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Management of an effective hair removal regimen as part of men’s and women’s good grooming practices can entail a variety of methods, ranging from basic shaving or plucking or tweezing, all the way to more lasting treatments employing electrolysis or laser hair removal. In the past few years, a women’s topical facial hair management product known by the trade name of Vaniqa has emerged from medical research in anti-tumor medical development. It’s been FDA approved for prescriptive dispensing to women for regulating facial hair growth cosmetically and could very well be the first of many such hair management and control product spin-offs from unrelated areas of medicine. It’s worthwhile, as wise users of hair removal techniques, for us to look at the background of this product so as to be aware of its pros and cons.

Facing Unwanted Facial Hair
Most of the 41 million women in the U.S. who remove unwanted facial hair are concerned enough about their appearance to do so at least once or more over the course of six months, with a smaller number of those removing it weekly, and only 4% of them removing it every single day. While facial hair growth is normal and natural, its color, texture and thickness is mainly determined by heredity; also during a women’s aging process, her body will increasingly produce more male hormones (androgens) which cause an increase in hair growth on chin, upper cheek, and neck areas. The most widely used method women employ for removing unwanted facial hair is tweezing, followed in order of preference by shaving, waxing, depilatory creams or lotions and other methods, such as professional facial hair removal by an electrolysis or laser practitioner. The primary feature that Vaniqa claims to offer to the well-groomed woman is an inhibition of facial hair growth over the time it is used, so as to reduce the amount of unwanted facial hair that has to be removed by whatever method. Knowing how it works and the manufacturers recommendations are important in choosing to use this product and doing so safely and effectively.

The What, How and Why
VANIQA is a topical cream using 13.9% of flornithine hydrochloride, a chemical found to inhibit an enzyme that affects hair growth, and is not a prescription hair removal product nor will it replace any current hair removal methods. This discovery came from cancer research when it was noted that rather than merely causing the unfortunate chemotherapy side effect of hair loss, it was theorized that lower levels of some cancer drugs could induce a controlled amount of hair loss or reduction in the hair follicle, and thus was formulated the compound that became Vaniqa. The manufacturer offers the following guidelines for using this product:

  • Vaniqa, available only by prescription, is usable by women having any skin type and facial hair characteristics. The prescribing physician or dermatologist can also advise the user with any experience or professional data they have on its use.
  • It’s recommended to apply it sparingly twice daily after washing the face first before applying any makeup.
  • Do not apply any extra if an application is missed; just maintain the twice-a-day light application routine.
  • Only 2% of trial users experienced any side effects in the clinical studies of Vaniqa. Naturally, don’t use this (or any cosmetic product) on irritated or inflamed skin without consulting a physician and certainly discontinue use of this (or any medical cosmetic product) if any side effects or problems are noted. Also, it is for use only on facial hair by adult women (over 15) and never should be used during pregnancy.

Some studies have shown a reasonable degree of effectiveness for Vaniqa in reducing the growth of unwanted facial hair. As with any prescription cosmetic product, consult your physician or dermatologist before using it, and if possible, talk to other users to gauge their enthusiasm about Vaniqa. Be a cautious consumer and you’ll get the benefit without the risk.

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