentle cleanser, and avoiding essential oils or products with strong fragrances. “Because anything with fragrances can irritate the follicle even more,” she said.
Sugar waxing your face
Sugar waxing is like regular waxing’s chill, Gen Z friend. The ‘wax’ is actually made with sugar, water, and lemon juice. But as is the case with standard waxing, be sure to stop taking prescription acne treatment or retinol products at least a week before you wax.
How to sugar wax your facial hair:
Cleanse. Make sure your skin is clean and dry.
Apply the wax. Spread the wax in the opposite direction of hair growth.
Remove the wax. Hold the skin taut with one hand and pull the wax off in the direction (parallel to the skin) quickly.
Wash away any residual sugar wax. Once you’ve waxed the entire area, cleanse and dry your skin.
Depilatory creams for your face
How to use depilatory creams to remove facial hair:
Patch test. Test the cream on your skin first, to make sure your skin doesn’t have a reaction.
Apply the cream. Spread the instructed amount of cream onto your skin.
Let it sit. Leave it for the amount of time indicated on the product’s instructions, usually three to 10 minutes.
Cleanse. Wash off the product.
Tweezing your face
Tweezing is best for plucking rogue hairs (like stray eyebrow hairs or chin hairs), as opposed to removing hair en masse.
How to tweeze facial hair:
Cleanse. Wash your face with warm water.
Grab the hair. Pull the skin taut around the hair and grip the hair with tweezers.
Tweeze. Pull the hair firmly in the direction of hair growth.
Soothe your skin. If your skin is irritated, calm it by rubbing an ice cube over the area.
Epilators for your face
Epilators are little machines that basically operate like a lot of very fast tweezers. They pluck several hairs at a time from the root.
How to use epilators to remove facial hair:
Position the epilator. Hold the epilator at a 90-degree angle against your skin.
Remove the hair. Move the epilator slowly over the area.
Soothe your skin. If your skin is sore, rub an ice cube over the area.
Dermaplaning your face
Dermaplaning is an exfoliation and hair removal treatment where a blade gently exfoliates dead skin and removes any hair or peach fuzz. Note: This particular method should only be performed by a professional (think: a dermatologist).
How dermaplaning works to remove facial hair:
A dermatologist will guide a small blade across your skin to lift off dead skin cells and hair.
Afterwards, you may experience some redness and irritation, but that should subside after a few days.
Stay out of the sun for three days while your skin heals.
If you have facial hair, you have a lot of options. And one of them is to leave it alone and wear it proudly. But if you want to remove it, choose the method that works for your pain tolerance and skin type. And if you’re not sure, talk to a dermatologist first.
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