If you have tried and gotten tired of constant shaving, painful waxing, threading to get rid of unwanted hair; then you are not alone! Facial hair in women and excessive hair growth affects as many as 1 in 14 women.
And for PCOS, the problem of facial hair in women becomes even bigger and stubborn! It is estimated that more than 70% of the cases of excessive and unwanted hair is caused by PCOS.
Now, facial hair in women is not really a health concern as such. However, it causes serious damage to the mental wellness of the woman, who is constantly reminded of the societal norms of female type of skin.
So, in this post we will get to the basics of unwanted growth and facial hair in women.
Firstly, you will learn about the causes and symptoms of unwanted hair in PCOS.
Secondly, you will learn about the best ways to treat facial hair in women, when and why you should be concerned.
Lastly, we will look into natural remedies, herbs and best foods to control the root cause of facial hair growth. Let’s dive in!
What You'll Learn | Click on Topic to Go There
What is PCOS | Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
Unlike disease, which has specific pattern of symptoms; PCOS is a collection of varying symptoms. Hence, it is usually termed as a syndrome.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. Different women present with different PCOS symptoms.
PCOS is caused by a variety of factors such as:
- Insulin resistance
- Hyperandrogenism (that is to say, high levels of male hormones in a woman)
- High Cortisol or Stress
- Excess Weight or Obesity
- Exposure to hormone disturbing chemicals
Checklist of PCOS Symptoms
While PCOS symptoms might not be exactly the same for every woman, a common factor for women with PCOS is that they have hormonal imbalances.
For example, if you are experiencing high levels of Androgens or male hormones, then you will constantly struggle with Irregular periods, facial hair, acne, and hair loss on scalp.
Here ‘s PCOS Symptoms Checklist for you to know whether you fall in the risk category of having PCOS.
- Difficulty to Get Pregnant
- Frequent Miscarriage
- Inability to Conceive
- Low sexual drive
- Cysts on the Ovaries
- Period Problems
- Irregular Periods
- Period Cramps
- Spotting in between periods
- Heavy bleeding
- Scanty Menstrual Flow
- Weight Problems
- Excess weight gain
- Belly Fat
- Excess weight loss
- Metabolic syndrome
- Skin Problems
- Dark Spots on the Skin
- Skin Tags
- Hair Health
- Hair loss or Alopecia
- Excessive facial and body hair growth, known as hirsutism
- Poor Mental Health
- Depression and anxiety
- High Stress
- Mood Swings
- Digestive Health
- Bloating and Constipation
- Uncontrolled hunger
- Sugar cravings
- Food cravings
- Poor Fat Profile
- Sleep Problems
- Inability to sleep
- Waking up in the middle of sleep
- Sleep Apnea
- Hormone Imbalances
You might want to take this free PCOS symptoms quiz to narrow down your risk of having PCOS.
Androgens | The Male Hormones
Male hormones are usually referred to as Androgens. However, they are also produced in females, though in much smaller quantities than in males.
When androgens are produced in excessive amount in females, then they can lead to a number of health issues. And Hirsutism or excessive facial hair is just one of such symptoms.
Some of the known Androgens include:
- Testosterone, the typical male steroid hormone, which is also responsible for male body type
- Di-hydro-testosterone (DHT)
- De-hydro-epi-androsterone (DHEA)
- De-hydro-epi-androsterone-sulfate (DHEA-S)
High Androgens in Women
A female with excess androgen usually tends to develop some of the symptoms such as:
- Her voice thickens
- Facial hair and male pattern hair growth (hirsutism)
- Breast size shrinks
- Body fat distribution changes, tending towards belly fat.
Usually, about 80% of women, who have high androgen levels have PCOS.
Excessive growth of Facial Hair in Women | Hirsutism
Hirsutism is the excessive and unwanted growth of facial or body hair in women. Unlike normal fine hair on the skin, hirsute hair is dark, coarse, and long.
This excessive hair doesn’t only appear on the face. But, it can also show up on the chest, abdomen, back, upper arm and legs, and inner thighs.
Types of Hair
Usually, there are fine hair, known as vellus hair that covers the face and majority of the exposed skin of women. They have various health functions, one of which is to keep the body warm.
Vellus hair is very fine, small and light in color. It is almost invisible.
Also, there is another type of hair, the terminal hair which is coarser, darker and at least 0.5cm/0.2 inches in length. This hair covers the under arms and the private parts.
In hirsutism, some of the vellus hair turns into terminal hairs under the action of excessive androgens. That’s why the excess hair of hirsutism is so pronounced and difficult to get rid of.
Also, this action is irreversible. That means, once a vellus hair turns into terminal hair, it stays and grows like that.
Hirsutism is Progressive | Health Risks
Now, if you notice excessive hair growth or hirsutism, then delay in treatment could be dangerous. This is why:
- It could be that what you really have is PCOS. In that case, then the hirsutism is really just one of several other PCOS symptoms that could have long-term effects. So, you need treatment in time.
- Like other PCOS Symptoms, Hirsutism is also progressive in nature. If you do not address the root cause of hirsutism, it may keep on growing. This way you will be dependent on shaving or hair removal for long time.
Why can I become Hirsute? What Causes Hirsutism?
Facial hair in women or unwanted hair growth adds to the agony and distress of as many as 30% of women with PCOS.
While, hormonal imbalance (hyperandrogenism) in PCOS is of the major cause of hirsutism; it is not the only one. Here are some of the causes of excessive growth and facial hair in women are:
- Insulin resistance
- Androgen secreting tumors
- Thyroid Dysfunction
- Adrenal hyperplasia (excess growth and activity), which might result in excess production of cortisol (stress hormone)
- Cushing syndrome, resulting from high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) present in the blood for a long time
- Medications containing hormones, steroids, or drugs that induce hair growth like Rogaine
- Excessive sensitivity of hair follicle to androgens
- Hyperprolactinemia – High prolactin levels
The Pros and Cons of Modern Treatment Options for Hirsutism
In modern times, treatment options available for hirsutism include treatment by hormones or removal of excess hair. Hormone based treatment options require consistent use for six months before some results can be seen.
1. Birth Control Pills
They work by suppressing hormones. Birth control pills suppress production of androgens by ovaries and slow excessive hair growth.
This use of BPCs has some undesirable side effects such as poor liver health, high triglycerides, weight gain and mood swings.
Also, birth control pills are contraceptives, they prevent ovulation, and that means no conception. And if you stop using pills, then hirsutism may strike and make excess hair even worse.
2. Anti-androgen medications
These come with the birth control pill prescription. They prevent the androgens from acting on hair follicles.
Some of the side effects with these medications are dry skin, headaches, irregular vaginal bleeding and heartburn.
3. Cosmetic therapy
These are intended to remove the hair, for cosmetic purposes mostly. It includes methods like shaving, waxing, bleaching, electrolysis, laser, etc.
Hair removal treatment options can range from cheap home alternatives to highly expensive therapies such as laser and electrolysis.
- These however doesn’t address the root cause. The hair may keep on becoming harder and grow further on.
- Some of the methods have their own side effects like physical discomfort, scarring, skin irritation or discoloration.
- Electrolysis is expensive and time consuming. With repeated treatments, it may result in 15 to 50% permanent hair loss. But, it is difficult to treat large areas like hairs on the chest or upper back.
Ayurvedic Natural Solution for Hirsutism and Facial Hair in Women
To stop excessive hair growth, you should look into solutions that will help you to remove the root cause of hirsutism. Now, for excessive hair growth, it is actually high level of androgens.
So, the line of treatment of facial hair should reduce the androgens and restore hormonal balance as a whole.
Hirsutism Diet and Best Foods
The type of foods you eat and your diet overall plays an important role in maintaining your health and hormone balance.
Ayurveda states that one should take in a wholesome diet that includes all six tastes “Rasa” to maintain Dosha balance. And specifically for facial hair in women, one needs to consume a Kapha Pitta dosha pacifying diet.
1. Promote Natural Detoxification
- Include blood purifying and antioxidants rich foods in your daily diet. Some examples are: watercress, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, raisins, green tea, ginger and garlic.
- Include a variety of fresh vegetables in both raw and cooked form.
2. Reduce Inflammation with these foods
- Consume foods that promote your digestive fire and help you to reduce inflammation. Some examples are: apple, berries, mangoes, oranges, avocados, asparagus, zucchini, cucumber, cabbage, celery, garlic, onions, sprouts, barley, oats and wheat.
- Drink a lot of water to keep yourself hydrated at all times.
- Take salads in moderation during lunch time or morning, but avoid salads in evening.
3. Foods and Diet to Reduce Androgens
- Eat vegetables and fruits that help to balance hormones and reduce excess andogrens. Some examples are: Apricots, green banana, cherry, coconut, kiwi, lemon, carrots, green beans, leeks, spinach, oats, quinoa and rice.
- Oils to prefer are Ghee, Olive Oil, and Coconut Oil.
- Prefer Astringent and Bitter tasting vegetables, fruits, and grains.
- Do not hold off hunger or delay your meals. Always eat on the same time every day.
- Avoid or take in moderation animal products like meat, dairy and eggs.
- Prefer cooling and normal temperature beverages such as coconut water, still water, and herbal teas.
4. Worst Foods for Hirsutism
- Eliminate foods with a hot potency and hot temperature such as chilli and cayenne pepper.
- Reduce your intake of non-veg foods, especially red meat or foods that are high on fat.
- Lower your intake of foods that have a high glycemic index.
- Avoid excess salt, chilies, spices, sour foods, and pickles.
- Reduce the use of caffeine, stimulants, refined sugar, and cold drinks.
- Stop consuming junk food, and carbonated drinks.
- Avoid untimely meals, multiple meals, late night foods, and snacks.
- Stop the consumption of processed foods and packaged foods.
- Remove and avoid smoking, alcohol and nicotine.
Nutrition and Herbal Supplements for Hirsutism
5. Nutrition for Hormone Balance
- Magnesium – whole grain, cereals, nuts, dairy products, bananas, and chlorophyll-rich vegetables.
- Zinc: Foods such as Brown Rice, Whole Wheat, Oats, Millets, Dried Beans and lentils, Leafy Greens, Yams, Nuts, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin Seeds and Sesame Seeds.
- Calcium – dried fig, milk, and milk products, beans, pulses, seeds and nuts, cauliflower.
- Vitamin D – Get enough exposure to Sunlight from morning and evening Sun. Consume Vitamin D foods like egg yolk and animal liver.
- Vitamin K – Green vegetables, cereals, and animal food.
- Manganese – cereals, bran, nuts, and tea. Praval Bhasma may be consumed as well.
- Phytoestrogens: Flax seeds, fennel, licorice, alfalfa and aloe vera.
6. Ayurvedic Herbs to Reduce Androgens and Balance Hormones
These Ayurvedic herbs can be consumed upon consultation with Ayurvedic doctor, who can advise you on specific dosage and directions.
Ayurvedic herbs for hirsutism provide an effective way to naturally balance hormones, flush excess androgens and reduce inflammation of the skin.
Amla is useful for its detoxifying qualities. It also works well to reduce cholesterol levels.
That is not all. It is an anti-inflammatory agent, so it removes free radicals and helps to restore hormonal balance in the body.
2. Red Clover
This is another herb used in Ayurvedic treatment for hormone balance. It is useful because it is a rich source of phytoestrogens (estrogen rich foods from plants).
Thus, it acts as a natural source of estrogens without taking pills. Red clover also helps in purifying the blood and flushing out excess androgens
Holy basil or tulsi helps to relieve hyperandrogenism (excess male hormones). Thus, it helps to control hirsutism (unwanted hair growth) and anovulation.
Tulsi also improves insulin sensitivity and reduces high insulin levels. Hence, it removes one of the root cause of high androgens.
Take 2-3 leaves of tulsi early in the morning on an empty stomach. You can also boil it in water and drink it regularly.
Licorice is a sweet tasting root that helps to balance hormones. Specifically, it helps to reduce high Estrogen and high Androgen level. This reduces the growth and spread of unwanted hair.
Licorice is effective against inflammatory disorders and helps to establish the integrity of the digestive tract. This reduces bloating and constipation symptoms as well.
5. Fennel Seeds
These help decrease androgens (male hormones), and thus can help deal with hirsutism.
Ashoka bark acts as a tonic for uterus. It promotes ovulation, establishes hormone balance and significantly reduces high Androgen levels. Thus, it is highly effective against facial hair and acne.
Exercise and Lifestyle for Hirsutism
7. Prevention Tips | Your Lifestyle to Stop Excess Hair Growth
- Handle stress by slowing down, enjoying, and relaxing. Be in the moment and do things for the sole purpose of joy rather than productivity. When you manage stress, then Cortisol (stress hormone) goes down. It also helps to bring the androgens down.
- Sleep well and maintain regular sleeping hours of 6-8 at night. Check out Ayurvedic guidelines for good sleep in here.
- Avoid intense heat, hot temperatures, and excessive exposure to the hot midday Sun.
- Follow routine around your day and sleep timings. It will help to balance circadian rhythms and hence your hormones.
8. Physical Activity and Exercise
- Engage in regular, relaxing, calming, and cooling physical activity.
- Exercise at least 3 – 5 days a week through stabilising workout routines such as involving in recreational and non-competitive sports, traditional dances, swimming, hiking, running or brisk walking in nature or near water, yoga, Tai Chi, or Cycling.
- Physical activity should be avoided in warm/hot temperatures as it will aggravate pitta dosha and lead to acne breakouts.
- Prefer cooling temperatures of early morning or late evening.
- Avoid over exertion and excessive stretch. As a golden rule, exercise up to 50% of your body’s capacity.
- Regular practice pranayama and breathing exercises to improve oxygen circulation, relax your mind and naturally detoxify your body through the lungs pathways.
9. Home Natural Remedies to Remove Facial hair in women
Apart from the diet and lifestyle changes to stop the growth of unwanted hair, here are some highly effective natural remedies that you can employ to remove facial hair. Unlike the quick hair removal methods, these amazing solutions are not instantaneous and neither harmful to sensitive facial skin.
These natural remedies slowly and surely rejuvenate your skin and relieve you from excessive hair growth. So, stick to them and employ them once or twice every week for better results.
- For this, you’ll need papaya and turmeric powder. Peel and grind the papaya, mix the turmeric power with it. Massage your face with the resulting formulation for 15 mins. Wash of with cool water. You can repeat this once or twice weekly.
- You’ll also need turmeric for this one with milk and oats. Make these into a paste and apply to your face, then leave to dry. Gently scrub it off afterwards.
- Take 2 tbsp fenugreek seeds and 2 tbsp green gram. Grind them together into fine powder. Now take 2 tsp of this powder and mix with water to make a paste. Apply the paste where the hair growth is. Leave it there for some 20 mins and wash off afterwards. This can be done three times in a week. Store the rest in an airtight container in fridge.
- Do you have some honey, lemon juice and egg? A few drops of honey, lemon juice and egg white, mixed together, is something you can do then. Apply on affected area and leave to dry. Afterwards, remove with cotton dipped in warm water.
Prevent and Reverse PCOS with Ayurvedic Treatment, Diet and Lifestyle
Check out Heal PCOS with Ayurveda, a holistic health programme. Receive personalized Ayurvedic treatment and step-by step guidance on diet and lifestyle to balance hormones and reverse PCOS symptoms naturally.
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Wishing you vibrant health!