How to remove unwanted facial hair according to the experts

When it comes to the best facial hair removal methods, you’ve likely heard of (and even experienced) the usual suspects, waxing and tweezing – but there are actually plenty more expert-approved ways to leave your skin baby soft.

From shaping your brows to removing hair above your lips, read on for a comprehensive guide to the professional-endorsed ways to get rid of facial hair.

1. Waxing

The art of waxing, unsurprisingly, involves applying either hard or soft wax to remove facial hair. Gina Petak, an education manager at the European Wax Center, tells Bazaar that wax is made to adhere to body hair for thorough removal at its root. The practice helps avoid rough stubble over time, keeping skin feeling smoother longer.

During a professional appointment, a specialist will first prep the skin by cleaning off any make-up, oils, or lotions that may prevent wax from properly attaching to your hair. Next, warm wax is applied to the area of choice, whether it is the eyebrows, chin, or upper lip. Once it cools, the wax hardens just enough to allow itself to be gently removed, along with any lingering hairs. To help soothe waxed skin, a professional applies a calming serum or lotion to minimise redness and potential irritation.

Petak recommends your hair be at least a quarter of an inch long prior to an appointment, so the wax can grip effectively. She also recommends exfoliating your face the day before (and in the weeks following) to remove dead skin cells and allow for a smoother finish. Immediately after a wax, professionals say to avoid activities that may be irritating to skin (like swimming), as well as use of harsh physical scrubs.

2. Sugaring

Safe for most skin types, sugaring is considered a gentler version of waxing, though it can sometimes lead to some redness, irritation, or itching, and people with sensitive skin may get bumps or rashes. Similar to waxing, sugaring is a method of hair removal involving a paste—made of lemon, water, and sugar—that is heated to a taffy-like consistency to remove hair at the root.

According to licensed aesthetician Courtney Rashidi, there are two main differences between waxing and sugaring. Wax is usually applied in the direction of hair growth, and then removed in the other direction. With sugaring, however, a professional places the substance in the opposite direction to hair growth, with removal going in the same direction as your natural hair growth. Additionally, the sugar paste doesn’t adhere to skin like wax does, so it won’t cause hair follicle breakage.

As with waxing, Rashidi recommends exfoliating and moisturising skin a few days before your appointment, so the sugar can properly remove hair from the root. Try to relax, too; experts say the more tense you are during the process, the more painful it can be. In regard to aftercare, experts advise avoiding exercise, scented lotions, and direct heat for up to 24 hours to prevent irritation.

how to remove facial hair
Matteo Scarpellini/

3. Threading

Threading is an ancient eyebrow hair removal technique that involves using threads to quickly pull and remove hair. Two long threads are twisted in unison to pluck hair out with a quicker movement than tweezing. Another benefit of threading? Its precision.

Rashidi adds that threading is ideal for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin, as the swiftness of the threads moving along the skin lessens the chance of irritation and ingrown hairs. If it is your first time threading to remove facial hair, full disclosure: the sensation may feel a bit intense, and may take some time to get used to. However, results from this method can last up to four weeks per appointment and don't come with any negative side-effects.

4. Dermaplaning

Dermaplaning is a facial treatment designed to gently shave off the top layer of skin and peach fuzz, which ultimately smooths and brightens the face. It can be done in-clinic by a licensed aesthetician with a surgical scalpel, or even at home with a proper dermaplaning device. According to Dermaflash founder Dara Levy, when performed at home, the practice usually takes no more than 10 minutes.

When doing so, before reaching for your dermaplaning device, Levy recommends cleansing your face and then patting it dry, which allows for a deeper exfoliation. Next, with your free hand, hold your skin taut while the other moves the device downward in short, precise motions.

No need to worry about whether it is safe to apply the rest of your skincare; you should not have any trouble using most of your go-to serums, moisturiser, or masks directly afterward (and you may find that your makeup applies even more smoothly, too). While there’s technically no downtime, Levy advises waiting at least 24 hours before using retinol to minimise the chance of irritation.

5. Tweezing

Tweezing involves using a tweezer to pluck out hair from the surface. While easy to do, there are some ways you can get the most out of tweezing. Rashidi recommends making sure your skin is squeaky-clean, so that you can get the best grip on each hair. She also highly suggests sterilising your tweezer to reduce the chances of bacterial transfer.

When tweezing, professionals advise grabbing each hair as close to the skin as possible, to ensure the entire follicle is removed at the root. Placing your tool at the end of a hair follicle heightens the chances of breakage when targeting hairs.

how to remove facial hair

6. Coil removers

Coil removers may seem like a complicated hair removal tool, but they’re actually fairly easy to use—think of them as a combination between tweezing and threading. Rashidi says to bend a coil remover into a 'U' shape by rolling each of its handles inward (similar to a squeezing motion) as you glide it against your skin.

As with threading, the expert recommends exfoliating your face before using a coil remover, to reduce the risk of ingrown hairs. Coil removers are best used to remove hairy spots on the upper lip, chin, and cheeks. Since they are not ideal for targeting specific hairs, professionals do not advise using the tools on your eyebrows.

Watch Lily James demonstrate hers in this video interview, below:

7. Hair removal creams

Hair removal creams, also known as depilatories, feature a blend of ingredients that dissolve hair down to its root. Dr. Jeannette Graf, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, says that this breakdown of the hair strand’s protein structure allows for hair to easily slough off when the cream is removed.

Dr. Graf warns that hair removal creams can irritate the skin or cause an adverse dermatological reaction, based on your skin type and the brand you choose. “I would try a large name brand with great reviews first, but truly hair removal cream efficacy is very reliant on the person’s skin type,” she explains. Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Morgan Rabach recommends trying a test patch of your formula of choice on your arm, to see if there’s a reaction. If there isn’t, she advises waiting a day or so, and then applying the cream directly to your face.

8. Laser hair removal

Another popular option for both professional and at-home treatment is laser hair removal. “Because using lasers offers a more targeted treatment, they reduce the potential of irritation or bumps that may be associated with shaving or waxing,” board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick told Bazaar. Note that facial hair cycles are shorter than body hair, so upkeep will mean coming in every four weeks, instead of every eight.

People with darker skin should only go to laser hair removal providers with devices that deliver the right wavelength and frequency for their skin tone. Dr. Rabach recommends avoiding retinol, exfoliants, and direct sun exposure the week ahead of your appointment, as well as wearing sunscreen afterward (and always).

9. Electrolysis

For a more permanent hair removal solution, experts recommend electrolysis. Electrolysis sends electric currents through the follicles to remove hairs and stop new ones from growing. “Many people enjoy electrolysis because it is a permanent treatment that can safely target sensitive areas while being precise,” Dr. Graf says.

Full disclosure: Electrolysis is a somewhat lengthy process that requires full commitment to see it through to completion. The dermatologist says a monthly session can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, with additional complete removal after between 10-and-30 sessions, depending on the size and number of hairs being treated.

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