About a year ago, a friend and I were comparing notes about how our bodies have changed due to menopause. One of the vexing issues that we identified was the overactive facial hair follicles that caused hair to either grow exceptionally long or to grow in exceptionally course.
It turns out that we're not alone. In fact, approximately 30 percent of women report an increased growth in their facial hair, which is natural phenomenon is caused by hormonal changes during menopause. Interestingly, women who do not use hormone replacement therapy often report having this issue.
A Close Shave
However, my friend said she figured out how to tame the growth. “I shave my face,” she noted. It turns out that she’s among a growing trend. This video by USA Today describes how women are starting to shave their faces.
The Razor’s Edge
There’s also a fancy term for shaving – dermaplaning. This technique refinishes the skin’s top layers and gives the skin a smoother appearance. This technique – along with dermabrasion – is used to improve facial skin that has been scarred or has final facial wrinkles. Dermaplaning also is used for treating deep acne scars.
So how should you handle shaving if you are a novice and don’t want to go to a fancy salon? This Wall Street Journal video (which admittedly is aimed for men) does provides a good overview on razors and other issues (such as myths around shaving).
At the easiest level, it comes down to three steps:
(1) Use a warm wet towel on your face for several minutes to open the pours and soften the facial hair (or shave after you get out of the shower)
(2) Put a moisturizing shaving gel on your face
(3) Use a sharp razor to shave in downward strokes
However, know that shaving does come with some potential downsides. “Shaving is a form of physical exfoliation that can impact the health of the skin. Razor bumps, ingrown hairs, razor burn and inflammation are just some of the visible signs of trauma that the skin endures when a razor is used on the beard,” states Dr. Diana Howard on the International Dermal Institute website. “Shaving triggers a high level of visible irritation and can lead to over-exfoliation, as well as a compromised lipid barrier.” Dr. Howard cautions that a compromised lipid layer may result in dehydrated skin and an easier route for environmental chemicals to penetrate the skin. Long-term inflammation also can lead to premature skin aging.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons. (ND). What Is Dermabrasion? Howard, D. (ND). When Razor Meets Skin: A Scientific Approach to Shaving. The International Dermal Institute. Kent, L. T. (2013). Post-Menopause Facial Hair. Livestrong.com. Ireland, K. (2015). How to Shave Facial Hair on Women. Livestrong.com.