Women living with facial hair: the psychological and behavioral burden

J Psychosom Res. 2006 Aug;61(2):161-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2006.01.016.


Objective: While unwanted facial hair is clearly distressing for women, relatively little is known about its psychological impact. This study reports on the psychological and behavioral burden of facial hair in women with suspected polycystic ovary syndrome.

Methods: Eighty-eight women (90% participation rate) completed a self-administered questionnaire concerning hair removal practices; the impact of facial hair on social and emotional domains; relationships and daily life; anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale); self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale); and quality of life (WHOQOL-BREF).

Results: Women spent considerable time on the management of their facial hair (mean, 104 min/week). Two thirds (67%) reported continually checking in mirrors and 76% by touch. Forty percent felt uncomfortable in social situations. High levels of emotional distress and psychological morbidity were detected; 30% had levels of depression above the clinical cut off point, while 75% reported clinical levels of anxiety; 29% reported both. Although overall quality of life was good, scores were low in social and relationship domains--reflecting the impact of unwanted facial hair.

Conclusion: Unwanted facial hair carries a high psychological burden for women and represents a significant intrusion into their daily lives. Psychological support is a neglected element of care for these women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Electrolysis
  • Female
  • Hirsutism / psychology*
  • Hirsutism / therapy
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Phototherapy
  • Self Concept
  • Women / psychology*