Suddenly you’re plucking coarse “eyebrow” hairs from new places on your face. What’s going on?
GOT WANDERING EYEBROWS?
Say you’re in your forties. Or older. Your estrogen level has begun to drop—heralding a beginning or later stage of menopause. But your testosterone level has stayed the same, so it has a greater impact on your body. Your brows may thicken and spread. New, coarser hairs may begin to appear in other parts on your face, as well. For example, above your upper lip (mustache area), and along your cheeks and under your chin (beard areas). (New, very fine hairs can also appear. They are often soft, pale, hardly visible.)
• Vaniqa cream can only be purchased with a prescription. It slows down hair regrowth, extending time between hair removal treatments. A tube costs about $174 (sometimes less with a coupon), depending on where you buy it, but it can last two or more months.
• Tweezing is relatively easy and free. It is, however, time consuming and can be painful in sensitive areas.
• Epilators pull out multiple hairs at the same time, and cost between $30 and $100. They are effective, faster tools to get rid of unwanted hair, but can be painful—especially the first few times.
• Dyeing, or bleaching hair a color similar to your skin tone makes facial hair much less noticeable. Special kits for bleaching facial hair are available.
• Chemical depilatories “melt” facial hair. They are inexpensive and usually pain-free. They can, however, cause chemical burns if used incorrectly or if your skin is extra sensitive. Occasionally, they cause a skin rash due to allergy or irritation. Effects generally last about a week.
• Waxing is a very common, not very expensive way of removing facial hair, and usually lasts a few weeks. It’s a bit painful (especially at first) and occasionally results in ingrown hairs. For one to two days prior to waxing, you must stop any Retin-A cream treatment. After waxing, you must protect the treated area from exposure to the sun.
• Trimming overly long or bushy eyebrows can be very effective in making them appear less thick and dark. It’s easy and inexpensive to do yourself.
• Shaving any facial hair is always a fast, easy and painless way of getting rid of it. Although the hair will not grow back thicker, coarser, or darker, it may appear to do so in its earliest stages of regrowth. Occasionally, It can cause shaving “bumps” or ingrown hairs.
• Threading is a simple way to remove hair from anywhere on your face. The method is easy to learn, easy to do, relatively painless, and doesn’t require any tools. All it takes is some string. You can do it yourself or go to a salon and have it done for you.
• Dermaplaning, is a skin care treatment that removes dead skin cells and peach fuzz hair. It should be performed by an licensed and medically supervised esthetician. For several days after the treatment your skin will need extra protection from sun exposure. Costs run from $100 to $200.
MORE PERMANENT SOLUTIONS
• Laser removal uses pulses of light to destroy the root of the hair, causing it to fall out over time. It works best for those with dark hair and light skin. It’s rather expensive, costing several hundred dollars per treatment. Touch-ups are needed yearly.
• Electrolysis is the only hair removal method currently certified as being permanent by the FDA. A very small needle is inserted into the skin to destroy the cell which causes hair growth. It’s about as expensive as laser removal. The two types of electrolysis that use heat (Thermolysis and The Blend) may cause scarring in darker skin tones. Galvanic electrolysis (no heat is used in this process) is suitable for all skin types.
• Prescription depilatory cream can also be very effective, sometimes removing facial hair permanently. Because it is usually considered an elective treatment, it may not be covered under your medical insurance.
• Hormone treatments or oral contraceptives can be effective if your hair thickness and color issues are hormone based. Only your doctor can determine this, and must be consulted about your options and condition.
BEFORE CHOOSING ANY TREATMENT
Each solution listed above has associated risks depending on your skin type, current medications, and overall health. Consult your dermatologist before deciding upon any skin treatment, and your primary physician if you have any underlying health issues.
This article has been reviewed by Dr. Amy Wolthoff, dermatologist.