VANIQA (pronounced “VAN-i-ka”) is a trademarked brand of cream applied to the skin for the reduction of unwanted facial hair in women ages 12 and older. The active ingredient is eflornithine hydrochloride, and it is only available by prescription in many places. Insurance policies often do not cover VANIQA.
VANIQA is the only topical cream clinically proven to reduce facial hair in some users. Everything else has not been tested and should be avoided.
VANIQA has not been tested on transgender people in published clinical studies, but some physicians prescribe it for improving the effectiveness of laser hair removal and for improving pseudofolliculitis barbae (beard bumps).
For unknown reasons, VANIQA does not work for everyone. About 58% of women who tried Vaniqa in clinical trials had improvement. The other 42% had no improvement.
Vaniqa became available on July 31, 2000, and was made by Bristol-Myers Squibb in a partnership with Gillette. In 2004, SkinMedica, Inc. bought the VANIQA brand from Women First HealthCare. In 2012 Allergan acquired the brand from SkinMedica.
A reader sent a detailed first-hand report in 2002.
Zahoor H, Noor SM, Paracha MM (2019). Combination of Intense Pulse Light and Topical Eflornithine Therapy versus Intense Pulse Light Therapy alone in the Treatment of Idiopathic Facial Hirsutism: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Pak Med Assoc. 2019 Jul;69(7):930-933. PMID: 31308556 [abstract]
Valejo Coelho MM, Carvalho R (2019). Use of Eflornithine Hydrochloride Cream to Reduce Facial Hair Growth in Flapped Skin. Dermatol Surg. 2019 Jan 2. https://doi.org/10.1097/DSS.0000000000001769
Vissing AC, Taudorf EH, Haak CS, Philipsen PA, Haedersdal M (2016). Adjuvant eflornithine to maintain IPL-induced hair reduction in women with facial hirsutism: a randomized controlled trial. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2016 Feb;30(2):314-9. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.13447. Epub 2015 Oct 27.
Kumar A, Naguib YW, Shi YC, Cui Z (2016). A method to improve the efficacy of topical eflornithine hydrochloride cream. Drug Deliv. 2016 Jun;23(5):1495-501. https://doi.org/10.3109/10717544.2014.951746. Epub 2014 Sep 3.
Xia Y, Cho S, Howard RS, Maggio KL (2012). Topical eflornithine hydrochloride improves the effectiveness of standard laser hair removal for treating pseudofolliculitis barbae: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Oct;67(4):694-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2011.10.029. Epub 2012 Jan 9.
Lapidoth M, Dierickx C, Lanigan S, Paasch U, Campo-Voegeli A, Dahan S, Marini L, Adatto M; expert working group (2010). Best practice options for hair removal in patients with unwanted facial hair using combination therapy with laser: guidelines drawn up by an expert working group. Dermatology. 2010 Aug;221(1):34-42. https://doi.org/10.1159/000315499. Epub 2010 Jun 26.
Hoffmann R (2007). A 4-month, open-label study evaluating the efficacy of eflornithine 11.5% cream in the treatment of unwanted facial hair in women using TrichoScan. Eur J Dermatol. 2008 Jan-Feb;18(1):65-70. Epub 2007 Dec 18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18086592
Jackson J, Caro JJ, Caro G, Garfield F, Huber F, Zhou W, Lin CS, Shander D, Schrode K; Eflornithine HCl Study Group (2007). The effect of eflornithine 13.9% cream on the bother and discomfort due to hirsutism. Int J Dermatol. 2007 Sep;46(9):976-81. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-4632.2007.03270.x
Hamzavi I, Tan E, Shapiro J, Lui H (2007). A randomized bilateral vehicle-controlled study of eflornithine cream combined with laser treatment versus laser treatment alone for facial hirsutism in women. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 Jul;57(1):54-9. Epub 2007 Jan 30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2006.09.025
Wolf JE Jr, Shander D, Huber F, Jackson J, Lin CS, Mathes BM, Schrode K; Eflornithine HCl Study Group (2007). Randomized, double-blind clinical evaluation of the efficacy and safety of topical eflornithine HCl 13.9% cream in the treatment of women with facial hair. Int J Dermatol. 2007 Jan;46(1):94-8. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-4632.2006.03079.x
Smith SR, Piacquadio DJ, Beger B, Littler C (2006). Eflornithine cream combined with laser therapy in the management of unwanted facial hair growth in women: a randomized trial. Dermatol Surg. 2006 Oct;32(10):1237-43. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1524-4725.2006.32282.x
Ganger LK, Hamzavi IH (2006). Excess salt and pepper hair treated with a combination of laser hair removal and topical eflornithine HCl. J Drugs Dermatol. 2006 Jun;5(6):544-5. PMID: 16774107
Garcia-Zuazaga J (2003). Pseudofolliculitis barbae: review and update on new treatment modalities. Mil Med. 2003 Jul;168(7):561-4. Review. https://doi.org/10.1093/milmed/168.7.561 [PDF]
Balfour JA, McClellan K (2001). Topical eflornithine. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2001;2(3):197-201; discussion 202. Review. https://doi.org/10.2165/00128071-200102030-00009
Malhotra B, Noveck R, Behr D, Palmisano M (2001). Percutaneous absorption and pharmacokinetics of eflornithine HCl 13.9% cream in women with unwanted facial hair. J Clin Pharmacol. 2001 Sep;41(9):972-8. https://doi.org/10.1177/00912700122010951 PMID: 11549102
Hickman JG, Huber F, Palmisano M (2001). Human dermal safety studies with eflornithine HCl 13.9% cream (Vaniqa), a novel treatment for excessive facial hair. Curr Med Res Opin. 2001;16(4):235-44. https://doi.org/10.1185/030079901750176735 PMID: 11268707
- Consumer website
- VANIQA prescribing information (PDF)