The Best Facial Hair Removal Products, Tools, and Services for Women
Find the Best Facial Hair Removal Technique for You
Determining your best facial hair removal option can be tricky: You want something that works quickly and painlessly, but with long-lasting results. Oh, and you want—need—something that leaves behind as little redness as possible (hello, lunch-break wax session).
Facial hair removal falls into two general categories: removing strays from a specific spot (eyebrows, upper lip, or chin), and removing the peach fuzz, also known as vellus hair, that covers your entire face.
Traditional methods—like waxing and plucking—are still preferred for brows, which allow for more precise shaping. But you have more options when it comes to the hair above your lip and on your chin, as well as the vellus hair around your face. More on the best facial hair removal methods ahead.
Pros: Shaving is cheap, can be done at home, and takes only a few minutes to complete.
Cons: Skin is the most sensitive on the face, says The Skin Saint, Holly Cutler, celebrity medical esthetician and founder of FACE Skincare Medical Wellness Clinic. This may lead to side effects like irritation, razor burn, or ingrown hairs. Shaving with a disposal razor takes the most amount of maintenance; you'll need to shave every day or so to remain smooth. (See also: Would You Shave Your Face?)
Cost: $5 for 3, Schick Silk Touch-Up Women's Disposable Razors
Pros: Threading, which originated in Asia, consists of rolling tightly twisted cotton thread over hairs to pull them out from the pore. It's commonly done at salons, can be done on all areas of the face, and is precise enough to remove the finest stray hairs. "Threading is best for small areas and gets everything, even vellus hair," says Cutler. It's a great chemical-free option for anyone looking to take a natural approach to hair removal, she adds.
Cons: The results last about four to five weeks before you'll need to return for your next appointment.
Cost: From $10 to 40, plus tip, depending on location and salon.
Pros: Waxing, or ripping the hair from the root, is a relatively quick and easy process (notice we didn't say painless). You can get a lot of hair at once and the results generally last a month or more if you tweeze stray hairs in-between sessions. Waxing is also a great option if you are not a candidate for laser hair removal (more on that in a bit). Whether doing it yourself or going to a salon, exfoliate the day before your wax to remove dead skin cells that block the hair follicle, says Natalie Ismiel, brand ambassador for Nad's.
If you're buying a DIY kit, be sure to apply the wax in the same direction of hair growth, then pull the strips in the opposite direction to remove, advises Ismiel.
Cons: There can be some discomfort with waxing—you're yanking the hair out from the root, after all. It also involves some maintenance to keep the desired result. Speak up or stop if the wax feels too hot on your face, this could lead to burns if you're not careful. You should also skip if you're using a retinoid; your skin could be too sensitive.
Cost: $5 for 24 strips, Nad's Facial Wax Strips or $10 to $50, plus tip at a salon depending on areas of the face and salon location.
Pros: Dermaplaning, which used to be reserved as a treatment at medspas, now has at-home versions hitting the market. Making the treatment much easier to maintain on your own from the comfort of your own bathroom.
Dermaplaning uses a manual blade or a blade with sonic vibrations to scrape off hair—stray and vellus. Since it gets close to the skin to remove dead skin cells, it's also an amazing exfoliator.
"Removing the peach fuzz and dead skin makes your skin-care products work more efficiently and your makeup lay more evenly," says Stacy Cox, an esthetician and consultant with Finishing Touch Flawless Skincare.
Dermaplaning is also a great option for people with light hair, who are not a candidate for laser hair removal. Pssst... did you know dermaplaning is the secret to brighter, smoother skin?
A manual dermaplane is essentially a sharp blade that you position at a 45-degree angle and move in small feather-like strokes across each area, says Cox. The amount of pressure you apply will vary slightly person to person. "I start by practicing on a small patch of hair on my arm," she says.
Finishing Touch Flawless Dermaplane Glo has a built-in light so you can see the vellus hair and skin cells being shaved off which is #oddlysatisfying.
And Joel Schlessinger, M.D., dermatologist and president of lovelyskin.com, loves the Dermaflash Luxe Anti-Aging Exfoliation Device, "because the stainless steel edge and vibrations remove dead skin cells and peach fuzz at the same time."
Cons: You need a treatment every two weeks and you can't do it over any active breakouts. You also need to start with a new blade for each treatment, so it's a bit more expensive than some at-home methods. There's also a bit of a learning curve.
If you go the professional route, the practitioner will use a surgical scalpel for the dermaplaning treatment (yup, not your average safety blade). This gives a better result but shouldn't be attempted at-home—use one of the above devices (which have built-in safety mechanisms), please. $150 to $250 per treatment
In-Office Laser Hair Removal
Pros: Lasers target the pigment in the hair root, destroying the bulb, so the hair is no longer able to grow. This also makes laser hair removal the most permanent facial hair removal technique. It requires a series of treatments that slowly damage the follicle over time, says Kenneth Rothaus, M.D., a plastic surgeon in NYC. Since lasers attack the pigment in the hair, it's most effective on light skin/dark hair, but there are many different lasers on the market that also work on dark skin/dark hair. Find a dermatologist who specializes in laser hair removal and can help you pick the best option for your skin tone and hair color.
"For fair skin, I use the 755 nanometer alexandrine laser called Gentlelase," says Ariel Ostad, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist in NYC. The Gentlelase is a workhorse that can be used for laser hair removal, to treat pigmented lesions, or to treat bumps caused by ingrown hairs.
It's important to choose a laser suited for dark skin as there can be more complications with the treatment. Dr. Rothaus recommends the 1064 NdYAG laser, which goes deeper into the skin bypassing skin pigment for the best result.
Cons: Laser hair removal (at-home or in-office) can not be performed on blonde, white, or gray hair. Since the treatment targets pigment, it will also not remove vellus hair. Lasers are the most expensive facial hair removal option.
Cost: In-office lasers are more powerful and use highly-advanced technology, which allows for a stronger experience that decreases the number of sessions needed, says Quenby Erickson, D.O., a dermatologist in Chicago. Usually, the process takes five to six treatments, spaced four to six weeks apart with maintenance treatments every few years, says Dr. Ostad. The price for in-office laser hair removal varies widely depending on the area of the face, type of laser, and where you go to get the treatment. $150 to $750 per treatment
At-Home Laser Hair Removal
Pros: The process for laser hair removal is the same but the at-home options are cheaper than a few in-office treatments. You can score the same result with diligent use.
Tria Hair Removal Laser 4x is FDA-approved for at-home use on the face and body. Dr. Schlessinger recommends it because the laser hair removal device provides three times more energy than any other at-home option and offers a safe, lasting result. With weekly use, you can expect to see results in about three months.
Cons: This takes many more sessions than an in-office laser because it is not as powerful as the professional versions. The treatment is still not an option for light blonde, white, or gray hair.
Cost: $450, Tria Hair Removal Laser 4x
Most experts say to skip this one when it comes to your face. Depilatories use harsh chemicals to break down the protein bonds in hair, then remove it from the surface (the root remains intact). "Depilatories can cause irritation, infections, or allergic contact dermatitis, which results in rashes," says Dr. Ostad.