Let's be clear, there is nothing wrong with facial hair, we all have it, and honestly, who gives a fuck if your face is kinda furry? We certainly don't.
That being said, if you are a little paranoid about the peach fuzz, there are a lot of options out there. Here's what you need to know:
Hair removal cream
The pros are that it's quick, painless, and gets rid of every last hair. But annoyingly, I've found that hair does grow back slightly darker and it's something I have to keep on top of, making sure I slap a bit of cream on every fortnight or so. My skin is quite sensitive too and using it sometimes leaves it looking slightly red, so I always keep a tube of aloe vera gel on hand to soothe it.
These are perfect if you're in a hurry. This quickly gets rid of any and all hair in a totally painless way, leaving no marks whatsoever. However, I did find that about 24 hours after using it I had stubble. Not actual, visible stubble–it was only me that could feel it–but that's beside the point. Using the blade is a bit like shaving your armpits in that it pretty much becomes a daily chore, which is something I don't fancy getting on board with when it comes to my facial hair, so until I can be arsed to use a laser, I'm gonna stick to my trusty Nair.
ThreadingIf you've ever had your eyebrows threaded then that's the kind of pain level to expect, i.e. slightly uncomfortable but not totally unbearable. Out of all the methods of hair removal threading probably gives the best results for the time it takes and the cost: It leaves the same, smooth, month-long result as using hair removal cream except the hairs are (obviously) pulled out from the root so the results last longer. Depending on where you go it can be cheap or fairly expensive with prices.
Also, note that you have to walk around in public with a red upper lip after a treatment so it's probably advisable to go somewhere as close to home as you can and ask your therapist to apply a soothing gel afterward. To avoid any ingrown hairs in a couple of weeks following a treatment, gently exfoliate your skin as you normally would and it shouldn't be a problem.
Cream bleachAfraid of stubbly regrowth from removal, I've always bleached my upper lip hair to minimize its appearance. I've never experienced any irritation or redness. It's super-effective in 10 minutes flat. However, over the last few years, I've noticed my freckles becoming more prominent around my top lip line. Not necessarily a problem, but why here? Why not across my nose and cheeks, too?
I wondered if bleaching my skin had made it more prone to pigmentation and dermatologist Dr. Tom Mammone confirmed my suspicions. "I have read that that is definitely a possible complication with hair beaching. The chemicals are too harsh and irritate some people to the point where they get PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation)." I'll consider braving full-removal with threading instead.
Precision epilationEpilators designed specifically for small areas of the skin, and are good at capturing short and fine hairs. While it stings a little bit on stubborn eyebrow hairs being a more sensitive area, it's pretty painless to use on the upper lip and it's very easy to maneuver. The smooth results last around a month. The same as threading and waxing–but using this discrete device at home is a major pro.
WaxingWaxing is best done by a professional; it's not worth risking burns or causing scabs doing it at home, and salons can select the safest and gentle formulas for the face. Depending on your pain threshold it can be pretty unpleasant or you might just feel a wincey tug, but either way, waxing provides clean hair removal for up to a month and costs around the same price as threading, which, of course, varies. The best way to make your waxing experience less painful is to do it regularly so you can target the different stages of hair growth.
Laser and IPL
Laser and IPL (intense pulsed light) can grant effective semi-permanent hair removal, but the results aren't instant—they need to be used over a period of three to six months to zap hair growth in its various stages, and then merely for maintenance thereafter.
Another thing to bear in mind is that they are most effective on light to medium skin tones and can't (yet) be used on dark to very dark skin, with best results achieved when the difference between your skin and hair color is greater. Don't let the pain hold you back though—it merely snaps which is slightly uncomfortable, but we've found it doesn't really hurt.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.