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9 questions you’ve always wanted to ask about facial hair

First things first, facial hair – aka peach fuzz, whiskers, face foliage, lip sweater… whatever you want to call it – is totally normal. Yep, even on girls. Most women won’t grow a full-on beard in their lifetime, but 40% will find hair on their face to some degree, whether that’s wispy blonde hairs on their upper lip, or coarse dark pricklers on their chin. It’s no cause for alarm, but you probably do have a few questions.

1. Why do I have facial hair?

For a start, everyone has facial hair. That barely-there fuzz on your cheeks? It’s called vellus, and it’s there to help protect your skin. During puberty though, vellus hairs can become slightly longer and thicker in some areas, such as your upper lip or your jawline, and it can become more noticeable. Another reason can be a condition called hirsutism, which is due to a hormone imbalance (more on this later!), which results in darker, thicker hair in places you wouldn’t usually expect it.

2. Why is some facial hair darker than others?

Facial hair varies massively from person to person, and a lot of it is to do with your natural colouring and heritage. Girls with darker skin usually find they have darker body hair, which means facial hair can be darker as well. As for differences between hairs on your face, a lot of that comes down to the way your vellus hair develops, or any hormonal imbalances you might experience. So you could have darker, longer hairs above your lip and fine blonde fuzz everywhere else, or completely unnoticeable hair all over your face, except for a small patch of dark fuzz on your chin.

3. How fast does it grow?

This depends on all kinds of factors, such as your diet and lifestyle, but generally hair grows about half an inch a month. But unlike the hair on your head, it usually has a finite length – in other words, it won’t keep growing forever! The length it grow to varies from person to person. Some girls might get a couple of millimetres of face fuzz, for others it could be longer.

4. How much is too much?

Everyone is unique – no two people will experience facial hair in the same way, and so a ‘normal’ amount of facial hair for someone else might seem like a lot to you, or vice versa. But if you’re worried that you’ve got very excessive facial hair it’s worth talking to a doctor, just so they can rule out any underlying health issues..

5. Why do I keep getting the odd coarse hairs in the same places?

Even if the rest of your face is entirely fuzz-free, you might get an odd thick hair that keeps sprouting in the same place even after you’ve gotten rid of it. Again, totally normal. Hair on different parts of your body has a different response to the hormone testosterone (which all women have), and hair on the chin area is more susceptible to it. This is why you might find that a random vellus hair turns into a thick beard-like hair. Ultimately, hair follicles have a mind of their own. Have you ever noticed two leg hairs growing from the same follicle on your leg? Or found a random curly patch on your head when your hair is otherwise stick straight? That’s just your hair follicles doing their thing.

6. Is everyone staring at my moustache?

Probably not. You spend a lot of time examining your face in the mirror, right? Looking for ripe-for-the-squeezing pimples and practicing your contour? So you’re going to be scrutinising your appearance way more than anyone else is. Plus they’d probably have to get really close to you to see it.

7. Should I get rid of it?

That’s entirely up to you. We live in a world where models are airbrushed to within an inch of their lives so it’s totally understandable that you might feel pressured to fight the fuzz. But it’s your body and facial hair is totally natural. Get rid of it if you want to, not because you feel like you have to.

8. How can I get rid of facial hair?

You’ve got lots of options, but the right one depends on the kind of hair you’re dealing with. If you’ve got one or two thick hairs, tweezing them is the quickest and easiest way to get rid of them. If you’ve got a bit of a moustache going on or a lot of fuzz around your jaw, put the tweezers down – it’ll be too painful and time-consuming. Instead you could consider bleaching the area. It doesn’t get rid of the hairs but it does make them much less noticeable. Just make sure you choose a bleaching product designed for facial use (other stuff will be too harsh and could damage your skin).

Alternatively, depilatory creams will remove the hair for up to three weeks, and waxing strips – while a bit painful – will get rid of hair for even longer (again, make sure you choose a product designed for your face). If it’s very thick or coarse, you might be a good candidate for laser hair removal – talk to a reputable clinic before you commit to anything.

Don’t go diving straight for the razor, though. Shaving your facial hair won’t change its thickness or colour, but it can make it look like it’s growing back coarser or darker. And the results don’t last as long as other hair-removal methods, so you’ll have to shave every couple of days to keep up. Plus, shaving the delicate skin on your face can cause irritation.

9. Could my facial hair be a sign of something more serious?

Facial hair on girls is totally normal, but occasionally it could mean there’s something else going on with your health. We mentioned hirsutism earlier. This is down to hormone imbalances and isn’t a dangerous or health-threatening condition.

Most women with facial hair simply have a very mild case of it, and are happy to manage the excess facial hair themselves. Some cases can be more significant though, and excess hair can be treated with prescription creams or oral contraceptives, which you can get from your doctor. However, hirsutism is often an indicator of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which you can read all about here. If this sounds like something that could be affecting you, talk to your doctor – there are plenty of treatments available.

Image: Katie Edmunds

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