Puberty brings many great developments: breasts, the ability to one day have children, and lots and lots of extra hair that you now must learn to manage. It may not be pretty, and it may be painful, but it is part of the initiation into womanhood – Welcome!
What causes puberty-specific hair growth?
When puberty begins, the pituitary glands send some hormones, FSH/LH, to tell your ovaries that it is time to wake up and start menstruating and ovulating. The ovaries (where the ovulating happens) signals the body to create more estrogen, which is what gets all of the rest of the processes going like breast development and emotional changes. Testosterone also rises during puberty, which stimulates hair growth.
Where does it grow?
Puberty can cause an entire hair factory to take residence in your body literally overnight. The good news is that it generally starts slow and by the time hair is more prominent and thick, you will have learned to maintain and remove it much more easily.
You will notice hair on your legs, arms, underarms (armpits), and the pubic region. You will also find some hair growth on your face, like eyebrows or the upper lip. If you find repeated hair growth on the chin and/or around the nipples and breast area, be sure to talk to your gynecologist as that can be a symptom of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
How do I manage my new, furrier body?
There are many ways to manage your follicle frenzy. Some are better for some areas than others, so here is a run-down with a few friendly tips:
- Shaving: Good for legs, underarms, and bikini area if you are careful. You will need a new razor and a lubricant like a shaving cream, foam, or oil. I am a big fan of coconut oil, myself. Steam the skin in the shower for a good five minutes prior to shaving. Only shave each area one time to prevent razor burn. Avoid salt scrubs after shaving or you will seriously regret it.
- Plucking: Good for facial hair or the wild, errant hair that pops up in an unusual place. Have it done professionally at first and then tweeze strays in between visits. Stay as close to the root as you can when tweezing to get the hair completely and to decrease the pain. Plan to replace tweezers every 6 months or so since they lose tension over time. Tweezing also comes with an odd feeling of accomplishment.
- Waxing: Good for all areas. Yes, having hot wax poured on your body only to be ripped off doesn’t sound pleasant, but it works. It tends to last 3-4 weeks at first, but after the first few visits you will notice it lasts longer and the hair comes back lighter. Don’t wax on your period or when you are ovulating as your pain threshold will be less. It is also a nice idea to take some ibuprofen before you go to reduce inflammation and pain. Stay away from hard waxes until you are used to waxing.
- Threading: Good for facial hair. Threading is done in a beautiful and mystical way – it seems like millions of little hairs are pulled by the twirling and whirling of a piece of string. This is a great option for those who cannot tolerate wax. After decades of research, I also believe this method gives the most natural eyebrow shape.
- Depilatory: Good for legs, but be careful on underarms and bikini areas; things can go south quickly. Depilatories are chemicals that dissolve hair. Do a patch test first; if you have any allergies or discomfort do not proceed.
- Laser: Good for everything except eyebrows. Definitely the costliest and usually best for pale skin with dark hair, laser hair removal is filling up Groupon fast! Generally, you need six treatments per area, but you will always need some sort of maintenance.
De-fuzzing takes some trial and error. Find good, licensed aestheticians to learn from and always do your research. Remove the hair you feel comfortable removing and don’t feel pressured by society to be anything other than yourself, hair and all.