Restrictions on human exposure to electromagnetic waves at frequencies higher than 3-10 GHz are defined in terms of the incident power density to prevent excessive temperature rise in superficial tissue. However, international standards and guidelines differ in their definitions of how the power density is interpreted for brief exposures. This study investigated how the temperature rise was affected by exposure duration at frequencies higher than 6 GHz. Far-field exposure of the human face to pulses shorter than 10 s at frequencies from 6 to 100 GHz was modelled using the finite-difference time-domain method. The bioheat transfer equation was used for thermal modelling. We investigated the effects of frequency, polarization, exposure duration, and depth below the skin surface on the temperature rise. The results indicated limitations in the current human exposure guidelines and showed that radiant exposure, i.e. energy absorption per unit area, can be used to limit temperature rise for pulsed exposure. The data are useful for the development of human exposure guidelines at frequencies higher than 6 GHz.