Facial hair is hair grown on the face, usually on the chin, cheeks, and upper lip region. It is typically a secondary sex characteristic of human males. Men typically start developing facial hair in the later years of puberty or adolescence, between seventeen and twenty years of age, and most do not finish developing a full adult beard until their early twenties or later. This varies, as boys may first develop facial hair between fourteen and sixteen years of age, and boys as young as eleven have been known to develop facial hair. Women are also capable of developing facial hair, especially after menopause, though typically significantly less than men. Men may style their facial hair into beards, moustaches, goatees or sideburns; many others completely shave their facial hair and this is referred to as being "clean-shaven". The term whiskers, when used to refer to human facial hair, indicates the hair on the chin and cheeks.
The moustache forms its own stage in the development of facial hair in adolescent males. Facial hair in males does not always appear in a specific order during puberty and varies among some individuals but may follow this process:
Depending on the periods and countries, facial hair was prohibited in the army or, on the contrary, an integral part of the uniform.
Many religious male figures are recorded to have had facial hair; for example, numerous prophets mentioned in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) were known to grow beards. Other religions, such as Sikhism, mandate growing beards. Amish men grow beards after marriage, but continue to shave their moustaches in order to avoid historical associations with military facial hair due to their pacifistic beliefs.
Women typically have little hair on the face, apart from eyebrows and the vellus hair that covers most of the body. However, in some cases, women have noticeable facial hair growth, most commonly after menopause. Excessive hairiness (especially facially) is known as hirsutism and is usually an indication of atypical hormonal variation. Many women depilate facial hair that appears, as considerable social stigma is associated with facial hair on women, and freak shows and circuses have historically displayed bearded women. Many women globally choose to totally remove their facial hair by professional laser treatment.
Great apes such as orangutan males seem to have facial hair as well. In chimpanzees and bonobos, facial and body hair become sparser in adulthood due to the aging process, which is in stark contrast to humans, whose facial and body hair become stronger. Because infant great apes have thicker "facial" (as well as body) hair than their older counterparts, it is not androgenic but part of the fur complex. The sensitivity to androgens seems to have been acquired by humans on the gene KRT37 relatively recently.
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