Lifestyle

Here’s Why Rogue Chin Hair Appear and What to Do About Them

Everyone remembers their first rogue chin hair. I do, at least. While going through your skin-care routine, a stray (but surprisingly long) strand catches your attention just an inch below your lips. You get a good grip on it with your tweezers and pluck it out, but goodbyes are never that easy. Two weeks later, there it is again. Then, two weeks after that. And two weeks after that. Forever.

If you ever need an intriguing brunch conversation topic, ask your friends about their chin hairs. While everyone’s experience is unique when it comes to the number of hairs that appear and how often they show up, it’s a fairly universal experience. Curious about why random chin hairs pop up? We spoke to Arash Akhavan, MD, Connie Yang, MD, and Marisa Garshick, MD, about why chin hairs happen, when to be concerned about them, and what to do about them. 

What causes chin hair in women?

There are several potential causes of chin hair in women, but the main culprit? Hormones. According to Dr. Yang, changes in estrogen levels as we age can contribute to facial hair development. “Underlying medical conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can cause an imbalance of hormone levels that lead to multiple symptoms, including facial hair growth. Certain medications, such as oral steroids and hormonal therapies, can also affect hair growth patterns,” Dr. Yang explains. 

You may notice that chin hair usually appears in one or two dark, stubby strands. Dr. Yang says this is because of genetics or the sensitivity of that particular hair follicle. “Sometimes localized stimuli such as friction, pressure, or inflammation can also encourage hair growth in a particular spot,” she says.

When does chin hair start growing for women?

“It’s not uncommon for women in their mid to upper 20s to begin noticing stray hairs on their face,” Dr. Akhavan says. For the average, healthy woman, chin hair growth often begins around menopause, when estrogen levels naturally decline. Genetics and ethnicity can also play a role in when hair growth starts. Remember, everyone is different.

How to stop hair growth on your chin

Preventing chin hairs from growing is easier said than done, but it isn’t impossible. “It can be difficult to stop chin hairs from growing hair since there is often a hormonal component,” Dr. Garshick says. However, you can take many steps to slow the growth of your chin hairs and prevent them from growing back. These hair removal methods include lasers, electrolysis, and topical treatments.

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Can you pluck your chin hair?

You can pluck your chin hair, but be warned: it isn’t a permanent solution, and its effectiveness depends on whether the hair is vellus (peach fuzz) or terminal (thicker, darker, more rooted hair, like your eyebrows). Vellus hair grows back softer and less quickly, versus terminal hair that can grow back coarse.

However, Dr. Garshick says don’t go tweezer-happy plucking your facial hair to avoid ingrown hairs and irritation. “Plucking the hair can cause trauma to the area and lead to inflammation and potential scarring,” she says. If plucking is your only form of hair removal, there’s a great chance the hair will grow back once removed. So, again, it’s a temporary solution to a typically ongoing problem.

What are some causes of chin hair in women?

There are many possible causes for those chin hairs showing up, most of them hormonal, and experts say that when your chin hairs show up dark, coarse, and often, it may be signs of an underlying condition. 

“If you are experiencing irregular menstrual periods, hormonal acne, weight gain, or difficulty losing weight in conjunction with this excess chin hair, you should discuss these symptoms with your doctor,” Dr. Yang explains. “These are common symptoms of a condition called PCOS that requires particular attention and treatment.”

Here are a few other potential causes of chin hair in women:

PCOS

While chin hair can be an isolated occurrence, it’s often associated with conditions like PCOS, which causes hormonal fluctuations and higher testosterone levels. Other common symptoms of PCOS include weight gain, acne, depression, and missed periods. But if that’s not your concern, chin hair can also stem from hormonal imbalances like hirsutism or Cushing’s syndrome. 

Hirsutism

“Hirsutism is defined as hair growth in a male pattern distribution in a woman. Unlike a few rogue chin hairs, hirsutism is characterized by coarse hairs in areas where men typically grow hair, such as the face, chest, and back,” Dr. Yang explains.

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Dr. Garshick adds that the endocrine condition is often the result of increased androgen, or male hormone, levels. “While it can be an isolated finding, hirsutism can also be associated with conditions like PCOS. If an individual comes to the office concerned about acne, hair loss, and excessive facial hair, this combination of findings can be suggestive of PCOS,” she says. “Although PCOS is the most common condition associated with hirsutism, it can occur in the absence of PCOS or any other associated condition.”

Cushing’s syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome is the result of the body dealing with an excess of the hormone cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone. Many symptoms can indicate Cushing syndrome, from thick, dark hair on the face and body often sounding the alarm for doctors. Other symptoms include weight gain in the face, hair loss, easy bruising, and a fatty lump that forms between your shoulders.

How to get rid of and treat unwanted chin hairs

Once you rule out an underlying condition with a medical professional, you may want to think about how to get rid of chin hairs for good (or maybe not, and that’s totally fine, too).

If you’re going the DIY route, you can wax, thread, pluck, or shave your chin. But remember: hormonal hair often returns faster than hair on the rest of your body. More permanent chin hair removal solutions include lasers, electrolysis, and medications.

Laser hair removal

Dr. Akhavan says laser hair removal is his favorite method for removing unwanted chin hairs. “We now recommend the new Motus AX laser, a highly effective laser appropriate for all skin tones with zero associated pain,” he says. Of course, if you’re curious about lasers, it’s always best to discuss them with a board-certified dermatologist (now’s not the time to toy with DIYs). “There are different lasers available to best target different skin types, with certain lasers being safer for people with darker skin,” Dr. Garshick explains. 

Misuse of lasers can result in burning, bruising, or post-treatment scarring, so to avoid further complications, talk to a derm who can help guide your research.

Electrolysis 

Sometimes called electroepilation, electrolysis is a treatment where an electric current is applied to the root of a hair, causing it to fall out and stop growing in one swoop. Somewhat painful and time-consuming (multiple sessions are often needed), electrolysis may not be the best method if you have a lot of hair to remove. But if you’re tackling just one rogue strand, it could be a great option. 

Medications

According to Dr. Garshick, oral contraceptives or spironolactone may be prescribed upon evaluation by a doctor. “Oral contraceptive pills may help balance fluctuating hormones while spironolactone is an anti-androgenic drug often used to treat hirsutism,” she says. 

Topical treatments

If you’re not an ideal candidate for laser or other treatments, Dr. Yang and Dr. Garshick recommend hair removal creams as a good alternative. “There is also a topical medication called eflornithine, also known as Vaniqa, which was the first FDA-approved topical to reduce unwanted facial hair,” Dr. Garshick says. “It works by slowing the rate of hair growth and can be used in conjunction with laser hair removal or other hair removal techniques, such as depilatories to remove the visible hair shaft, or through epilation, such as waxing, threading or tweezing.”

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Final Takeaway

While chin hairs are a fairly normal part of life, it’s totally understandable if they’re something you want to change. If you’re worried that removing those hairs will result in even more springing up in their place, fear not. “There’s no truth to the myth that you can grow extra hair by removing the hair that you have,” says Dr. Akhavan. So, yes, it’s totally fine to pluck that straggling hair that you’ve been eyeing all day. Still, if your hair growth goes beyond a stray hair or two, it may be worth talking to your doctor to rule out (or better understand) if the root of it might be a hormonal condition.

 


Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.

  1. Mihailidis, John et al. “Endocrine evaluation of hirsutism.” International journal of women’s dermatology vol. 3,1 Suppl S6-S10. 16 Feb. 2017, doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2017.02.007




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