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Noticeable Mustache

Q: Hey there! I have never really had a noticeable mustache. It has never been dark. Well, years ago I started to use Nair to get rid of it. I used it for a while but hated the smell. So, I started to shave it. I know it sounds dumb, but for a while it was so much easier and faster. Now after shaving for a while I seem to get a type of darker shade on my upper lip; even immediately after I have shaved. It kind of looks like a 5 o'clock shadow, but there is no hair there. I tried to go back to using Nair to see if it would go away, and it has not. Did I mention I have also tried bleaching? Please tell me what I should do!
 
A: Believe it or not, this IS a fairly common issue, although it is less common among women. The problem is that the skin is much more translucent than most people realize. The variations in color and tone are a result of a myriad of shades of pigments in the different layers of the skin cells. The level of opacity and translucence varies with the individual. For most people (women especially) the hairs on the face are the translucent, vellus hairs that have to medulla and thus no pigmentation. Men, on the other hand, develop darker thicker hair as a result of hormone changes as they grow. Even when men keep their faces shaved closely, they often have a “shadowed” look due to the color of the hair growing from the follicle beneath the skin’s surface.
 
       This is most likely what you are dealing with. The development of darker hairs on the upper lip and the shaving of these hairs removes them from the skin’s surface outward, but as they’ve gotten thicker and darker, they’ve grown more visible beneath the skin’s surface.
 
       Some women with this situation use bleaching creams on the hair’s new growth after it emerges a little in order to allow the hair to absorb the cream and bleach the hair a little deeper down. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on the porosity and texture of the hair.
 
       Most women use a concealer or a cover-up foundation make-up to disguise the sub-surface discoloration. Although for women who don’t use a lot of make-up this can present its own challenges.
 
       The more drastic measure for resolving this problem is laser hair removal (or other permanent hair removal procedures). These processes destroy the hair follicles so that they no longer produce hair and therefore won’t have the darker sub-surface portions of hair to cause discoloration. However, they are fairly expensive and often require multiple treatments for permanent results. You also need to speak candidly with your doctor about your prognosis for results as certain hair and skin types and pigmentations are NOT good candidates for this type of procedure.
 
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