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Smooth Skin: 4 Facial Hair Therapies

Tim Boyer's picture
skin care

One of the obstacles of achieving smooth skin in women is pesky facial hair growth. Although facial hair growth is a normal part of aging, it can also be an indication of an emerging medical condition. Learn about the facts of facial hair growth and discover 4 facial hair therapies for smooth skin recommended by doctors and beauty professionals.

Before puberty, young girls have thin facial hair (peach fuzz) called “vellus.” When puberty arrives, coarser, darker “terminal” hairs appear in the pubic and underarm regions due to hormonal stimulation. In some cases, the soft, white vellus facial hair also begins to darken and grow thicker and transform into terminal hairs. Heredity and ethnicity play a primary role in just how much and what type of normal hair growth occurs in a young woman during puberty.

When a woman begins to age, hormonal factors come into play again that often results in hair changes that are undesired such as greying and baldness. This is especially true during perimenopause and menopause when androgen levels increase some and stimulate even more marked hair growth on the chin, the chest and the face. But again, in most cases this is a normal part of aging.

However, what is not a normal part of aging is when androgen levels increase too high and result in excessive hair growth referred to as “hirsutism.” ”Hirsutism results from an overproduction of androgens from either the ovaries or the adrenal glands.

Medical reasons for facial hair

Overproduction of androgens from the ovaries can be due to a common ovarian disease called “polycystic ovarian disease (PCO).” While a serious medical condition that can lead to diabetes, it can be treated with medication.

Overproduction of androgens from an adrenal gland is called “adult onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)” The adrenal glands are small walnut-shaped glands located on top of the kidneys. The adrenal glands play an important role in help keeping the body in hormonal balance by making the right amounts of cortisol, aldosterone and androgens. But in CAH, production of cortisol is blocked, which can then cause the adrenal glands to make too much androgen—and thereby excessive hair growth. While it is a serious medical condition, it too can be treated with medication.

Although relatively rare, tumors in the ovaries and the adrenal glands can also lead to excessive androgen levels and excessive hair growth.

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Finally, some medications can also result in excessive hair growth such as oral contraceptives that contain norgestrel. Over-the-counter supplements such as DHEA, which claim to increase libido or build muscle, can also be a cause of excessive hair growth.

The take home message behind this is that before embarking on any of the facial hair therapies described below, you should first consult with your primary care physician and/or an endocrinologist to determine if your facial hair is abnormally excessive due to genetics or due to an underlying medical condition. Blood tests analyzing hormone levels will quickly rule out any potential medical problems. Also, be sure to let you doctor know if you are taking any nutritional supplements. Some supplements can cause excessive hair growth.

Facial hair therapies
In the February 2012 issue of Prevention magazine, the editors offer four safe and effective ways to whisk away your unwanted whiskers.

Facial Hair Therapy #1: Growth inhibiting creams
A growth inhibiting cream is just what it sounds like—it inhibits the normal growth of hair follicles under the skin, but does not remove hair. The most effective (and popular) growth inhibiting cream is “Vaniqu” and it requires a prescription from your doctor. An over-the-counter growth inhibiting cream suggested by Prevention is “DermaDoctor Gorilla Warfare Hair Minimizing Facial Moisturizer” that slows follicle growth with botanicals like palmetto and fireweed.

Facial Hair Therapy #2: Permanent treatments
Prevention tells us that permanent treatments are of two types: electrolysis and laser. Electrolysis involves zapping the hair follicle with electricity that kills the root. Laser involves zapping the hair follicle with intense light that also kills the root. However, laser only works on darkly pigmented hairs, whereas electrolysis works on all hair types.

Facial Hair Therapy #3: Depilatory creams
Depilatory creams such as “Nair Precision Face and Upper Lip Kit” rely on a chemical that breaks down the protein keratin bond in hair follicles and dissolves the hairs below the level of the skin. This method is a temporary one that lasts about two weeks before stubble arrives. One drawback is that depilatory creams can cause skin irritation in some people.

Facial Hair Therapy #4: Waxing
While many cringe at the thought of ripping the hairs out of their body—it is effective and can last as long as a month. Prevention recommends the “Sally Hansen Microwaveable Eyebrow, Lip and Face Wax Kit” for a non-muslin strip, do-it-in-the-home method.

To remove unwanted hair for smoother skin, Prevention’s 4 facial hair therapies are safe and effective methods for achieving a smooth skin. However, remember to consult with your doctor if you suspect that your facial hair may be more than a normal part of aging to ensure your good health with your beautiful skin.

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia

References: Prevention Feb. 2012 issue