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For Women Only: Best Choices for Hair Removal

Electrolysis

How it works: A trained expert places a tiny needle inside each hair follicle to destroy the root with an electric current.

Best for: Because it takes a long time, it's best for small areas like the upper lip or chin. Women with white or blond hair who can't get laser or IPL may see results from electrolysis.

How long it lasts: You'll likely need treatments every 1-2 weeks until the hair is mostly gone.

Possible side effects: Redness, swelling, and scarring

Over-the-counter creams

How it works: Depilatory creams or lotions dissolve proteins that make up hair.

Best for: Legs, underarms, and bikini area. There are special formulas for the face, but they sometimes don't work well on coarse hair.

How long it lasts: A couple of days to a couple of weeks.

Possible side effects: "They work by dissolving the hairs," Pariser says. "But they also can dissolve the skin if left on too long or [if] your skin is too sensitive." To avoid problems, follow directions carefully.

Prescription creams

How it works: Vaniqa is a cream you rub on every day. It doesn't remove hairs, but it slows down how fast they grow and makes them come in finer and softer.

Best for: It's often used together with laser or shaving, Rokhsar says. "It gives you a little more time in between treatments."

Hormones

How it works: Sometimes menopause or conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome can cause extra hair growth. In those cases, your doctor might suggest a medicine like birth control pills to lower the amount of hormones that are linked to hair growth.

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