What That Random Hair On Your Face Really Means

Among the peculiarities of womanhood, there's one that doesn't normally get much mention until we hit our 20s or beyond. And then one day, the first long, startling chin hair appears, apparently to throw a wrench into any plans we had to take ourselves too seriously. Arash Akhavan, M.D., a New York City dermatologist with the Dermatology and Laser Group explained to Well + Good, "Having stray facial hairs is very common for women. It's not uncommon for women in their mid to upper 20s to begin noticing stray hairs on their face."

There are a few reasons women can suddenly start to sprout unwanted facial hairs, but, not surprisingly, the main one has to do with hormones. All women have some level of androgens ('male' sex hormones, like testosterone) in their bodies. But when the levels shift, as is common during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, increases in testosterone can actually cause normal vellus hairs (the thin, 'peach fuzz' type of hair that cover our face) to change into terminal hairs (the thicker, coarser, pluckable kind) (via Healthline).

Getting rid of stray hairs is usually easy

And it's not just hormones. Genetics play an important role too. Angela Lamb, M.D., director of the Westside Mount Sinai Dermatology Faculty Practice, director of dermatology at the Institute of Family Health and an assistant dermatology professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told HuffPost, "Many cases are hereditary. If the women in your family grow facial hair, you may as well. It has to do with how your hair follicles respond to androgens that are present in all women's bodies."

Random facial hair can occur more often as women age, too. Heidi Waldorf, M.D., director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at The Mount Sinai Hospital adds, "As women age, estrogen levels go down and natural testosterone goes unopposed."

While sprouting a few stray hairs is totally normal, if the amount of facial hair increases significantly in a relatively short amount of time, it's a good idea to be checked by a doctor. It may be a sign of a hormonal imbalance or other condition that needs medical attention, like polycystic ovary syndrome. Thankfully, though, in most cases, removing a stray hair or two is as simple as tweezing, waxing, lasering, or shaving it away.