Facial hair growth on women can be very debilitating. Having a hairy chin, dark moustache, or dark hair growth across the cheeks can be very upsetting and lead to women isolating, or spending a lot of time, money and stress on unsuccessful hair removal treatments.
What options are there for facial hair removal?
This is generally considered the easiest, quickest and cheapest option. However many women won’t consider this for several reasons – firstly, it feels a very ‘masculine’ thing to do. Men shave their faces every day, so to have to do this as a women can be very distressing. Also, It can make hair growth feel worse – it doesn’t actually cause hair to become thicker, it can feel like it, as the hairs become ‘blunt’ which leaves them feeling coarse, rather than tapered, which feels softer. It also needs to be done very regularly to keep hair growth at bay – in some cases I have seen women end up shaving more than once a day. Shaving facial hair can also leave the skin sore, and can lead to ingrowing hairs, which can make the skin look spotty, red and almost worse than before the shaving. There is no end to shaving! Once you start, you must keep it up, and this can be really demoralising for people, and even interferes with personal relationships. Also, while shaving might be the cheapest option on the surface, years and years of quality razors and decent shaving foam can add up – many people can’t use cheap versions due to skin sensitivities etc.
This must be repeated regularly – sometimes my clients state they have been having facial waxing every two weeks for years, and this really does add up! From £15-20 for full face, this will cost far more over time than laser hair removal!
This painful treatment can leave the skin red and sore, and it is very common to end up with spots and ingrowing hairs as the new hairs struggle to come through the skin.
There is also growing scientific research to suggest that plucking can actually stimulate hair growth, so I really don’t recommend it for more than the odd white hair. (White hair doesn’t respond to any laser treatments)
Electrolysis for facial hair
Electrolysis is a more traditional hair removal method. Yes, it can be permanent, and yes it is the only method available that works on white hair. However, it is becoming a dying art and the treatment is very therapist dependant. There are huge differences in quality of treatment between different therapists. It can be an incredibly painful treatment, and it often leads to scarring. While it is argued that it is the best for permanent removal, I certainly dispute this as I have had more than one client who have had it regularly and still not noticed any long term improvement. The worst I have encountered was a lady in her 60’s who had been having facial electrolysis treatments every 2 weeks for over 30 years!! I saw her for 18 months, and she no longer needs top ups.
Laser and IPL (Intense Pulsed light) for facial hair
While there is a huge range of quality in the platforms out there for this type of treatment, laser and IPL treatments work on the same theory – i.e. light treatment is used to destroy the hair follicle by heating up the pigment in the hair follicle (which is why laser does not work on white, grey, blond or very fine hair – there is either none, or not enough pigment to heat up and cause this response.
IPL works on all colours of light (white light), and laser hair removal generally uses red light – at a variety of wave lengths to target different colour and thicknesses of hair.
The light passes into the surface of the skin, and everything in it’s path that has pigment absorbs that light. The pigment converts that light to heat, and that heat in turn destroys the growth mechanism and the small blood supply to each hair follicle.
Is laser hair removal permanent?
The short answer is… yes…. With caveats!
Laser hair removal does permanently destroy hair follicles, stopping them producing new hairs. It also damages hair follicles, leading to a softer, finer regrowth.
However, we have a multitude of factors affecting hair growth – with the two most important being hormones and number of hair follicles. In one square centimetre on the leg, for example, we will have around 80-100 potential hair follicles, so if 8 hair follicles are active when the area is treated, then 8 will be destroyed. So you can see that the body has more options to grow hair, as it is programmed by hormones to do exactly that!! Also, on the face, we have up to 500 potential hair follicles so it can take many more sessions to get on top of facial hair. Conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian syndrome (PCOS) makes facial hair as well as body hair more problematic, and can lead to someone needing more treatments.
Over time, each treatment destroys and damages hair follicles. Hair growth becomes less dense, and regrowth is softer. Our goal initially is to get appointment times less frequent, starting from 4-6 weeks for facial hair, to eventually doing maintenance treatments maybe every few months.
Everyone responds differently, and everyone has different ideas of what ‘hair free’ actually means! I will always work with the persons individual hair type, growth patterns and what they want to achieve – if it isn’t going as you would want, I will look at why and put different treatment protocols in place to try to achieve what you want. Where this isn’t possible, I will always be honest with you about what I believe can be achieved.
All laser hair removal appointments start with a consultation so I can assess your hair type, prevous hair removal methods and look at likely outcomes for you. A patch test on each area is always performed so you don’t have to commit unless we are sure we are likely to get a good result for you. What do you have to lose but the hair?
Can men have laser hair removal on their face?
The short answer to this is no – male hair growth characteristics and hormonal input make this a very difficult area to treat, and in general I advise against trying it, as results tend to be poor. That being said, with frequent, regular treatments, you may be able to improve problems such as ingrowing hair on the neck, but it could be a costly, long process.