I can't stand the peach fuzz on my face, especially because I have very dark hair. The issue is that I have sensitive, acne-prone skin – I've tried dermaplaning (which triggered cystic acne), threading and waxing make me break out, I'm concerned about the chemicals in hair-bleaching creams and laser hair removal is out of my budget. Which is the least irritating method for removing facial fuzz?
I feel for you, Kara, as I feel for anyone who battles skin conditions that warrant treatments that upset their other skin conditions. My poor mum’s skin is so reactive, she struggles to find anything to treat her melasma, and I know people who have super dry eczema on one part of their body, and oily breakouts on another. It’s frustrating enough dealing with acne-prone skin, and wanting facial depilation just throws another spanner in the works, so I decided to pass your query over to KerryLou Herbert, aesthetician extraordinaire at Omniya.
I told her you hadn’t had much luck with dermaplaning, and she wasn’t surprised. "If there’s active acne on the skin, I really wouldn’t recommend dermaplaning," she said. "It can cause a lot of irritation and inflammation, and you’re also spreading the acne bacteria over the skin a lot. It’s an unnecessary and very harsh form of exfoliation for someone like you."
Dermaplaning has its diehard fans, but from experiences I’ve heard via friends and colleagues, it seems that if you start, you really have to commit to it, and the results seem to vary a lot from person to person. "I think there’s also this belief with dermaplaning and shaving the face that the hair comes back thicker," added KerryLou. "That’s not really true, but because you’re cutting the hair rather than removing it at the root, it feels that much more blunt and prickly."
KerryLou said that despite your negative experiences thus far, waxing or threading is probably your best bet. "If you’re always breaking out after a wax or a thread, it’s most likely due to the wrong aftercare or prep beforehand – it’s very common. I see lots of ladies come in for facials with breakouts around the brows or upper lip and I know immediately that’s from threading. Not everyone is prone to it, but if you are, it’s really important that a couple of hours before your appointment, you gently but thoroughly exfoliate," she explained. Not doing this means you’re going into your session with a lot of dead skin and product build-up on the surface of your skin, which can lead to clogged pores afterwards. "Always go with no makeup on, and exfoliate the day after, too. That way you’re only removing the hairs and not disturbing anything else," KerryLou added. Try Paula’s Choice 2% Salicylic Acid, £26, on a cotton pad the day after, and a few hours before.
"On the whole, threading and waxing are best for sensitive skin, as the chemicals in hair bleaching creams can be irritating," explained KerryLou. "It’s all down to personal choice with those, in my opinion. If a client has especially sensitive skin, I’d recommend they keep applying aloe vera gel after their appointment as needed, and you can even use a cold compress if you’re finding the pain quite prickly."
I asked whether waxing or threading was better for you, and KerryLou said that she’d probably lean towards threading, though the pain is a little more intense. "Waxing is a little bit brutal, and threading is more precise, as it only takes the hairs and doesn’t pull at the skin. Wait four or so weeks between appointments so the hair is a bit longer, and your therapist won’t have to go so close to the skin to remove the hair. That way, you can minimise some sensitivity."
By the way, laser being out of your budget might not be that much of a loss after all. KerryLou said that the facial fuzz you’re describing is actually the hardest to laser away, as fluffy hairs have shorter hair follicles. "In lay terms, it means the energy from the laser might go to the wrong place as the follicle is so small. It can end up spreading elsewhere, and the results aren’t always as expected."
All in all? Be diligent, thoroughly remove your makeup, remember to exfoliate beforehand and go in with super clean skin. Invest in a tube of aloe vera gel and use liberally, and really do try and avoid applying makeup right after. An evening appointment and straight to bed might be best for you.
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