Just about everyone has at least one beauty sore spot, a constant cause of self-consciousness that resists nearly all attempts at eradication. Mine is my upper lip hair. I hated it when I was 17 and I hate it today. The hairs are dark, they grow fast, and since my skin these days has gotten relatively light and somewhat translucent thanks to years of diligent skincare, they show. Rationally, I know it can’t be anywhere near as noticeable to others as it is to me. In my mind, though, I look like this:
I’ve been locked in a war of attrition with my lady mustache for the last twenty years, so as you can imagine, I’ve tried a lot of different hair removal methods. No friggin’ laser beams because I’m cheap about beauty services, but until recently, I was considering throwing in the towel and going for the nuclear option.
These are some of the hair removal methods I’ve tried:
- Shaving with regular ladies’ razor: Quick and easy, but the results only last a day before stubble starts coming in.
- Shaving with a tinkle razor: Same as above.
- Home bleaching: Doesn’t bleach the hairs enough unless I leave the cream on so long that I end up developing a mustache-shaped chemical burn, which defeats the purpose, really.
- Hair removal cream: The timing is too finicky for my skin and hair. Wipe it off just a few seconds too early, and it leaves some hair behind. Wipe it off just a few seconds too late, and there’s that mustache-shaped chemical burn again. Also, the hairs grow back too quickly.
- Hand-tweezing: Somewhat painful, time-consuming, and requires way too much time spent in front of a magnifying mirror. Magnifying mirrors are mass-produced portals to hell.
- Home wax strips: Good results that last a few days to a week, but pretty painful, and I hate cleaning off the wax residue afterwards. Can only use on hair that’s grown out to the point of pretty obvious visibility.
Further complicating matters is the fact that I use Curology tretinoin regularly for much of the year. Tretinoin has done amazing things for my skin, but it also makes certain hair removal methods inadvisable. Bleach and Nair are more likely to irritate or burn when I’ve been using tret, while wax tears off an entire layer of skin.
Back in the spring of this year, on the recommendation of my friend Chel (of Holy Snails and the Snailcast), I bought an epilating spring off of Amazon. I am no longer considering friggin’ laser beams. This is my experience with my epilating spring.
This post contains affiliate links, which allow me to earn a small commission on purchases made by clicking the links. Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk(*).
Bellabe Facial Hair Remover Review
Epilating springs use a slim, flexible metal coil to remove hair. When bent and rolled over skin, the spring catches individual hairs and pulls them out. In terms of salon treatments, it’s most like threading, since multiple hairs are pulled out simultaneously. Unlike waxing, there’s nothing sticking to the skin and no danger of nonconsensual extreme exfoliation.
My epilating spring comes with little silicone grips at the ends; you hold it with both hands and twist to roll the spring over your hairy facial zones.
Others that I’ve seen consist of shorter springs installed in a little handle tool that can be used with one hand, like this one from Etude House, but I don’t have any experience with those.
When I searched on Amazon, I found several styles of epilating spring, at various price points. I think I chose the Bellabe one because it came with free Prime one-day shipping in my area. Sometimes that’s how I make my purchasing decisions, especially when my mustache is driving me crazy and must be dealt with at once. I’d imagine they all perform about the same, really.
My Bellabe “Facial Hair Remover” came in a skinny plastic tube, with instructions and a single disposable numbing wipe that contains 2% lidocaine and 50%(!!!!!) alcohol. The wipe is labeled as “Safetec Sting Relief Insect Bite Antiseptic and Pain Reliever.” It remains unused to this day. I’ll take a little pain over 50% alcohol, thanks.
How to use and care for an epilating spring
There’s no real prep needed before using the spring, though I do like to clean my mustache area beforehand with a swipe of cleansing water on a cotton pad. The idea of a bunch of sunscreen and makeup getting on the spring grosses me out. Then I turn on the TV and sit down on the sofa with the spring.
As I mentioned above, you hold this particular type of epilating spring with both hands. Then you bend it into a U shape.
Then you hold the bend of the spring against your mustache area and twist the handles in and out with your fingertips so that the spring flexes and rolls over your skin. You’ll know it’s working when you start feeling it rip out every single hair in the vicinity. Yes, it hurts. It’s not eye-wateringly bad, though.
I like to space out while watching a show or movie while I’m doing this. I roll the spring over one small area at a time, moving on to the next area when I don’t feel any more hairs coming out. Once everything seems clean, I look in the mirror and go over any places where I’ve missed anything–usually right by the corners of my mouth. Then, done! After that, I just move on to double cleansing and doing my regular evening skincare routine.
The first few times I used the spring, my upper lip got a bit red and irritated for a few minutes afterwards. At this point, however, my skin seems acclimated to it, and I rarely even get any pinkness afterwards.
As for care, the instructions say to clean the spring off with a brush and to not clean it with water. I actually do wash it with soap and hot water once in a while, because it doesn’t feel right not to. I have also occasionally dumped boiling water over it to sterilize. The spring seems fine, even after six months. These are pretty inexpensive anyway, so I won’t mind replacing it if it falls apart due to my vigorous cleaning habits.
Fewer than ten minutes at a time with the epilating spring gives me a nice smooth upper lip that looks great for about three days and stays acceptable for another three or four. The coil catches and pull out even very short and fine hairs for me, making it more effective than waxing. Also unlike waxing, since the epilating spring doesn’t require hair to be relatively long, and since the spring doesn’t irritate or remove skin, I can use it as frequently as I want to maintain smoothness. I generally use it twice a week. (I told you, my hair grows fast.)
Besides the (perfectly manageable) pain and the manual labor aspect of the epilating spring, I haven’t noted any real drawbacks. My wrists sometimes get tired while I’m using it, but that could be the frequency and enthusiasm that I bring to the table. Since this tool does require a series of small, repetitive motions, however, it won’t be good for those with issues like arthritis or repetitive stress injuries (RSI) in their hands or wrists.
Edit: Commenter “Anna” also points out that “if you are prone to ingrown hairs from plucking/waxing/threading your facial hair, epilating springs are not exempt from that.” Please keep that in mind!
All in all, however, I’m extremely happy with (and creepily attached to) my epilating spring.
Where can I get that epilating spring?
I got my Bellabe Facial Hair Remover on Amazon Prime*, but don’t feel limited to the exact model I use. In my quick glance down the first three pages of search results for facial hair removers, I also found this chic black one* and this slick stainless steel version*. Here’s one that’s a few bucks cheaper than mine*, and here’s one made for one-handed operation*. Finally, there’s this unnerving-looking thing*. Pick the one that looks the most exciting to you, and don’t forget to tell me how you like it!
Now. On to a couple of brief skin and life updates.
I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted to my blog, and I feel guilty enough about it that I want to take a few minutes to explain and to make it clear that I’m not giving up on the blog or going into blogger retirement just because I’m working a full-time job in K-beauty now.
I love my job and the projects I’m leading, like the new W2Beauty affiliate program and our new series of K-beauty boxes. I’ve also actually been writing roughly the same amount as always; it’s just that most of my writing these days ends up published on W2Beauty’s editorial section rather than here.
Throwing an extra wrench into the works is the current condition of my skin…which has been very good lately. Yeah, that’s an odd thing to complain about, but lately I’ve realized that I don’t really know what improvements I could expect to see out of any products I use. My skin is in a definite maintenance phase–I did have an incident with a Su:m37 product (apparently my face fucking hates Su:m37), but even those irritation bumps subsided quickly without much intervention on my part. I suspect I’m not able to treat most products fairly right now, since they might have delivered results were my skin in a condition to improve much in the first place.
With that being said, I’m not giving up! Is there a brightening product out there strong enough to remove the last and most stubborn of my old sunspots? I don’t mind what’s left of them anymore, but I’ll gladly get rid of them for the sake of being able to share which products can do that. Are there sunscreens out there that I might like even more than I like the A’Pieu sunscreens I’ve been using all summer? If I find some, I’ll definitely talk about them here. You guys will be hearing all about my left foot skincare experiment soon, too. And of course, if I run afoul of any products so bad that they leave me full of rage and indignation, I’ll write about those.
My point is that I’m still here, and I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be back to post more as soon as I have something I want to say!
In the meantime, have you seen my interview with Billboard about K-beauty and BTS’s new skincare venture?
Life is good. I promise I’ll keep on sharing all my beauty-related highs and lows with you guys. Thank you as always for reading my blog!
16 thoughts on “Facial Hair Removal Adventures + Miscellaneous Updates”
Sounds good, I usually use wax and tweezers but as I am not getting any younger, situation doesn’t look any better. I wonder if I could clean it with tea tree oil if I get one😊
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You know how they say that waxing or tweezers will cause the hairs to grow back more slowly over time? It was definitely true on my eyebrows, but why is it that the upper lip just seems to get worse…
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Hello Fiddy! I love your blog! You jumpstarted my descent into skincare and for that I am very thankful… I am now investing on skin care products more than makeup products! Yay!!!
Any recommendations on what I can add to my skincare routine to treat PIE and freckles more aggressively? The babies I’ve been nursing on my forehead and cheeks are stubborn as hell! I have oily, dehydrated, acne-prone skin and been sticking to this routine for a couple of months now with very minimal results:
AM – Cosrx low pH cleanser
– Etude House Berry AHA Boosting Serum
– Klairs Supple Prep toner (2-3 layers)
– The Ordinary Niacinamide
– Cosrx Galactomyces essence
– Mizon AIO Snail cream
– Origins Ginzing eye cream
– Biore UV essence
PM – Bioderma micellar water
– Cosrx low pH cleanser
– The Ordinary Glycolic Acid toner or Cosrx BHA power liquid
– Klairs Supple Prep toner (5-7 layers)
– The Ordinary EGCG + Caffeine eye serum
– The Ordinary Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution
– Cosrx Snail 96 essence and/or Scinic Propolis 95 ampoule
– Mizon Snail Recovery gel cream
– Tamanu oil on acne marks only
– Laneige Water Sleeping mask (optional)
I’ve been thinking if it’s about time to switch to a stronger Vit C serum (like the Cosrx or Klairs ones) or start using retinoids (though I’m hesitant about this because I don’t want to start too early). Thank you and I look forward to more or your posts!
Hi! I agree with you that it would be time to switch to a stronger vitamin C serum, though I’m not sure whether Cosrx one counts (and Klairs definitely doesn’t count). For the purposes of lightening PIH, I’d stick to a 20% L-AA vitamin C serum at a nice low pH. Timeless and Tia’m should both fit for that purpose. Good luck!
Thank you for the advise! I won’t waste my money and time on the Cosrx and Klairs products and go directly to your suggestions 🙂
Hello! I’m glad that your skin is in such a good place. If you someday get tired of your epilating spring, Please do not put a laser on your face!!!!! (Yes 5 exclamation marks, it’s dire) I did that and my facial hairs increased by like 200%. I thought I was a fluke but then I did some research and found that it does happen quite often. I don’t know why it’s not common news but yeah. I’m glad you’re still keeping up the blog. Keep succeeding!✨
OMGGGG well noted. I will avoid lasers always! Thanks for the tip and the kind words!!
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Just a heads up for people – if you are prone to ingrown hairs from plucking/waxing/threading your facial hair, epilating springs are not exempt from that – I learned the hard way!
I get vicious ingrowns whenever I try to remove my facial hair down to the root, and have given up on any sort of long term solution at this point. Instead, the best option I’ve found for ingrown-prone faces is daily shaving with a cheap single blade razor in the shower. I use my low pH facial cleanser as a shaving “cream” and it works perfectly. No ingrown hairs, and no PIH from when those ingrowns inevitably get inflamed. People theorize that the myth of ‘men aging better than women’ is due to their daily physical exfoliation via shaving, so I’m also trying to convince myself that it’s part of my anti-aging routine!
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Oh very good point! I’ll put that in the post with credit to you, thanks!
Thank you for the life update – I am glad to hear that you are happily busy 😊 You mentioned a brightening product search. Would you please share your experience and knowledge of Tranexamic acid?
I was thinking of you and your stellar skin-skills- and-wordsmithing today, as I finally attacked the ridiculous amount of peach fuzz all over my cheeks. It’s light and (I guess?) cute when you’re younger, but a month away from 42 and I have no time for this fuzzy face-shroud.
First attempt was that Olay-face-Nair. Did exactly what you said above: Parts of my cheek are great and red, and other parts are half-done and feel terrible.
Luckily I came prepared with exactly what you got (Bellabe) and spent the rest of the day in psudo-masochist glee. While the chin and around the brows are a cinch, under and above the lips hurt a bit, and my 1 & 1/2 cheeks took over an hour (It’s like 41 years of fuzz so, yeah), and I still have miles of fuzz before I rest.
So my questions if you don’t mind:
1. It says on Bellabe’s site that ingrowns shouldn’t be an issue and I really wanted to believe them. To support this likely totally full of it belief, anything you’d recommend to stave them off? I am queen of ingrowns and even have folliculitis (ew), but I cannot have super-fuzz face anymore.
Anything you do post de-fuzzing? I’ve been using witch hazel with aloe but I want to make sure it’s clean (since I’ve never had the best skin) without irritating it further.
Love to you and your family!
(Carrie from City who is still there but at least teaching now.)
PS. Simon Schama still loves you.
I ended up having laser hair removal on my face after 20 years of anguish over it and it was some of the best money I’ve ever spent. It literally changed my life. After being diagnosed with cancer at 39, I realized life can be too short to spend my life in front of the mirror plucking hairs and being upset about it. So, if you ever tire of the spring, laser can be a really amazing option!
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I have the same facial hair issues as you do. I have dark hair, pale skin, and grows faster than sprouts on a chia pet! I’ve tried it all. I got the chemical burns from bleaching. If I wax then I looked like a hot poker was wipes across my face.
This epilating spring has been LIFE CHANGING!! I love it. I can use it every couple of days. No redness! And I don’t have to wait until my hair grows to a certain length. I can do it whenever. I still have a couple of stubborn hairs that need a tweeze but still. Love, love, love this thing. THANK YOU!!!
I know this is an old post, but just have to chime in with a warning. You offer up so much good advice I feel compelled to share mine. 😉 I epilated for all my body hair removal for years, and for years it wasn’t a problem. But eventually the trauma you’re doing to the follicle over and over again will not only make ingrowns much more likely, but your hair will start coming in thicker and darker. This is not a danger with shaving, but is basically inevitable with any method that yanks out the hair (tweezing and waxing included). I learned the hard way when finally my follicles were so traumatized and hair thicker than it ever had been (I started with very fine blond hair – I don’t know why I didn’t just shave!) that it was like my skin and hair were at war with each other. I couldn’t even shave my underarms anymore – the irritation was constant. The solution? And the perfect solution to lady mustache issues? Electrolysis. It’s truly permanent, unlike laser treatments, and has changed my life. Do your research when looking for a practitioner, and even try a few, but soon you could never have to do anything on your upper lip ever again. Imagine the next five decades not having to worry about it! It’s SO WORTH IT. Electrologists like to say “only pluck what you want to keep’, and in hindsight, they’re totally right.
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