Smart ways to remove your upper lip hair without hurting the skin
1. HAIR REMOVAL CREAM
I've actually been trying to get rid of my moustache since I was 15 and one of my friends (who happens to be a boy) told me it was really obvious. As a paranoid teenager, I ran home and raided my mum's beauty cupboard and found a Nair Brush On Hair Removal Cream that I've been using ever since and I got myself into a bit of a vicious circle, now always having to remove the hair there. 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.
2. BATTERY-POWERED BLADES
New blade devises like the Philips Precision Perfect Trimmer 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.
If 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 under £10-15), 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 afterwards. To avoid any ingrown hairs in the couple of weeks following a treatment gently exfoliate your skin as you normally would and it shouldn't be a problem.
4. CREAM BLEACH
Afraid of stubbly regrowth from removal, I've always bleached my upper lip hair to minimise its appearance. I use Jolen Creme Bleach or the Boots-own equivalent and even though I have sensitive skin, I've never experienced any irritation or redness. It's super-effective in 10 mins 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 hyper pigmentation)." Interesting. While I'm trying the Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector to counteract it, I'll consider braving full-removal with threading instead.
5. PRECISION EPILATION
Epilators designed specifically for small areas of the skin, like the Braun Facial Epilator and Cleansing Brush are good at capturing short and fine hairs. While it smarts 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 – so, the same as threading and waxing – but using this discrete device at home is a major pro.
Waxing is best done by a professional, it's not worth risking burns or causing scabs doing it at home, and salons can select the most safe 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.
7. AT-HOME IPL AND LASER
Once a salon-only solution, laser and IPL (intense pulsed light) devices are now available in compact designs intended to target small areas like the upper lip. They can grant effective semi-permanent hair removal, but the results aren't instant – they need to be used over a period of 3-6 months to zap hair growth in its various stages, then merely for maintenance thereafter. At £280 for the Philips Lumea IPL it's quite an investment but a lot cheaper than seeing a professional for treatments. 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 colour 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 hurt.