Can You Permanently Remove Facial Hair with Honey? We Investigate

Meet the Expert

  • Ashley Anderson is an esthetician and co-owner of Skin Deep Naples, a med-spa in Naples, Florida.
  • Stacy Chimeno is a board-certified dermatologist of Riverchase Dermatology in Miami.
  • Preeti Joshi is a lead esthetician and master waxer at N4 Skincare in Los Angeles.
  • Tami Blake is an esthetician and the founder of Free + True.

Does Waxing with Honey Have Permanent Results?

Let's start with one major caveat. Honey waxing, or any waxing for that matter, will permanently remove the hair. "Yes, honey is effective for removing facial hair to a certain degree, but it does not destroy the hair follicle," says esthetician Ashley Anderson, co-owner of Skin Deep Naples, a med-spa in Naples, Florida. "To permanently remove the hair follicle, you have to be able to destroy the base of the follicle, which is where hair the hair gets its blood supply and ability to regenerate." And to achieve that, you need some energy- based treatment, such as lasers or IPL. (Though it's worth noting that even laser hair removal isn't technically considered completely permanent, as yearly touch-ups are often required.)

Where Does Waxing with Honey Work Best?

Now, let's talk about how facial hair differs from the rest of the hair on our body. "There are two types of hair follicles. Vellus hairs, which are the thinner, fuzzy hairs on the face, and terminal follicles, which are longer, usually thicker, and have deeper roots," says board-certified dermatologist Stacy Chimeno of Riverchase Dermatology in Miami. Generally speaking, the thicker and coarser the hair, the more painful waxing can be (hello, bikini wax) because more force is required to yank the hair out. The skin on the face is much more sensitive, so if the waxing technique is done incorrectly, it can be uncomfortable. (A common theme echoed among all the experts we spoke with is the importance of actually knowing what you're doing when it comes to DIY waxing— with honey or otherwise.)

But for sensitive skin, honey does have some innate properties that make it ideal for this area. "While I can't say that honey is more effective than a traditional wax, there is much anecdotal recognition for honey as a natural hair removal method," says Chimento, "Honey also has an ample array of beneficial properties that make it a great substitute for the harsher and many times irritating process of waxing. It's full of antioxidants, soothing to the skin, a known emollient and humectant, and is also antibacterial."

How to DIY Honey Wax

Many salons offer honey waxing; however, if it’s something you would like to do at home, it's simple to make your own honey wax, says Preeti Joshi, lead esthetician and master waxer at N4 Skincare in Los Angeles. Combine one part lemon juice to four parts honey (about one tablespoon to four tablespoons) in a pot on the stove and heat until warm, though not scalding. "You can also add some sugar to the mix to act as an extra binding agent," says Joshi, making this more of a sugaring-wax hybrid (more on sugaring in a moment). Let the mixture cool slightly; always test it on the inside of your wrist to make sure it's at a comfortable temperature, she suggests. Using a wooden popsicle stick, apply a small amount of honey to the area you want to wax and let it dry for 15 to 20 minutes. While some of the experts we spoke with suggested using strips to remove the mixture, Chimento advises against it. She says simply wiping off the dried honey with a damp, warm washcloth will be sufficient to remove both the mixture and any unwanted hair it's picked up, without any risk of ripping the delicate and sensitive skin on your face. Rinse the area to remove any leftover residue and follow with moisturizer.

Natural Hair Removal Alternatives

Not feeling so sweet on the honey technique? There are a few other equally natural hair removal methods you may want to consider. Sugaring was suggested unanimously as the top contender by the pros we spoke with. A paste of cooked sugar, water, and lemon is molded into a ball and kneaded into the hair, allowing it to sink into the follicle and remove it. No strips are needed, explains esthetician Tami Blake, founder of Free + True. There are a few upshots to this option. Blake says it's an even better move for sensitive skin, as the paste isn't as sticky. It also won't damage any of the living skin cells; because sugar is water-soluble, it only adheres to dead skin cells and not the water-containing live ones. Plus, it doesn't have to be at as high of a temperature as traditional wax, and (unlike traditional wax) it's removed in the direction of hair growth, making the removal process much more comfortable. (It's also worth noting that sugaring is a common hair removal option offered in many salons and spas, a choice for those who prefer not to take the DIY route.)

Another way to remove hair is with turmeric. While it's still a lesser-known option, Joshi says it's growing in popularity, and Blake also cites it as a good alternative to honey waxing. Joshi suggests combining a few tablespoons of milk along with a few tablespoons of turmeric to create a paste. Spread the paste over the desired area, leave it on for 20 minutes, then remove it by gently rubbing a warm washcloth over the area in circular motions. "The paste has been known to remove the hair from the root, revealing smoother, softer skin, plus you get the extra skin-brightening benefits of the turmeric," she says.

Long story short, you can definitely go ahead and give DIY honey waxing a try in your quest to remove unwanted peach fuzz on your face—just proceed with caution and don't expect it to be a permanent solution.

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