Hair Removal Options for Trans Women and Gender Non-Conforming Folks

IPL, Laser and Electrolysis

For most of us, removal of facial hair becomes of paramount importance in helping us perfect our female image. Naturally, for those “occasional” femme presenting girls, it’s perhaps a harder decision to go for such treatment in case family or friends start to notice the “disappearing beard” cover—but, there again, there’s nothing worse than looking stunning in your new En Femme dress and accessories than to have the illusion all spoiled by unsightly 5 or 9 o’clock shadow peeking through your make-up!

Yes, sure, certain foundations, specialized beard cover make-ups and concealers all help, but to have a course of semi-permanent or permanent hair removal is well worth the effort—and the associated pain (I have to admit).

So, now you’ve made your decision to do something to get rid of that unsightly hair, which method do you choose—and which method is likely to give you the best results? Most people tend to consult a qualified practitioner or doctor first to ascertain which treatment is likely to be the most appropriate having regard to their skin tone, hair coloring and specific requirements; plus, as most of us know, the areas around the lower and upper lips are particularly sensitive and your threshold of pain will need to be taken into account.

Depending upon where you live, it may be that IPL is available without a doctor’s consultation, but the other two methods certainly need someone one well qualified to administer the treatment.

At this point, though, I have to say that, apart from electrolysis, the first two methods do not seem to ensure permanent hair removal (especially on the aforementioned sensitive upper and lower lips areas where hairs stubbornly re-occur) and you should expect to need repeat sessions at regular intervals.

Right, let’s have a closer look at the three methods—and then you can decide if it’s something you really want to go for:


(Intense pulsed light) The area(s) to be treated is cleansed, then numbed with a specially formulated cream, or maybe simply a block of ice, before a purpose designed machine is used to emit intense pulses of light from a broad spectrum light source into the hair follicles, thereby effectively destroying the hair’s roots (bulbs). Some T-girls maintain this treatment can be quite painful, especially around the lips, whilst other just shrug it off saying that they’d rather do this than have a baby!

A course of treatment can last anywhere from 12-16 sessions with about 3-4 weeks between sessions (actual treatment 5-10 minutes per time, excluding preparation) and, in my opinion, works well for general beard cover on the cheeks, but is not that great for the mustache areas. In fact, some people term this method as only suitable for hair reduction rather than permanent hair removal.

There is some redness of the skin immediately post-treatment but this usually dissipates within about 30 minutes.

Regular ongoing sessions can, of course, be arranged.


As with the above, after cleansing, the area(s) to be treated are first numbed and the qualified practitioner then uses a laser generated light source, first of slightly lower intensity, then at a higher level, to “zap” the offending hairs. Relatively painless compared to IPL, if you are just having your upper and lower lip areas lasered, the actual treatment can be over in 5-10 minutes and, depending upon your personal circumstances, further sessions can thereafter be arranged every 2-3 months.

From my experience, the hairs in the mustache area seem to need to go through a further cycle of growth of maybe 4-5 days post-treatment before noticeable improvements can be seen—but these hairs, sadly, do grow back and, over a year, maybe 3-4 recurring sessions of laser are needed.

Cost wise, typically, laser is around 2-3 times more expensive per session than IPL but, of course, you’ll need to check this out in your home location.


After having the area(s) to be treated cleansed, this involves having a purpose designed needle (which you have to pay for) inserted into each and every hair follicle in the affected area, through which is then passed an electrical current strong enough to destroy the hair base and prevent future growth.

Electrolysis is the favored treatment for most trans femme girls looking to transition, or who have already done so, as the hair removal, being painstakingly done, is considered permanent. However, the number of sessions needed to achieve the desired result can seem interminable and cost wise, typically, electrolysis is around 3-4 times more expensive per session than treatment by laser—but, of course, only you can be the judge if it is truly worth it!

As with many serious beauty treatments, it’s “no pain, no gain” as the saying goes but, if the end result gives you that extra confidence, that extra modicum of pleasure and joy to look like the woman you long to be… then, is there really a need to think too long about your decision?


  • EJ

    Is electrolysis the only option for people with red hair?


    Do you have hair removal lotions? How can order them?

  • Elena

    Thanks a lot for the article and the comments. Frankly, I'm poor and so I can't afford those methods. However I feel like a woman without them so far. At the last Gay-pride festival in Madrid my face as well as my body had lasted without hair long time. The experience had been rewarding because I impress many gentlemen. Maybe my make-up or maybe my dress, I don't really know why. I remember my complements: The purse, my ear-rings and necklace, black tights and my brand new peep-toes shoes, that could impress them at all. Finally, I was absolutely tired: The parade in the morning and afternoon. But the night was worth it: Dancing and drinking with a several friends. At the early hours of the following day when I had the breakfast with my boy friend, Joseph Anthony, from Ecuador. Bye from Spain.

  • M. J.

    First I want thank you the article above I'm not yet ready to start transitioning but hopefully in the near future I may be ready I'm thinking of trying laser treatments first although I worry that it's not as permanent as electrolysis so maybe I should go that route I feel I may be a lucky individual who some how missed a gene my beard and upper lip have the hair where it should be but it seems less dense than any man I've seen I could be wrong here I have a full beard and upper lip still the hairs don't seem as numerous however as a teenager I did get into some birth control pills and took quite a few packs of pills of course I ended up with a kidney infection I think if I remember right maybe that has something to do with my beard and upper lip what can I say I wanted to be feminine so I did what I thought might help It didn't help much then maybe it worked after all anyway I've always felt I should have been female for as long as I can remember and now I'm 55 a little late to start transitioning but it's never too late in my opinion Love M.J.

  • M. J.

    Hi again Kathy I'm thinking of trying an epilator I've heard they work pretty well I tried waxing my face once which did work well but one hair on my upper lip took a plug of skin with it so never again on my own myself at least as you say hair removal is paramount if we wish to present a feminine image and I'm committed to living full time soon I may never be able to afford surgery but I can at least live as the woman I feel I am inside Love M.J.

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