There are certain beauty milestones in a woman’s life that remind her of the passage of time. Finding the first gray hair is one. Discovering the first chin hair is another — and in our opinion much worse. Why? Because these stray, stubborn hairs are like the cockroaches of the apocalypse.
They seem to survive almost any attempt at extinction. Just when you’ve gotten rid of one, four more seem to sprout in its place. Eventually, you find yourself carrying tweezers in your purse, as well as stashing them in your car and your desk, because nothing calls attention to the ones you’ve missed like sunlight or office fluorescents. For many women, this predicament manifests somewhere in the 40s. It seems awful, but is it normal?
Chin up, ladies! The answer is yes.
Why Are Chin Hairs Considered Normal?
We tend to blame almost everything on hormones as we get older, but the truth is that they are to blame for a lot of weird things that go on with our aging bodies — chin hairs are no exception. Women produce both male and female hormones, and as we age those can get off balance, especially during perimenopause.
“As we get older, we lose progesterone and estrogen, but may still have levels of a testosterone called androgen that stimulates more coarse facial hair,” says Desi Cortez, an aesthetic educator and trainer and certified laser hair removal professional at Skin Rejuvenation Clinique in San Antonio, Texas. “This type of hormonally stimulated thick, dark hair is called terminal hair and is most common on the chin, lip, cheeks, and neck.”
What Can Be Done?
Don’t let the name fool you — terminal hairs can seem to live forever. But there are a few things you can do to shorten their lifespan. You can go the DIY route with the aforementioned stash of tweezers. Some women shave their faces. Neither is a long-term solution. Waxing is a more efficient way to remove chin hairs, and though it lasts longer than tweezing or shaving, it is still a short-term (and often painful) solution. For more permanent results, you have to call in the big guns — namely lasers or electrolysis.
Lasers work by targeting the melanin in a hair follicle and then damaging the follicle down to the root to slow the growth of hair. It’s not a permanent solution, but it will buy you a little time as the hair becomes finer and easier to remove. The downside is that because it detects the hair by pigment, a laser is not an option for blond or gray hairs, and isn’t recommended for people with dark skin. And though the procedure is relatively quick, it can get pricey, with an average starting cost around $200.
The only FDA-approved permanent solution is electrolysis, which works by using an electrical current to destroy the hair-growth cells. It’s slow and painful, though not expensive. “Electrolysis is a slower procedure because it can treat only one hair at a time,” Cortez says. “Most people can take the treatment for only about 30 minutes, so depending on the amount of hair you are removing, it may require multiple sessions to address the entire area.” Cost for electrolysis generally starts around $45-$50, so multiple treatments won’t break the bank.
When Is It Not Normal?
In premenopausal women, a sudden emergence of dark facial hair can indicate an underlying issue such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. This common condition produces cysts on the ovaries, so if you are having irregular periods and suddenly sprout a crop of chin hairs, see your doctor to make sure that isn’t the case. A quick blood test can determine whether your hormones are out of balance, and your doctor can help you choose the right course of action.