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Don’t Love Your Upper Lip Hair? Here’s How To Get Rid of It

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Whether it's just a little peach fuzz, a few strays that are longer than you like or more, upper lip hair can be a pretty stubborn feature (and a total pain in the you know what to maintain). First things first: there’s isn’t a single thing wrong with having upper lip hair and if you’ve got it and love it, absolutely flaunt it! But if you find your upper lip hair to be a total nuisance, nixing those babies might be at the top of your beauty grooming list. Whether you’re looking for a temporary fix or something more permanent, the options for removing upper lip hair are plentiful, don’t involve plucking, (and are not all that painful). So which is the best for you? Stay tuned. We did a deep dive into upper lip hair with Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board certified dermatologist in NYC, and laid out all of the best hair removal options for you below.

Now, if we’re talking about those tiny baby hairs that pop up on your lips, cheeks and other parts of your face, they’re pretty common and we’ve almost all got them. “It’s actually quite normal to have small, fine, short “vellus” hairs all over your face, including on your upper lip,” says Dr. Nazarian. When hair starts becoming thicker and darker than we consider the norm for ourselves, there can be underlying causes. So what are they? “There are actually many reasons including hormonal levels, genetics, medication‘s, and one of the most common being a condition called PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome,” Dr. Nazarian adds. Turns out that an increase in hair growth can be caused by fluctuations in hormones that can be a result of any of the above. As always, if you suspect it can be something medical, chat with your doc or derm about it.

Next, put down the razor. We know, it’s tempting. A few quick passes and you’re smooth like butter in seconds. But, shaving hair on your face isn’t like shaving hair on the rest of your bod. Shaving doesn’t remove hair from the root, and can make it grow back coarser, thicker and stubbly (not to mention growing back quickly making you have to shave more often than you’d like). Looking for a hair removal method that’s effective with lasting results? We’ve got seven below.

About the Expert:

Rachel Nazarian, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist in NYC.

7 Ways To Kiss Upper Lip Hair Goodbye

1. Wax It

Tried and true and probably the most common of hair removal methods, waxing is an effective way of removing hair from the root with results that typically last a few weeks (and it also discourages hair from growing back thicker). Affordable? Check. Lasting results? Check. Pain-free? Not so much. Here are a couple of tips to help ease the ouch of upper lip waxing: “Taking an oral anti-inflammatory medication, such as Tylenol, before your waxing session can be quite helpful in reducing pain. And try not to go the week before your period, as many people feel that pain is heightened during this week,” suggests Dr. Nazarian. Also, steer clear of waxing if you’ve got sensitive skin, a sunburn, if you’re on prescription retinoids, Accutane, and if you’ve got a sunburn.

2. Sugar It

While sugaring is very similar to waxing (it too helps remove hair from the root with results that last several weeks), many consider sugaring the gentler method of the two. “Sugaring is certainly a good option for people with sensitive skin. There is less tugging and pulling on the skin with this technique, and room temperature ingredients can be used which tends to be best for sensitive skin to tolerate. It’s also better at grabbing shorter, fine hairs compared to waxing,” says Dr. Nazarian. Because sugaring paste isn’t heated up before it’s applied to skin, there’s no risk of burning and far less risk of irritation. Also, since it grabs those finer hairs, you may not need to wait as long to remove those early growers.

3. Thread It

Threading has gained steady popularity over recent years as a quick hair removal method particularly for brows, upper lips, and the whole face. If you’ve ever had your brows threaded, threading your upper lip has pretty much the same ouch factor. The benefit? It pulls hair straight from the root, so results are long-lasting and leave skin baby smooth. Worrying about your hair growing back thicker? It’s a myth. “The hair doesn’t grow back thicker, and rather comes back thinner and thinner with time as you slowly destroy the root of the hair,” says Dr. Nazarian. The downside to threading? It does hurt and can leave you a little red and irritated after. “You can reduce redness after threading by applying an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, and cool compresses,” suggests Dr. Nazarian.

Here’s a secret tip from some nurses we know: apply some OTC numbing cream to your upper lip 15 minutes before threading to cut down the pain (just make sure you’re not allergic to it and do a patch test first). Genius!

4. Laser It

Consider lasering the holy grail of permanent hair removal solutions. Once a salon-only (and pretty pricey) option, lasers of today tout affordability, quicker results, and even safety (meaning you can use some of them at-home) . “I often recommend the diode or IPL (Intense Pulsed Light). These lasers all typically work by using a wavelength that is absorbed by melanin,” Dr. Nazarian suggests. Treatment usually takes around 8 sessions to leave you hair-free depending on the area. The only downside to lasers is that they aren’t all one-size-fits-all. “The ideal candidate for laser hair removal would have very light skin, and very dark hair, ensuring that their hair is what is absorbing the majority of the laser energy. People that have melanin-rich skin, or darker skin types, are at higher risk for having their skin absorb the laser energy, and therefore higher risk for burning,” according to Dr. Nazarian. If you’ve got darker skin, leave it up to the pros to go hair-free safely.

As for at home devices, Dr. Nazarian says that the key is to ensure that you stay consistent, because regular use is needed to experience best results.

Some tools she trusts:

Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laundry 4x: “It’s FDA approved for at home use and incredibly effective for long-term hair reduction.”

Silk’n Flash & Go Express Hair Removal Device: “It allows you to treat hair quickly and easily, with a small device that treats small areas such as the upper lip.”

5. Dermaplane It

Nowadays, you can’t talk about hair removal without queuing up dermaplaning. The dermaplaning trend is in full effect (and we’re totally hooked on all the TikToks). It’s popping up everywhere, as a popular add-on to your facial and an easy way to DIY glowy, fuzz-free skin. Besides, there’s something about watching all that baby hair and dead skin get scraped away that’s beyond satisfying. While dermaplaning can be a quick and easy way to nix hair on the fly (along with enhancing skincare absorption and leaving you baby smooth), it doesn’t really have the long-term benefits like waxing or threading that decrease hair thickness over time. “If you’re dermaplaning at home, make sure you’re using a clean and sterile dermaplaning tool, not a simple blade, and have practiced the angle and pressure-level to apply on your skin to avoid breaking or irritating delicate tissue,” Dr. Nazarian recommends. We love the DERMAFLASH Luxe Anti-Aging Dermaplaning Exfoliation Device.

6. Reach for Cream

Remember Nair? When it comes to saying so long to unwanted hair, hair removal creams (i.e depilatory creams), are a tried and true option that work quickly, last long, and work their magic in the comfort of your own bathroom. Three big wins. So what makes them work? “Depilatory creams are a great option for hair removal, with primary ingredients like Thioglycolic acid, or others with mechanisms of action that break down and degrade keratin, a protein that is naturally found in hair,” Dr. Nazarian says. Just be cautious if you’ve got super sensitive skin and keep your eye on the clock. “If left on the skin for too long these creams can be incredibly irritating, and can even cause a chemical-burn-like reaction. If you plan to use one for facial hair, just make sure to remove the cream entirely within the recommended time limit,” she suggests.

7. Try Electrolysis

A favorite treatment of Dr. Nazarian, electrolysis is a permanent hair removal method that works by destroying hair at the root. Here’s how: A fine probe is inserted into your skin under the hair follicle and electric currents travel down the probe to destroy the hair follicle, preventing hair from growing back. The pros? “It can be successful at treating very fine, thin hairs that are often too challenging for lasers to treat, and is a great option for people with very light-colored hair, or darker skin,” she says. The cons? It isn’t completely pain-free (some people liken it to little stings or pinches, but say it's tolerable). And, it can be pricey, requiring multiple sessions. However, the fact that it's permanent means you’ll save money over time.

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About the author
Runa Rhattacharya
Runa Bhattacharya
Runa is an NYC-based writer and Registered Nurse with over 8 years of experience covering beauty and wellness. She’s worked for publications like SELF, Cosmopolitan, and more. She’s passionate about beauty, science, and two careers that she loves!
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Article Last Updated November 5, 2021 12:00 AM