Upper lip hair is something we all suffer from at some stage of our lives, with fine hairs that aren’t too visible, also known as peach fuzz, being common to most women. But for some women the hair growth can be more noticeable and distressing often due to genetic or hormonal issues.
Almost 8 percent of all women experience hirsutism according to researchers at Medical University of South Carolina. Hirsutism is a medical term for excessive hair growth on women in areas where hair doesn’t usually grow including the upper lip, the jawline, the chin and the sides of the face.
Fortunately there are many different options for getting rid of this unsightly hair, most of which can be done in the comfort of your own home. We’ll look at the different methods for upper lip hair removal to help you decide the best way of claiming back your beautiful smooth face.
Upper Lip Hair and Medical Conditions
When people say upper lip hair the first image that normally springs to mind is a thick, bushy mustache. While they can look quite sexy on some men they can also look ridiculous…but on women they can be just plain embarrassing. The last thing we want is to look like Tom Selleck in his Magnum PI days.
Although very few women are completely free of facial hair, it’s when the hair grows thicker, more coarse and more noticeable that it becomes a concern. The unwanted mustache may be a result of your genes, ethnicity or a hormonal disorder but in more extreme cases can be an early marker for underlying medical conditions like congenital adrenal hyperplasia, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or Cushing syndrome. Certain medications can also cause an excessive growth of upper lip hair with drugs like anabolic steroids, testosterone and minoxidil often having side effects of male hair growth patterns.
If you suspect your new mustache may be a result of any of the above it’s advisable to seek medical attention especially before changing any medications. In the meantime you probably don’t want to be walking around with a mustache like a ’70s pimp. Thick, noticeable hair or fine barely visible peach fuzz, the market is flooded with products to remove unwanted facial hairs, especially on the upper lip.
How to Deal with Unwanted Upper Lip Hair
Let’s take a look at some of the most common methods of upper lip hair removal and the pros and cons of each.
Shaving, using a manual blade cartridge razor or an electric razor is probably the most obvious method of upper lip hair removal, most men do it so why shouldn’t women? Shaving can be a relatively inexpensive, quick and pain free method of removing that mustache or fine hairs from above the lip. It’s normally the first method every young girl tries and there are many women for whom it’s their preferred method of removing their female mustaches.
The main problem with shaving for women is how harsh razor blades, especially the new four or five blade cartridges, can be on the sensitive skin above the lip. The blades often remove the top layer of skin along with the hairs and the skin surface sometimes hardens. Hairs can grow back more vigorously afterwards and quicker, with the potential risk of ingrown hairs. Shaving will need to be repeated more often than other longer lasting methods, sometimes even daily and can leave stubble or what men call a five o’clock shadow.
The cost of shaving may be significantly less than an epilator or laser treatment in the short run, and definitely hurts less than waxing or epilation but the cost of blades, creams and lotions can add up over time. As can the cost to the condition of your skin if you don’t follow a proper aftercare moisturizing routine. Best used as a quick temporary fix for unwanted upper lip hair.
Hair Removal or Depilatory Creams for Sensitive Areas
After shaving, a hair removal cream on the face is probably the most widely used method. As young girls many of us have raided our mother’s bathroom cabinets before an all important date to make sure there’s no sign of hair on that upper lip. Fortunately depilatory creams have come a long way in recent years and they don’t all carry the offensive chemical odor that used to be associated with them. (Check before use, there are still some pretty potent formulas out there!)
Again this is a relatively low pain method of upper lip hair removal and very easy to do with no special skills required. The main downside are the strong chemicals that are used in such creams which can cause allergic reactions making them unsuitable for use by many. Always check that a depilatory cream is specifically for facial use before applying to the upper lip area.
Effectively dissolving the hairs on your upper lip, the results last slightly longer than shaving but nowhere near as long as methods that remove the hair by the root. The creams can sometimes darken the skin too, as a side effect.
Using wax to remove unwanted upper lip hair is a very popular (if popular can be used to describe something so painful) method preferred by many women. The cost is much cheaper than before with many good-quality at home waxing kits available. Waxing can treat even the thickest and coarsest of hairs and the results are so long lasting they almost make the pain bearable.
Wax can be applied hot or cold before being ripped off with special strips, with cold wax being less messy and less painful but adhering to fewer hairs and needing a repeat application. Hot waxes are better performed by a professional beautician, are more painful but only need one application. Waxing can also thin out the hairs with regular treatments.
Waxing is definitely one of the most painful methods of hair removal and hairs have to be a certain length before the wax sticks to them, meaning you’ll have visible facial hair before you can repeat the process. But the results last much longer than shaving or creams.
Threading is one of the more preferable methods to remove upper lip hair and is one of the most effective in relation to cost and time. It can be slightly painful, just like threading of the eyebrows if you’ve ever had that done but it leaves the same smooth skin as creams, removing the hairs at the root for longer lasting results. It doesn’t leave any marks or darkening on the skin but immediately after a threading session you’ll find a reddening of the skin above your lip.
Try to choose somewhere close to home to avoid walking around with a red face or ask your therapist to apply a soothing gel after finishing the process. To avoid the chance of ingrown hairs you should gently exfoliate the skin above your upper lip in the couple of weeks following a treatment. It can be quite inexpensive, depending on where you choose to go with the average session costing $10 to $15, but with practice you could even try it yourself at home as shown in this Youtube video.
Many epilators now come with facial caps that reduce the number of tweezers making contact with the face and make it easier to maneuver in harder to reach places. There are even dedicated precision facial epilators available that can grab much finer and shorter hairs than waxing can. The process can be just as painful as waxing, especially when first tried but the results are just as long lasting. The initial cost of an epilator will be higher but in the long term you don’t have to pay any extra for more blades, creams or wax treatments.
The real beauty of epilators is just how convenient they are, you can use them either in the comfort of your own home or they’re mostly compact and portable enough to use when on vacation. They’re very quick to use, most can be used in the tub or the shower and many are rechargeable or use batteries negating the need for a power outlet. Cheaper models just like less expensive electric shavers can catch the skin and nip though and if an epilator is not used with care it may cause cuts or bruises.
Laser Treatment or IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)
There are now many home devices that allow you to perform laser or IPL treatment at home. They don’t normally have the same power as professional salon treatments but provide some of the longest-lasting results you’ll get in your own home.
Laser treatment or IPL is a long-lasting hair removal method but can also be highly reactive with the potential risk of skin diseases like cancer. Compact units are available especially designed for smaller areas like the upper lip and despite being much cheaper than traditional salon treatments will still require a hefty initial outlay of $200 or more. The effects are semi permanent but not immediate so you’ll have to zap the hairs for three to six months before you see any noticeable results, and they work best on lighter skin. (As yet they cannot work on darker skin tones.)
Electrolysis: a More Permanent Solution
Unlike other upper lip hair removal methods, electrolysis is the only FDA (US Food and Drug Agency) recognized permanent way of stopping hairs from growing back. With success you’ll never need to shave, wax, use an epilator or laser again. Electrolysis works by putting a needle-like probe beneath the root of the hair into the follicle and delivering a small electrical pulse which removes the hair and potentially stops the hair from growing back in that follicle. Previously this could only be done in salons on a weekly basis but there are now many machines that enable you to perform yourself at home.
The treatment isn’t quick, isn’t suitable for a quick touch up before a night out but for persistent upper lip hair problems it can permanently disrupt the structure of the growing hair. Fully stopping the hair growth will take several treatments, if not months, but many argue eventually the hairs will vanish completely. And unlike laser treatments, this can be carried out on all skin tones and facial hairs which are both light or dark.
So Which Method Should You Choose?
If facial hair, especially on the upper lip, is a problem for you there are many methods for removing those unwanted hairs. Bleaching is another solution which doesn’t actually remove the hairs but can have the effect of reducing the appearance of upper lip hair, and without any pain either. Which removal method you choose can depend on the severity of the problem, how much you want to spend, how long you have to perform the removal and just how much pain it’s worth. When trying the longer lasting methods of upper lip hair removal just remember the old adage…No Pain, No Gain.