If you have had hirsutism (unwanted facial hair) diagnosed by your GP and you have idiopathic hirsutism (facial hair of unknown cause), or your are treating the underlying condition, you may wish to begin treating your unwanted facial hair. If you are treating unwanted facial hair yourself, we always recommend having a check-up from your GP before starting any treatment to ensure there are no underlying causes, such as PCOS.
There are a number of ways to remove, ease or disguise excess facial hair however because they are considered to be cosmetic many are not available on the NHS.
If you suffer with mild hirsutism, you may only require hair removal techniques with no medical intervention. All of these techniques can be effective and improve the appearance of excessive hair. The suitability of each treatment is down to each individual.
- Shaving – Quick & easy method however can cause irritation and leave stubble.
- Bleaching – Can effectively lighten hair and make it less noticeable. It works best with pale skin and can cause irritation.
- Waxing, plucking or threading – Can help to reduce hair regrowth however can be painful and cause inflamed hair follicles.
- Electrolysis – Can remove hair permanently however it may take a long time, be expensive and can cause scarring or changes in skin colour.
- Laser Hair Removal - Can remove hair permanently however it may take a long time and be expensive. It works best on women with pale skin and dark hair.
Vaniqa (eflornithine 11.5%) cream is applied to areas of the face where there is excessive hair growth. It acts to reduce hair growth by blocking an enzyme responsible for hair growth in the hair follicle. Vaniqa has been shown produce an improvement (reduction) in facial hair growth in 70% of patients in clinical trials. Vaniqa is equally as effective in all skin types and shades. Vaniqa is not a hair removal cream, it helps to slow the growth of hair, as well as making it shorter, finer, lighter and ultimately less visible.
Vaniqa can be used alongside other treatments such as hormone tablets or other forms of hair removal such as plucking, waxing, threading or laser hair removal. Vaniqa should be used regularly; if it is discontinued normal hair growth will resume within 8 weeks.
If you suffer with moderate to severe hirsutism that requires medical treatment, your GP may prescribe you certain oral contraceptives to treat the condition. These will only be effective in pre-menopausal women. Oral contraceptive pills such as Yasmin or Dianette (co-cyprindiol) can be prescribed for their anti-androgen effects. By blocking the effects of the male hormones they can help to treat hormone-related hirsutism. Oral contraceptives can be effective at treating excess facial hair in women however they can take up to 6 months to be effective.
Other treatment methods
Unwanted female facial hair can be caused by excess weight. Losing weight to get to a healthy BMI can help to prevent hirsutism in some women.