For the past couple of years, lipstick — and all lip care, for that matter — may have been taken a backseat while everything was covered by a mask. But now there's more opportunity to show our smiles, and the entire lower half of our faces for that matter. So you may be taking a second glance at your upper lip — it may have gotten a little fuzzy while you were putting beauty appointments on the back-burner.
Let's be clear: there is absolutely nothing wrong with having hair on your upper lip — it's all about personal preference. If hair removal is up your alley, we're here to help figure out what method is best for you. From dermaplaning to waxing to laser hair removal and beyond, keep reading for a breakdown of all the different ways you can remove hair from your upper lip, either at home on your own or by a professional.
The Pros of Waxing Your Upper Lip
Affordable (around $15 to $20) and fast (as in, seconds), waxing is often a popular pick, especially for instant-gratification seekers, and maintenance is every three to four weeks. "If you want hair removal and you don't want to spend time on it every day or every few days, waxing is a good option to free up your time and give you longer-lasting effects than shaving," says Heather Roberts, owner of Mode Beauty NYC. Since waxing removes hair from the root, there's a longer time before regrowth becomes visible above the skin.
Hard wax, which doesn't require strips to remove hair, or soft wax, which is used when you put the wax down and remove it with strips, both get the job done, says Roberts, though she prefers soft wax for its ability to get those pesky fine hairs. If you're up for it, you can do it at home with something like the Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit, which has everything you need. Just be careful: this is your face, after all.
The Cons of Waxing Your Upper Lip
Like Goldilocks's porridge, the temperature of wax has to be just right. "If it's too hot, it can burn," says Roberts. "If it's too cold, it can lift the skin." Either way, you may experience redness afterward, which is normal. While waxing isn't painless, it is the quickest form of hair removal. If you are going to a salon and spa, make sure it's sanitary — no double-dipping from the wax to your body with the same applicator.
Because there can be sensitivity, you want to stop using skin care with retinoids and avoid sun exposure prewax, and wait a few weeks after you've had Botox or dermal fillers. Sun exposure is also a no-no after getting a wax. Don't skip SPF, and use something with aloe vera that's soothing and antibacterial to help prevent breakouts. Roberts is a fan of Fur Oil to calm and moisturize the area and also prevent ingrowns.
The Pros of Dermaplaning Your Upper Lip
Dermaplaning: it's when you use a very sharp, fine razor to remove hair and exfoliate dead skin from your face. So, you'll be left with a nice glow and your pores will be primed to receive all of the goodness from your skin-care regimen. When done professionally, your aesthetician will use a surgical blade (basically a scalpel) — this can be pretty dangerous to do on your own, so make sure if you're dermaplaning at home, you use a more user-friendly (and not quite as sharp) product.
Our go-to is the Schick Hydro Silk Dermaplaning Wand. It has a curved handle to give you nice control, and protective microguards help the wand glide smoothly over your delicate facial skin. Plus, it comes with six refill blades; this is ideal since you should always use a new blade every time you dermaplane.
The Cons of Dermaplaning Your Upper Lip
It's important not to overdo it with dermaplaning — you want to wait at least two weeks between sessions. If you're dermaplaning at home, you want to make sure you're always gliding the blade in a downward motion (not against the grain of your hair) to avoid any irritation or cuts.
It's also not a good idea to use a dermaplaing blade over any active acne breakouts or anywhere you already have irritation.
The Pros of Electrolysis on Your Upper Lip
It may sound a little old school, but know this: electrolysis is the only FDA-approved method for permanent hair removal. It works by zapping hair at the root. A small wire or probe is inserted into the hair follicle, then an electric current is run through it to get rid of the hair. Essentially, you are damaging the hair follicle, so it doesn't grow back — and it never will. It's a precursor to laser hair removal and a viable alternative to it to this day.
The Cons of Electrolysis on Your Upper Lip
Some say it can be uncomfortable (it causes a stinging sensation), but everyone's tolerance varies. Thankfully, the upper-lip area is pretty quick — it only takes about 10 minutes. You'll need a series of sessions which varies from person to person, but most people will need anywhere from 5 to 12 sessions.
Laser Hair Removal
The Pros of Laser Hair Removal On Your Upper Lip
"Laser hair removal targets the pigment in the actual hair shaft and follows that down to the root," explains Roberts. "The energy of the laser damages the bulb of the root of the hair so that it can't then generate new hair growth." Over time, that means permanent hair reduction. If you're shaving your upper lip every few days or tweezing every day, it might make sense to switch to laser removal since there is less maintenance, says Roberts. "For people who get bad ingrowns on their face, it's also a great option to help minimize that." And it's time efficient: lasering the lip only takes about five minutes per session.
The Cons of Laser Hair Removal on Your Upper Lip
Although lasers are not painless (Roberts describes it as a hot rubber-band snap), technology has come a long way over the past 10 years, and most people don't need prep, in Roberts's experience. But lasers are not for everyone — as Roberts explains, it doesn't target blond, gray, or red hair. It is also a commitment and requires consistency: you're looking at five to eight sessions spaced out every four to six weeks before you hit the long-term maintenance phase (one laser treatment three or four times a year). It can also be pricey — you're looking at around $100 to $200 per session.
Do your research as you really want to go to someone who knows what they are doing. "There's a high risk for adverse effects if it's not done right," says Roberts. You could be burned or undertreated, which means you won't get optimal results. You'll need to regularly use your sunscreen (try a calming formula like Paula's Choice Redness Relief SPF 30 Mineral Moisturizer ($31)) each and every day. Some experts recommend doing laser hair removal in the fall so you're not as exposed to the sun's damaging rays. If you are taking acne medication like Accutane, you'll have to wait before starting laser hair removal. Consult with your doctor for timing, but it could be around six months until it's safe.
The Pros of Threading Your Upper Lip
This technique, popular in Asia and the Middle East for many years, uses a thread to remove hair from the root of the follicle by rolling a cotton thread over the area, thereby pulling them out in a row. Hair doesn't need to be long, so you won't have to wait for a proper grow-out as you do for laser removal. Touted as being virtually painless, threading will last up to a few weeks. If your skin is sensitive to wax, this may be a better option. And it is pretty cost-efficient, running anywhere from $5 to $15.
The Cons of Threading Your Upper Lip
While you can find some helpful DIY videos online, this is probably a technique you want to leave to the pros. It's not painless (think slight stinging), but for such a small area like the upper lip, it'll be quick, around five minutes or less. Any sensation might be a little more noticeable for those with longer hairs, but with consistency, hair may grow in more sparsely and finely.