Have you looked in the mirror and been startled by a long chin hair that seems to have suddenly popped up out of nowhere? You’re not alone. If you haven’t already heard mom or a BFF complain about this embarrassing problem, experts assure us that chin hair is super-common among women. But where the heck do these strands spring from?
“Chin hair results from a combination of genetics and hormones,” says Hadley King, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at New York’s SKINNEY Medspa. It’s our male hormones (called androgens), as well as our overall hormonal balance, that stimulate growth of chin hair, she explains.
Depending on how sensitive your hair follicles are to these hormones, you may sprout more or less of them. That sensitivity and the levels of hormones at play are generally determined by genetics.
Chin hair can grow at any age, but most women notice growth increasing with age since hormonal balances shift as we get older. Simply plucking the stray chin hairs is the speediest way to remove them. If you have more than a stray, you may want to consider electrolysis or laser hair removal for more effective clearance, says King.
And while you can get chin hair with a perfectly normal balance of hormones, if you also notice irregular periods, excess facial and body hair, and stubborn adult acne that isn’t responsive to treatments, you may have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). If you’re concerned, see your doctor to determine if your chin hair may be a sign of PCOS.
Whether your hormonal balance is “normal” or PCOS-related, medications that affect hormones, like oral contraceptives or spironolactone, can help curb excess chin hair growth, as well as overall facial hair, says Hadley.
If you decide to pluck those suckers or take more aggressive action, Hadley says to take comfort in the fact that this isn’t a serious issue. “Some of us are just hairier than others,” she says. And you have good ol’ genetics to thank for that!