Will bleaching body hair hide it?

woman with mustache
Few people admire the combination of facial hair and lipstick. See more pictures of personal hygiene practices.
John Rensten/Lifesize/Getty Images

There are various cultural viewpoints on body hair. In some places, shaved legs are the norm for females, while in others, leg hair on a woman is seen as attractive. Throughout the world, however, most people see female facial hair, such as wisps under the chin or hairs on the upper lip, as unattractive or freakish, as evidenced by circuses promising bearded ladies. According to writer Victoria Sherrow, this universal disgust has to do with facial hair making a woman look masculine; a mustache on a female's upper lip is a prominent symbol of a woman not fitting within defined gender norms. Sherrow posits that our reaction to female facial hair may be something of an evolutionary throwback to our need to procreate: Since the woman no longer has the smooth, hairless skin of a child, she may be too old to mate [source: Sherrow].

Regardless of why we're turned off by female facial hair, it's impossible to deny that its presence concerns many women. While a woman can take a day off from shaving her legs and wear a concealing pair of jeans, facial hair is front and center, prominent to anyone she comes in contact with. There are many removal methods for facial hair, including tweezing, waxing and shaving. Shaving a mustache, however, may not reassure a woman concerned about her femininity, and many women are erroneously convinced that shaving these hairs will make them grow back thicker and coarser. While that's not true, women may not like the sensation of stubble as the hair grows back. Tweezing and waxing can be extremely painful. For these reasons, many women turn to bleaching to take care of a little hair on the lip. Is this method effective?


Bleaching Facial and Body Hair

woman with bleach on her upper lip
Bleaching can be a quick and painless way to hide facial hair.
Pierre Bourrier/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Bleaching facial and body hair may disguise its presence, as it removes the pigment from the hair. In contrast, a depilatory cream actually removes the hair. Whether the bleach job will actually hide the hair depends on the person, though. This method tends to work best when the hair in question is fine, as coarse hair, even when dyed, will still be noticeable. Bleaching hair also tends to work better on people with fair complexions as opposed to dark ones.

Even if you're within this target demographic of fair-skinned people with fine hair, successful bleaching depends on performing the task correctly. When you're looking for a bleaching product, ensure that it's designed to be used on the part of the body in question. In other words, bleaches or dyes meant to be used on the hairs atop your head should not be used on the hair above your upper lip or on the hair on your arms. Read and follow the instructions that come with the product; most facial bleaches require the user to mix together a cream containing bleach with a powder activator.


You should use the mixture soon after combining the ingredients, as it won't work if you save it. But before applying to your face, put it on a small patch of skin and test for irritation. If it burns or causes any type of skin reaction, then you may need to reduce the amount you use or try another hair removal method. Lastly, the product should only bleach the body or facial hair, not the skin itself. Bleached skin will fade in 24 to 72 hours, but it shouldn't be a regular byproduct of disguising facial hair [source: Ermter]. Bleaching body or facial hair will need to be done every four weeks to remain effective.

If bleaching body and facial hair isn't for you, check out the many articles on other hair removal methods on the next page.


Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Baran, Robert and Howard I. Maibach. "Textbook of Cosmetic Dermatology." Taylor & Francis. 1998. (Sept. 15, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=yIVfq5Lpl2EC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q=&f=false
  • Brody, Jane E. "Personal Health." New York Times. April 25, 1984. (Sept. 15, 2009)http://www.nytimes.com/1984/04/25/garden/personal-health-144062.html
  • Dickerson, Karle. "On the Spot: Real Girls on Periods, Growing Up and Finding Your Groove." Adams Media. 2005. (Sept. 15, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=FyAjPmeNjaYC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q=&f=false
  • Ermter, Adriana. "Shock Treatments." Flare. December 2006.
  • "Hirsutism." Mayo Clinic. Jan. 23, 2009. (Sept. 15, 2009)http://mayoclinic.com/health/hirsutism/DS00858
  • Madaras, Lynda and Area. "The 'What's Happening to My Body?' Book for Girls." Simon Sullivan. 2007. (Sept. 15, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=qdybSBoC4_0C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q=&f=false
  • Prevention Magazine. "The Female Body: An Owner's Manual." Mother Nature. (Sept. 15, 2009)http://www.mothernature.com/Library/Bookshelf/Books/32/13.cfm
  • Sherrow, Victoria. "For Appearance' Sake: The Encyclopedia of Good Looks, Beauty and Grooming." Greenwood Publishing Group. 2001. (Sept. 15, 2009)http://books.google.com/books?id=mNLZkzxmiEIC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q=&f=false