Skin Information Network
Facial Hair

About Facial Hair

What is unwanted facial hair?

For cultural reasons, excess facial hair, especially on the face can be cosmetically problematic for women. Although hair is relatively easy to manage by shaving or plucking, it can be a burden to maintain, as hair grows very quickly and needs to be managed on a continuous basis. Although the vast majority of hair growth is due to hereditary or ethnic tendencies, sometimes a sudden increase in hair growth for women can be a symptom of other hormonal problems.

Why is facial hair problematic?

In recent western culture, there has been increasing demand for women to remove facial (and body) hair. Although hair removal has a long history dating back to the ancient Egyptians, it is in the last 50 years that there has been an increased demand for women to manage their facial and body hair. In recent years, there has been a trend for men to manage their body and facial hair more. Whether to accept these cultural norms or not is entirely up to each individual.

For those that are comfortable with facial hair, it isn't problematic in any way. For those that wish to remove their hair, it can be a chore because hair growth is largely determined by age, sex, ethnic origin, and family history, and not by cultural norms. Individuals who are predisposed to greater hair growth will often have a difficult time keeping up with hair removal.

Medical Factors

For women, a sudden change in volume or the hair's growth patterns might by a symptom of a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). In this condition, excess male hormones can be produced which leads to male pattern hair growth in women. As this is a serious medical condition that could cause infertility, it needs to be investigated and treated accordingly.

Most of the time, hair growth is simply a hereditary tendency. Hair growth, however, is very sensitive to hormonal changes. Aging and especially menopause can also influence the growth pattern of hair for this reason. Any sudden changes in hair growth are often a sign that there may be other hormonal factors at play. In these cases, you should contact your family physician for advice.

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