Unwanted hair be gone! Vaniqa - New cream deals with pesky facial hair
by Mariusz J.A. Sapijaszko, MD, FRCPC (Dermatology)



I am 38 year old woman and I am turning into man! I am proud of mu skin and am looking after myself very well with diet, exercise, meditation and even good sun protection. Over the past few years, I noticed more and more hair growing on the upper lip and chin are. I always had some hair, usually blond and fine, but recently they are getting darker and thicker. Why is this happening and what can I do about it?



Unwanted hair is concern for both men and women. Different genders perceive hair in different locations differently. It is a funny way of saying that when it comes to body hair it is all about location, location, location!

We all wish to have a full head of hair but the same hair growing on woman's chin is not desirable at all. Fortunately, there is a new cream, Vaniqa, that is approved for facial hair reduction.

When it comes to women hair, other than scalp hair, only some hair in strategically located areas is acceptable - yet we all naturally have hair on the majority of our bodies! We are all bombarded with the images of almost hairless men and women. Women are not alone in feeling challenged when it comes to hair. The perception of male body is also changing and that includes the location and the amount of hair that is desirable.


Who has unwanted facial hair?

Unwanted facial hair affect millions of women. In United States, over 40 million women are concerned about their facial hair. Some of the remove facial hair daily with more of the dealing with them on a weekly basis. These women come from many different backgrounds, professions, ethnic groups and income levels. Bottom line is, if you are concerned about unwanted facial hair, you are not alone. Fortunately, there are many good treatment options


What causes unwanted facial hair?

When it comes to women, facial hair growth may begin as a result of the natural aging process. Just like men, every woman has some amount of male hormones (called "androgens") circulating in her body. With increasing age, woman's body produces more of these androgens. This, in turn, may cause an increase in hair growth on the upper lip, chin, cheeks or neck areas.

A the same time, some facial hair growth can be linked to medical conditions causing an increase in androgen production. Some of the most common conditions that result in increased circulating androgens are obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome. Obese individuals store androgens in their fat. This androgen is available for circulation and can produce unwanted hair growth. In case of polycystic ovary syndrome, elevated levels of androgens are produced by the body and affect the hair growth as well as menstrual cycles. It is important, therefore, that women with increased hair growth be assessed by a doctor to make sure that their hair growth is not due to the underlying medical condition. Treating excessive hair without treating the medical condition will result in less than ideal outcome of the treatments.

When it comes to hair, it is women who usually suffer the most. In most societies, and certainly in Western society, most of the hair on women's body may be viewed as undesirable at least during certain part of their life. Although hair in some areas can be hidden from general view, it is facial hair that is perceived by most women as undesirable. To that end, there are multitude of ways of dealing with this ever recurring unwanted guest. The most common ways of dealing with unwanted hair are tweezing, shaving, waxing, threading, electrolysis, depilatory agents, IPL/Laser devices and, more recently, Vaniqa.

Tweezing, threading and waxing essentially removes the hair shafts using mechanical means. Each treatment removes most of the unwanted hair. Although popular, the problems with these methods are pain, the resulting trauma (inflammation) that can cause infection, ingrown hair and scarring. In addition, the results are temporary necessitating ongoing treatments.

Shaving mechanically cuts each hair. For best results, it has to be repeated often as the cut hair continues to grow. It is most commonly used in the underarms, bikini and leg regions although it can be used in most other locations as well. Women view facial shaving particularly undesirable as it can produce roughness when the hair begin to re-grow. Contrary to popular believe, shaving can not make hair darker, bigger or growing faster.

Electrolysis uses electric current to treat each follicle separately. The current has to be applied precisely to the area where the hair is growing from to avoid injury to the surrounding tissues. This injury can result in scarring that in many cases is permanent. In my experience, I have seen more scarring from electrolysis than from any other method. At the same time, electrolysis, when performed by an expert can result in permanent hair reduction.

Depilatory agents dissolve the hair through many different chemical agents. The key is to have an effective agent that dissolve the hairs without causing irritation to the surrounding skin. This is a tricky balance and in most cases some irritation is unavoidable. In most cases, other than unpleasant smell, the side effects are minimal.


IPL and laser devices are very effective in providing permanent hair reduction. Both types of devices work on the similar principle of selective photo-thermo-lysis. This is a big term but it essentially describes the fact that certain wavelengths of light are attracted to certain hair colors. When this attraction occurs, then the IPL or laser energy is deposited in the hair shaft and creates heat. This heat destroys the hair and the small area around it. By doing so, it damages the hair growing apparatus resulting in thinner, lighter hair and, in some cases, no hair at all. It is important to note that the hair has to have color to it otherwise the IPL or laser treatments will not be effective. Because of that, blond or gray hair can not be successfully treated with IPL or laser devices.

Vaniqa is the new and the only FDA and Health Canada approved cream to decrease facial hair growth.


What is Vaniqa?

Vaniqa is the first Health Canada approved prescription cream that has been shown to reduce the growth of unwanted facial hair in women. The active ingredient in Vaniqa cream is 13.9% eflornithine HCl. The studies have shown that women see significant results within just 8 weeks. The longer Vaniqa was used, the better it worked.

How does Vaniqa work?

Vaniqa works at the level of hair follicle. It is thought that it works during the growth stage of the hair growth cycle. Vaniqa blocks an enzyme in the follicle that is thought to be necessary for hair to grow.


How is Vaniqa used?

Vaniqa is a cream that needs to be used on the clean facial skin twice a day. As such, it is best applied after skin cleansing and definitely before any moisturizer or sunscreen. It is best used in the morning and once at night as part of the daily skin care routine. It is recommended that the face not be washed for at least 4 hours after the application of the cream. The effects are gradual and may take at least 8 weeks to show. It is recommended to continue using the usual methods of hair removal in the meantime.


How long should I use Vaniqa?

Vaniqa takes time to work and it takes time before the results become visible. In most patients, the improvement is seen as early as eight weeks. People using Vaniqa should continue to deal with unwanted facial hair in their usual fashion. Vaniqa will complement your current method of hair removal by decreasing the rate of hair growth. Over time you will notice that you have to remove hair less frequently.Once you stop using Vaniqa, the hair will gradually return to its pre-treatment growth rate. When Vaniqa treatments are resumed twice a day, everyday, the hair growth should slow down again.


What are the side effects of Vaniqa?

As you may assume, Vaniqa, as all other treatments, have some side effects. The most common side effects reported were irritation that manifests itself as redness, burning, tingling and stinging. Occasionally, rash or even acne eruption can occur. Furtunately, these side effects are generally mild and, in the studies, only 2% of women discontinue Vaniqa because of side effects.

Vaniqa is a true innovation in the management of unwanted facial hair and it is the only prescription medication approved by Health Canada to reduce facial hair growth.


The information provided on this website is for Canadian patients only and is meant for information and education that is based on experience and research.


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