Developing facial hair can be an extremely stressful condition as a woman, no matter what your age may be. Although it is entirely normal for ladies to have facial hair in areas such as the upper lip, chin and around the hairline, it’s not something that society tends to embrace. More often than not, women are expected to be hair free and smooth skinned, without a downy moustache or peach fuzz adorning cheeks or chin.
That said, there is no getting away from the fact that female facial hair is common and entirely natural so please don’t feel like you are alone in battling excess, unwanted hair. You really aren’t – several female celebrities have spoken out about facial hair and hair removal, with icons such as Kim Kardashian, Adele and actress Emma Watson sharing how they deal with it. It’s an entirely normal situation and not something you should feel embarrassed or ashamed about.
There are things you can do and steps you can take to reduce or remove female facial hair but we understand that it can be a distressing time. As we mentioned above, you aren’t alone if you are experiencing hormone-related facial hair. Before we move on to look at what causes hormone-related facial hair and what you can do about it, it can help to know that others are in the same situation and feel just as you do.
Journalist Mona Chalabi, who writes about women’s issues, says “What can be dismissed as trivial is a source of deep anxiety for many women, but that’s what female facial hair is; a series of contradictions. It’s something that’s common yet considered abnormal, natural for one gender and freakish for another.”
What causes hormone-related facial hair?
It’s important to recognise that there are a number of underlying causes of excess hair but your doctor should be able to advise what the issue is in your own individual case.
Hirsutism can cause female facial hair
One potential condition is called hirsutism. It often arises from an oversupply of male hormones called androgens, according to the Mayo Clinic. It says,
“Symptoms of hirsutism may also include increased muscle mass, a reduction in breast size, irregular periods and a deepening of the voice. While most cases of hirsutism are mild and have no underlying cause, some may be due to certain diseases. Sometimes there is simply no identifiable cause of the disorder.”
Researchers believe that one in every 14 women worldwide have some degree of hirsutism, which causes hair to appear in a more traditionally male pattern, such as on the torso, neck, upper arms, chin, chest, face and back.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a leading cause of hirsutism and hormone-related facial hair
Polycystic ovary syndrome is the most common identifiable cause of hirsutism, according to the Mayo Clinic. PCOS occurs when a hormonal imbalance causes cysts to form in the ovaries, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Women can develop PCOS at anytime during their reproductive years.
Between 8 and 20% of women will develop PCOS at some point in their lifetime, according to research conducted by the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Of those who suffer with hirsutism, around 75% of cases are caused by PCOS says American Family Phsyician, which notes, “Hirsutism is excess terminal hair that commonly appears in a male pattern in women. Although hirsutism is generally associated with hyperandrogenemia, one-half of women with mild symptoms have normal androgen levels. The most common cause of hirsutism is polycystic ovary syndrome, accounting for three out of every four cases.”
Cushing’s syndrome can also cause unwanted female facial hair according to experts
Cushing’s Syndrome may also cause facial hair in women according to medical experts. This condition occurs when your body is exposed to high levels of the steroid hormone cortisol, according to the AAFP. Cortisol is involved in your body’s response to chronic stress. When cortisol levels increase, it upsets the balance of sex hormones, which can lead to hirsutism or more commonly, trigger the appearance of facial hair known as vellus.
George T Griffin, MD explains “In most instances, Cushing syndrome is caused by glucocorticoid therapy. Because pure glucocorticoids have no androgenic activity, the treatment rarely produces hirsutism. Instead, glucocorticoid therapy is one of the causes of hypertrichosis (see Physical), resulting in vellus hair growth, especially on the face.”
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
A group of rare inherited disorders of the adrenal gland called congenital adrenal hyperplasia may cause unwanted facial hair in women. Approximately 1 in 15,000 girls and boys are born with CAH, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. CAH causes both sexes to produce an oversupply of androgen.
A number of medications may cause facial hair growth in women. They include the anti-epileptic or anticonvulsant drug phenytoin, brand name dilantin; danazol, which is used to treat endometriosis; and the organ rejection transplant drug cyclosporine. Hormones and anabolic steroids may also cause unwanted facial hair in women.
Additional potential causes of unwanted facial hair
Genetics can play a role in the development of hirsutism so some women may be more predisposed to developing this condition than others. When there is no clear and identifiable cause of hirsuitism being present, it is referred to as idiopathic hirsutism. This occurs more frequently in certain ethnic populations. Women of Middle Eastern, European and South Asian descent are more apt to suffer from the condition, says the Mayo Clinic. In rare cases, hirsutism can be due to an androgen-secreting tumor in the ovaries or adrenal glands.
If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms or have developed unexpected facial hair, you should consult with your physician to identify the cause.
Removing unwanted facial hair
HairFree’s permanent facial hair removal pack can help you get rid of unwanted hair on your face quickly and painlessly. Great for removing hair on the upper lip (the female moustache) and hair on the chin, this unique formula is fast acting and pain free. It’s also effective on all types of hair including very dark hair.