So let me start this by saying I'm very, very lucky when it comes to "hairyness" in general -- what I do have, from head to toe, is not that dark and definitely not that bad. But I still have it. Who doesn't?
And. I have been a beauty editor for a long time and have given this advice to much hairier women, and all of them have thanked me for it. I know what I'm talking about. Here are my three secret weapons for fighting upper lip hair -- and seriously, dude, they work.
Okay, so I'm not saying waxing doesn't work -- it does. Except if you have sensitive skin or use topical retinol creams (which we all should be using -- more on that in another post) like Retin-A or Differin, you can't really do it without getting your skin ripped off. Same goes for anyone who tans a lot. Even people who self-tan their faces look stupid after a wax, because the self-tanner gets ripped off in a stripe!
Which is why I prefer threading -- especially since unlike with waxing, you don't have to wait for hair to grow to a certain length before you get it done. This means you never have to have a moustache "growing out" phase.
Threading is complicated; don't even try it at home. The hairs get twisted and spun into a thread -- the aesthetician somehow crazily wraps the thread around each hair; it's crazy -- then gently yanked from your face. The pain is minimal -- compared to the agony of plucking a hair from your upper lip, it's nothing -- and the whole thing takes less than five minutes. Here's a video. It looks scarier than it is.
And threading is cheap: I pay $7 at my hole-in-the-wall place. And hole-in-the-wall is fine, because a fancy threading place would be weird.
Indian women are the masters of this. If you can find an authentic Indian-run threading salon near you, definitely go there first.
I. LOVE. VANIQA. It's a prescription cream (remember the commercials where the lady's voice murmurs "Vaniqua VANIQUA Vaniqua ...") that seriously slows -- not prevents totally, but slows -- facial hair growth by preventing natural substances in your hair follicles from working correctly. I used to get my lip waxed once every few weeks; now I do it once every two months, and even then the hair is nothing.
The thing is, you definitely have to be consistent and diligent or it doesn't work. I religiously apply mine ( it's a light, white lotion; you barely need any, so one tube lasts at least three months) after I wash my face every morning and night, before any of my other products like Proactiv Step 3 or moisturizer or whatever.
Yes, you have to go to a dermatologist for it, and yes, it's not inexpensive -- since it's a "vanity" product, health insurance rarely covers it and for me it usually costs $80 a tube. But it's worth it. Swear to God. After I get threaded, I'm all about this stuff and the threading lasts, again, about 2 bare-lipped months. (Here, I found some rebate offer or something if you're interested.)
3. Drugstore-brand Waxing Strips
When the faint traces of hair do return and I don't have time to get to a threading place before a -- well, I'd say date, but I don't date, so before I'm going to sleep with someone new or something -- I always go buy a box of wax strips from the drugstore. The smaller the strip the better! And in general, my brand of choice for quickie wax-jobs is Sally Hansen -- try their $6 Wax Strip Kit For Face, Brows and Bikini or something similar.
Here's the thing with at-home waxing strips: They're cheap, they're fast, they're not messy. You can wax any part of yourself with much more efficacy using a heat-up, dunk-a-popsicle-stick-in-it kind of DIY kit; I don't have the patience, dexterity or energy for those, though -- not when I'm in last-minute beauty overhaul mode in my bathroom.
But no, they don't do an amazing job -- instead, they rip off/out just enough hair to satisfy me for the next few days until I get to the threading place. The trick for increasing the strips' efficacy is to make sure they're really heated and the wax is melted before you pull them apart to use them; I rub them between my hands and blast them with my blowdryer for a second to ensure this.
So, basically, it's not that hard to never have hair on your upper lip (not that there's anything wrong with that). If I had to stress one crucial step in all this, I'd say the Vaniqa has made the biggest difference for me -- I can't recommend it enough.
Other strategies? Let's hear 'em.