Unwanted hair on the body or face is an ongoing problem for millions of women. While shaving and waxing are the most popular methods of hair removal, many women find hair removal creams to be very effective. There are many different types of cream, and which one works best for you will depend on the type and amount of hair you wish to remove, where it is on your body, your skin type and many other factors.
Non-prescription hair removal creams
Many hair removal creams can be found on the shelves of pharmacies. These include the Veet and Nair ranges of hair removal creams. These creams are spread over the affected areas where they break down the protein structure of individual hairs. This means that the hairs come out of the skin easily when you rub off the cream.
These hair removal creams are usually used for normal hair growth that is nevertheless undesirable, such as hair on the underarms, legs or pubic area. Women with facial hair growth that is excessive or thicker, darker and coarser than normal may wish to use a prescription-only hair removal cream (see below).
Most people need to use these hair removal creams at least once a week as they do not reduce the growth of new hair. When you are choosing a non-prescription hair removal cream, make sure you read the packet thoroughly as some are formulated specifically for facial hair, whereas others are intended for unwanted pubic hair.
You may have an allergic reaction to these creams, so it is advisable to test a small area of your body or face first, before carrying out more widespread hair removal. The creams have potential side effects such as skin irritation, sensitivity, dryness and itching.
Prescription-only hair removal creams
Women who have particularly thick, dark or coarse hair on their face may wish to look to a prescription-only hair removal cream. We offer Vaniqa, through our online doctor service. The active ingredient in Vaniqa is eflornithine, which reaches the base of the hair follicles. There, it reduces the growth of new hair by acting on an enzyme which plays a part in hair growth.
Vaniqa is applied to the affected areas in a thin layer twice a day, and it may take two to four months before you see any benefits from the treatment. You should stop using Vaniqa if you see no benefits after four months. An advantage of Vaniqa over non-prescription hair removal creams is that it actually reduces new hair growth rather than just getting rid of existing hairs. However, you will need to continue to use Vaniqa as your facial hair will grow back in around eight weeks if you stop the treatment.
Which hair removal cream is best for me?
Which cream is best for you will depend upon a variety of factors, including personal preference. Vaniqa is aimed at women with particularly thick, dark and coarse facial hair, whereas non-prescription hair removal creams should be used by women who have normal hair growth but wish to remove it for aesthetic reasons. Vaniqa should also only be used on the face, whereas some non-prescription creams are intended for use on other parts of the body.
You should not take Vaniqa if you are pregnant or breast feeding. If you choose to order Vaniqa from our online service, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire to enable our NHS experienced clinicians to assess your suitability for the treatment.
What are other methods of hair removal?
Unwanted facial and bodily hair can be removed in a number of other ways:
- waxing, threading or plucking
- electrolysis - your hair cells are destroyed using electricity. This removes hair permanently, but may take many sessions over a long time.
- laser hair removal - hair is destroyed using powerful beams of light. Again, this could take several months of sessions.
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) - this is similar to laser hair removal, but uses various light wavelengths rather than a single wavelength
- some types of the contraceptive pill