So…facial hair removal. This isn’t something I address very often. Really, who wants to announce to the whole internet beauty blogging world that they have facial hair issues? Not me.Though I do have some issues. I’ve mostly had problems since I had my daughter last year. Things just seem a bit thicker and darker than usual. I think this is mostly something that bugs me, and no one else notices. How often do you notice if the woman next to you in the checkout lane has one stray hair? Unless that hair is about six inches long, not very often. But if I’m the one with the single stray hair, I really notice that hair!My self confidence definitely takes a hit.Things I’ve tried in the past for hair removal on my face include hair removal creams, home waxing strips, and of course just tweezing away any strays. I’d love to just laser away everything, though that is expensive, and since most of my hair is fine and blonde I’m not an ideal candidate. I fully confess that I do sometimes use my at home laser hair removal system on it, though not often enough to have really seen much difference.None of those previous hair removal methods have been ideal. All of the creams have caused major irritation issues such as redness, uncomfortable skin, and even blemishes. The burning is so uncomfortable for me that I usually end up removing them before their time is up, which means I just end up with icky skin and still have hair. And yes, I just used the word icky.After all of my trial and error with facial hair removal, I usually stick to home waxing strips. They work pretty well, though they do leave hair behind that I then need to tweeze. The tweezing can take quite a while, so waxing can be pretty time consuming. At least the wax strips don’t leave me red and blotchy for a few days afterwards.How Do Depilatories Work?New Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo is a depilatory cream. It works like other depilatory creams (the main active ingredient is calcium thioglycolate hydroxide), so the hair removal action really isn’t anything revolutionary. What is different is the Skin Guarding Balm, but I’ll get to that later. First, I’ll review how a depilatory cream actually works.
If you head over to my post about hair structure, you’ll read about how the outer layer of the hair (the cuticle) is basically made up of shingles of dead protein called keratin. Within the keratin you’ll find the amino acid cysteine. The cysteines within keratin have special bonds (called di-sulfide bonds, in teal above) holding them to each other, giving the hair strength and structure.All depilatories work at the site of that bond, breaking it and splitting apart the keratin. As the disulfide bonds are broken, the hair structure basically falls apart. Apply a little pressure and the hair will break apart and basically dissolve wherever it has been exposed to the cream. This mostly means the hair that has already reached the surface of the skin, though a little bit of the hair beneath the skin’s surface will be affected as well. However, the cream can’t reach all the way down the hair shaft and dissolve the root of the hair.Depilatory creams don’t only work on hair. Because you find a lot of keratin in the skin as well as fingernails, the creams will also break disulfide bonds in those keratins as well. So, you’ll weaken your nails if you don’t wash the cream off of your hands, and any skin exposed to a depilatory will have irritation.Since all depilatory creams work with the same basic reaction, breaking those disulfide bonds, aren’t they really all the same? Well, not so much. There are a few active ingredients out there, and some of them, such as thioglycolic acid, require the presence of other chemicals to ensure that the reaction takes place. So, thioglycolic acid products should also contain calcium hydroxide. That’s not exactly a skin friendly ingredient. There are also different strengths available, so I recommend using a body depilatory on your body and a facial depilatory only on your face.So, That’s Really Interesting…Get To The Point. Did You Like The New Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo?Now that you’re all educated about how depilatories work, you should know that the Olay product works basically the same as all other depilatory products on the market. It goes in there and takes care of that disulfide bond. I don’t have any specifics such as % active ingredient or anything, but this is a facial hair removal product from Olay, so you know they’ve formulated it for the face.Duh.What sets this product apart from say, the Nair you used on your bikini line in high school, is that this is a system. Rather than simply having that hair removing depilatory cream, there’s a first step that is amazing. Love it.The first step in this system is a Skin Guarding Balm that adds a protective layer over your skin to protect it from the cream. It comes in a stick, and truthfully it looks and feels exactly like the lip balm that comes with the two step 12-hour lippies from CoverGirl, Revlon and the like.It is a white stick that when applied to your skin melts easily into an oily balm that is very much like vaseline (but it isn’t, rather than petrolatum it is mostly sucrose polycottonseedate and beeswax). You lightly rub the stick over the areas you’ll be treating and then rub it into your skin for 20 seconds using light circular movements. You’ll have a oily sheen across your skin, but the balm will be much less noticeable.Next you use the Hair Removal Cream. It’s a basic white cream, and the most noticeable thing about it is that there is no gross smell as you apply! Instead, it is a floral/herbal/citrus scent that is light and fresh, though I can’t really describe it any more in detail. You rub a layer of the cream over the balm, and about a minute later you will notice that the typical chemical smell associated with depilatories does come out. The smell isn’t horrible, just noticeable.Now, here’s the part where I fully admit that I messed up and did put a little bit of the removal cream on a little bit of skin that had no balm. I didn’t do it on purpose, though it did serve as a nice control, so let’s pretend that I did this on purpose.The areas that had balm applied to them felt fine. I could feel the cream was on, but there were absolutely no sensation associated with it. No burning, tingling, itchiness or warmth. Just a feeling that a cream was over the balm.On the small bit of skin without balm (under my chin), there was burning and itching after a few minutes. It wasn’t unbearable, but it wasn’t exactly comfortable either. This area did have a bit of redness later after the treatment, so make sure you use the balm everywhere!After 6-8 minutes, it is time to remove the cream. Using a cotton or tissue, wipe the cream off of your face. A little bit of pressure here will help, since you’re effectively breaking the hairs apart in their new disulfide bond free state. Once you’ve wiped everything off just wash your face!I really loved that when I wiped my face clean at 6 minutes, everything went with the cream. Seriously. I was super smooth, my face was not at all irritated and I felt like me again, instead of some hairy monster person. There was no clean up needed since it got every hair, so a definite time saver.Would I use this again and actually spend money on it?YES. It definitely saved me time, let me be the hair free person that I love to be, and my skin loved it.Sweepstakes! Olay and BlogHer are offering a $50 gift card!To be entered for a chance to win, leave a comment telling me how you use your beauty routine to express your inner beauty. Be sure to visit the Promotions & Prizes page on BlogHer.com for more reviews, and more chances to win!Rules:To enter this contest, you can pick from the entry methods below but only 2 will count (and no duplicate comments). So, pick 2!- Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post- Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post- Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post- For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older.Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail.You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.This sweepstakes runs from 1/3/2012 – 2/3/2012.While we’re on the subject of looking good, you might want to check out the “Looking Your Best” posts in the Life Well Lived section of BlogHer.com. There are some great tips and expert posts!Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was provided with a product sample and then paid to write about this product (oh, and to do so in at least 350 words. I think I’m a *bit* over that, don’t you?). I was encouraged to give my own opinion and to be honest in my review. I have written this piece on my own, and all opinions are mine and mine alone. Though I did have my PhD in Chemical Engineering hubby double check my chemical reaction picture. For any further questions please see my disclosure policy.