Hormones. Those little buggers sure have a lot to answer for. Our moods, our skin and basically our lives are all affected and left changed at some time or another by these natural menaces- not to mention their effects on unwanted hair growth!
Believe it or not the most popular treatments I do at the salon are those related to unwanted facial hair. In fact, if I got but a mere 50 cents for each chin hair I have plucked, ripped or whipped out I would probably be writing this from my mansion in Aruba! Now before you ask me why on earth I have been missing out on such enormous financial opportunities I am going to blog a little about Unwanted Hormonal Hair Growth or acronym that will never catch on but is sort of like the sound women make when they find said unwanted hairs- (UHHG).
While there are many different reasons for our hair growth (such as genetic, hereditary or medical) there is no denying the factor which has the biggest influence on unwanted hair growth- Hormones!
Hormonal hair growth can occur at pretty much any age, while it is definitely most common to see the thickening of the moustache, or the rouge chin hairs sprouting out as a woman ages and begins to head towards menopause it is also not uncommon to see unwanted facial hair on young women as well. Polycystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, obesity or fertility treatments can all be catalysts for unwanted hormonal hair growth. You may not talk about it with your friends but you are not alone in this hairy situation- in my experience, unwanted hair growth is very, very common!
Pet beards are in. Real beards are not.
So, what is the best way to deal with UHHG?
First port of call would be to see your doctor. There may be absolutely nothing they can do. Or, they may decide refer you to an endocrinologist, suggest Hormone Replacement Therapy or give you a prescription for a new contraceptive pill. Obviously, I’m not a doctor! As a beauty therapist there are many other ways I can help you with unwanted hair growth but the reason I suggest seeing a doctor first is so that you can establish that the reason behind your hair growth is definitely hormones. If the underlying cause can be treated, then you are one step ahead of the game!
I recently had a client who told me she had spent over $1000 in laser treatments. She had a hair free chin and top lip for about 3 months, but then the hair grew back. She was understandably upset and asked me why the laser treatment hadn’t worked on her. The fact is, the laser treatment probably did work- but this lady’s hair growth was caused by her hormones, even if the laser had successfully killed off the hair follicles it had zapped, there was nothing stopping a couple of neighbouring hairs from popping through. This really should have been disclosed before the lady had her treatment. Laser can be a fantastic tool against unwanted hair growth- but a client’s expectations should always be addressed.
It’s not all doom and gloom though- unwanted hair growth can be managed. The point I am trying to get across is that when it comes to hormonal hair growth there is no quick fix, as long as we have hormones and until they develop a miracle “anti-hormonal hair” cream, we are going to have to fight to stay on top of it. Here are your weapons of choice:
Electrolysis– Tiny needle inserted into your hair follicle- little zap of heat caused by an electric current is given to gradually kill off/damage the follicle. Old school version of Laser. Painful, yes but also reasonably effective.
Laser/IPL- Tagged as a “more permanent” method of hair removal- clients often need multiple treatments to reduce hair growth. Bright light therapy causes a heat reaction inside the hair follicle destroying the papilla (like a seed which germinates hair growth). Like having a controlled, medical burn. Quicker than electrolysis and much better for larger areas of hair growth.
Waxing/Tweezing/Threading/Sugaring– Rips out hair while keeping the root attached which means it takes longer to grow back. Effectiveness relies on getting the hair in the ‘right’ stage of hair growth (when root is still attached). Reasonably cost effective and can result in ‘finer’ hair growth.
Shaving/Depilatory creams– Cut’s off hair at the surface of the skin. As hair is not removed by the root it will grow back quickly. Quick and easy to do yourself.
Bleaching– Bleaches the hair, it is still there but much lighter and therefore less visible. Can irritate and burn skin.
Many beauty therapists will tell you to stick to one method only (ie waxing) to get the best results for your hair removal. I disagree. I have found many clients have had success trying multiple methods and have had different methods work better for some than others- we are all different!
Laser often works really well on dark hair, while electrolysis can be used quite successfully on grey or colourless hairs. Tough, stubborn or coarse hairs can benefit from both these treatments as they tend to slow the hair growth and make it more fine in texture. Many clients are happy to stick to waxing, but often will need to tweeze between appointments or may choose to bleach the darker hairs on their top lip from time to time. In my opinion, all this is fine! With perhaps the exception of shaving (probably not my top suggestion, however I have clients who trim longer facial hairs between appointments) I believe the key to staying on top of unwanted facial hair is finding what works for you in your lifestyle.
There are methods out there for your disposal and while getting rid of unwanted hair growth will always be an extra hassle to add to our “to do lists,” remember that there is probably a good beauty therapist just around your corner waiting to help you with a hair removal plan that will work for you! Also, don’t be afraid to keep a pair of tweezers in your glove box (as a client of mine does) you will be amazed at the amount of hair you can find at a traffic light on a sunny day!
Red light? Where are those tweezers….
Please Note: Inexperienced tweezing with a poor pair of tweezers can lead to the hairs snapping off, which is a little like shaving and can result in unsightly in grown hairs. Also, your beauty therapist will struggle to try and grab these super short little suckers, but she will totally understand why you did it- whatever gets you through another hair free day!
Also Note: For anyone disappointed that I didn’t use Penny as a pet bearding model. I tried. I failed.