As the warmer months progress, awareness of body hair usually increases. While not everyone enjoys removing said body hair, if you do, your hair removal routine may start anew as turtlenecks and boots are traded for shorts and sandals. If you prefer to be completely hairless, then you may want to know how to remove a certain type of body hair: vellus hair.
“Vellus hair is a fancy term for peach fuzz,” Roberta Moradfar, a board-certified advanced aesthetic nurse and founder of Effacè Aesthetics, tells POPSUGAR. “These are fine, very light-colored light-colored hairs that are spread throughout the body, including the face, ears and nose. In some parts of the body, hormonal changes may turn the fine hairs into thick, coarse hairs – such as the pubic area and armpits.”
If removing your peach fuzz can be a daunting task for you, we asked Moradfar and board-certified dermatologist Rachel Maiman, MD, to explain everything you should know about fine hair, including tips for proper removal.
What is the purpose of fine hair?
Although this body hair is small, it actually has an important purpose. “The primary role of the fine hair is to regulate body temperature, also known as thermoregulation,” Dr. Maiman tells POPSUGAR. “Basically, the fine hair acts like a wick that absorbs sweat. When the skin pores open, as happens when the body temperature rises, sweat moistens the fine hairs and the sweat located on the outside of the hair evaporates.”
These hairs also have additional tactile functions. “In addition to thermoregulation, the fine hairs also produce goosebumps,” Moradfar told POPSUGAR. “That’s what lets you know if something is crawling on your skin.”
What causes fine hair growth?
Vellus hairs are actually the hairs you had as a child and were the starting point for the body hair you may be more familiar with today. “At 36 to 40 weeks of gestation, millia replace the characteristic hairs (called fetal hairs) found in the human fetus in the womb,” says Dr. Maiman. “During puberty, hormones cause most of the fine hairs to become terminal hairs and stimulate the growth of new hair in the armpits and pubic area. In some people, this change in fine hair also occurs on the face, allowing them to grow a beard, and body.”
It’s worth noting that while these hairs are usually harmless, the overproduction of fine hair may indicate a larger problem. “Changes in the overproduction of fine hairs could indicate disease,” Moradfar said. “People with certain diseases, such as anorexia nervosa, may see increased production of fine hair, and changes in the adrenal glands may also lead to overproduction of fine hair, which is common in people with Cushing’s syndrome.”
If you find yourself trying to remove your fine hair more frequently, you may want to schedule a doctor’s appointment to make sure there are no underlying problems.
How to recognize fine hair
While everyone’s fine hairs look different, there is a way to tell the difference between them and your fully developed body hair. “The fine hairs are significantly thinner and lighter in pigmentation,” Moradfar says. “During puberty, when the fine hairs become terminal hairs, they become darker, thicker and longer, due to hormonal changes.”
Fine hair can grow all over your body-except on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet. But you can also identify them by looking at areas that you consider “hairless. “Look at places like earlobes and foreheads, and you’ll actually see tiny hairs,” Dr. Meiman says. “These are fine hairs, and you can see that the hair is translucent and significantly finer than the rest of the hair on the body.”
How to get rid of fine hairs
Both Maiman and Dr. Moradfar recommend shaving or dermaplaning as your best solution. “My preference for removing fine hair is definitely dermaplaning,” says Dr. Maiman. The Dermaflash Luxe Dermaplaning Exfoliation & Peach Fuzz Removal Device ($200) is a great at-home dermabrasion device. Another is the Versed Skincare Instant Gratification ($20), a non-electric option with a reusable, non-slip handle.
You can choose to have the treatment professionally performed by a dermatologist, but if you prefer to do it at home, Dr. Maiman breaks the process down into easy-to-follow steps.
Start with clean, dry skin.
Work in sections and use one hand to pull the skin taut as you move.
Move the blade in short, light strokes, preferably keeping it at a 45-degree angle.
Keep the strokes moving downward as much as possible.
Make sure not to cross over any inflamed or irritated areas.
Rinse your face when you’re done, then continue your routine.
Now that you’ve unlocked a whole new level of hair removal, feel free to rock your tightest tank tops and shortest shorts with no reservations. After all, you do have this hair removal thing going on.