Vellus


Find Laser Hair Removal Clinics »

There are several different types of hair on the human body.  Vellus hairs are very fine, and usually fair and short.  It is the fine ‘downy’ hair that covers much of the human body, and is usually more noticeable in children and women, as they have less ‘terminal’ hair – namely, the darker, coarser body hair that develops during puberty.  Terminal hair replaces vellus hair in particular parts of the body, largely due to a surge in the production of testosterone that occurs at puberty.  Pubic hair is classed as terminal hair, while underarm hair is known as ‘axillary’ hair. 

Both males and females develop pubic and axillary hair, although obviously men develop terminal hair more extensively – notably, in terms of facial hair, thicker growth on the legs, chest, arms and abdomen. 

As terminal hair is seen largely, then, as a masculine characteristic, it is considered undesirable for ‘feminine’ women to display any excessive hairiness, as this, culturally, is not considered aesthetically pleasing.  It is of course the case that across the globe some societies and races have different degrees of hair growth in both men and women, and some cultures are more accepting of hair on a woman’s body.  Indeed, in Western societies some versions of feminist thought demand the right to natural female ‘hairiness’, seeing the construct of the smooth, hairless female as a controlling mechanism, as well as potentially infantilising women in a patriarchal society.  It is certainly the case that depilatory (hair-removing) products are a huge business, and that a great number of women devote a vast amount of time to pursuing the smooth, hairless look promoted in popular culture and the ideal of the C21st ‘beautiful’, feminine woman.  There are many temporary hair-removing treatments, and increasingly women are undergoing more invasive, permanent surgical and laser hair treatments to remove unwanted facial and body hair.