By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
May 15, 2019 @ 1:45 pm
Suzanne Clements/Stocksy

Facial hair removal is one of those subjects that everyone has an opinion on. Whether your mom won't get off your case for shaving your upper lip — "it will just grow back darker, you know" — or your friend swears by laser hair removal as the only way to zap peach fuzz, it can be tough to nail down the method that will work best for you and your skin (and hair) type.

That's why we tapped Jordan LaFragola, a celebrity esthetician and founder of Flora Mirabilis FACE OIL, to break down your options — both temporary and permanent — that you can remove facial hair, including the ones she most prefers.

Shaving

Best for: Very light, peach-fuzz hair only; non-sensitive skin types; lip, chin, jawline and cheeks

Perhaps one of the most accessible forms of hair removal, shaving only works well for facial hair removal when it is an extremely light, peach fuzz type of hair, according to LaFragola. If you fit that description, then LaFragola says it's important to use a fresh blade with a protective shaving product and shave in the direction of the hair growth.

"This method is the most time consuming, needing to be done every few days for maintenance," she says. "Contrary to popular belief, shaving does not cause hair to grow back coarser or darker. Hair naturally tapers at the end and when you shave, the hair is cut bluntly which can make it feel more noticeable."

Pros: Low cost; exfoliates your skin

Cons: It will make medium/coarse hair feel more noticeable, can irritate sensitive skin and hair grows back quickly;  back to its normal state within a month.

Waxing

Best for: All types of facial hair; non-sensitive skin types; entire face

LaFragola says waxing is the most common removal method and works well for all types of facial hair.

"Waxing removes hair from the root, which gives you a longer lasting result than shaving and over time, weakens the root, causing hair to grow in slower and with a finer texture," she says. "After a wax, you will typically be hair-free for two weeks, then hair begins to slowly grow back."

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For best results, LaFragola says it's best to visit a professional to avoid improper technique, which can cause skin tearing, bruising, and hair breakage instead of removal. Gently exfoliate your skin the day before waxing, and then abstain from any exfoliation for one week after. LaFragola says you should also not wear makeup or heavy skin care products to your appointment, and let skin rest for at least a few hours before applying makeup.

"If your skin gets red or bumpy, apply an ice compress to reduce inflammation," she says, adding that facial waxing is typically done every four to six weeks.

Pros: Removes hair below the surface for smooth, long-lasting results; causes hair to grow in thinner and slower

Cons: Can be expensive; can be painful; can irritate sensitive skin

Threading

Best for: All types of facial hair; all skin types; eyebrows and hairline

"Threading is similar to waxing in every way, except that hair is removed with twisted strands of thread instead of wax," LaFragola says. "This makes threading a great choice if you have sensitive skin that is irritated by waxing."

Pros: Removes hair below the surface for smooth, long-lasting results; causes hair to grow in thinner and slower

Cons: Can be expensive; can be painful

Epilation

Best for: All types of facial hair (works best on medium and coarse hair); all skin types; lip, chin and jawline

LaFragola says epilation is similar to waxing and threading, but is performed with a handheld device called an epilator — kind of like an electric razor — that removes hair from the root.

"Epilators are very easy to use and eliminate the monthly trip to the wax appointment," she says. "They are very good for sensitive skin, as epilators do not cause any damage or irritation to the skin."

Pros: Removes hair below the surface for smooth, long-lasting results; causes hair to grow in thinner and slower; can do it yourself at home; cost-effective

Cons: Can be painful

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Laser Hair Removal

Best for: Medium/thick hair, darker hair; all skin types; cheeks, sideburns, and non-hormonal growth on lip, chin and jawline

If there is a shining star for permanent hair removal, then LaFragola says it's laser therapy. 

"Laser hair removal is an incredible method for permanently reducing facial hair," she says. "It uses pulsed light to weaken hair follicles to the point where they will no longer grow, or they become much lighter and finer."

If you are opting for laser hair removal, then LaFragola says it will typically require about 10 to 12 sessions to see permanent results. Treatments are usually performed every four to six weeks for the first few sessions, then eight to 12 weeks for the remainder.

"Laser hair removal will not remove 100 percent of your hair, but can generally remove 60 to 80 percent (sometimes more) of hair," she says. "It works best on dark, coarse hair types, though some lasers are able to treat lighter hairs. Red, grey, white, and light blonde hairs are extremely difficult or sometimes impossible to remove because they lack the melanin that the laser needs to target the hair follicle."

For best results, LaFragola says you should not tan or overexpose the area being treated to the sun for the duration of your treatment. You'll also want to skip waxing, threading or epilation during treatment — shaving is OK.

Pros: Permanently reduces and thins out hair, long-lasting results; cost effective and time effective in the long run

Cons: Can be painful and expensive upfront

Electrolysis

Best for: All hair types; all skin types; eyebrows, hairline, and hormonal growth on lip, chin and jawline

Another option for permanent hair removal, LaFragola says electrolysis is similar to laser hair removal, except it removes hairs one at a time, using electricity.

"Electrolysis is the better option if you have a hair type that will not respond to laser, or your hair growth is hormonal (electrolysis seems to have a better success rate with hormonal growth)," she says.

Pros: Permanently reduces and thins out hair, long-lasting results; cost effective and time effective in the long run

Cons: Can be painful, can be expensive up front

So What Do the Experts recommend? 

LaFragola says her preferred methods are waxing or epilation for temporary hair removal and laser hair removal for more permanent results.

"Waxing and epilation are pretty low maintenance, make your hair thinner and finer and over time you can go longer in between appointments," she says. "Laser hair removal is the best because after the initial investment and the treatments — which are generally the same duration and frequency of waxing appointments — you don’t really have to worry about hair removal anymore."

Anything Else I Should Know?

LaFragola says she does have one note about hormonal hair growth: "Facial hair growth that is triggered by hormones usually shows up as dark, coarse hair along the jawline and/or chin. This hair is markedly different than the surrounding facial hair and was not always there."

Why is this important? LaFragola says hormonal hair growth generally will not respond to laser hair removal, so waxing might be your best option. Ultimately, however, you'll want to dig in and learn how to balance or regulate hormone levels in order to eliminate this type of hair growth.

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