I recently asked the women on my Facebook Page what they found the most frustrating thing about living with PCOS. I got a lot of different answers from weight, to infertility, to managing facial hair with PCOS.
And, over the past 4 years, I have heard from so many women who struggle with hair growth, especially on their face. So, I thought that it would be worth looking at some strategies that we can use to manage facial hair when living with PCOS.
In my free “How to Manage PCOS Naturally” masterclass, I talk a lot about how to manage our PCOS hormones using diet and key supplements that will also help with hair growth. You can join the Masterclass here.
I’m going to give you a few strategies, with pros and cons, but before we do that, we need to understand what is happening in our bodies because if we don’t address the underlying hormonal imbalance, we’ll be fighting a losing battle.
Facial hair with PCOS
We know that hirsutism is a symptom of high androgen or testosterone levels in women with PCOS. (1) We have to address those high testosterone levels if we want to see an improvement in this symptom.
So, how can you do that? Well, in a number of ways:
Manage your Insulin levels
All women produce testosterone from their ovaries. But in women with PCOS, our insulin causes our over sensitive ovaries to produce too much testosterone. If we can manage those insulin levels, we will start to see a decrease in testosterone levels.
One of the best ways to manage insulin is to make sure that you are following a good PCOS diet.
I’ve written about dairy a number of times (here and here) but the main jist of it is that all dairy has something called IGF-1 or Insulin Growth Factor – 1. IGF-1 mimics insulin in your body and is associated with higher levels of testosterone.
Many women who struggle with hormonal acne see an improvement within a week of giving up dairy. Here is an email from one of the women who took my 7 week course, The PCOS Master Plan:
Drink Spearmint Tea
There was a recent study that showed that drinking two cups of spearmint tea a day can dramatically improve androgen levels in women with PCOS. The study only lasted for 30 days, though. This is simply not enough time to see an improvement in hair growth. So, the thinking is that spearmint tea does help to lower testosterone levels and will help with hirsutism if take taken for a longer period of time. (2)
I get a lot of questions about Spearmint tea that might be worth addressing here:
Will peppermint tea work? The research was done on spearmint tea, not peppermint tea so I would stick to pure spearmint tea.
Where can I get it from? I spent many hours trawling health food shops trying to find speaermint tea. I couldn’t find it anywhere. So, I now get mine from Amazon. This is the one that I use.
How many cups a day? Aim for 2 cups a day if you can.
Unfortunately increased hair growth or hirsutism takes a really long time to impove. It could take anything from 6-12 months for your hair growth to slow down and improve (3). So, please be patient with it.
In the meantime though, what else can you do?
Waxing, Plucking or Threading
Waxing, threading or plucking all work on the same principle: physically removing the hair from the follicle. It can be painful but cause irritation but it also takes a while for the hair to grow back. There are a number of ways to do this from the comfort of your own home.
Facial Hair Remover
According to Amazon, the “Bellabe Facial Hair Remover removes facial hair by trapping the unwanted hair in its precision coils and lifting them by the roots in a simple Bend and Roll movement.” They also suggest that it is suitable for women with PCOS and hirsutism.
The reviews are pretty good too:
Laser Hair Removal
In this treatment, a laser is passed into the hair follicle to destroy the follicle. It works best in women with fair skin and darker hairs as the laser aims for the melanin in the hair shaft (4). Treatment needs to be repeated over a period of time and will be most effective when the underlying hormone imbalance has been addressed.
Now, laser hair removal can also be fairly expensive. There is a product that can be used at home that may prove more cost effective. Don’t get me wrong – it is expensive but may work out cheaper than having is done at a clinic. Also, results are not guaranteed so it could be a bit of a gamble.
The Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4x has really good review from Amazon.
This is what one woman with PCOS had to say about it:
I stumbled across Stophair as I was trawling Amazon looking for products and solutions. Now, it is a bit of a mystery as the ingredients are not clear. However, the Stophair claim that it is made from all-natural ingredients. It contains Inhibitor 2000 (a proprietary blend of purified plant extracts), moisturisers (Glycerol, Glycerine) and Almond Extract. It is apparently not tested on animals, is safe to use in pregnancy and can be used anywhere on the body.
Stophair basically starves the follicle of nutrients, making it smaller and eventually stop producing hairs.
Someone with PCOS has tried Stophair and this is what she had to say about it:
Hair electrolysis works by inserting a small needle into the hair follicle and zapping it with an electric current. Again, you need to make sure that the underlying hormone imbalance has been addressed. Also, there are currently no FDA approved home electrolysis kits so this one could be more expensive than the other hair removal merthods already mentioned.
Shaving is always an option. However, hair regrowth is much quicker and can leave you with an afternoon shadow.
So, let’s tie it all together. The first thing to do is make sure that you are following a good PCOS diet, avoiding dairy and drinking spearmint tea. Once you have that foundation in place, you can start loojing at other ways to manage your facial hair with PCOS. Things like laser hair removal, waxing or plucking and using a product like Stophair could be really helpful.
If you have found anything else that has worked for you or have tried any of the methods mentioned above, I’d love to hear your experience! Leave me a comment below and let me know!
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Question about the spearmint tea, does it have to be hot tea or could you drink it as iced tea and still see the same benefits?
I have PCOS and have significant dark hair on my chin, neck and upper lip. I take a drug called Spirinolactone which is a diuretic normally used in heart failure but is not harmful for people with no heart problems. It might just make you pee a little more :). For some reason this drug helps reduce my facial hair growth. It doesn’t take it away completely but it definitely lessens it and make it’s so I don’t have to pluck as often. It’s the only thing I’ve found that works.
I’ve tried all types of hair removal methods. I have done laser and it make things worse, I would not recommend any woman with PCOS get laser hair removal. The only thing I have found to work for me is tweezing. I have a lot of hair on my chin and neck, but tweezing is worth it. It is the only method that gives me the smooth skin I want and lasts longer than shaving. Unfortunately it does give you red bumps, but I would rather use concealer over a smooth face than have a hairy chin. I recommend Tweezerman tweezers as they are precision and allow you to pull from the base of the hair cleanly.
I agree 100%. Laser hair removal made the issue so much worse for me-now the hairs get ingrown and form huge, painful infected bumps all along my chin that leave visible scars. My sister who suffers from pcos as well had the same results, and her skin tone is completely different than mine (I am olive while she is *very* fair) so women should be aware that having a fair complexion does not guarantee laser removal will work and it CAN make the problem so much worse.
I have had laser treatments for 3 years then electrolysis for 3 years, neither worked for me. I also take metformin and thyroid meds. I was never able to have kids. My diet I try to avoid sugars and dairy products. The tea I have only tried a few times. I just wish I could get my facial hair under control. Thanks for the information.
My DR. Had suggested shaving. She mentioned the other methods are a waste. I’ve been struggling for years with PCOS and have been shaving for years, just this past week, I’ve been getting very bad razor burns, it’s very embarrassing and am unsure what to do at this point. I dont want my hair to be visible but now I have a visible razor burn on my side burns, upper lip, and underneath my neck. I have horrible facial growth. It’s to the point that I am embarrassed to go to my job, be out in the public, put my hair up, I dont like my boyfriend of 8 years to look at me because I’m afraid he’s going to notice. Life is becoming difficult with it.
Omg I can totally relate to you I have been shaving since I was 18 I have tried many methods of hair removal none of them work I also have embarrassing razor bumps and 5 o’clock shadow I use my make up to cover the dark areas it seems to help with going out in public but I still don’t like people looking at me close up cause I feel they can see the hair and wonder if I’m a man or woman
Maybe you can change the type of razor you use. I agree with your doctor. The other methods are time consuming and a waste of money. Laser hair removal helped a little but then the hair got worse for me and now I have to shave everyday. There is a facial razor called finishing touch that I am planning on trying out. It is suppose to be more gentle on your skin and has gotten pretty good reviews.
There is a brand of razor called ‘bump fighter’ that works really well in preventing shaving bumps and ingrown hairs and they are relatively inexpensive (32 razors for $30 on Amazon , 8 razors for $9 at walmart or 4 for $1 at some dollar stores).
Interesting read, thank u. Can I just mention that your Stophair link keeps taking me to hair growth pills!! Worst possible link! 🙁
Oh No! I’ll fix that. Thanks for picking it up!
Hi my daughter suffers from pcos.. she is 17 yrs old and has terrible facial hair, we did laser with no results, she is doing electroloysis now for about 5 month which is so painful and also we are not seeing any results. I am willing to try everything I can to help her… I have spent thousands of dollars and I am at a loss.
Have you talked with a doctor about spironolactone & birth control? If this is an option for her, it could help tremendously. Saved me.
You could try wax sugaring/sugar waxing. It’s gentle on the skin, cheap, and you can do at home. Just search for it on YouTube for tutorials. It’s basically using runny toffee and cloth strips and leaves your face smooth and soft. I’d recommend it from personal experience.
I really want to know if there is anything that has actually worked to stop the hair from growing (besides harmful medications). I have tried everything from giving up dairy, gluten, alcohol and sugar for up to 5 months, taking supplements, exercise (weight training, cardio, yoga), adaptogen herbs, etc. There are a lot of websites out there that make wild claims about healing your PCOS naturally but as far as I can tell from my research no one has ever “cured” PCOS. Most likely these people never really had PCOS to begin with.
Can anyone here honestly tell me that they have been able to stop the hair from growing (besides laser or elecrolysis – neither are options for me)
Hi have you tried avoiding or cutting down on meats? It’s super hard especially if you love it as much as I do but it does help due to the hormones (mainly testosterone) in the meat.
Traditional medicinals is literally 1 mile from my house. I’ve never been in there I guess I’ll have to go get some tea!
I have pcos, a few hairs in the chin and upper lip, I’ve never shaved, I’m afraid they’ll come back thick and black. Kindly assist
I tried laser hair removal and it made it worse. I did the recommended minimum 8 months of sessions, during those sessions, sure, it was great. But when I quit after 8 months everything returned much worse (I moved to another continent for 2 years so I couldn’t continue and anyways after 8 months you’re supposed to be done).
I did laser hair removal as well through a well known main company that does it. Besides it being incredibly expensive I have never been so hairy in my life. This was about 7 years ago now. I had spike to a fee people over time and some who have knowledge in this area of laser hair removal and all have told me that when you are getting laser hair removal it will over time crystallize the hair root and it will essentially die. But…. If you do not have hair in that area or its a plain area next to an area with hair and it gets laser, it can activate the hair root. Now I don’t know how accurate it is but I believe it! I got pretty much my while body. Areas where there was no hair, there is so much dark hair there now… Disappointing and embarrassing to say the least!
I did laser (diode) a year ago on my legs, brazilian bikini and stomach. (I have white skin and very black hair) The first session disappointed me, I thought I was wasting away my money. But after the second the miracle happened. It is not cheap but I fully recommend it. The hair does not disappear, it grows less and way slower, I shave my legs once a month now and only because I don’t like the three hairs that grow back, I do need another three-four on my bikini area because it is difficult to erase hormonal hair. I am thinking on doing it on my sideburns, even though I have grown my whole life since diagnosed with PCOS trying to accept them, but after one year of the laser I feel very confident with the treatment. I fully recommend it for someone with my same skin color and hair, the doctors say the treatment varies depending on the skin tone. Hope I helped. x
Maybe the recommended amount of sessions was different when you had LHR? Now they recommend up to 12 for the average person. You also have to think about your age, generally the younger you are the more sessions you’ll need. However, with PCOS you have to also factor in our overworking hormones. Because we produce more hair than the average, we have to have more sessions than the average. So I, as a current LHR client and worker, would recommend 15+ treatment sessions, one each month.
LHR is not for everyone and it is not a cure for PCOS clients or any other client with overactive hair growth. It only reduces hair growth and you need follow up sessions either every year or 2 years. Weight loss is the only thing I highly recommend because that is the most scientifically proven way to treat PCOS.
Obviously, PCOS is not curable. That has to be made clear. It is something that once you have it, it stays basically forever and is a pain in the butt. Symptoms can be reduced significantly making it appear to be cured but it is still there just not affecting you as much.
I hope this helped, love!
Laser hair removal combined with hair removal using sound is very effective.
I have been treating in my clinic, clients with pcos for over 30 years and it’s extremely effective. Skin also becomes sensitive over time therefore choice of treatment is very important.
Sundey, no I haven’t seen a difference with my facial hair by drinking spearmint tea. I’ve been told that it at least helps balance hormones so I’m going to continue doing it in case it’s doing other good somewhere else…don’t know. I haven’t been super consistent by the way.
Hi! I have a question about waxing. Well, let me back up. When I first tried IPL (on my face), the doctor said I had to shave for her to be able to do it. THE IPL didn’t work and more hair grew on other parts of my face. So I stopped that but now I have to keep shaving. I have considered waxing but you have to have at least .25 inches of hair and I can’t let it grow that long! It would look awful! So for any of you who wax, what do you do..do you just let it grow that long?
I’ve been getting waxed for years and didn’t even know that I had PCOS until two months ago. Waxing is much easier and I feel much cleaner. I have to get my chin and sideburns done😤. As soon as I see some hairs growing back I get it waxed, they do say wait but I go anyway and make them use teeezers if its to short. The one thing I have noticed with PCOS I’m getting waxed every week.
Is there any medication to use for the hair to stop growing ?
I have been doing waxing for the last 2 years on my chin and upper lip area but as a result my skin has grown darker in that area.My face looks uneven colored because of that.In my ara the parlour use white chocolate wax on face.Since you have been waxing for every week for many years did u get any darkness or pigmentation on your face?Which wax do you use for waxing on face??
Hi ive been struggling with pcos since my teens and have tried numerous things throughout the last 20 some years the last year I have been using macca powder 1 teaspoon a day it has slowed the hair growth down tremendously from tweezing every night to once every few weeks I have been having regular periods since starting it something I’ve never had before in my life. Something some people may want to check out
How did you use the macca powder? thank you.
Where can I get Macca Powder?
Hi! Will Spearmint tea help with hairloss too? There is alot of information about how to reduce hair growth, but not very much on how to stop hairloss. I would really appreciate some tips on this topic.
Hi Hege, regarding hair loss, check your vitamin D. I got it tested and found I had a huge deficiency. Now after a few months of taking the vitamin D supplements I can really see the difference!
Hello,I’m struggling with the hair growth especially facially. I’ve had blood tests by my gynaecologist and she said my testosterone levels are only slightly raised yet the hair growth is rapid and would suggest higher testosterone levels than reported. I’ve tried creams but they burn my face, I’ve tried laser treatment that was ineffective and costly so now I shave as a quick fix but it’s obviously not solving a problem. I am now drinking spearmint tea, take Inositol powder, take metforminand have cut gluten and dairy from my diet to see if that will help reduce insulin production. I also have hypothyroidism which isn’t helping so hopefully I can combat 2 problems with diet change.
I am struggling to find Spearmint Tea locally and I keep getting an error on Amazon to say it cannot be delivered to my address.
Any suggestions? I am based in Cape Town, South Africa.
Is there any side effect of doing Laser Hair removal? And How frequently I need to do it?
I did it and it activated other hairs to grow… Now I am more hairy everywhere and Have hair where I did not before. Like a lot too… Howevwe when I was doing the laser it did slow the growth. I did it for over 2 years and it just got to expensive. I imagine had I kept it up longer maybe a few more years that it would have knocked them all out? Idk, if the pc is is not treated in other ways the laser won’t make much of a difference anyway…
I have PCOS with Hashimoto’s disease, so it’s kind of an unfortunate jackpot. Hair, hair everywhere.
Facial hair was a huge problem for me. I had a handful of very stubborn dark hair on my chin, and a shadow around my jaw. Of course I had hair on my lips, and some on my neck too. I would manage them with plucking and sometimes waxing but they never stopped growing back.
My body hair was worse than my facial hair. Especially around bikini region, it was so thick and so hard to remove. I would spend hours in shower trying to shave everything but it would leave me in rashes and bloody spots, I hated it.
Five years ago I started on oral contraceptives and synthetic thyroid with my doctor’s recommendation we and watched how my hair was going to react.
The medication made my hair less stubborn but they were still there. I tried laser hair removal on my face, but it didn’t work. Then I tried IPL (intense pulsed light) treatment on my face and my body, still no significant results. I gave up on treatments but continued to wax religiously, and strictly no shaving. Over a year it made a huge difference. My body hair is less and thinner and they come back less frequently after the waxing. It also depends on my weight. But facial hair was still the same.
I gave hair electrolysis a try on my face, and it worked miracles. Within 3 months the hair on my chin and jaw were almost completely gone. The specialist made me promise not to interfere with new hair, so I didn’t wax or shave between sessions. We continued for a year and now my face is smooth and hairless. The treatment didn’t leave scars or bumps on my face.
Electrolysis hurts and it takes time and money. But it was totally worth it. I go for a check up session every year to make sure there’s no new hair. It gave me a permanently hairless face.
Electrolysis makes sense when it comes to facial hair, but I wouldn’t consider it for body hair removal. Because it takes so much time to clear out a very small area.
It’s so frustrating to see so much hair on yourself, I remember how it made me feel disgusting and like not worthy of anything. I couldn’t wear cute dresses, swimwear or shorts sleeveless blouses. I would wear huge hats or turtlenecks to cover my face even it was hot outside. I never want to go back to that self.
I wish all women with PCOS to find the best solution for them to get rid of all the hair and be comfortable with their bodies.
I doing laser with little results. I want to try electrolysis but scared to death! I hear it hurts pretty bad?
I did it, 15 minutes each Saturday morning for a few years. It did the trick, and just feels like someone giving you a “carpet shock” but subcutaneously, and not as strong. What I weighed it against was which hurt more, me getting rid of it that way or some insensitive jerk saying, “Hey, you have a mustache!”
Hi does your hormones have to be balanced in order for the electroylsis to work? Thank you.
Thank you for your website. PCOS can leave one feeling alone so its comforting knowing there are other women out there that are dealing with this as well.The Emjoi epilator is very helpful in removing facial hair. I have a “beard” and its not fun. God bless my husband for understanding. The Emjoi epilator plucks hair out with multiple fasr-rotating tweezers. Hurts far less than the Bellabe device!
I started growing facial hair in the fourth grade and from then the njourney began: tweezing, facial creams, razors, buffing pad and now hard wax which has yielded the best result for me. Now that I’ve been properly diagnosed last year 2015 with PCOS now I have a better understanding of whats going on in my body and thank you Tarryn for your blog it has been most helpful.
I got fed up with the facial hair since I had a severe case. I wanted something more permanent and also a safe choice. My mom and I tried looking into the underlying issue for many years but came up with nothing and no one wanting to help look into it for me. So I gave up on trying to find the underlying issue and started looking at options to just get rid of it as best i can.
I didn’t want to choose something I’d have to do the rest of my life. I didn’t want to apply expensive creams for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to shave a lot for the rest of my life as it irritated my skin if I sweated and caused redness on my face. Also, I had to shave twice a day if I was going somewhere in the evening. That had to stop. Laser treatments are tempting as you do it in one appointment, but it’s not as permanent and can be hazardous to your health. Look it up. I’ve never been keen on taking pills I didn’t have to so that wasn’t an option either. I felt like my last and best choice was electrolysis.
The treatments took a lot longer than expected to get to the point I am now but that’s because my case was much worse than my mom, myself, and my electrolysis expected. It was indeed expensive, painful, and a long journey but I’m glad I went through with it. Even though it’s not 100% gone which the Electrolysist said wouldn’t be possible anyway. However, it’s definitely manageable especially after getting the initial work done I’d just need to go back once every 6 months for a 15 min appointment instead of what i was doing for a while- an hour long appointment twice a week.
It made me self-conscious as the healing of the appointments was painful and ugly but that got better after a few months and it got much more manageable. Make up helped too. In the end, just 2 years later I got it to a much more manageable position and I’m glad I went with it. I do not regret it. Now just light shaving once or twice a week does the trick for super clearing of it. That’s better than shaving a ton of my face near twice a day just to hide any suspicions that I had a lot of hair on my face. I’m the worst case my Electrolysist said.
She really wanted me to find the reason behind my problem but no doctor helped me. They just kept saying that they didn’t know why and it was just something cosmetic so I should get over it and just fix it superficially. I only just now found out I have PCOS and that’s more than likely the culprit. 2 years after I finished having appointments with her I finally found the culprit. Now my Electrolysist knows and can help her future clients by having this information. I moved away so that’s reason why I don’t go get my 6 month appointments with her. If I still lived there I’d probably do every 6 month or whenever I felt I needed a clean up.
Hair is a tricky thing to work with as it has different growing stages and such. I could see if there is one who does it where I live now but it’s a personal and painful experience so I’d rather go with someone I already know. Besides, I’ve put a lot of money into it already and I’m satisfied enough for now. Now I want to see if treating my PCOS can help clear it up naturally and the rest of the way.
Anyone who’s thinking of going with electrolysis treatments, I encourage it. It’s a good option. You just have to make the decision for yourself regarding money, time, and pain. It was worth it for me. I weighed my options and this was the best for me. It does take bravery, patience, and it needs to be seen through the end. Don’t be afraid. Look into it and keep it as an option. If you have any questions you can feel free to reply here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for you sharing you story and would love to know how you electrolysis journey is going so far. ?
Thanks for this information! I read every article you send and it’s great to get these reminder emails of the info you have previously sent. I cannot say that I have noticed a difference in facial hair growth, but I do drink spearmint tea quite often – not everyday, but I don’t have excessive hair growth either. Now if I could just take something to stop my weight gain I would be good. 🙂 My eating habits is such a big issue and I find going on HCG diet is good only to get weight off quickly, but once it’s over, I have a hard time sticking to GF and DF diet.
I am dealing with the depression part of prostate but not only does the pros give depression but the pill that fact that I have more hair than cousin it and I am dealing with everything that evething to me is new since I was just diagnosed on 7/5/16 so I am jut learning what this means for me and how to manage it.
i have given up on dairy and gluten for a month now and i must say my pimples have almost vanished…i used to get huge ones once a month but now nothing…may be small blemishes here and there once in a way but no pimples…my facial hair growth has reduce immensely…also im not negative and depressed any more…thats a huge relief…im very energetic …trying my best to keep my efforts going
I love ur website!!
Thanks sooo much for all the tips
My main PCOS symptoms was no ovulation, struggle with losing weight and facial hair.
I’ve started taking inositol powder and that has helped in that I have started getting my period almost every month now.
I need tips with losing weight…I am very lazy to exercise and just also don’t have the time
Also would you be able to advice me on how to to get StopHair in South Africa?
Thank you so much
I was able to find Spearmint tea at my local coop. Since I am not a tea drinker and it’s the heat of summer in California, I make sun tea and drink it cold with just a drop or two of Stevia. Delicious.
I’ve noticed plucking my facial hair causes an increase in acne/outbreaks.. I assume this has to do with opening up the hair follicle for oil/diet to get in and also causes potential for ingrown hairs. Laser hair removal did not work for me either do to the reddish tint in my facial hair. I have resorted to shaving but this is not ideal as I do get evening shawdow and hate when my husband touches my face because I know it is prickly. The struggle is real!
Try washing your face after you pluck, it will help with the acne outbreak. I used to have the same problem.
Would spearmint pill supplements work as well as the tea?
I am grateful for these suggestions! I also had a question – I started avoiding dairy over a month ago, but unfortunately, I actually saw my acne get worse, not better. I was quite discouraged after the month as I’d seen so many positive reviews from this blog with people who had given up dairy.
Why do you think this is? Do you think perhaps my body does not react the same way as yours?
With the spearmint tea. I’m not a fan of tea at all. So was wondering – would mixing the spearmint tea with another drink deplete it’s benefits or would the benefits in supporting the help of removing PCOS symptoms still be there?
I’ve been mixing my spearmint tea with other teas too. I assumed it was ok. Been doing this for about 4 months now.
Did you notice any improvement after 4 months?
Do you have suggestions for wrinkle cream that does NOT make the hirsutism worse? I have the TRIA and take metformin and spironactone to control mind but I desperately need wrinkle cream but everything seems to make the hair grow!