Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Permanent Hair Removal For Trans Women

One of the most frustrating and necessary aspects of an successful transition plan for the male to female transsexual is hair removal. It can also be one of the best things to help you pass as well! So why doesn't estrogen help with this? Unlike some things, estrogen does not help remove facial hair once it is there. Like bone structure, facial hair is a direct result of male puberty. The only way to get rid of the hair for ever is electrolysis or laser. Tweezing, waxing, and shaving will only get you so far (although in the mean time you should know how to effectively manage your facial hair). The reality is if you want it gone you will need to invest some money and time.

Also, if you plan on having sexual reassignment surgery you will most likely have to have some hair removed from your genitals beforehand... Your surgeon will go over this in your consult, if not definitely ask.

As I said, this either option costs money; in fact, please be aware that this can be one of the most time consuming and expensive physical change we as trans women can expect to go through. The reason for this is that electrolysis is paid for by the hour (I paid around the average of $65 an hour, 3 times a week for over a year). Laser can be paid for by the session but it is usually better to buy a package. I paid about the same both places I've had laser treatments done (maybe 9 treatments), about $250 a session.

Yes that is a lot. I also had a LOT of red hairs which evidently can be hard to treat, but not impossible :)

Anyway, below is a bit more specific information on the types of permanent hair removal that are out there.


Electrolysis is a method of hair removal that involves inserting a probe into the hair follicle and passing a small bit of electricity into it. Once the hair has been zapped it is usually pulled out by the electrolysis technician. With enough treatment the hair follicle eventually dies and the hair will no longer regrow.

As you can image this method is very time consuming and can be very painful. Also there must be enough hair above the skin for the technician to grab with a pair of tweezers. This almost always means NO SHAVING before an appointment!

The major benefit however is that it is 100% permanent regardless of hair color. Also, electrolysis can be done anywhere on the body.

Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is a procedure that involves sending a concentrated pulse of light into the hair follicle to kill the root of the hair. Theoretically this causes the follicle to die which means hair will no longer grow. I say "theoretically" because the success rate of laser is dependent on a lot of factors. The quality of the laser, its settings (stronger is not always better) and most importantly the contrast between one's hair color and one's skin tone. For example, a very fair skinned individual with dark drown facial hair is going to have much better results then someone with light skin and a blond hair or dark skinned people with dark hair. I have had very good and very long lasting results!

Laser can be less painful but not always and possibly less expensive in the long run that electrolysis; however, it may not be a viable option for everyone.

One thing with laser hair removal is to make sure you get a really good shave before you go. You will need a good razor (I still use my good old handy Mach 3) and the closer the better! I have some more advice on this in my article "Getting rid of that 5 o'clock shadow".

Points to Consider

  • Electrolysis is 100% permanent while laser is not... Sometimes. (It can be for some people.)
  • Laser works best on people whose facial hair is a color that contrasts with their complexion. The greater the contrast the better the results. Unfortunately that means African Americans (who sometimes have the thickest beards) are usually stuck with electrolysis.
  • Electrolysis takes a long time... If you are having it done, be patient. It definitely works.
  • Laser is much faster and to me less painful. I suggest this route if you are a good candidate. Even if you don't think you are I would still suggest you schedule a free consultation to find out.
  • Both hurt so prepare before you appointment:

    1. Put lidocaine on the area to be treated about 45 minutes before your appointment.
    2. Cover the lidocaine with plastic wrap. This helps tremendously to prevent it from drying which helps it to continue numbing your face. You look like a dork but it is worth it!
    3. Take two pain relievers about 30 minutes before you treatment. It is easier to prevent pain then to treat it.
    4. Drink water not caffeine.
    5. Try and relax... Think to yourself how much happier you will be once you are facial hair free.

The best advice I can give is this. You must be realistic. I had a coarse beard so it has taken longer then the averages you will find online elsewhere. Still assume that it will take a long time... Over a year, maybe two, three, or more for some of us. I myself have had 200+ hours of electrolysis and 9 laser treatments. I am also not done... I still have hairs, albeit far far less then I used to. I will say that I do not have a beard rather about 100 hairs that grow in patches on my upper lip and right under it. Any hair that grows on my cheeks is fine and unnoticeable. I have a few stubborn one on my neck and chin as well but not a lot.

Locations and Resources

Below are a few links pointing to some lists of electrolysis technicians and laser hair removal places. This can be a very hard experience not only because it hurts so freaking bad but also because of the nature of why we are doing it.
I have been treated respectfully at both places above but cannot speak for every location, only my experience at the ones I went to.

P.S. I would love to hear about your experience with facial hair removal... I more experiences we share the more information for others to form realistic expectations. Comments are very much encouraged!


Shawn said...

Don't be discouraged after you see hairs come back after an electrolysis session. Yes each hair is gone after it is removed however there are usually 4 or 5 hairs at each location with only 1 growing at any time. That is one of the reasons why it is so expensive.

As for laser, well give it a try. Even if it doesn't work to permanently remove all of the hair it should at least eliminate the darkest hairs. Once you've finished with laser then switch to electrolysis.

I started with electrolysis. cheeks are mostly fine blond hairs now. lip and chin are maybe 70% done now. I'm doing laser on my neck then switching afterwards

Teagan said...

I think all the advice in this blog post is right on point.

I have very dark hair and fair skin, very fortunate to have the perfect combination for laser. I've had my full face done 6 times and my chin/lip area an additional 7. I have some grey hairs as well, so we are doing electrolysis for those. The laser is doing wonders for my darks... between that, and around 35 hours of electro so far, I can typically go 2-3 days without shaving. And I had a *very* heavy beard.

Typically I'll do 2 hours of electro at a time, and then any darks they see, they zap with the laser. I still have lots and lots of electro and laser to go, but at least now I can present as myself without makeup, or shaving. A miracle, if you ask me. :)

Jaye Schmus said...

This was good of you to post. I have a heavy, dark, coarse beard, which anyone who's seen me in drab can attest to. I also have a handful of silver hairs on my chin, those are definitely going to get electrolysis. Maybe I can lase off the rest. As to the pain, it'll pay off by me not having to shave every day.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Daisy pinto said...

Laser treatment is very popular nowadays and it is a tough procedure which has to be done with a proper care otherwise it can have some adverse effect. But nowadays it has become easy and safe because of latest technologies.

Josefine W. W. Parker said...

Thank you for this resource. I had my first laser hair removal treatment in August, and it was so brutally painful physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I'm still working on the trauma from it before I can go in to do it regularly. I have a pretty high threshold for pain, so I am confused about it all. My skin is sallow and I have coarse dark hair.

I am not receiving HRT. I was instructed to apply lidocaine only minutes before the treatment, and I don't think it worked. Even the area above and below my lips that had it on for about an hour were not numb; I couldn't even handle the laser on that spot. I know when I've been injected with lidocaine for dermal surgery, I've had to receive multiple shots for it to be numb, so maybe it doesn't work well for me. I didn't take any painkillers prior. I shaved before I left the house for the treatment.

Any perspective is greatly appreciated. In the future, I will use painkillers and apply lidocaine and plastic wrap before hand. I'm not sure if shaving right before was bad for me.


Jessie said...

Thank you for this article! I wish that I had seen yet a day or two ago though. I had my first laser treatment yesterday, and so much of what is in this are true.

I will have to try your tips for before the appointment when I go to my next one.

As to the pain, I wasn't prepared for it. It was not pleasant, but was most definitely bearable. The thing that got to me was the smell after each of the laser zaps went off. Was not ready for that in the least. :)

everydaynews said...

Laser works. I had laser hair removal done 11 years ago. Happy with the results. Had just few maintenance since on my upper lip. Laser Hair Removal NJ

Laser Hair Removal Melbourne said...

Laser hair removal treatment are mostly prefer these days.It has reduce the pain of plucking hairs, waxing etc.

Laser Hair Removal Melbourne

Anonymous said...

You shave 24-12 hrs before your laser treatment, not right before. They didnt tell you that? I didn't take any painkillers or lidocaine and it hurt like WOW but not too much worse than a slow-motion super-heated tattoo haha. But 12 hrs later I am still swollen, red, and slightly numb in a couple small spots. I have pale-ish olive skin and a very heavy dark beard. I just started transition but I don't start HRT till about 8 more weeks :(

Laser by Aleya said...

Many people find that it works best to start with laser for larger areas then move to electrolysis for more precise targeting of hairs. We wrote this article to address some of the frequent questions we hear from our MTF clients:
Let us know if you think it's missing something! (: