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This is why those wiry hairs suddenly appear on your chin

This is why those wiry hairs suddenly appear on your chin
Posted at 2:15 PM, Feb 08, 2024

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One of the biggest mysteries of my adulthood so far has been how a lone, wiry hair springs up seemingly overnight on my chin from time to time.

Like a meridian line, a scar from a long-ago dive board accident splits my chin into equal halves. Right above the scar line, in the northern hemisphere of my chin, seems to be the patch favored by Harold, the jet black and unusually thick hair that sprouts from my chin frequently enough that he’s deserving of a nickname.

What gives? My friends and my “shmom” (*I told her I’d change her name for this story) have long debated the hows and whys of rogue chin hair, leading me to believe it’s a fairly universal experience.

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To better understand the taboo mystery of chin hair, I’ve called in the experts. Here’s why, they say, women tend to grow wiry chin hair, whether it could hint at a medical problem and what can be done about it.

Why Do Women Get Chin Hair?

We can go ahead and wag our fingers at hormones and genetics for causing the unwanted hair growth, explains licensed aesthetician Raquael Flores. Hormones called androgens, which increase as we get older, are responsible for the growth, and if your mom and grandma have chin hair, the chances are good that you’ll inherit it, too.

Contrary to common belief, body hair does not become coarser or darker over time due to shaving, tweezing or waxing. This myth took hold long ago and it still persists, despite being widely debunked. So, if that one chin hair stubbornly keeps reappearing, it really is simply hormones and genetics that are causing it.

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And these coarse, wiry chin hairs actually have an official name: They’re called “terminal hairs,” explains Dr. Vlada Doktor, a board-certified dermatologist at The Dermatology Specialists.

“Most of the human body is covered by thin and light-colored hair called ‘vellus hair,’ or known as peach fuzz,” Doktor says. “During puberty, hormonal changes influence the conversion of lighter vellus hair into thicker, pigmented hair called terminal hair.”

Typically, terminal hair is found on the scalp, pubic region, armpits and beards — but it can sometimes grow on women’s chins, too, Doktor says.

Woman frowns at face in mirror

Could Chin Hairs Be A Sign Of A Medical Problem?

Sure, stray chin hairs inevitably pop up and it’s nothing to worry about.

But when chin hair growth becomes excessive, it’s called hirsutism and can hint at an underlying medical condition, explains Doktor.

Defined, hirsutism is a condition of unwanted, male-patterned hair growth in women that results in a lot of dark, coarse hair in places where men typically grow hair — chest, back and, yes, chins, according to Mayo Clinic. It can arise from excess male hormones, primarily testosterone, or it can also be caused by a family trait.

Excessive chin hair growth in women, Doktor says, can potentially be the first signal of an underlying disorder, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. In addition to a ton of hair growth on your chin, other signs might include irregular periods and severe acne. If women notice these symptoms, they should consult their doctor.

The Mayo Clinic also says hirsutism could be a sign of Cushing’s Syndrome, which occurs when your body produces too much cortisol, a stress hormone.

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How Can You Get Rid Of Unwanted Chin Hair?

Since there are different treatment options available for removing unwanted facial hair, you’ll want to discover the underlying cause first, Doktor says. It’s even possible certain medications could be the cause of abnormal hair growth. Danazol, which is used to treat endometriosis and the depression medication Prozac, for instance, are among the medications that can cause hirsutism.

“Once the cause is discovered and addressed, laser hair removal works great,” Doktor says. You can seek out the treatment at a medical facility or spa, or you can take matters into your own hands with at-home laser treatments. There are many products on the market now that claim to drastically reduce — or even permanently eliminate — body hair growth.

Among these, a popular option is an IPL device, which stands for “intense pulsed light.” And that’s exactly what these gadgets provide: They emit intense beams of light that heat up and destroy hair follicles, which reduces hair growth and can even stop hair from regrowing.

These devices can be a big investment, depending on which model you choose, but some of them claim to leave you hairless for a long time, so it might be a large purchase that pays for itself over the years, as you ditch the waxing appointments and shaving accessories.

One of the more affordable options out there, the petite SmoothSkin Pure Mini is ideal for treating small patches of unwanted facial hair. This device purportedly provides visible results in four weeks of consistent use, and reduces hair growth by 97% after 12 weeks. It features smart technology that senses skin tone and adjusts the intensity of the light flashes accordingly.

woman uses laser flashing device on armpit hair

$119 (was $129) at Amazon

Nood is a well-known brand in the IPL space, and the Flasher 2.0 is a popular model due to its offer of a pain-free experience as you light-flash your way to hairlessness. There are seven intensity levels to choose from, though some folks report that the light flashes are startlingly bright. If using this IPL twice a week, you should see results in eight weeks.

woman uses laser flashing device on body hair

$199 at Amazon

This chic-looking device from Ulike makes it on to plenty of “best of” lists, as it offers unique cooling technology where many other IPLs leave a burning sensation with their blasts of intense heat. In addition to noticeably reducing hair growth after four weeks of use, the Ulike Sapphire Air+ has a sleek and pretty look to it.

woman uses laser device on facial hair

$299 at Amazon

Do you get unwanted chin hairs? How do you clear them?

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