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For example, if a woman were to have a beard, would she be permitted to shave it off with a razor or otherwise destroy it, or do these restrictions apply to both men and women?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

Nope. It does not apply to women.

Source: Mishnah in Kiddushin (1:7)

‮וכל מצוה בלא תעשה,
‮בין שהזמן גרמה ובין שלא הזמן גרמה,
‮אחד אנשים ואחד נשים, חייבין;
‮חוץ מבל תקיף, ומבל תשחית, ומבל תיטמא למתים.

And every commandment which is a prohibition,
whether it is time-dependent or is not time-dependent,
both men and women are obligated;
except for "You shall not round off [the corners of your head],"
"You shall not destroy [the corners of your beard]"
and "You shall not become ritually impure for the dead."

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Though paskening halacha from a mishna directly is generally frowned upon. Referencing the Gemara's discussion of this would certainly be preferred... – Isaac Kotlicky Jul 27 '15 at 14:54

According to Rabbi Reuven Lauffer at Ohr Somayach (writing in 1999 in response to a question about Omer restrictions), no: prohibitions against removing facial hair do not apply to women.

I've seen the question and answer from the person who asked it. The question asked about Omer restrictions; the response was:

There is no prohibition for a woman to shave or remove facial or body hair. The prohibition against removing facial or body hair only applies to men.

I don't know what it means when a response doesn't reiterate specifics from the question -- that is, whether he is speaking broadly or only about the Omer. (The answer did not cite sources.)

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It sound from your answer like he was addressing cutting hair during the omer, which is a different set of law/logic than the topic asked. – YDK May 13 '11 at 4:51
@YDK true regardless. – Hacham Gabriel Jan 29 '12 at 2:03
@HachamGabriel, not true regardless! Just b/c the custom for aveilus did not include unusual practices, that does not negate the possibility that shaving her face with a razor would be a Torah violation. – YDK Jan 30 '12 at 4:18
@YDK I meant to say that regardless of when the article is referring to, it is Mutar. – Hacham Gabriel Jan 30 '12 at 4:27
@HachamGabriel, true as yydl brings. Comments should be understood in light of what they are commenting on. – YDK Jan 30 '12 at 4:29

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