Published: 09/19/2014 - Updated: 05/18/2018
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
In some women, hair growth on the legs, back, face, or extremities is frequently more abundant than in other women. This isn’t a serious problem, but for a lot of women this represents a large aesthetic conflict that they need to tend to and look after. However, abundant hair isn’t the same as excessive hair, which appears excessively in some women, distributed around areas like the chin, the neck, thorax, sideburns, underneath the belly button, along with the back, extremities, etc. Excessive hair is generally related to the appearance of acne or baldness, or other masculine traits. This excessive hair growth is known as hirsutism, and in very rare cases, it represents a serious disorder.
Skin, hair, and women
The bodies of all women (and men) are covered by tiny hairs. This is known as body hair, and it covers the majority of the body, except for the palms of the hands and feet, behind the ears, and in mucous membranes (the mouth, inside the nose, genitals, etc.)
This hair is characterized as not possessing sebaceous glands, and by being made up of thin and short capillary fibers, that generally don’t reach longer than 2 mm. However, when the hair becomes thicker and larger due to androgen hormone actions, the hair then turns into unwanted hair, which is something normal in men due to the high circulation of androgens (masculine hormone), and defined as hirsutism in women.
The hair, then, could be long and thick, or soft and very thin. This is due to hormonal action and other factors, like heredity. The hair follicles react before hormones like testosterone, and respond more or less in different areas. In the pubic area, for example, there is a greater reaction to said hormones, because it is an area sensitive to androgens. That’s why the hair frequently grows thicker and longer in this area (and in the armpits).
Possible causes for excessive hair growth in women:
- Excess of androgens (like polycystic ovaries or congenital adrenal hyperplasia). A higher than normal level of androgens in women causes thin hair to transform into thicker and longer hair.
- Mental tension or stress.
What to do to treat Hirsutism?
Fortunately, in today’s time there are very effective alternatives for removing excessive or abundant hair. You must keep in mind that body hair in a few areas serves a protective function, along with the hair located in the pubic area. The eyebrows also serve a protective function for the eyes.
Natural hair removal methods
WAX: an easily-applied method of application, that you yourself can do, even at home. Waxing has a lot of advantages, one of which is that the hair takes up to 6 weeks to grow back. And as you use the wax, the root is weakens, and the hair becomes thinner and less dense. A few disadvantages is that at first it could be painful, but over time, this usually disappears. You also have to wait and let the hair grow back a little bit in order to use it again. So you have to wait for a bit for it to grow back, and be patient enough not to remove it, because if not, the wax won’t produce the desired effect, and this could only hurt the skin. Currently, you can get a very practical wax with which you can eliminate excess hair yourself, at home. This wax can be found in beauty stores, and is applied with a wooden stick. It is sold in tubes the shape of toothpaste. You don’t need to heat it, and you can apply it immediately.
HAIR REMOVAL CREAM: an easy alternative for removing hair, even though it might sometimes cause skin irritation. To avoid this, always try to do a test on your skin, choosing a small area on the legs. If you notice irritation, or that it turns red, don’t use it. Also, do not use it if it burns, or feels uncomfortable.
SHAVING: one of the fastest ways of eliminating hair is by shaving. Some believe that shaving will make your hair grow back thicker, but that is not true. So you can feel confident in using a razor, you can even sometimes use it on the area around your mouth or the face. If you do this, be careful, and apply a soft and natural soap, preferably chamomile or aloe. It’s best not to use a razor frequently in delicate areas like the face, to avoid irritation. It’s best to use it when you bathe. After bathing, rub gel or soap on the area to shave and don’t forget to turn off the water faucet before beginning. The vapor from the bath will help open the pores, making the shave easier. After bathing, apply a softening cream, like those with aloe or honey.
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PHOTOEPILATION: also known as intense pulsed light (IPL), is an effected technique for removing hair from the body. This should not be confused with laser hair removal, which, although the two techniques use a laser, the difference lies in the wavelength used. Photoepilation frequently eliminates, unlike laser hair removal, the problem of folliculitis. You should be careful and take a good look at whether you want to choose this technique, because even though it is very effective, there are frequently misleading advertisements. This technique is expensive, so be careful with offers.
LASER HAIR REMOVAL: this method of hair removal uses a laser to eliminate hair.
TWEEZERS: tweezers are excellent for areas where hair grows sporadically, like the face or some areas of the back, or extremities. One of its advantages is that with continual use, the hair weakens. You can get tweezers in a beauty store or in the supermarkets. Try to use them after bathing when the pore is more open, and removing the hair is easier. Don’t forget to apply a softening cream like aloe, almonds, apple, or honey after finishing.
SUGARING: this is a homemade technique that is used in the East and a few countries in Asia and Oriental Europe. The Pharaohs used this technique, assuring that it was the most effective hair removal technique, as well as being an excellent exfoliater. This technique consists of making a paste with large grained sugar and lemon (some use different ingredients). Place the sugar in a sauce pan, and the lemon juice on top, so as to cover the sugar. Place the mixture over low heat, and constantly stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, and until is makes a soft ball. Once ready, remove the pan from heat. You can see if the mixture is ready by putting a bit of cold water in the mixture: if it makes a soft ball, it is ready. It is important that you capture just the right moment to remove the mixture from heat, because if not, your paste will not work, and you will have to begin again. Let it cool until it forms a gelatinous substance, like sticky rubber. Apply to the surface of the skin you want to remove the hair from, and lightly rub. When finishing, wash your skin well, and then rub aloe vera gel or honey on it to relax the skin.
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We should point out that if there isn’t too much hair, and you don’t want to remove the hair, you could also try dying it. You can do this with oxygenated water, applying it on a cotton ball over the skin that has the hair. On the face, where the hair is not very abundant, just the opposite could happen, and the bleached color would be noticeable, and could produce a not very aesthetic result. Avoid using wax on the face, as the pulling could damage the skin and cause sagging or flaccidity over time. The best thing for the face is hair removal cream (find something soft), tweezers, or lazer.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 05/18/2018
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