It can be a very confusing sight: older, bald men whose hair seems to have strangely moved from the head to other parts of the body. Their ears, nose, shoulders and back are sprouting with hair, men desperately want to get back on their heads. And this phenomenon is no exception for men; although the changes are less dramatic for women, they can still appear with an unkempt mustache when they reach menopause. So why does this happen to us as we age? There is one major hormone responsible: testosterone.
The hair that seems to appear suddenly as we age was indeed there all along, we just didn’t notice it. We have fine, downy hair called velusa, which covers most of our skin. When testosterone levels rise in our body, such as during puberty, this soft hair becomes rough, dark and visible. This is most evident in men who start growing facial hair during their teens. With age, the effects of testosterone begin to play a prominent role in the rest of the body hair. Just as it transforms the facial hair of a young man into a thick beard, it also changes the almost invisible hair growing in places like our ears into thicker tufts.
Testosterone not only changes hair structure as we age, it also disrupts the natural hair growth cycle. Hair naturally goes through three stages: growth, transition and shedding. When we are young, scalp hair remains in the growth stage for a long period of time. However, hair that grows in places like our hands goes into a transition phase very quickly. This is the stage at which the hair follicle begins to break down but is not yet completely extinct. When he dies and falls out, he is said to be in the last stage of the cycle: the molt stage. When we are exposed to testosterone for a number of years, the hormone begins to interfere with the natural growth cycle.
This does not mean that we start to produce more testosterone as we age, but it is believed that this must have a cumulative effect on our body. Hair on our scalp, which usually remains in the growth stage for a number of years, falls into shedding stage much faster. In contrast, hair on our eyebrows or ears, which was easy to hold in our young years, remains in the growth phase for long periods of time. So instead of continuing to grow juicy strands on the head, we grow them from the ears and back.
The effects of testosterone described above apply to both men and women, but still more men. So what about women and excess hair growth? Since they do not produce as much testosterone as men, their transition into the world of hairy body parts is not as abrupt, although it does occur.
Around menopause, when hormone changes occur, women often experience more noticeable facial hair. This is due to the fact that their body loses estrogen, but not testosterone. This imbalance provokes changes in hair growth in the same way as in men; this causes more hair to grow on women’s chins and upper lips and often forces them to find a solution to remove their unwanted hair.
If you are a woman and start noticing a few extra dark hairs on your face, you can safely use a razor or tweezers to remove them. However, it is not recommended to shave the cheeks, chin and upper lip targets as this will result in soft hair becoming thicker and even more visible.
If you notice the finest, Fuzzy hair, chances are you are probably the only one who notices it. A good tip is to stand at arm’s length in front of a mirror and look into your face. If you can’t see excess hair growth, don’t worry about it; most people won’t look at your face with a magnifying glass.
However, if your few extra hairs are visible and you are tired of always plucking them, it might be worth considering laser hair removal. This is especially effective for hair that is darker than your skin tone, as laser therapy targets the pigment in your hair as it kisses it and kills the bulb by heating. So, while it may not be necessary to remove the almost invisible hair growth you feel, laser hair removal can certainly help eradicate any thicker, darker hair that may have sprouted during menopause.
Men are worried not that they have more facial hair, but that more hair is growing from the nose, ears and back. For nose and ear hair, it is best to trim it with scissors or a special trimmer made for this purpose. It is not a good idea to pluck these hairs as the inside of the nose and ear canal is very sensitive and the experience will be very uncomfortable and painful.
Pruning is not a permanent fix, but at least it’s painless! If you are a human looking for a more sustainable solution to excessive hair growth, laser hair removal for men may be the right choice for you. If your new ear hair is very noticeable as it grows on the outer parts of your ears, or if your back now has its own fur coat, laser hair removal is an effective option to permanently reduce hair growth.
So if you are concerned about excess hair that seems to build up over the years, you are not alone! Now that you have a deeper understanding of why this is happening, you can find the solution that works best for you. Laser hair removal is the best option to consider. If you decide you want to know more about laser hair removal, contact us at LaserMi and we can meet with you for a free consultation to help you get back smooth skin!