Body hair is body hair, right? Whether you’re shaving your legs or scrutinizing your upper lip whiskers in the mirror, you probably don’t give much thought to what kind of hair it is — you’re just intent on getting rid of it. But those upper lip whiskers are actually quite different than the rest of your body hair. Look even more closely, and you’ll find tiny, thin, and translucent hair all over — on your cheeks, your forehead, your nose, and even your earlobes. Those little hairs have a name: vellus hair, aka peach fuzz. Here’s what you need to know about it.
It’s all over your body when you’re young.
Seriously, all over. “Vellus hair . . . covers most of the entire body except for the lips, palms, and soles of feet,” says Dr. Arisa Ortiz, a board-certified dermatologist. You start off with a ton of that baby hair, but as you get older — particularly during puberty — it’s replaced with thicker hairs called terminal hairs. An easy way to understand it? Think of the average pre-pubescent boy’s “mustache.” Until puberty, when it grows in thicker and becomes terminal hair, those barely-there whiskers are all peach fuzz. Vellus hair becomes terminal hair on your chest, abdomen, legs, arms, pubic area, and feet thanks to the production of the androgen hormone.
Some of us have more than others.
It’s just genetics — some of us have more of that peach fuzz than others when we’re adults. And women tend to have more than men, since their higher androgen levels lead to more vellus hairs that become terminal hairs. Some conditions (like Cushing’s syndrome) can also spur vellus hair growth though, so if you notice a sudden increase, check in with your doctor.
It serves a purpose.
Yeah, it’s annoying. But it has a job to do. “Vellus hair can help to regulate body temperature by creating an insulation for warming, and acting like a wick for sweat to cool the body,” explains Dr. Ortiz. “As sweat evaporates off the vellus hair, it helps to prevent overheating.”
That said, it’s okay to remove it!
Vellus hair isn’t the only thing keeping you from keeling over from overheating as soon as you step outside. And getting rid of those upper lip whiskers certainly won’t make a difference to your body’s normal functioning. “It is perfectly safe to remove vellus hair,” says Dr. Ortiz. “With modern day living conditions, we do not need vellus hair for any important function.” You’ll notice a difference in your appearance when it’s gone, too. “Removing vellus hairs creates a smoother skin texture which allows for better application of make-up and other skin products,” Dr. Ortiz adds.
Go with dermaplaning for the best results.
Not all vellus hair removal methods are created equal. “Procedures such as threading can cause ingrown hairs and are also very irritating,” Dr. Ortiz says. She recommends dermaplaning with DERMAFLASH. “DERMAFLASH safely and gently removes peach fuzz while also exfoliating the dead skin cells to increase cell turnover and stimulate collagen.”
Goodbye peach fuzz, hello glow!