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

How to Remove Chest Hair

Explanation of different hair removal techniques for chest hair, including waxing, laser, and shaving.

Blame gold-medalist, Ryan Lochte. The Olympic swimmer’s smooth chest is igniting a trend.

Here’s a quick look at different techniques for chest hair removal:

1. Shaving: Pros: Cheap, easy. Cons: Grows back quickly; itchy chest. Shave with the grain of the hair, not against it. And Kramer’s wrong on this one. Shaved hair does not grow back thicker or darker.

2. Tweezing: Pros: Cheap, easy, hair grows back less quickly. Cons: It takes a long time, especially if you’re really hairy, and is slightly painful.

3. Depilatories: Pros: Painless, cheap. Cons: Funky smell, messy, and chemicals can cause irritation or rash.

4. Waxing: Pros: Hair grows back less quickly; faster than tweezing. Cons: It’s expensive and hurts, as Steve Carell illustrates. Don’t try it at home.

5. Electrolysis: Pros: Permanent. Cons: Permanent. Can also be expensive depending on the number of treatments needed, and hurts. It works by zapping the hair and plucking it out. The zapping part makes it more permanent than tweezing.

6. Laser hair removal: Pros: Permanent. Cons: Permanent. Very expensive and painful. It works by using a laser to explode the hair follicle, which feel like snapping a rubber band against your chest. It only works for darkly colored hairs. Lightly colored or gray hairs don’t respond.