In The Lady I recently read that facial hair products are up 226% in three years……..wow I thought, we are now enhancing our facial hair, this is really the modern age. And then I read on that …….with HRH Prince Harry credited for inspiring the renaissance. British men spent £5m on beard care products in the past year. That’s a relief as I thought they were talking about us ladies.
However let’s talk about facial hair openly as it has been about forever and is here to stay unless we deal with it. Did you know that Marilyn Monroe used to shave her face? So did Elizabeth Taylor! All in order to get rid of peach fuzz, the fine short hairs that seem to accumulate on sideburns, your jaw region and upper lip area. So no different to men but luckily we are less prolific. Nevertheless it can be very unattractive especially if your hair is dark in colour.
On average, women with facial hair spend 104 minutes a week managing it, according to a 2006 British study. Two-thirds of the women in the study said they continually check their facial hair in mirrors and three-quarters said they continually check by touching it.
So let’s look at the options of ridding our faces of unwanted hairs. It’s a fact that as we get older the more hairy our faces get. It all comes down to hormones. As if hot flushes and a weak bladder aren’t punishment enough… our hormones take one last shot at making our lives a living hell by helping us grow a lady beard.
What shocks me most is the speed that they grow at. I check for chin hairs (my personal enemy) each morning in my magnifying mirror and tweezer out the little b******. However by my first coffee one can be blowing in the wind. I am blonde and yet these are tough, wiry, long and black, enough to freak out a passer-by. The more women I speak to, the more I discover we are all suffering in silence, not wanting to address the elephant on our chin, top lip or cheeks.
Sadly I do not have a magical cure but I can tell you ways to deal with them temporarily but my long-term advice is keep your eyes skimmed as if you give them a minute they will grow a mile.
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Plucking: Firstly you will probably feel them before you see them so get yourself a SimpleHuman Mirror that magnifies up to x10. I personally only suffer from chin hairs so I attack with my most precious cosmetic tool, my Tweezerman tweezers. I always have a couple in my bedroom as they are prone to going walkabout as my two daughters are always ‘borrowing’ them for their eyebrows. Too young yet to suffer like I do.
Waxing: Another very common method is waxing. Using either soft wax, which is pulled off with cloth strips, or hard wax that simply hardens and is pulled off on its own, a practitioner can remove hairs from your upper lip, cheeks, brows and chin with ease. But this popular practice isn’t for everyone.
“Waxing can cause irritation because the skin can be sensitive to the products being applied to the surface,” warns Michelle Yagoda, M.D., a cosmetic surgeon based in New York. “And inexact technique may result in incomplete extraction of the hair follicle and breakage of the hair shaft, so the skin surrounding the hair shaft can then become inflamed.” If the retained hair follicle becomes entrapped, it can lead to ingrown hairs.”
Depilatory Creams: So if waxing sounds too painful, and I can appreciate that, then try a hair removal cream. Nowadays depilatory creams do not have that pungent smell and are much gentler on the facial skin. However always do a patch test first as you do not want to give yourself a face rash. The creams work by dissolving the hair at the skin’s surface, leaving you nice and smooth for up to a week. Veet has a range of sensitive skin creams specially created for the upper lip, cheek and chin area and enriched with aloe vera and vitamin E to help soothe the skin. Start with a test area and apply with the spatula, making sure the hair is fully covered, before removing after five minutes. If it needs more time, leave on for a total of 10 minutes and rinse off before applying the finishing cream.
Threading: this is a very common practice in Middle Eastern and Asian countries that involves using a thin, doubled cotton thread pulled super-taut to roll over spots where you wish to remove hairs, thus pulling them out. While it isn’t quite as labour intensive as plucking hairs one at a time, it works best on smaller areas such as the eyebrows, upper lip and cheeks. And unlike using tweezers, threading is much trickier to try if you’ve never been trained in it, so head to a salon with a professional who specialises in it for the best results.
Laser Hair Removal: if you want something much more permanent, you can try laser hair removal, also known as intense pulse light therapy. Lasers shoot a certain wavelength of light that’s specifically absorbed by the hair follicle itself. When that light is absorbed, it’s converted into heat which kills the hair follicle. The advantage this route has over electrolysis is treating a larger portion at a time, while electrolysis is individually removing one follicle at a time – think waxing versus plucking. The downsides: This isn’t an ideal route for those with light or fine hairs, and the cost is high.
Electrolysis: this is another permanent option. It uses concentrated heat to destroy each follicle one at a time to prohibit hairs from growing. This is an ideal method for those who want permanent hair removal, but can’t do laser removal because their hairs are light or fuzzy.
Shaving: while shaving may be less commonly used on the face than the aforementioned options, it’s the way many women choose to remove their facial hair. But wait — what about that old wives’ tale about hair coming back thicker if you shave? This is just a myth – the follicle gets cut in half so it feels pricklier but it’s not any thicker.
Now that we are talking about it let’s remember to let a girlfriend know, discreetly, if she has a facial hair that is visible to you. It is the same as having a piece of spinach stuck in your teeth, there is nothing worse than getting home and realising that you have been walking about all day with this and no-one told you.
Please remember that extreme facial hair growth can be a sign of ill-health so do consult your G.P.
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