What do women like Frida Kahlo, Adele, Harnaam Kaur and countless other celebrities have in common? Talent, influence, confidence and beauty, to name a few. But they've also sported what many deem to be "unwanted" or "excessive" facial hair.
On a broader level, 40 percent of women have some type of naturally occurring facial hair. About 5 to 10 percent of women experience hirsutism, excessive hair growth in areas where men more commonly grow hair. However, this statistic depends highly on what local culture considers to be a normal amount of hair growth. If your facial hair has you feeling frustrated or embarrassed, keep a healthy perspective: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Whether you decide to keep or remove your hair is a personal choice (you do you!).
Read more: Sudden Facial Hair Growth in Women
Causes of Unwanted Hair on Chin
The primary factors behind unwanted body hair in women are hormones and genetics. According to dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, development of a lot of dark hair on the chin or beard area may signal a hormone imbalance and require a trip to your derm.
Here are a few of the potential hormonal and genetic causes of chin hair in women.
While androgens are commonly referred to as male hormones, they are produced by both men's and women's bodies. These hormones are responsible for kickstarting puberty in women and stimulate hair growth. When women have excess androgens, they may experience hirsutism.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Frequently abbreviated to PCOS, this is a common hormonal disorder that affects women in their reproductive years. The effects of PCOS can include prolonged menstrual periods or excess androgens. These hormones can, in some cases (as mentioned above), cause excess hair growth, especially on the face.
Cushing syndrome occurs when the body releases excess levels of cortisol over a prolonged period of time. Cushing syndrome can lead to high blood pressure and bone loss. For women, a common side effect is growth of body hair.
Read more: Causes of Chin Hair on Women
How to Remove Unwanted Chin Hair
Plucking, shaving and waxing are all options that you can try at home to remove unwanted facial hair. While each of these methods can be effective, they come with their own drawbacks.
Plucking, while a good way to remove several hairs, is a challenge when removing a larger area of hair. Shaving is a quick solve but must be done frequently, as it only removes hair from the surface. Waxing also successfully removes hair, and you can create your own hair removal wax naturally, right at home (but it does cause a little pain). Sugaring is another natural form of chin hair removal, and it causes a little less discomfort than waxing.
Although the internet is full of at-home chin hair removal remedies — like rubbing a pumice stone across your chin in small circles or mixing up a turmeric and papaya paste said to slow hair growth — keep in mind that these methods have not been tested by rigorous science. While many of them are not likely harmful, consider any allergies or sensitivities you may have before applying the ingredients to your face.
Read more: How to Use Turmeric for Hair Removal
There are medications that you can consider to treat hirsutism. However, note that most of these medications take up to six months before you begin to see significant changes in hair growth.
Birth control pills (or other hormonal contraceptives) are a common medication used to treat hirsutism, according to the Mayo Clinic. The hormones in birth control (estrogen and progestin) treat this condition by controlling androgen production. While this is a popular route, birth control requires a prescription and can have possible side effects including dizziness, nausea and stomach upset.
Anti-androgen medications, such as spironolactone, are often prescribed to block androgens in the body. Often, these are prescribed when birth control pills aren't sufficient to stop hair growth.
There are also topical treatments, like eflornithine, that can be prescribed to combat unwanted facial har growth. These creams are made specifically for women with excess facial hair and can be applied directly to the chin to slow new hair growth. However, this treatment does not remove existing hair.
Procedures at the Dermatologist's Office
Laser hair removal is one of the longest-lasting procedures to remove unwanted facial hair, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Typically conducted at a dermatologist's office, this procedure uses a light pulse to destroy the hair bulb and often requires four to six treatments for full results. While laser hair removal is among the most popular treatments, Zeichner notes that lasers are still ineffective at treating white hair.
Electrolysis is another method used to treat unwanted hair growth, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The two primary forms are galvanic (chemically destroying the hair follicle) and thermolytic (using heat to destroy the hair follicle). In some cases, electrolysis treatments can be painful and can cause redness, scarring or dark spots over time.
Is Permanent Hair Removal Possible?
Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy answer to permanent hair removal. Every person's body is different, and your hair follicles will respond differently to various treatments. While laser hair removal is the most permanent method of hair removal, it is not guaranteed to permanently eliminate unwanted hair. While they don't have a ton of scientific backing, natural remedies are usually a safe hair removal option that you can consider and try right from home.
Read more: How Hanging Moles Are Removed From the Skin