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.
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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