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Facial Hair FAQ

Are you starting to get a little fuzz above your lip and on your chin? Or maybe your beard is already showing up on the rest of your face.

Either way, we've got answers to your questions about the hair on your face.

Why do boys have hair on their face but girls don't?

First of all, that isn't true. Girls do have hair that grows on their face. But it's very faint and usually not noticeable until later in life.

In teenage boys, facial hair grows thick and darkens because of the effect of testosterone. That's the male sex hormone.

When boys enter puberty, their testicles begin producing more testosterone. It's responsible for many of the changes your body goes through. Getting a beard is one of the changes brought about by this hormone.

How come I've got almost no hair on my face when friends my age already have a beard?

Getting hair on your face is one of the last changes of puberty. On average, boys start noticing hair on their face around age 15 or 16.

Exactly when the changes of puberty occur can vary a lot. And how fast the changes occur can also vary.

That means some boys start growing a beard very early in their teenage years. Others don't notice a beard starting until they are much older.

So if the guys you know have whiskers, while you barely have any fuzz on your cheek, there's probably nothing wrong with you. Your beard will start growing soon enough.

Do all guys get the same amount of facial hair?

No. Just like all guys aren't the same height, the amount of facial hair varies from one guy to the next. That's because the amount of hair you have, how dark or light it is, and where it grows on your face, is largely controlled by your genes.

That doesn't mean your beard will necessarily look like your dad's. What it does mean is that somewhere in your family tree, there are men whose beards followed a pattern like yours.

And it may take a while before you know what that pattern is. Usually, though, by the time a guy is in his late teens or early 20s, the pattern of his beard is set.

Should I start shaving as soon as I notice hair growing on my face?

Not necessarily. It may be a couple of years before you really feel the need to shave.

Deciding when to start shaving is based on how your facial hair makes you feel. The time to consider shaving is when it starts to bother you or makes you feel self-conscious about your appearance.

How often should I shave?

That depends on how fast your beard grows and how dark it is. For some guys, shaving once every few weeks is fine at first. Other guys shave maybe once every three or four days.

As you get older and your beard gets heavier, you'll feel the need to shave a little more often.

Is it true that the more I shave the thicker my beard becomes?

No, your beard won't get thicker by shaving more. So you should base your decision on how often to shave on how you want to look.

Should I use an electric razor or a razor blade to shave.

That's up to you. Some guys prefer an electric razor because it's easier and usually faster to use. All you need to do is press the shaver to your face and move it around in the area you want to shave. On the other hand, a razor blade will give you a closer and cleaner shave.

How do I shave with a razor blade?

When you shave you should pull the razor in the direction your beard grows. This lets the blade glide more easily. It will give you a smoother and more even shave.

You can get a sense of what direction your beard grows by feeling your face with your fingers.

Then follow these steps to a smooth shave:

  • Wet your beard with warm water. This softens the hairs and makes them easier to cut.
  • Put a shaving gel or cream -- not soap -- on your face. Squirt the gel onto your fingertips and apply it evenly over the entire area you are shaving. It should make a lather.
  • Start by shaving the sides of your face.
  • Use short, slow strokes.
  • Avoid going back over the area you've already shaved. Going back can scrape the skin and cause razor burn.
  • Rinse the blade under running water after every two or three strokes.
  • Shave the area under your chin and at the top of your neck last.
  • After you're done, rinse your face with cold water to soothe the skin.

How do I take care of my razor?

You need to be sure the blade you use is sharp and clean. If you use a dull blade it can lead to:

  • an uneven shave
  • redness and blotches
  • patches of unshaved hair
  • scraped-off patches of skin

Dirty razor blades can irritate the skin and cause infections. So always rinse the blade well after shaving. Never borrow someone else's used razor.

How can I avoid irritation from shaving?

Here's how to get the best results with the least amount of irritation:

  • Change the blade or use a new disposable razor after every five to seven shaves.
  • Razors with two or more blades give the smoothest shaves.
  • Razors that have a moveable head make it easier for you to follow the shape of your face as you shave.

What is razor burn?

Razor burn is a skin irritation. It can be caused by:

  • Shaving without water.
  • Shaving without shaving gel or cream.
  • Using a dull blade.
  • Shaving against the direction the hair is growing.
  • Applying a heavily perfumed aftershave if you have very sensitive skin.

The best way to treat razor burn is to wait an extra day -- or even an extra week -- before your next shave. That gives your skin a chance to heal.

What if I cut my face while shaving?

It's normal to cut or nick your face from time to time.

If you cut your face every time you shave, though, you are probably using too much pressure. Or it may be time to change your blade.

When you cut yourself while shaving, use a clean tissue or cloth and apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding.

Can a teen grow a beard?

Yes. But you may have to be patient if you want to grow one. Depending on how thick your facial hair is, it could take up to two or three months before a beard grows in fully.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 07, 2013

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