Menopause and Facial Hair: Oh, Pluck This…
One of the benefits of menopause (yes, there are some!) is less underarm and leg hair. If you remember, hair growth in these areas started in puberty because of hormones. As those hormones decline, hair growth slows, well, sort of. Unfortunately, this is also the time when coarse, dark hairs may start popping up on your upper lip, chin, or jaw line. For some women, this may feel like a final blow to their femininity and create a lot of anxiety and embarrassment, which is completely understandable. If these unwelcome follicles are making you feel self-conscious, there are a variety of ways to deal with them.
Facial hair in menopause: What’s happening?
There are two kinds of facial hair. Vellus hair is that short, soft, nearly not-there hair that children and women have. Terminal hair is longer, darker, thicker, and generally found on men’s faces.
Estrogen keeps hair finer, softer, and lighter. Coarser, darker, thicker hair is the result of testosterone. In perimenopause and menopause, estrogen diminishes, but women’s testosterone levels may not. The higher ratio of testosterone to estrogen can cause these annoying outcroppings of male-like hairs to sprout.
What to do about facial hair
“Nothing” is a totally legitimate choice here. There’s nothing dangerous about a few extra chin hairs. But if they bother you, there are ways to get rid of menopausal facial hair, or at least minimize its appearance so you feel more comfortable and confident with your appearance.
Ditch the magnifying mirror. Most of the time, the facial hair that seems so obvious to you isn't to others. If you’re using a magnifying mirror to apply makeup or get our contact lenses in, it may be making the hairs look worse to you. Use a regular mirror and honestly assess the situation. You might even want to ask a trustworthy friend for her opinion. This can help you decide how much time, effort, and money you want to invest in a remedy.
Pull ‘em out. If you only have a few, grab a tweezer and pluck them out. For more hair, waxing or threading may be more practical solutions. Threading uses thin, doubled thread pulled tight and rolled over the face to remove hairs. Both options should be done by an expert to prevent ingrown hairs. And contrary to any tales you may have heard, plucking via any method will not cause hair to grow back darker or coarser.
Shave it off. You may balk a little at the idea of shaving your face, but it’s a cheap, effective remedy. Plan on shaving in or just after a shower when hair is softer and use a sharp razor to prevent rashes or ingrown hairs. While hair will grow back more quickly than when you pluck it, it won’t grow back darker or coarser.
Try creams. Depilatory creams have come a long way from the “Who wears short, short?” days. While they are gentler and smell better, some women are sensitive to the chemicals that break down the hair. Always do a small patch test somewhere else on your body to check for any reaction. Prescription topical treatments like Vaniqa may also help.
Laser them away. The beams of light overheat the follicle, damaging it so hair can no longer grow. The results are permanent, but it is expensive (several hundred dollars per session depending on where you live and the amount you want done), and it may require multiple sessions. Also, it doesn’t work on fine or light-colored hair
Zap it. Like using tweezers, electrolysis targets hairs one at a time. A thin probe goes directly into the hair follicle, and a low-level electrical current heats the follicle to the point of destruction. The zap can hurt or even scar a little. Because it’s a one-at-a-time deal, it can take up to 18 months of treatments to get the results you want. It is permanent, though, and it can work on any color hair.
When to get help with facial hair
Facial hair growth by itself isn’t a danger, however in some cases, it can signal a more serious problem like polycystic ovary syndrome or adrenal gland issues. If hair is growing on other areas of the body where it normally only grows on men, or it is excessive, you should check with your doctor.
We can help you manage facial hair
- Meet with a Gennev Doctor - our menopause specialists can help you understand why you are experiencing facial hair symptoms and their impact on your overall health and wellness
- Partner with a Health Coach for actionable solutions and the support you need to manage facial hair, and get you feeling better
- Vitality – the nutrient-packed multi-vitamin supplement that supports mood, energy, stress response, immune health, joint pain, and inflammation
The information on the Gennev site is never meant to replace the care of a qualified medical professional. Hormonal shifts throughout menopause can prompt a lot of changes in your body, and simply assuming something is “just menopause” can leave you vulnerable to other possible causes. Always consult with your physician or schedule an appointment with one of Gennev's telemedicine doctors before beginning any new treatment or therapy.
Have you taken our Menopause Assessment?
Join over 100,000 women to learn more about your symptoms and where you are in the menopause journey.