Shaving vs. plucking: Which is better for facial hair?

Picture it: You’re minding your own business, your day seems completely normal, uneventful even, and you take a glimpse of yourself in the mirror — lo and behold, there’s a hair. Not just any hair, either. It’s a long wiry, dark hair growing out of the middle of your chin, cheek, jawline, or anywhere else a hair is not supposed to grow! Much like discovering your first gray hair, this moment can feel a bit traumatizing, but instead of grabbing at any plucking or shaving device in sight, take a deep breath. The reality is, it’s totally normal. That bears repeating — it’s totally normal.

Everything from hormonal changes to genetics can impact facial hair growth in women. As Healthline explains, “A few random hairs on the chin and neck popping up along with peach fuzz is routine and often related to hormonal changes our body cycles through over our lifetime.” But just because something is normal, doesn’t mean we have to like it, and most of us are not big fans of random long facial hairs that seemingly sneak up overnight. The real mystery in the case of the furry face, however, is how to get rid of the fuzz so it looks like it was never there to begin with.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the easiest at-home hair-removal options are shaving or plucking. They each have their pros and cons, but when it comes right down to it, it’s really a matter of personal preference and pain tolerance.

Shaving facial hair is a great option if you're short on time

The biggest misconception women have about shaving their facial hair is that it will grow back darker and thicker, leaving them with a stubbly five o’clock shadow — but that is absolutely not true. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Shaving hair doesn’t change its thickness, color or rate of growth.” If you shave a wiry hair and notice that it feels coarse after a day or two, that’s only because the end has been cut blunt by the razor, not because the hair is any thicker.

So, if you have a few random chin hairs and also notice your lip wax is a little overdue, shaving is a quick, easy, and painless option to remove a bunch of hairs at once — but there are drawbacks. As Healthline points out, the results of shaving will only last one to three days, and you may run the risk of nicks and cuts, razor burn, and even ingrown hairs, just as you would with shaving your legs or bikini line. You can easily minimize these risks, however, if you use a clean razor, prep the skin with soap or shaving cream, take your time, and always shave in the direction of hair growth. 

“When performed correctly,” New York dermatologist Dr. Carlos Charles revealed to The Cut, “shaving leads to the least amount of trauma to the skin surrounding the hair.”

Plucking lasts longer, but is more painful than shaving facial hair

If you’ve only got one stray hair causing you grief, tweezing it is probably the best option, but if you are looking to cover more ground, and waxing your eyebrows makes you see stars, you’re likely better off shaving because plucking can be painful (via Makeup and Beauty).

If you’ve got the time and you don’t mind the plucking sensation, you can tweeze those unwanted facial hairs and forget about them for weeks instead of days. But just like with shaving, you have to take your time, make sure your tweezers are clean and sharp, and, as Healthline stresses, always pluck in the direction of your hair’s growth while also “holding your skin taut” to avoid added irritation. Similarly to shaving, tweezing can also cause ingrown hairs, so make sure to clean your “tweezers with alcohol before and after plucking.”

When it comes down to it, the best method for removing facial hair is what you are most comfortable doing. As long as you make hygiene a priority and are gentle with your skin, you can shave, pluck, or better yet, pay someone else to wax, laser, thread, or depilate your facial hair for you!

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