* Prices may differ from that shown
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 they'd 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 didn't 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.
~ Hirsutism ~
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.
I've 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 you'd 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 prescribed Vaniqa to help with my facial hirsutism in July last year.
~ My Hair Removal Regime ~
There are lots of possible options to minimise facial hair and what suits one woman, won't suit another. I've tried waxing, plucking, hair removal creams and threading. My preferred method is threading, but I don't know anyone particularly local that does it so I usually use a combination of waxing and plucking (which isn't the best I have to say.) Hopefully one day I will invest in laser treatment (I'm 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 don't check for and remove (via tweezing) the darker hairs. I know it's 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 that's what I would have.
Some days it really gets me down and I'd be happiest just staying indoors so I don't have to worry whether anyone can see the hairs on my face. It makes me feel unfeminine and quite low at times. It doesn't 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. I'm 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 wouldn't be able to continue using it. She told me that I might not get a reaction but that it might not work as it doesn't 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 subsequently have had 2 further prescriptions of it. Although it is not a cure, or a perfect solution, the results are satisfying.
~ The Cream ~
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 a 5p piece) and this does all the unwanted hair on my face (my 'beard' (jaw line/cheek and chin/neck area) and my 'moustache'). 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 doesn't really rub in all that well, once dry.
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 it's less than 100ml therefore it can be taken in hand luggage on aeroplanes.
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 won't 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.
~ How did it fit in with my beauty regime? ~
It fitted in quite easily and I only forgot to apply it a couple of times (it was really important to me that I use it properly to ensure that I get the best possible results).
Each morning, after my shower, I cleansed my face, waited 5 minutes then applied the cream. I then got dressed, and applied my make-up (leaving enough time for the cream to dry in before covering it in make-up).
Before bed, I cleansed my face then got ready for bed (taking of my clothes and jewellery and putting on my pj's etc) - leaving enough time before applying the cream.
~ Results ~
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 it's 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 there's 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 doesn't remove the hair - it slows the growth, therefore you do need to be willing to persevere with it as it doesn't work instantly.
My mam and my sister have both noticed the reduction of hair on my cheeks/jawline. I'm hoping it will have the same effect on my chin in time but I'm 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, I've had 3 periods in 4 months since I started using this cream, and 2 periods since I stopped using it. That's more periods than I usually have in a whole year! I don't know for certain if this is a result of the cream but it would be a big coincidence if it hasn't had any effect, as I never have periods this close together and the cream is the only change I've 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 don't know when my next period will arrive and I go months and months without periods it makes me feel like I'm abnormal and sometimes concerns me about what it will mean in terms of the future (if I want to have children etc). I don't 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 it's doing (at least some of the time!)
I've tried numerous pills to 'regulate' 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). I've also tried herbal solutions (creams and tablets) with little success - making me feel just the same as the pill. I have therefore arrived at the conclusion that my hormones just don't 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. It took longer than the pill to have this effect but unfortunately it still did.
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 isn't going to cure your unwanted facial hair or stop it completely.
Vaniqa is available on prescription in the UK.
~ Advantages ~
*My facial hair is growing in more slowly (particularly noticeable (to me) on my jawline/cheeks)
*Reduction in amount of facial hair
*Easy to use
*Regulating my periods?
~ Disadvantages ~
*You need to apply it twice a day every day
*It doesn't stop hair growth completely
* Waiting 10 minutes before applying make-up
*Regulating my periods?
The packaging says that if you stop using the cream, the hair will return to its usual speed of growth, so I was concerned I might need to use this forever. However, as I have mentioned, I have still noticed a difference since I stopped using this.
My opinion on this cream, is of course very subjective, I haven't 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'm a little disappointed I had to stop using it but it was still very worthwhile having used it for the time I did. I hope it works for you.
Thanks for reading!