Upper Lip Hair Removal for Ladies – Options and Products
Upper lip hair is usually an unwanted and sometimes embarrassing nuisance, which is faced by many ladies at various times of life.
This article explores the options for upper lip hair removal, outlines the pros and cons for each method and makes suggestions and recommendations for products to use.
What are the Options?
The available options are:
- Depilatory Cream
Deciding which to choose can be tricky, but ultimately comes down to personal preference (and available funds!). My aim is simply to point out the relative merits of each method and make recommendations for best products based on our research.
In addition to the hair removal options, it may be possible to make the hair less visible by bleaching.
Shaving is the most obvious, simplest, pain-free method. It is inexpensive, convenient and quick and easy to do for yourself, at home.
The major downsides of shaving are that it usually needs to be repeated daily and can lead to a "shadow" especially if you have dark hair, as the hair is only cut at the skin's surface.
Another side-effect of shaving can be ingrown hairs, often referred to as razor bumps, although there are ways in which you can minimise the risk.
Pros of Shaving
- Relatively inexpensive
- Quick and convenient - can be done at home with no problem
- Pain free - a major consideration for some
- It is easy - with just a very little practice you can master the perfect technique
Cons of Shaving
- Short-lasting, shaving is usually required daily
- Ongoing cost - not necessarily high, but cream, blades, new razors etc. will add up over time
- Shadow effect
- Risk of ingrown hairs
If you decide to go for the shaving route, the next decision is whether to opt for wet shaving or electric:
You have yet another choice to make if you go for wet shaving, namely do you go for disposables, cartridge razors or double edged safety razors?
We have written in-depth articles about the advantages of double edged safety razors, but in a nutshell the main points are as follows:
- Less expensive - over time the cost of replacement blades is cheaper than continuously purchasing disposables
- Environment - more environmentally friendly, less waste
- Less irritation
- Reduced risk of ingrown hairs
- Cleaner cuts
Recommended Double Edged Safety Razors
There are a number of safety razors tailored specifically for women and we have picked a couple of good one's for you, together with the all important shaving gel/cream:
Specifically formulated for sensitive, easily irritated skin prone to razor bumps. Rehydrates the skin to reduce dryness, for a smooth, close shave. Great if you are on a tight on a budget.
Highly concentrated, rich, moisturizing shaving cream to make the blade glide effortlessly over the skin, leaving it soft and smooth. Very little required at a time, so long-lasting tube.
Recommended Cartridge or Disposable Razors
Just in case you decide to go for the cartridge or disposable options, we have picked out some of the best from the bunch:
If you decide to go for the electric shave option, it is always best to choose one that is specially designed for ladies.
This convenient battery operated facial hair trimmer is ideal for upper lip use and is powered by one AA battery (not included). Benefits from attachment for eyebrow trimming. Rounded, hypoallergenic blade for sensitive skin.
This rechargeable electric shaver has a floating head to glide over contours of body and is designed for use on sensitive skin - includes charger, stand, cleaning brush, pouch, protection cap with comb and full instructions
This is the other pain-free method of removing upper lip hair and has the advantage over shaving in that it will last a little longer, as it dissolves the hair from just below the skin's surface.
Depilatory creams have been improved over the years so that they generally no longer have the eye-watering, pungent and offensive odours for which they were originally renowned.
The disadvantage of depilatory cream is that, for some people, the strong chemicals used in them produce allergic reaction and are therefore not suitable. Also, although lasting slightly longer than shaving, the results are relatively short-lived in comparison to other methods that remove hair from the root.
You will need to make sure that you use a cream specifically formulated for facial use and that you carry out a skin test as per the instructions provided with the product prior to use.
We recently looked at the pros and cons of using depilatory creams in some depth, the following is a summary of our conclusions:
Pros of Depilatory Creams
- No skill required
- Convenient - quick acting
- Versatile - different creams for most body parts
- Pain free
- Low risk of ingrown hair
Cons of Depilatory Creams
- Relatively short-lived results
- Odour - still an issue with some depilatories
- Not suitable for all areas - i.e. brows, near eyes, nor for nose or ear hair
- Need to carry out skin test prior to use
- Possible adverse reactions
Recommended Depilatory Creams
These are some of the best facial hair removal creams we have found:
Consists of a 19g tube of hair removal cream and a stick of balm, designed to use prior to depilating, as a barrier between skin and cream. Works in 6 - 8 minutes and should be sufficient for 12 applications. Also available for medium to coarse hair. Full review here
Specially formulated for sensitive skin, price includes a 28g tube of hair removal cream, a 14g tube of post-depilatory cream and an application spatula. Works in 4 - 8 minutes. Low odour and after cream is pleasant, moisturizing and designed to inhibit re-growth. Full review here
Another well known Brand, this product is great value for money at less than $7 for a generous 2 oz (57g) tube. Also available for sensitive skin. A stand alone product at an affordable price - the cream has moisturizing ingredients so that skin does not feel dry after treatment. Full review here
The use of tweezers is a great way to get rid of a few stray hairs, as you really do need to pluck one hair at a time.
Therefore, if you have a fairly substantial amount of upper lip hair tweezing will not be your best option as it would be tedious and time-consuming.
However, if you have a few hairs that you want to keep under control, tweezing is quick, easy, cheap and efficient and lasts for a lot longer than shaving or depilatories, as the hair is removed from the root.
Tweezers can also be useful for removing stray hairs left by other hair removal methods such as waxing or epilating
Over time, continuously removing hair from the root in this way can eventually lead to permanent follicle damage and therefore the hair may not grow back at all.
Although there is a level of pain involved in pulling hair from the root, tweezing is not especially painful for most people, and after a while resistance builds so that the pain experienced is negligable.
Pros of Tweezing
- Convenient - easy to do at home
- Fairly long-lasting - can be several weeks
- No mess
- Cost effective - a decent pair of tweezers can last years if well looked after
Cons of Tweezing
- Pain - but not too bad!
- Risk of ingrown hairs
- Time consuming - although becomes quicker over time, with practice
- Not suitable for large areas
Our Ultimate Guide to Tweezing Hair Removal gives in-depth information about the various tweezers available and their comparative merits, as well as the reasons why you should invest in a good pair.
The tweezers below are the best that we could find for a low - mid range budget and are all slant tipped (generally considered the best all-round tweezer type):
Arguably the best slant tweezers, this award winning pair have perfectly aligned, hand-filed tips to ensure hair is grasped firmly. Comes complete with free sharpening service for the life of the tweezers from Tweezerman. Available in various colours/patterns and a mini version. Full review here
Epilators work in the same way as tweezers i.e. they pull the hair out from the root.
The difference is that epilators are devices which simultaneously pluck multiple hairs, making them much quicker but less precise than tweezers.
There are various types of electrical epilators available at a range of prices to suit all pockets and there are also manual epilators, which use a spring coil to remove multiple hairs.
The manual epilator will take a bit of practice to learn how to use it, but once the technique is mastered, can be very effective and convenient.
For full information on use of epilators for hair removal, see our complete guide.
Pros of Epilating
- Low cost, after the initial outlay
- Convenient and easily used at home
- Relatively long lasting as it removes hair from the roots
- Can treat very short hairs - from 0.5mm
- Finer and less regrowth over time, with regular use
- No mess
- Safe and no skin damage
Cons of Epilating
- Painful - as with all methods that pluck from the root
- It's not permanent, and the hair will grow back.
- Risk of ingrown hairs
- Risk of infection - but good after care will minimise
- Time - slower than some other methods such as shaving or depilatory cream
Recommended Manual Epilators
Coil manufactured from durable stainless steel, with hard plastic handles. Simple, practical and low-cost. Various colours available - sent out randomly.
Recommended Electric Epilators
Designed for delicate skin, so perfect for upper lip. With 9 tweezers in the head, this is battery operated (2 x AA batteries, not included), slim and highly portable, so great for travelling and good value for money.
Featuring a slim head with 10 micro-openings, this battery operated epilator comes complete with a facial cleansing brush head. Also included is a lighted mirror, pouch, device cleaning brush, battery (1 x AA battery) and cap.
In a nutshell, waxing works by adhering to the hair and then pulling it out from the root. It is great for large areas and can effectively treat even the thickest, coarsest hair.
There are two types of wax - hot or cold, each with their advantages and disadvantages:
Wax warmed between hands
Wax on the pulling strip prior to application
Wax adheres less to hair - for more applications
Very easy for home use
Less painful, but repeated application required
Wax is melted
Wax applied to skin, then pulling strip added
Wax adheres well to hair for one application
Can be messy
More painful, but without repeated application needed
For waxing the upper lip at home, I would personally recommend using cold wax strips as they are much easier, less messy and no chance of overheating and burning the skin.
It is fair to say that waxing is one of the more painful methods of hair removal, but there are ways to reduce the pain and we have included some products that you could use here:
The following table gives an outline of the main pros and cons of waxing but for in-depth information see our ultimate guide to waxing hair removal.
Pros of Waxing
- It's a fairly quick, easy method
- The hair thins out as you wax regularly
- It's easy - you can do it at home
- Longer lasting than shaving or creams
Cons of Waxing
- It's one of the more painful methods of hair removal
- The hair has to be fairly long in order to remove it effectively with wax, meaning you'll have visible hair as you wait for it to grow.
- Can lead to ingrown hairs if not done properly
- Ongoing cost
Recommended Waxing Products
Quick and easy to use cold wax strips - perfect for upper lip and can also be used for brow and bikini line. Great value for money, especially if you are on a tight budget with 34 strips on offer for less than $5.
Briefly, lasers remove hair by using light rays to target the dark pigment found in hair and skin, which is concentrated around the base of the hair follicle, to damage the follicle and cause the hair to fall out.
This process is explained in much more detail in our guide to laser hair removal.
Ideally, for best results, laser hair removal is best performed in a clinic by a fully qualified technician. The devices used in clinics are much more powerful than those available on the market for home use.
For recommendations as to how to find a reputable clinic see our guide.
It is a costly business and you will need to return time and again for repeat treatments to get good results, however for upper lip it may be a good option as it is a small area.
You will find the terms "laser" and "IPL" used when referring to home devices, and strictly speaking they are not the same as the technology is slightly different, although both use light to target melanin (the dark pigment).
For our purposes, we will treat them as one and the same thing.
The best thing about laser hair removal is that it can treat large areas quickly and efficiently and it can reduce hair regrowth dramatically (for some people) over time.
The downside is that laser hair removal, especially at home, is not suitable for everyone and works best for those with pale skin and dark hair.
Pros of Laser
- Relatively quick in comparison to electrolysis
- Can lead to permanent hair reduction
- Relatively easy to use at home
- OK to shave between treatments
Recommended Home Laser/IPL Devices
Specially designed for sensitive or smaller, targeted areas. Mains powered with 5,000 pulses of energy (upgradeable long life cartridge available). Reasonably priced for what you get.
Electrolysis is the only FDA approved method for permanent hair removal.
It is popular because it is permanent, but do be aware that many treatments will be required over a period of time, so we are not talking about a quick fix.
Additionally, if you decide to go for electrolysis to remove hair, you really need to go to a clinic to have the treatments carried out professionally and you will need pretty deep pockets as the procedure is time consuming and therefore expensive.
There is a summary of pros and cons shown below, but we have written various in depth articles on the subject of electrolysis and would advise you to have a look at our complete guide if you are considering this option.
Pros of Electrolysis
- Permanent hair removal
- Can be performed on all skin types and tones
- Suitable for all hair colours
Cons of Electrolysis
- Cost - likely to work out very expensive over time
- Time consuming - each hair treated individually
- Professional only - not a suitable method for treatment at home