Why men have facial hair and women don’t: a riddle whose answer is not so obvious

(ORDO NEWS) — Facial hair is considered a secondary sexual characteristic and partly defines males and females. But why do men grow mustaches and beards, while women do not?

Men owe their beard and mustache to sex hormones. Here’s how they affect hair growth and how their type changes throughout life

Men owe their thick beard and mustache to sex hormones. Sex hormones called androgens that stimulate the development of masculine traits are the main reason men tend to grow facial hair while women don’t.

But before looking at this process in more detail, it is worth noting that hair follicles are not as simple as they seem. In some, androgens stimulate hair growth.

For others, the opposite happens, and this leads to baldness. And in other people, androgens can cause hair to grow, but with a delay, decades after the same sex hormones caused beard growth.

Why do men have facial hair?

Before puberty, hair follicles on the body produce fluff – light, thin, short hair that you can see on the back of a woman’s hand.

During puberty, both men and women produce more androgens, namely testosterone and dihydrotestosterone. However, the male body produces much more androgens.

These androgens stimulate hair follicles to produce darker, thicker hairs known as intermediate hairs. Usually, they are first seen above the lip.

A beard and mustache made of such hair is called “liquid” in the common people. Over time, androgens stimulate the production of even darker, thicker “terminal hairs” just like those found on the scalp.

Androgens do this by increasing the amount of time a given hair follicle spends in the growth phase relative to the intermediate (catagen) and resting (telogen) phases.

The hair on the female body also changes during puberty, but not as dramatically as in men. The hair follicles on a woman’s face near the ear transition from down to intermediate, while the axillary and pubic hairs become terminal.


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