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Help! I'm Reaching for Tweezers Every Day

What to do about all those annoying unwanted hairs.

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A senior woman plucking hairs from her chin with tweezers
Getty Images
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My husband and I were driving into the city for a wedding recently when I turned and spied a single wild and wiry eyebrow hair of spectacular length sprouting out of his forehead.

“Babe, this is going to hurt for a sec, but you have a Dumbledore-length eyebrow hair.”

Then I reached over and pulled it as hard as I could.

What have I learned? Don’t startle the driver and, apparently, I too have a rogue hair, growing out of the small, skin-colored mole tucked under my chin that “I saw about three months ago but didn’t pull out of your head!”

The older we get, the more never-before-seen body hairs start to randomly pop up as a result of natural hormonal changes, sending us scrambling for the tweezers. Like, every single day. Fortunately, there are less torturous and more permanent ways to remove strays.

At-home devices can run you a few hundred dollars, but also consider that a single visit to a dermatologist could cost you that alone. The Tria Hair Removal Laser 4x — the only one that has been FDA-approved for at-home use — relies on high-frequency light to kill hair follicles.

Depilatory creams operate on the same principle and smell a lot better than they did when the “we wear short shorts” jingle first became popular. They still operate on the same premise — chemicals break down keratin so the hair falls out (but the follicle remains intact, so it will grow back). Nowadays, gentler formulas make them easier to use on your face (and genitals if you so fancy).

There are also over-the-counter hair-inhibiting daily creams and moisturizers that slow growth.

With each, success and permanence depend on where the hair is growing.

Nose & Ears
For nose and ear hairs, trimmers are easiest and safest. The key is how you use them. You have to move trimmers around, which is how the small razors reach the hair. Look for ones with nick and pull guards. Or try scissors with a blunt tip. (Don’t use regular ones, as it’s too easy to poke the delicate lining of your nose and let in bacteria.)

Nose- and ear-hair waxing are longer-lasting, but not without issues. You have to find someone who specializes in waxing and knows only to remove the hair near the ball of your nose. Anything higher may strip away the delicate hairs that filter your air.

Very specialized barbers can do something called singeing. This rare method originated in Turkey and involves quickly burning the hairs with a taper. Yowch.

Chin & Upper Lip
Depilatories, waxing and tweezing are quick and easy, but electrolysis is touted as the only permanent solution for these areas. It delivers an electrical current directly into each individual hair follicle to prevent further growth; it can be used anywhere on any type of hair and requires several visits for final results. Laser removal uses mild radiation and high-heat lasers to damage follicles and can be used on larger swatches of skin — note that laser removal works best on people with lighter skin tones and usually only on darker hair.

Hey, boys, pull up a chair because we ladies have been around this block. Tweezing errant strays is the best way to go, quick and painless. If we’re talking more than a few, brush them up and trim them with scissors. Or visit a barber or salon and let the experts take a whack. A dermatologist or an at-home electrolysis device can offer a more permanent fix.

Ah, the calling card of cartoon witches. Moles appear randomly on the body, but when one crops up on top of a follicle you can get a single, thicker, darker hair that’s the result of the mole’s darker pigment cells. Here tweezing and electrolysis may be your best options. Both target the single follicle, but electrolysis will keep it from growing back.

As always, if you have any questions, talk with your doctor or dermatologist.

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