We all have that facial hair friend, don’t we? The one who has promised to remove the freak hairs from our chin/neck/face should we fall into a coma. Well, once you hit the menopause, that friend had better allow an extra half an hour for her bedside visit.
According to dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible, Dr Anjali Mahto, while oestrogen levels fall during the menopause, testosterone remains relatively constant, leading to ‘more straggling facial hairs’.
Why does this happen? When male hormones become more dominant, stronger, thicker hairs develop in the areas men traditionally have them, like the chin and upper lip. Hormonal changes can also mean the hair on your head gets less lustrous. Great.
Get up close
Full disclosure: I am hairy, so I could do without this mid life development. So how to best tackle this situation?
Firstly, invest in a good mirror. The 10cm round simplehuman Sensor Mirror Compact, £89.99, www.simplehuman.com/uk, is portable, and lights up when taken out of its pouch, allowing you to see EVERYTHING. It’s also rechargeable and chic. Use it to identify rogue hairs, and then go in with the tweezers.
Now, not all tweezers are created equal and some are, quite frankly, useless. Skimping on cheap ones is a false economy – and your chin hairs will remain unharvested. Invest in a Laura Mercier pair, £18.50, at www.spacenk.com. Designed by Tweezerman, they make it easy to get a good grip and the slanted tips ensure that whiskers are grabbed and dealt with effectively.
What about hair on the upper lip, you ask? Another of my specialist subjects. I’ve spent year alternating between ignoring my upper lip hairs, and lightening them very effectively with Jolen Mild Cream Bleach, £4.35 Boots.com.
Recently, however, I’ve decided to try a new tactic, having my upper lip lasered with IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) at the Medicetics clinic in London (www.medicentics.com). It costs £60 per single session, less if you purchase multiple treatments in a package.
The good news is that now there’s now a clinic on practically every high street that offers IPL, it has come down in cost and gone up in safety standards. There’s no central certifying body for IPL, so you need to use your judgement when choosing a clinic.
The IPL beam destroys hair at the follicle, with results that are long-lasting, but not permanent. It’s ideal for those with dark hair and light skin. If you have darker skin, the IPL can result in pigmentation patches, so take advice from the clinic.
The first thing my session involves is a patch test, where I’m told I will need to shave my moustache pre lasering treatment. SHAVE IT. This is surely madness I exclaim, but the aesthetician says that is the best way to get the light beam to the root of the hair and nuke it good and proper.
At my patch test, the aesthetician gets out a razor and whips the corners of my ‘tache away. This feels very weird. The lasering itself doesn’t hurt and is over in a second, after which I’m sent home to wait and ensure I don’t have any allergic reaction.
I’m happy to report that the shaved bit did not grow back bristly, but looks much the same as it did previously.
For my first proper treatment I need to shave the whole lot. It feels very weird staring in the mirror and taking it off with a Gillete Venus. But I do.
The treatment itself is no more than 10 minutes long and after a week or so only 60% of the hairs have grown back. And they are not stubbly. The next session takes away another 20%. I think I’ll need three or four more, but so far, so good. I’m very pleased with the results, which are semi permanent. Once I’m done, my aesthetician advises I’ll need to return once a year for a top up treatment.
In the meantime, I have also been having my bikini line lasered, something that’s been on my to do list for years. In the past, I’ve done a bit of DIY blasting at home with the Tria Hair Removal Laser Precision Device, £235, at spacenk.com, but a few stragglers remain and need dealing with.
This is not a process without pain – I’d say it’s on a par with a visit to the hygienist. It is, however, extremely satisfactory and a couple of sessions in and I am considerably less hirsute.
You’ll need roughly six sessions and the results should last a lifetime if you have one or two top up sessions a year. Costs are from £120 for a single treatment at Medicetics, but you can pay as little as £50 at other clinics.
I’m glad I’ve got going on it. An older friend confided in me ‘get it done now because once your pubes go grey you can’t laser them’. No words…