Facial Hair Removal

Facial hair removal is a problem for both men and women. Unwanted hair can be a cause for great concern for women especially as it is something that is sort to make them UN lady like.

On the other hand men can also be affected by this as hair could grow on the ear or on the upper part of the cheeks beneath the eye. Women often have unwanted facial hair that appears on the upper lip, chin and sides of the face. Before deciding on the proper removal method, however, you should first determine that the cause of the hair growth is not down to hormones. If you are experiencing abnormal hair growth on these specific areas of the face or if the hair is very thick, you might have a hormonal imbalance. Also, during pregnancy and while taking hormone replacement therapy, unwanted facial hair often crops up or growth is accelerated. Most doctors advise waiting until your hormones settle down to begin treatment. Otherwise, the hair continues to be stimulated by the hormones and treatment isn't as effective.


Shaving does not change the thickness or growth rate of human hair. Rather, the rough-textured, beveled edge that shaving produces (compared with the softer, tapered tip of uncut hair) may give the appearance of thickening although shaving is a useful and safe method of facial hair removal (and the chief method chosen by men), it is not popular among women.
Side effects of shaving are generally minimal. Irritation, often caused by components of the shaving lubricant, and minor cuts can occur.


Epilation, or plucking, is often the first method chosen by patients. The entire hair shaft and bulb are removed, with results lasting six to eight weeks. While this method is probably the least expensive, it is not practical for use over larger areas. Unless the hair is plucked in anagen, the method generally does not change the growth rate of hair.

Numerous methods are used for epilation, from tweezers to devices that pluck several hairs at once. Hot or cold waxing is also a form of epilation.

Depilation is the use of a chemical that dissolves the hair shaft, with results lasting up to two weeks. Composed of thioglycolates and mercaptans, and mixed with an alkali compound (calcium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide), depilatories do not affect the hair bulb. The thioglycolates disrupt disulfide bonds between the cystine molecules found in hair, helping to dissolve the hair shaft.
Side effects include chemical dermatitis and, occasionally, allergic dermatitis from the sulfur-containing thioglycolates or fragrance added to the compound. The thioglycolates produce hydrogen disulfide gas, a particularly offensive-smelling byproduct.


The use of lasers in hair removal allows selective targeting of the hair bulb and can diminish regrowth for at least three months. Evidence of permanent hair removal has yet to be established but is under investigation.

The basis for laser hair removal is the specific targeting of melanin in the hair bulb. Melanin absorbs the light emitted by the laser at a specific wavelength. The energy of the laser converts into heat, causing the selective destruction of the hair bulb. However, melanin in the surrounding epidermis can also be targeted, which may limit the success of the procedure. With too much melanin in the adjacent skin, the laser energy is absorbed into the surrounding epidermis, causing epidermal damage or absorptive interference with less effective hair destruction. Patients with dark hair and light skin have a relatively higher concentration of melanin in the hair compared with the epidermis, allowing for more selective absorption of light within the hair bulb, reducing damage to or interference by the melanin in the epidermis. Conversely, gray or white hair is a poor target for laser energy.

The most common side effects of laser hair removal are edema and erythema, which generally resolve within 24 hours after treatment. The process itself can be slightly painful because of the short burst of heat energy created. Furthermore, hypo pigmentation and hyper pigmentation may occur and are related to skin color.


Although electrolysis is a common method of hair removal, its practice is the least standardized. Regulation of the process varies from place to place. In addition, no controlled trials have evaluated the efficacy of the procedure. Success depends on the skill of the operator. However, electrolysis is considered to be a permanent method of hair removal. An electric current is passed through a fine-gauge needle or flexible probe inserted into the skin, destroying the follicular isthmus and lower follicle. In one study, this led to permanent removal of the hair.

The two basic methods of electrolysis are galvanic and thermolytic. Galvanic electrolysis is the more common method. It destroys the hair follicle using a direct current­induced chemical reaction. The process is variably slow, and repeat treatments are often necessary. Thermolysis uses an alternating current that creates heat within the follicle, causing its destruction. Depending on the operator, the equipment, and the method used, the process can take from 0.02 to 20 seconds per hair. Electrolysis is usually performed on all types of hair but is most effective on hairs in the anagen phase.

Side effects of electrolysis, which include pain, erythema, and edema, are generally temporary. Scarring, keloid formation in susceptible patients and postinflammatory pigment changes are possible. Patients with pacemakers should not undergo electrolysis, regardless of the method.


Several oral medications have successfully reduced the growth of facial hair, third-generation oral contraceptives, cimetidine , but long-term safety and efficacy data are lacking.
Recently, however, the first topical medication for the treatment of unwanted facial hair has demonstrated success. Eflornithine (Vaniqa), an irreversible inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase, has also been used to treat African sleeping sickness in intravenous and oral forms. In animal studies, inhibition of ornithine decarboxylase reduced cell division and other cell functions that are necessary for hair growth. Topical application in humans has been shown to remove facial hair, an effect that may last as long as eight weeks after therapy is discontinued. Currently, eflornithine is indicated only for the removal of unwanted facial hair in women.

Although eflornithine is indicated as a stand-alone treatment, it may improve the success of laser hair removal when the two are used in conjunction. If the medication is well tolerated, it can be continued as long as it is effective. Hair growth usually returns to pre-treatment levels within eight weeks of discontinuing the medication. While eflornithine is a useful option, it is not a practical first-line therapy. It is perhaps best used in patients sensitive to physical methods of hair removal or to augment one of these methods.