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When I was 18 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). At the time my main symptom (and the one which led to me visiting the GP) was that my periods had become increasingly irregular to the point that theyíd not made an appearance for more than 6 months (I knew with certainty that I was not pregnant). Two pregnancy tests, a blood test and an Ultra Sound scan later and I was diagnosed with having PCOS. When I was first diagnosed, I didnít like talking about it and struggled to tell people. However, I have now accepted that it is part of who I am and I am learning to live with it much better.
Due to the nature of this product I have introduced my reasons for needing to use it therefore it is quite a long review. I have split it into sections, so if you already have hirsitism and want to skip straight to the part about the actual cream and its effects then it is easy to do to.
Over the last few years I have more of the symptoms of the syndrome and the one I struggle with most it hirsutism. Hirsutism is the term used for excess facial and body hair growth in women. It refers to a male pattern of hair i.e. over the moustache and beard areas, or more hair growth than usual on the arms and legs. My unwanted facial hair is the most problematic. Hirsutism is rarely caused by anything serious but it is a good idea to find out what is causing it in order to access the most appropriate action. I hope this review helps at least one person who is living with unwanted facial hair, to do something about it.
Iíve always had fairly dark hairs on my upper lip and have been having this waxed since I was about 14 years old. As I have dark hair and quite fair skin, facial hair is quite noticeable on me. Over the last few years I have noticed an increasing amount of facial hair (on the areas youíd expect a man to have a beard). I started having my chin waxed when I went for my lip waxing about 2 years ago. My GP recently prescribed Vaniqa to help with my facial hirsutism.
My Hair Removal Regime
There are lots of possible options to minimise facial hair and what suits one woman, wonít suit another. Iíve tried waxing, plucking, hair removal creams and threading. My preferred method is threading, but I donít know anyone particularly local that does it so I currently use a combination of waxing and plucking (which isnít the best I have to say.) Hopefully one day I will invest in laser treatment (Iím sure it will be cheaper in the long term as I currently have to get waxed (professionally) every 3 weeks)Removing my facial hair is an important part of my daily beauty regime and has been for the last 2-3 years. Not a day goes by when I donít check for and remove (via tweezing) the darker hairs. I know itís a vicious cycle as the more I remove them the quicker they seem to grow back.
Unless you have excess facial hair you may not understand how it feels. It is much more than a cosmetic issue. It really effects me emotionally too. Female facial hair is often a taboo subject and is not something which is really talked about. People make jokes about females having a beard and this upsets me, as without my daily hair removal thatís what I would have.
Some days it really gets me down and Iíd be happiest just staying indoors so I donít have to worry whether anyone can see the hairs on my face. It makes me feel unfeminine and quite low at times. It doesnít stop me from doing anything, but it is something I am always aware of. Most of the time though, I do just get on with it and hope that no one notices. I know I scrutinise it very closely and that it will always be more noticeable to me than to anyone else. Iím never completely hair free (even after waxing because I have to pluck in between and some of the hairs are too short when I get waxed).
Discussing Hirsutism with my GP
In July I had an appointment with my GP and while I was there I mentioned that I was becoming increasingly fed up with my unwanted facial hair. She suggested I try Vaniqa and gave me a prescription straight away. She told me that some women have a skin reaction when using it and she warned that if this happened I wouldnít be able to continue using it. She told me that I might not get a reaction but that it might not work as it doesnít work for everyone. She told me that it could take up to 4-8 weeks (longer in some cases) before I would notice a change. I agreed that I would like to try it and Iím now onto my 3rd prescription. Although it is not a cure, or a perfect solution, I am fairly happy with the results so far.
Vaniqa (eflornithine) is a cream which is applied to the area of unwanted facial hair. Eflornithine acts beneath the skin to block the enzyme required for growth at the hair root. Eflornithine is licensed in the UK for the treatment of facial hirsutism in women. It is said to slow hair growth in 70% of women. It needs to be applied twice daily (with a minimum of 8 hours between applications.) and you need to wait 10 minutes before applying make-up.
I use a small amount of cream (the size of a5p piece) and this does all the unwanted hair on my face (my Ďbeardí (jaw line/cheek and chin/neck area) and my Ďmoustacheí). One tube lasts almost 3 months when applying this amount twice daily.
Ease of Use
The cream is non-sticky and non-scented and is extremely easy to use. It rubs in well and soaks in fairly easily. However, if not rubbed in properly it does leave a little bit of white residue which doesnít really rub in all that well. The tube is a manageable size (60g) and it is easy to squeeze the cream out of the tube. The tube is a good size for travelling as itís less than 100ml therefore it can be taken in hand luggage on aeroplanes.
How does it fit in with my beauty regime?
It fits in quite easily and Iíve only forgotten to apply it a couple of times (itís really important to me that I use it properly to ensure that I get the best possible results). Each morning, after my shower, I cleanse my face, wait 5 minutes then apply the cream. I then usually get dressed then apply my make-up (leaving enough time for the cream to dry in before I cover it in make-up).Before bed, I cleanse my face then get ready for bed (taking of my clothes and jewellery and putting on my pjís etc) Ė this leaves enough time before I apply the cream.
I have definitely noticed a difference in the speed of growth of my facial hair. Although facial hair is still present, there seems to be less of it at any one time and it seems to be growing back more slowly. I do still spend time each day, checking the facial hair and usually pluck a hair or two out but if I miss a day itís much less noticeable than before. Also, the time I spend plucking is less than it was. I think it was probably about 2 months before I noticed a difference but thereís definitely slower growth (particularly on my cheeks/jaw). It seems to be taking longer to have the same effect on my chin and neck but I have noticed an improvement. It doesnít remove the hair Ė it slows the growth, therefore you do need to be willing to persevere with it as it doesnít work instantly. My mam and my sister have both noticed the reduction of hair on my cheeks/jawline. Iím hoping it will have the same effect on my chin in time but Iím happy that it has led to a reduction already. Any reduction in facial hair is a bonus for me. The lady who waxes my face has noticed a difference too.
Also, Iíve had 3 periods in 4 months since I started using this cream. Thatís the same number of periods I had in the whole of last year! I donít know for certain if this is a result of the cream but it would be a big coincidence if it hasnít had any effect, as I never have periods this close together and the cream is the only change Iíve made in my life in the last few months. If this is a result of the cream, I consider it to be both an advantage and a disadvantage. There are advantages of not needing to suffer with a period every month! However, as I donít know when my next period will arrive and I go months and months without periods it makes me feel like Iím abnormal and sometimes concerns me about what it will mean in terms of the future (if I want to have children etc). I donít mind missing the occasional period (obviously! Who would miss it?!) but I do like the fact that I have had a few periods recently as it makes me feel healthier and reassures me that my body does know what itís doing (at least some of the time!)
Iíve tried numerous pills to Ďregulateí my periods and to minimise the symptoms of my PCOS but not of them have agreed with me (with some making me feel really unwell). Iíve also tried herbal solutions (creams and tablets) with little success Ė making me feel just the same as the pill. I have therefore arrived at the conclusion that my hormones just donít like being messed with. They seem happy to do their own thing even if this is atypical. As soon as I try influence I end up feeling unwell and very low. When my GP first prescribed this cream I was concerned that it might have the same effect on me but being so desperate to minimise my facial hair I decided I had to give it a go. I started using it in July and so far (*touches wood*) I have only had positive results.
It is by no means a perfect solution, but I do feel that it is good to use alongside my hair removal regime to help me in my battle with reducing my facial hair. I feel that after I am waxed it takes a day or two longer than it used to before it starts growing back and I am definitely happy with the results. If this is something you think might be suitable for you then I would recommend you speak to your GP and give it a go. You will need to be willing to persevere with it and accept that it isnít going to cure your unwanted facial hair or stop it completely.
Vaniqa is available on prescription in the UK.
ēMy facial hair is growing in more slowly (particularly noticeable (to me) on my jawline/cheeks) ēReduction in amount of facial hair ēEasy to use ēRegulating my periods?
ēYou need to apply it twice a day every day ēIt doesnít stop hair growth completely ē Waiting 10 minutes before applying make-up ēI have had a couple of ingrown hairs recently Ė on my chin Ė I donít know if this is a result of the cream or waxing. ēRegulating my periods? ēI need to use it forever? (the packaging says that if you stop using the cream, the hair will return to its usual speed of growth)
Although the list of disadvantages is longer than the advantages, I do feel that the positives outweigh the negatives for me. My opinion on this cream, is of course very subjective, I havenít counted the hairs on my face at any one time, nor have I timed precisely the time I spend on removing the hairs on my face. However, I now usually only need to remove hair once a day for little more than a minute, rather than two or three times a day for 5 minutes or more. Also, the fact that my mam, sister and beautician have all noticed a reduction in the amount of facial hair I have, shows that it is working for me. There is no quick fix or one size fits all hair removal solution. I would, however, recommend this cream to complement your preferred choice of hair removal to make it that little bit more successful. I hope it works for you.
Update February 2012
Unfortunately I stopped using the cream in December as I began feeling excessively emotional and as though I needed to eat all the time (the same way I used to feel when taking the pill). Within a week of stopping using the cream I felt like myself again. I have noticed that the hair is growing more slowly than it was before I started using the cream, and I virtually have no hair on my jaw line anymore. I still have quite a hairy chin and neck area but this is not as bad as it was, as the growth is slower.
Even though I am not currently using the cream, I would still recommend it. It wonít necessarily have the same side effects for you, as many women take the pill without problems (but not me). Also, I am still glad I used it for 4 months as it has made a difference to the growth, 2 months after stopping using it.