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Hirsutism and PCOS: 5 Hair Removal Methods (& My Experience With Them)

If you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, chances are you also contend with excess facial hair or hirsutism.

It’s believed that 7 percent of all women in the US endure hirsutism and its related symptoms. It’s also one of the symptoms doctors look for when diagnosing a woman with PCOS.

Besides irregular menstrual cycles, it was one of the first symptoms I noticed that led me to believe I had PCOS. And, at least as it concerns outer appearance, is one of the most difficult symptoms for women to combat. It can do a number on a woman’s self-confidence, especially if the hair is fairly dark and/or dense.

I’ve been dealing with excess facial hair (and the subsequent removal) for about eight years now. That’s twice as long as my PCOS diagnosis!

With the exception of electrolysis, I’ve tried just about every hair removal method out there — with varying results. I hope that sharing my trials and tribulations with hirsutism will help other women find the best method for them.

shave-360312_640Shaving

Shaving seems like a no-brainer when it comes to removing any hair on the body. Razors are inexpensive, painless (with a steady hand, at least) and relatively quick. It’s always there when you need it and can get the job done.

Some women use razors to get rid of the fine peach fuzz mustache above the lip in lieu of bleaching or waxing, and it seems to work for them.

Shaving was the first method I used to get rid of my facial hair. It seemed to do the job on the surface but I started having problems after shaving for several months, most notably razor bumps and my skin texture becoming a bit rougher. For this reason, the shave method belongs on the very bottom of the list and I do not recommend it.

Verdict: Shave only if you have to. If an emergency situation comes up and you have very noticeable facial hair that would cause embarrassment, use a single blade razor with mild shaving foam to remove the hair. Otherwise, the other methods are much better options.

waxing-1247337_640Waxing

Waxing and exercise should really share the mantra of ‘no pain, no gain’.

If you’ve ever waxed your legs, bikini area or gotten a Brazilian (which you should receive some kind of award for bravery for), you know it hurts. It just does. There’s no two ways around it. But you also know the payoff is silky smooth skin. And it extends to the face, too. Some women wax their peach fuzz, their eyebrows and even the odd stray hair that women who don’t have hirsutism get. So how about women who do have more than one or two strays?

Like waxing any other part of the body, removing the light hair on my jawline and chin was not pleasant. When I finally got past the pain and finished, my face was definitely smooth. I did have some issues with skin inflammation after but using witch hazel seemed to minimize it.

Verdict: If you can’t stand pain or have really sensitive skin, I would recommend using some other method. Otherwise, it can be a really good way to remove facial hair. It isn’t my preferred method, but by no means is it as troublesome as shaving.

cream-1464295_640Depilatory

Depilatories, if you find the right kind with a scent that doesn’t make you gag, are amazing. It’s my go-to method for body hair removal, especially my legs. For one, it dissolves the hair from the root. Done right, it’s the best non-painful way to remove hair and enjoy long-lasting results.

When the topic of depilatory face creams come up, I’m torn. It’s perfect for peach fuzz and has the potential to remove lighter density hairs but can really cause problems for people with sensitive skin. If left on for too long, it can also burn the skin and leave a noticeable mark. This was my experience the third-go-round of using depilatories, and I haven’t tried them since.

Verdict: Depilatories are a gamble. I’d suggest trying different brands and using a very small portion of your face to test your skin’s reaction to it. Pay close attention to the recommended time listed on the instructions and don’t go over it.

 

20160912_161136Epilators

Epilators are a bit tricky to use but offer great results. They essentially serve the same purpose as a tweezer in that they pull the hair from the root. A lot of them are marketed as pain-free, but in my experience that’s stretching it. It might be less painful than, say, waxing, but it still stings.

Some resemble a small electric razor. Others look like a coil with two handles at the end like the one I own (as seen in the photo). Regardless of the design, they’ve become very popular methods for facial hair removal. Personally, I think it’s a great way to quickly remove hair.

Verdict: There’s a bit of a learning curve with epilators, but I highly recommend them. They’re not painless, but they remove hair from the root fairly quickly.

tweezers-273113_640Tweezing

I have a love/strong dislike relationship with tweezers. There aren’t many tools that offer such precision when removing hair. But, like some of the other methods listed, it hurts. After extended use the pain does lessen in intensity, but it’s always there.

This aside, the tweezer is my favorite go-to for hair removal.

With clean, moisturized skin, a good vanity light (or natural sunlight) and some spare time, you can do a really thorough job of removing facial hair with tweezers. It’s honestly worth the half hour just to get rid of them. Again, I do have skin inflammation issues from time to time but witch hazel works well for me in minimizing that.

Verdict: It’s not perfect but so far, it’s my favorite way to get rid of excess facial hair.

As always, it really does come down to your personal preference. Choose what works for you. If that’s more than one method, then go for it!

What methods do you prefer? I’d love to hear from you.

Stay positive!

– Elle