How to Remove Facial Hair at Home

Medically Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD on September 19, 2013
3 min read

There are at least three ways you can get rid of facial hair without a trip to the salon. Check out the pros and cons of each.

There are several types of at-home waxing kits, including no-heat strips, microwavable versions, and roll-on products.

Pros: Dermatologist Eric Schweiger, MD, is a fan of waxing because it "removes hair from the root, leaving skin completely hairless, soft, and smooth."

Cons: Pain, skin irritation, potential for ingrown hairs, a chance of skin darkening, and you have to wait for hair to grow back pretty long in between waxings.

Special considerations: Avoid waxing if you're taking the prescription drug isotretinoin for acne. Also, stop using retinoids, retinol, and alpha-hydroxy acids at least 3 days before waxing. Waxing can also be more painful during pregnancy if you're more sensitive to pain.

Pre-and post-treatment tips: The hair should be long enough for the wax to stick to (about a quarter of an inch). Clean and dry your skin before applying wax, says dermatologist Amy Forman Taub, MD.

To minimize post-wax pain, Schweiger says to take an over-the-counter pain reliever 30 minutes before waxing. Then put aloe or cortisone cream on the waxed area after to soothe redness. If you're going to be outside after waxing, don't forget to use sunscreen.

How long results last: 2 to 6 weeks

Facial depilatories come in creams, gels, and lotions. They all contain chemicals that dissolve hair above the skin's surface.

Pros: Fast, painless, inexpensive.

Cons: Unpleasant odor, potential irritation.

Special considerations: Depilatories can be hard for people with sensitive skin. Follow the directions, too. Leaving a depilatory on for too long can lead to burns, stinging, rashes, or blisters.

Make sure you buy a depilatory that's made specifically for the face. Others can be too harsh.

Look for a product that has moisturizing ingredients like vitamin E or aloe, Taub says.

Don't use depilatories around your eyes, on irritated skin, or on areas that you have shaved or waxed in the last week.

Pre- and post-treatment tips: Do a patch test 3 days before trying a new product, Schweiger says. Here's how: Apply a little bit of the product to the inside of your arm and leave it there for 48 hours to see if there's a reaction. After using a depilatory, moisturize immediately and apply sunscreen with an SPF 30 or more before going outside.

How long results last: Up to 1 week

"When used properly, at-home laser- and light-based hair removal devices can provide a permanent way to get rid of unwanted hair," Schweiger says.

Pros: "These devices offer professional-grade results in the comfort of your home," Taub says. Since laser- and light-based devices don't harm the skin, they are good for people with sensitive skin.

Cons: These devices can cost hundreds of dollars. Some can be painful, and unless you use them as often as recommended, you won't get ideal results.

Special considerations: Anyone with darker skin needs to be careful with at-home hair removal devices, especially when using them on your face, due to risk of color changes, Taub says.

Pre- and post-treatment tips: Follow your device's specific instructions. Schweiger recommends cleansing, shaving, and thoroughly drying skin before use.

How long results last: After about eight treatments, your hair should not grow back for about 6 months. It's important to understand that these devices rarely remove hair forever. Rather, they reduce hair growth over time.