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Attack of the stubble monster
April 19, 2010 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Why is my leg hair growing in so quickly now, and how can I stop or curb it?

I went off the pill about 9 months ago for health reasons (high blood pressure) and also moved to a new city, and am just now noticing that my leg hair is growing like crazy. There is almost always stubble, no matter what I do. I can shave, and there will be stubble an hour later. I am extremely pale and I have dark hair, so there is always the "dark hair lurking under the surface" shadow but this is actual stubble.

Using a new razor doesn't help, using a different brand doesn't help (I've tried Venus and Quattro), using different shaving cream doesn't help. Varying the water temperature doesn't help. Using a depilatory cream doesn't work - it doesn't remove the hair well enough, even if I leave it on for the entire allowed time, and so I still have stubble. Does this relate to hard water, maybe? Does it relate to the fact that I am off the pill? Is it because I'm aging? My other body hair seems to be growing faster too, even on my head.

The stubble is concentrated mostly on my shins, if that means anything. I cannot for the life of me figure out how to make it go away. I have not changed my shaving technique at all (and I've been shaving my legs for over 15 years and this was never a problem before).

Do I need to try waxing next? I'm open to it (I don't really mind pain; I used to do my armpits and eyebrows, but stopped because I'm cheap) and I imagine leg hurts more but I'm ok with that. But I'm afraid I'll pay a bunch of money and it will grow back in 3 days or something. Even a week isn't good enough at that point, since I can't afford to go once a week to get my legs waxed. Should I try laser hair removal instead of waxing? Is that more bang for my buck and more likely to just make this problem disappear for a very long time?

Is this a medical question for my doctor? I don't have any other symptoms of PCOS and although I have health problems their trajectory is completely unrelated to this surge in body hair. I get regular blood tests and physicals and nothing has changed in the past three years. I do not think this is a medical issue.

Not having leg hair is important to me personally. I am not doing this to please anyone but myself. I usually wear long pants. But I still want to remove my leg hair and not be left with stubble immediately after I shave. I might as well just grow it out all the way (and would if it didn't bug me so much).
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have you started taking vitamins in the past year? Biotin in particular is supposed to make a big difference in hair-growing speed.
posted by something something at 8:47 AM on April 19, 2010


Can't speak to why it might be happening, but you might try a hair reducing lotion, such as aveeno positively smooth. It's a regular body lotion that is supposed to reduce regrowth. You have to use it daily for at least a month to see results.
posted by bluloo at 8:47 AM on April 19, 2010


As a somewhat hairy/pale/dark-haired guy: between Dance and Swimming in HS and college I shaved my legs for a time. always had stubble. One day girls in the dance company talked me into getting my legs waxed.

Waxing works. Like crazy.
posted by French Fry at 8:57 AM on April 19, 2010


I can't speak to why it's happening, but as far as getting rid of it -- you can buy an epilator and use it at home for less money than waxing.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:05 AM on April 19, 2010


Yeah I would have to say you should wax. This is the perfect problem for waxing.
posted by tumples at 9:19 AM on April 19, 2010


There are lotions (1, 2) that are supposed to make leg stubble softer (although to be honest, anything that melts hair isn't something I want to rub into my legs all the time; how can that be OK for the skin?).

You could also try leg makeup or a self-tan to disguise the look of the stubble.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:21 AM on April 19, 2010


There's no reason to think this is your issue, but my hair always grows much faster when my thyroid hormone levels are high (corresponding to a low TSH figure on a blood test).
posted by Ery at 9:35 AM on April 19, 2010


I can't hypothesize about the medical aspects of this change, but I can share something about hair removal. I'm not sure how much research you've done on your own, so forgive me if I'm repeating things obvious to you already.

If you go the laser route, you're going to need 6-7 treatments as a minimum to get rid of most of the growth, and thin the rest of it down. Depending on where you do this, it could cost you between $3000-4000, and take approximately half a year. Not a cheap option. I've had 3 sessions on my legs so far, and while the difference is starting to be noticeable, you're not going to be happy unless you commit to this and keep up with the sessions. (There are different lasers available with different pain levels - I've found the Soprano XL laser completely pain free.)

Waxing will eventually slow down the growth rate as well, but you do have to let your hair grow out enough to be caught and pulled out. (I believe it's usually 1/4th of an inch as a recommendation.) The pain is fairly easy to adjust to, but I hated waiting in between waxes.

So, I go with epilating like The corpse in the library mentioned (I have that exact linked model). The hair doesn't need to be as long as for waxing, you can touch up areas whenever you want, and while it does hurt a lot initially, the more you do it the more tolerant you become. I think it's worth trying, because to me it's quickly become the best solution. If you do a quick run over your legs every day (or other day), it shouldn't take more than 10-15 minutes to remain hair free. Just remember to exfoliate! It'll be easier if your skin is healthy.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 9:42 AM on April 19, 2010


Did you move somewhere warmer? Have you started exercising regularly (or are you now getting more incidental exercise, like from walking to work)?

Spring & summer make all my hair grow SUPER fast, like needing weekly rather than monthly brow waxes, Leg hair, pit hair, head hair, all grow like crazy in warmer weather (for me). I live in Portland, with very distinct seasons, so I really notice the difference.
posted by peep at 10:06 AM on April 19, 2010


Being off the pill definitely makes me hairier. I have thick, dark shin hair and (sorry) somewhat of a mustache. When I'm on the pill I have neither of these.
posted by bonheur at 10:29 AM on April 19, 2010


Are you taking anything for your high blood pressure? I seem to recall hearing that spironolactone can affect hair growth.
posted by chez shoes at 10:53 AM on April 19, 2010


This can definitely be caused by going off the pill and also by being in a warmer climate, if you moved to one. No idea how to solve it (I'm pretty lazy and unselfconscious about leg hair), but just want to reassure you that it's not just you.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:33 AM on April 19, 2010


Don't fear the waxing! In my experience, legs do not hurt nearly as much as other places. ( Dear god if you were able to wax your armpits then waxing your legs should be a piece of cake!)

And yes going off the pill can make you hairier.
posted by ambrosia at 12:42 PM on April 19, 2010


Another recommendation to use an epilator (I also have the model that both The corpse in the library and Tequila Mockingbird use). It'll be painful the first few times, but after that you only need to touch up every two-three weeks – I certainly don't need to use it every other day like noted above, but your experience may vary.

If you're looking for a solution where you'll have to spend even less time removing hair (after an initial investment), but cheaper than professional laser treatments, consider the SensEpil.
posted by halogen at 12:51 PM on April 19, 2010


I've tried 2 epilators but they gave me ingrown hair and I found them annoying and not that long lasting. It's worth a try though because if it does work for you it's much more economical than waxing.
posted by Salamandrous at 3:29 PM on April 19, 2010


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