Did you know that many women grow facial hairs as they age? This is a topic that many people are curious about, but don’t often talk about. In my 20’s, I noticed a few stray hairs on my chin and as I got older, these hairs multiplied and spread towards my cheeks and neck. I tried all sorts of methods to get rid of them – plucking, shaving, waxing – but nothing seemed to work.
For several years, I was confused and frustrated until I did some research and realized that this is a common unspoken issue for many women. In this article, I want to share what I learned about why women develop facial hair as they age.
The Three Types of Human Hairs
Humans have three main types of hairs: lanugo, vellus hairs, and terminal hairs.
- Lanugo hairs are found on unborn babies and newborns. They are very soft and fine, and they cover the body of the fetus. Lanugo helps protect the unborn baby’s skin from amniotic fluid in the uterus and keeps the fetus warm as it grows. Most babies shed their lanugo hairs before they are born at full term and vellus hairs grow in their place.
- Vellus hairs are the short, soft, and often barely visible hairs that cover most of our bodies. The “peach fuzz” facial hair that many women have on their faces is also the vellus hairs. Vellus hairs are much shorter, thinner, lighter in color, and less visible than terminal hairs.
In fact, vellus hairs cover the entire body except for the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, lips, and mucous membranes. Vellus hairs protect the skin and help regulate body temperature by sending sweat away from the body. Vellus hairs also help us sense the world around us by providing vibrations to sensory organs.
- Terminal hairs are the thicker, longer, and darker hairs that grow on our scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, underarms, and pubic area. Examples of facial terminal hairs are beards, moustache, eyelashes and eye brows.
Excessive Hair Growth
Hirsutism is the medical term used to describe excessive hair growth. It can affect both men and women, but it’s more common in women. The most common sign of hirsutism is excessive facial hair. Hirsutism can be a cosmetic issue, as it can cause unwanted facial hair growth. In some cases, hirsutism may also be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Reasons Why Women May Start to Grow Facial Hair as They Age
– Hormonal imbalances: Changes in hormones can cause vellus facial hairs to transform into terminal hairs. This is often seen in women during menopause, when estrogen levels decline.
– Genetics: Some women are simply more predisposed to developing facial hair due to their genes.
– Medications: Certain medications, such as steroids, seizure medications, some blood pressure medications, can cause facial hair growth especially in females.
– Medical conditions: Facial hair growth can also a symptom of certain medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or adrenal gland disorders. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can cause irregular periods, fertility problems, and excess hair growth.
– Weight gain: Weight gain can also lead to changes in hormones, which can also cause vellus facial hairs to transform into terminal hairs.
Whatever the cause, know that you’re not alone and there are options available to help you deal with unwanted facial hair.
How To Get Rid of Facial Hairs
In most cases, though, there’s no need for alarm – unwanted facial hair is simply a normal part of aging for many women. If you’re struggling to deal with excess hair growth, there are a few things you can do. Shaving, waxing, electrolysis, and plucking are all temporary solutions that will need to be repeated on a regular basis. If you’re looking for something more permanent, you can try laser hair removal. This treatment uses concentrated beams of light to destroy the hair follicles, resulting in long-term hair reduction.
If you’re concerned about you facial hair growth, talk to a board certified doctor. They can help you determine the cause of your excessive facial hair and recommend the best course of treatment. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a change your medications or weight loss which may be enough to stop the hair growth.
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