Women’s Facial Hair: Blame Your Hormones

The development of darker, thicker facial hair in women, especially on the chin and upper lip, is typically the result of hormonal changes and is benign.

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OK. Ladies, has this ever happened to you? You look in the mirror and spot a dark, thick hair on your chin or upper lip. Aghast, you immediately pluck it. It grows back. You pluck it again. It grows back again, only this time you swear it’s darker and thicker. What’s going on?

You’re not alone. The bad news is that it’s all too common among most women. The good news is that it’s almost always benign.

First, it’s a myth that plucking hairs causes them to grow in darker or thicker. These hairs are coarser and thicker because they are secondary sexual characteristic hairs; that is, they are the result of hormonal changes. They’re not unlike male facial hair, which is also coarse. These hairs appear thicker and darker than fine vellus hairs (peach fuzz) because they’re a different type of hair, not because of tweezing. Most women develop these hairs on the chin, jaw line, and upper lip. Though these hairs can appear at any age, they’re more prominent after menopause. They can also be the result of hormonal changes due to issues ranging from birth control pills and pregnancy to irregular periods and hormonal imbalances.

What can you do to get rid of them? For a fast and inexpensive option, tweezing is fine, as are depilatory creams. But the hairs will grow back. For permanent hair removal, try either electrolysis or laser treatment (at a doctor’s office). There are also some prescription medications that stop hair from growing. If that’s something you’re interested in, then speak with your dermatologist.

In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Remember, that it’s hormones at work, not you. And that it’s a fixable problem.

Photo credit: FCC, Michael

What Causes Premature Graying?

Premature graying is almost always caused by genetics. Stress does not cause gray hair.

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Stress. Cigarettes. Junk food. Bad karma. None is responsible for premature graying. For that you can blame Mom or Dad.

Hair turns gray because the pigment cells stop making pigment, or color. Melanocytes are cells responsible for skin and hair color and are found everywhere in your skin and in the base of each hair follicle. In everyone, these hair-based melanocytes eventually peter out. For most people this begins around the age of thirty-five. By age 50, 50% of people are 50% gray.

Some people go gray sooner. If you’re gray before 20 years old, it’s called “premature graying.” This is almost always hereditary. If you’re prematurely gray, talk with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

Photo credit: FCC, Werwin15

Will Eating Red Meat Make My Hair Grow?

Eating more red meat will not significantly affect your hair growth. Here’s what you should do.

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No. Unless you’re malnourished, eating more steak or other protein won’t significantly affect your hair growth. For your hair to grow you need to be free of disease, have your stress under control, and eat a well balanced diet.

Iron and biotin are essential for hair growth. If you’re a vegetarian or you don’t have a healthy diet, then consider iron and biotin supplements. And if you smoke, even occasionally, stop.

Photo credit, FCC, Mike Baird.

 

Olive Oil Benefits for Your Skin

Trying to keep up with what’s hot in skincare is like trying to keep up with the Kardashians. It’s impossible (not that I’ve tried, with the Kardashians, that is.

Then how are you to know what are the latest and greatest ingredients? Well, you could listen to your grandmother.

Some of the newest discoveries in skin care aren’t new at all: Olive oil may seem hot now, but countless Mediterranean grandmothers, including mine, have sworn by its skincare benefits for centuries. Were they right? Olive oil contains caffeic acid, oleic acid, and oleuropein, all potent antioxidants. Unlike berries or teas, these antioxidants are already in oil, allowing them to be directly applied to the skin.

Topically applied olive oil helps dry skin, rosacea, psoriasis, seborrhea, burns, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, diaper dermatitis, hand dermatitis, and eczema.

Here are some ways to apply olive oil to your body:

  • Rub it into your scalp and wrap your head with a warm towel.
  • Rub it in your cuticles and nails to moisturize dry, brittle nails.
  • Make a body scrub with olive oil and sugar.
  • Coat your skin with olive oil, then take a warm, not hot, bath.
  • Massage it on dry hands or feet before bedtime and wear cotton gloves or socks. Note: It can stain your sheets.

Consumed olive oil is also healthy for your skin. Eating 2 tablespoons a day might help reduce your risk for heart disease as well. (I could eat 2 tablespoons straight from the bottle on a crusty piece of bread.) If you’re not so daring, you could use it in salad dressings, add it to pasta, vegetables, and soups and even drizzle a little on meats such as grilled chicken. 

Remember, only virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil are unprocessed. Other olive oils are refined or chemically treated. Use extra virgin, which has the best flavor, for eating, and save the lesser expensive virgin olive oil to apply to your skin. Well, unless you’re a Kardashian.

What skincare tip would your grandmother recommend?

Hair Loss 101: Traction Alopecia

I saw several women last week for hair loss (alopecia). Hair loss is a common condition; it can be especially traumatic for women, because hair is often an important part of their identity and of their beauty. Traction alopecia is a type of hair loss that can be prevented if caught early, but can be permanent after it develops. Continue reading “Hair Loss 101: Traction Alopecia”