Is there such a thing as a normal amount of facial hair in women? Not exactly. “Normal” amounts of facial hair vary from person to person. Some individuals have very little facial and body hair, while others — women included — can have a fair amount. Facial and body hair are part of our genetic makeup, which means that your genetics can even play a role in in determining your facial hair patterns. Also related to genetics, your ethnicity can also determine whether or not you’ll have more facial and body hair than another woman.
Unfortunately for most women, facial and body hair is frowned upon and can even be an embarrassing problem that needs to be solved — permanently. Of course, there are a number of ways to remove body and facial hair, depending on your personal preference. But, if you’re experiencing the sudden appearance of excessive facial hair, there are other things to consider before running to the nearest salon.
Almost every woman you know likely owns a razor (or two). This is probably why it’s one of the most common (and arguably easiest) way to remove unwanted hair from any part of your body, including your face.
While shaving is easy, it isn’t permanent. Most old wives’ tales also say that if you shave your hair, it will grow back thicker than before, which could discourage someone from trying it, especially if the hair they’re looking to remove is on their face. Lindsey Blondin, lead esthetician of George The Salon in Chicago, told me that this is physiologically impossible. “It will grow back the same as it was before. It will not grow back thicker or darker.”
Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified NYC dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From A Top New York Dermatologist, agrees. “If you use a razor hair will not come back faster or thicker,” she said. “The hair will only seem thicker because you are cutting off the tapered end.” Wise words from professionals if you were feeling unsure about shaving.
Waxing is another form of hair removal that a lot of women gravitate toward. Waxing uproots the shaft of the hair, so that the hair that grows back later is smooth. Keep this in mind if you’ve been taught that hair removal makes hair grow faster and thicker and you still believe it. The effects of waxing typically last for about three weeks.
Waxing damages your hair follicles which, in this case, is not a bad thing because damaged follicles reduce the growth of hair. While waxing “may permanently decrease the amount of hair growth over time,” Fayne L. Frey, dermatologist at Fry Face, said that “the method is not perfect and there is no guarantee that over time your face will be completely hair-free.”
While waxing isn’t especially expensive, and can even be done at home, Dr. Jaliman doesn’t recommend it, because “waxing can turn the skin red and be very irritating.” Keep this in mind if you decide to go somewhere to get a professional wax, or even if you decide to do it yourself at home. You should note that professionals will have better methods to try and prevent irritation, and will have useful tips and products to alleviate any irritation you may experience post-wax.
Depilatory creams, the most common and well-recognized brand of which is Nair, is another effective method of facial hair removal for women.
According to Dr. Frey, Nair and other depilatory creams work because they contain ingredients like calcium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. “These ingredients increase the pH of the hair shaft that causes it to chemically break down (breaking the disulfide bonds of the hair).” This then allows you, the user, to simply wipe away the weakened hair.
For its ease of use alone, some might argue that this is the best form of facial hair removal for someone who doesn’t want to seek professional help. Dr. Frey also told me, however, that depilatory creams can cause skin irritation, so take extreme caution before using it, especially if you’ve got sensitive skin.
Hair removal medication
If you’re finding your excessive facial hair to be a serious problem, there may be medications available for you to take.
Certain medications like “GNRH (gonadatropin-releasing hormone) agonists,” Dr. Frey said, “have been used for their anti-androgen effects.” Because hormonal imbalances can cause excess facial hair in women (more on that later), there are also other medications that can be used to reverse this, including “certain hormonal contraceptives, metformin (used more commonly for diabetes), and eflornithine (Vaniqa).”
Medications to remove or reduce the appearance of facial hair are typically available only by prescription, so if you’re interested in this method of treatment, your best course of action is to consult with your doctor.