One of the sad realities of being transgender is that which is cool as a guy is decidedly not as a girl. Most specifically body hair and facial hair. While not unheard of, facial hair in women in an untreated state has been relegated to the circus tent. Although one does wonder how many of those attractions where real and how many the result of fakery.
There are really only two options open for long term treatment of facial hair. Those are laser hair removal and electrolysis. Both are fairly expensive and both have advantages and disadvantages. For many, a combination of the two makes sense.
Laser (includes any light based process)
- (Pro) Fast, covers a relatively large area per treatment
- (Pro) Relatively inexpensive as a modest number of treatments should result in permanent hair reduction
- (Pro) Often less painful
- (Con) Only works on dark hair (black and brown, but other colors are dicey and gray is out of the question.
- (Con) Requires light skin, not an option for dark skinned people
Laser will most likely leave some hair behind, perhaps white or gray hairs, or perhaps some especially stubborn hairs and those have to be removed by electrolysis.
This is a long established process that uses an electric current to create heat, acid or both to destroy the hair follicle. Heat (thermolysis) destroys the follicle with a short burst of current. The electrologist can move rapidly as each hair just takes a couple of seconds. The original form of electrolysis, galvanic, is not used as far as I know (but someone in the field can correct me I’m sure). Thermolysis + galvanic is known as blend and that form is used. It is considered the most effective but it is also the slowest. My electrologist tells me she reserves it for just the hairs that won’t die otherwise since each hair takes 10-15 seconds to treat.
- (Pro) Will treat any color hair regardless of skin color
- (Pro) Is considered permanent hair removal
- (Con) Slow, several years for a full grown beard or longer
- (Con) Expensive, although laser is not cheap either
Electrolysis on the face is invariably painful, especially around the lips and using some form of anesthetic cream is good sense. Talk to the electrologist to see what they recommend.
An option I was intrigued by but never pursued was hypnosis. A hypnotist I know told me she could teach me to entirely numb the area. I do think there is something to this. However, I’m very close to the end so I’m sticking with lidocaine.
If you have the money and travel budget you can go to clinics in a number of places where they will do intensive electrolysis over a several day period. They administer nerve blocks and have two electrologists working at the same time. In two days you’re getting around 30 or so hours of treatment which would otherwise take you around seven calendar months at an hour a week.
There are many more options for the body and it really depends on how visible it is, how tolerant you are of it, how much you want it gone gone gone versus just toned down, etc.
Remember as you think about spending money here that hair on your chest, shoulders, belly and back will reduce over time with HRT, so ask yourself if the outlay is worthwhile.
First, you can consider laser hair removal if you have dark hair and light skin. It’s pricey but it works well and can be used just about anywhere on your body.
Electrolysis can also be used. In my opinion this is a good option for little patches like hair around the nipples or scattered hair, especially very light colored hair.
There are at home versions of laser and IPL (intense pulsed light) machines. Results may vary. I was able to get rid of some chest and belly hair with one, and I’m going to try and reduce my arm hair since it isn’t an emergency of any kind. However, these are nowhere near as powerful as the commercial machines that are used.
We then get to two categories. Things that pull hair out and things that cut hair off.
Waxing and some variations is the process of spreading a thin layer of sticky semi molten wax on your skin and pulling it, along with the hairs out in one shot. I found it less painful than it sounds, but that’s my experience. I used it on my back for a couple of summers. Other areas will be more or less sensitive.
Prices for waxing vary and depend on the size of the area to be waxed.
- (Pro) Skin stays smooth for awhile, typically 4 – 6 weeks
- (Pro) Tends to reduce the hair after a few treatments, your mileage may vary
- (Pro) While temporary, much less expensive than permanent hair removal
- (Con) Painful and irritates the skin
- (Con) Has to be repeated to cover the summer season if that’s your motivation, much more if it’s more a dysphoria thing
These little machines travel along like an electric razor but intense of blades they have a rotary head that grabs hairs and pulls them. The devices go for a modest price ($50 – $100 is typical) and do work fairly well.
Most of the advantages and disadvantages of waxing apply hear as well. But:
- Where waxing goes in shots (smooth strip on, pull) the epilator is constantly plucking hairs. This tends to be a little less painful in terms of the peak, but much more continuous
- Epilators can more easily miss a hair or three and you’ll have to tweeze them or shave them
It isn’t precisely cutting but it belongs here. Nair and company work by breaking down the hair’s protein into soluble compounds that can be wiped off. I haven’t used this myself because of the possible issues.
- Reactions to the chemical, basically lye, that acts on the hair
- Possible chemical burns if the treatment is left on too long
- Can remove wanted hair accidentally
There are probably more.
Although reasonably effective, I’m guessing that most people would just an electric razor at best second best for areas like the legs. It is very hard to actually get any skin smooth with an electric razor. Otherwise they work well and if you aren’t going to be with anyone but you it hardly makes a difference.
Last, but definitely not least is our humble regular razor. Amazing huh? It’s been around a while now, even if the modern version has 2, 3, 4, 5 or more blades (I’m just future proofing, I figure someday the blades will be an inch long). However, the bottom line is that you can shave pretty effectively with anything from oa razor clam shell to a four blade Venus whatever the latest swivel thingie is. Remember also that you don’t have to by a “woman’s” razor, just get one you like.
Pros: Relatively inexpensive and you probably know how without being told
Cons: Doesn’t last long
For a lot of the methods above there’s a device that comes with a manual, or a technician is doing it. With a razor it’s you. Some things I’ve been taught or figured out over time about shaving:
- Use something to protect your skin. Shaving involves rubbing a very, very sharp blade along your skin. It will be removing some of the top layer of that skin no matter what. You don’t need it to hang up and create nicks and cuts or remove more than is needed.
- Throw the blade away when it’s getting dull. A lot of these current razors have fairly expensive replacement blades. You need to replace the blade when it’s dull anyway.
- Make sure to rinse the blade of often. The blade gets clogged with hair. If you don’t rinse it, it will stop cutting hair
- Don’t press hard
- Try to make whatever area you’re shaving as flat as you can
Things to lubricate the skin include plain old soap, bath wash, shaving gel, and hair conditioner.
We have apparently decided that grown women are only attractive if they look like prepubescent girls. I’m not sure who’s rather sick idea this was, but please go away.I would urge anyone considering having anything permanent done in this area to reconsider. That’s there for a reason or it wouldn’t be there. Go do a google search, there’s a lot of information on this subject out there. Content yourself with doing topiary with it. I personally think trimming it into a little heart shape is adorable.If you do decide to shave it, look up how to do it right to minimize the chance of infection and ingrown hairs.
This is really for people getting SRS, stop reading if you think it will bother you. Really.
OK, you’ve been warned.
For MtF folks going toward SRS there’s usually a requirement to get hair removal down there. As with the face there are two basic options, laser and electrolysis. I was fortunate that laser worked on a fair amount of what I needed removed and then electrolysis was used on the rest.
Personally I recommend you do this even if the surgeon says it isn’t required unless you have a really good reason to believe that their patients that have no GHR done have no problem with hair growing after surgery. I know that my surgeon, like others, removes as many follicles as possible during surgery. They basically pop out the follicles which is entirely permanent, but it just follows logically that they are less likely to overlook one if there are fewer of them.
My personal experience was that laser caused me basically no serious discomfort and electrolysis was about as painful as my face. From what I’ve read I think experiences differ wildly on this.