Why do we get hairier as we age?

It’s one of the mysteries of life: growing older and a little balder on top, while unwanted hair starts sprouting in all the wrong places. Suddenly, your ears, nose, shoulders, and for women, you upper lip and chin are under attack! This change happens to men and women alike. But why? The answer lies in your hormones and the number one culprit: testosterone.

What’s the root of the issue?

Hair growth happens in a cycle and goes through three stages: growth, transition and shedding. The hair on your head runs on a different cycle than the hair on the rest of your body. It usually stays in the growth stage for many years then enters the transition and shedding stages quickly. That’s why it’s possible to lose head hair but begin developing luscious locks on other parts of the body at a later stager.

When you hit a certain time of life and the signs of ageing begin to show, becoming hairier is natural. It isn’t that you’re suddenly growing more hair, however. The skin is covered, almost all over, with a fine, downy layer called vellus. When there is an increase in testosterone, such as in puberty, the hair turns coarser and more noticeable. For men and women, testosterone fluctuates throughout life but the physical effects are starker for men. For women, menopause doesn’t mean an increase in testosterone, rather a decrease in oestrogen. This imbalance can result in more hair growth on the chin, upper lip and other parts of the face.

What can you do about it?

When it comes to hair removal, it’s safe to use a razor or tweezers or trimmers to remove a few errant dark hairs on the face, and in the nose and ears. If you choose to use any kind of electric device, always make sure it’s specifically designed for the face or ears.

For women who choose to shave, it’s not recommended that you shave their whole face, as this can cause any soft hair to become thicker. If at some point you decide you’re tired of plucking and shaving, you can always look into laser removal. Laser removal is effective, especially on hair that is darker than skin tone, since the lasers target pigment in the hair.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that when you first begin to notice those new hairs erupting, don’t panic. Just because you can see them it doesn’t mean anybody else will notice them. A good test is to stand in front of the mirror at arm’s length. If you don’t notice the hairs from here, chances are no one else will.

Related articles:
Ageing and your hormones in action
Worried about thinning hair?
Nine tricks for thicker hair

Written by ameliath

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