Why You Shouldn't Be Worried About A Few Chin Hairs As You Age

Women's bodies are often politicized, but arguably the biggest battleground is a woman's body and facial hair. With the dominant culture's idea that facial and body hair should land squarely on the male side of things, women who experience a bit of a mustache or armpit hair are shamed into removing it – via shaving, sugaring, and other means — lest we be mistaken for dudes. There have been some moments in popular culture where we were treated to defiant women refusing to shave or wax: "Precious" star Mo'Nique famously refuses to shave her legs, per ABC, and Oscar-winning actor Julia Roberts once let her armpit hair free on a red carpet, per Today. Ashley Graham, Halsey, and Madonna's fashionista daughter Lourdes Leon all also refuse to shave, per People

But for the most part, women feel compelled to remove their facial and body hair. Salon reported in 2015 that nearly 100% of women in the U.S. at the time removed their body hair voluntarily, with more than 85% doing it on a regular basis. The outlet also revealed the hefty price tag associated with hair removal, saying that in one woman's lifetime, she will spend $10,000 on average and the equivalent of two months just shaving. So of course it stands to reason that when we see those pesky chin hairs sprouting up, seemingly out of nowhere, we might feel shame. Here's why chin hairs aren't a big deal, and why they're more normal than you think. 

Chin hairs are normal, and frequent, for women

"Winona Ryder's "Reality Bites" character was seen bleaching her mustache before her date with Ben Stiller in the iconic 1994 Gen X tale, but according to Dr. Susan Massick, chin hair is "absolutely normal in everyone," per Self. Chin hairs also just kind of naturally pop up as we age. "There is a drop in estrogen produced by ovaries around the time of menopause, which leads to bothersome signs and symptoms," Dr. Lindsay Shirreff told The Toronto Star. "It's thought that this is what gives women darker hair on the face, including upper lip and chin."

There are also hormonal issues underlying the frequency of chin hairs, which can occur at any age, the most popular being Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. CNN reports that PCOS creates an overabundance of androgen in women's bodies, leading to excessive cysts on the ovaries, and interfering with things like our weight, acne, and yes, hair. In fact, PCOS accounts for 72-82% of all cases of excess facial hair in women, per The Guardian. Numbers don't lie. Gals, it's almost like we're supposed to have chin hair!

Nonetheless, if you want to zap those pesky strays for good, Dr. Shirref told The Toronto Star the best methods aren't actually at-home shaving, waxing, or depilatory creams, but rather going for laser hair removal, which is costly, but oh-so effective after six treatments.

Society has shamed women's facial hair for centuries

Patriarchal societies have tried to denigrate women with visible facial hair for centuries by labeling them as, "intelligent but disagreeable and argumentative, muscular, ugly," as Spanish physician Juan Huarte asserted in 1575, per The Guardian. Talk about a quote not aging well!

But take comfort: you are not alone in your struggle to feel normal in your own skin, despite prevailing beauty standards. In fact, there are many women leading the charge to reframe how we think and talk about women's bodies, faces, and all the hair that comes with them. One such trailblazer is Harnaam Kaur, a young Sikh woman from the UK who suffers from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, but allows herself to just be the hirsute hottie that she is (via HuffPost). Her Instagram account is full of pictures of her with a full beard, where she looks extra feminine, and feels it too. Another woman challenging the stigma is Little Bear Schwartz, who told Health that her facial hair is not, "a detraction FROM my womanhood. On the contrary, it is beautiful, natural, and the crowning glory OF my womanhood."