Many women may find facial hair embarrassing or inconvenient. Minor hair around the jaw, chin, upper lip, or next to the ear isn’t a big problem. It can also be easily dealt with by shaving, tweezing, bleaching, or waxing. The condition of having facial hair is called hirsutism. Society nowadays is more accepting of unconventional beauty standards. In addition, more female celebrities are embracing unshaven pits or legs, and those with naturally dense facial hair beautify it by adding accessories or flowers. But if you’re not used to or don’t want facial hair, what can you do about it?
What causes facial hair among women?
Hirsutism is where women have excess hair on the face, neck, chest, back, tummy, buttocks, or thighs. It’s typically caused by a disruption in the production of hormones known as androgens. These are testosterone and androstenedione. Women usually experience low levels of androgens. When levels rise, one of the side effects is facial hair.
Causes of hormonal imbalance include menopause and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It’s also the most common cause of facial hair. Adrenal gland disorders such as adrenal cancer can also cause hormonal imbalance. Medications such as minoxidil, anabolic steroids, testosterone, and the immunosuppressant cyclosporine can lead to facial hair growth. In addition, they prepare the body for organ transplants. Sometimes, hirsutism occurs without any visible or known cause.
Mild hair found outside the normal parts where hair grows for women is known as peach fuzz. It differs from hirsutism because this type of hair is denser. Research shows that up to 10% of women experience facial hair. It’s also more common among women of South Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean descent. Genetics also plays a large part in it. If your mother, grandmother, or immediate female relatives have facial hair, you’re more likely to develop some.
Hirsutism shouldn’t be confused with hypertrichosis. This is when people experience hair growth that isn’t affected by hormones. Hypertrichosis can occur anywhere while hirsutism only occurs where men typically see hair growth, like facial hair.
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How hirsutism is treated
Managing hormone production can help manage facial hair. This can be done through weight loss, anti-androgen medications, or contraceptives. Weight gain can affect how your body produces hormones. Losing weight can also help manage how hormones are produced, restoring hormone balance. Anti-androgen medications include steroidal and nonsteroidal androgen blockers. They reduce the production of androgens in the adrenal, pituitary glands, and ovaries. Contraceptives shrink the cysts from PCOS which can reduce facial hair.
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The medication spironolactone is also used to reduce facial hair from PCOS. It works by blocking testosterone from binding to hair follicles. However, it’s not safe for women trying to get pregnant and has strong side effects. These include dizziness, fatigue, and breast pain.
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A cream known as eflornithine can help reduce facial hair growth by interfering with the function of the hair follicles. It can work within two months. However, it can cause irritation and rashes.
Waxing, laser hair removal, and electrolysis are also effective ways to remove facial or other unwanted hair. They’re immediate solutions but they require consistent application.
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Are there herbal solutions to facial hair?
Some people suggest taking special teas to reduce facial hair.
1. Spearmint tea
One such tea is spearmint tea. It’s made from the spearmint plant. It has a milder, sweeter flavour than peppermint. Studies show that spearmint has testosterone-reducing properties. Women with PCOS taking spearmint tea also found that the tea helped restore hormonal balance and reduce facial hair. There is no conclusive evidence to show why spearmint is effective at reducing facial hair. It’s recommended to take spearmint tea twice daily for at most two months.
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2. Saw palmetto
This is an herb that has anti-androgenic effects. It helps reduce testosterone levels. There’s no scientific evidence that it helps people with PCOS. This is a very strong herb that can interact with other medications, such as contraceptives, blood thinners, or aspirin. It’s also important to be careful when using this as it is also used as a treatment for hair loss.
3. Chaste tree berry tea
Non-peer-reviewed studies show that the cherry tree berry can help with hormonal regulation to manage premenstrual syndrome and menopause. This can help reduce facial hair. Chaste tree berry extract can also be taken as a tincture or capsule. Dosages vary depending on the packaging. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t use this tea.
Studies show that in India and Pakistan, women have used turmeric paste to get rid of superfluous hair, including on the face. Spices: The Many Benefits Of Turmeric
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