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Unwanted Hair?

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It’s 5 o’clock and what do you know, unwanted hair has crept up providing a less than desirable shadow. Ah, but options, options. Sometimes the more you have the more difficult it is to make decisions.

There is no shame in pursuing methods to get rid of pesky, unwanted hair and you’re not alone. Unwanted hair, or hirsutism, is caused by a number of factors such as genetics, certain medications, like hormones or steroids, higher levels of androgen (male hormones) or conditions of the endocrine system like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder, according to Cleveland Clinic.

So what should you do?

Ouch. One by one? Really? How long will it take to pluck 100 hairs from your top lip? Do you really want to find out?

Plucking is relatively safe and inexpensive but it can cause discomfort, scarring, folliculitis (inflammation of one or more hair follicles), and hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin), according to The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM). These side effects also apply to waxing. If you’re patient enough to pluck have at it but there are other -- less painful -- options.

There’s no better way to test your pain tolerance than by applying hot wax to your top lip and pulling abruptly. One benefit to waxing is that hairs appear thinner when they grow out after waxing than they do after shaving. Another benefit of waxing is that you can do it at home, though do-it-yourself kits can be sticky and leave you worse off than when you started.

You can also go to a salon to have it done by a professional but even that isn’t fool proof. It can leave some hairs behind because they can break off, according to Medline Plus, adding infection as one side effect to watch for when waxing.

Well, this could be how you got to these crossroads to begin with. Have you ever heard that the more you shave the thicker your hair will grow out? Well, it’s not true but because razors cut hair in a blunt manner, an illusion of thicker hair is created, according to JCEM.

Also be aware that when shaving, you are dealing with a sharp blade and the slightest hiccup during shaving could lead to injury. Not only must you think before you shave, but you must be careful when you do.

This one seems antiquated because bleaching won't do a thing if your upper lip is as thick as the Brawny man’s beard or if you’re not exactly fair-skinned. Keep in mind that bleaching products contain hydrogen peroxide and sulfates, which could produce side effects like irritation, pruritus, and possible skin discoloration, according to JCEM. Bleaching is only a feasible option for those who have very little hair on their upper lips and/or have lighter skin.

Laser hair removal.
Simple fix? Not exactly. This process uses a laser-intense heat to damage hair follicles and inhibit future hair growth, according to Mayo Clinic. Laser hair removal requires several treatments and can get quite pricey.

Aside from the cost, your skin might have to endure swelling, scarring and redness according to Medline Plus. JCEM suggests laser hair removal when other methods are not enough. If you are still inclined, save your pennies but be aware that it is not a magical solution.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, weigh your options. Measure your tolerance for pain, consider how much time you can spare and, of course, your budget. Every option isn’t for everyone, you have to find the one that is right for you. You may have to try a few, maybe all of them, before deciding which method suits you best. Happy hair removal!


Cleveland Clinic. My.clevelandclinic.org. Web. October 12, 2011.

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Jcem.endojournals.org. Web. October 12, 2011.

Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.com. Web. October 12, 2011. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/polycystic-ovary-syndrome/DS00423

Medline Plus. Nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus. Web. October 12, 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003148.htm

PubMed Health. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth. Web. October 12, 2011.

American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Aocd.org. Web. October 12, 2011.

Mayo Clinic. Mayoclinic.com. Web. October 12, 2011. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/laser-hair-removal/MY00134

Malu is an editorial intern at EmpowHER. She is currently studying multimedia journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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