In one of life's injustices, many of us have the frustrating experience of losing hair in the places we want to keep it (the scalp) and growing it in the places where we want to lose it (perhaps the back and shoulders for men and the chin and around the belly button for women). Though there are plenty of remedies that can eliminate unwanted hair, such as Nair and other hair dissolvers, waxing, and shaving, the latest hair zapper is laser therapy.
Here's how it works: The brown pigment in the hair soaks up the laser light, acting like a firecracker fuse leading to the follicle 2 millimeters under the skin. The laser's heat travels down through the hair to zap the follicle so it can never grow hair again. It doesn't work with blond, red, or silver hair because there's not enough brown pigment to fry. It takes several treatments to remove lots of hair in one area (it removes about 20 to 40 percent each time). The coolest thing is that the laser works like military weapons, seeking out and frying hairs, even ingrown hairs, diving beneath the surface of the skin (as long as part is above the skin). They can grow, but they can't hide.
Now, growing a mustache may very well be a rite of passage for teenage boys, but it can also be one for menopausal women, because of hormonal changes. About 30 percent of women report unwanted hair on the face. The cause? A predominance of male hormone, often caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome or menopause, which accelerates hair growth. This excess hair is generally a harmless condition, but you can treat it a number of ways, including bleaching, plucking, laser therapy, or electrolysis (an electric current damages follicles so hairs don't grow back). Electrolysis (as long as it's done by someone who's trained to do it) can work well for those with unwanted blond or white hair, since lasers aren't as effective for them. If you're going to wax any part of your body, ask to have room-temperature wax, not hot wax; the cooler kind will generally do less damage as the wax rips the hair and follicle from your skin. Wait a year after stopping Accutane or steroids before considering waxing. If you don't, you might be not only hairless but skinless.
Another remedy: losing weight. Weight loss (works in women and men to decrease unwanted hair and increase wanted hair) can decrease male hormone levels and slow down the growth of unwanted mustaches.
From YOU: BEING BEAUTIFUL by Michael F. Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. Copyright © 2008 by Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Oz Works, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY.