March 25, 2009

A Close Shave

So I was looking at rotary epilators a little while ago--(pauses to wait for imagined screaming to die down)--which for those of you who don't know, are little machines with rotating heads that catch and pull hair from the root. Since I'd still be tweezing if I had the time, I thought the method might be worth trying. A lot of products got tons of rave reviews on merchandising sites. But it only took one person to say that after prolonged use the hair follicles became so damaged from having the shafts ripped out from every angle that they began behaving in all sorts of erratic ways--growing inward, sprouting more than one shaft from each follicle, all sorts of odd and horrifying behaviors. And this was her legs. I didn't need to read the two or three similar experiences to convince me that it wasn't worth the chance of trying it on my face. (If you want to read for yourself: "My epilator horror story", "Help..infected ingrown hair", "Did I permanently 'retard' the hair follicles?", and Mantaray's second reply on this page of "Which to buy".)

But it's discouraging. Especially when you get so enthusiastic reading someone saying, "I wish I'd discovered this years ago!" I want to be able to claim that. I want life to be easier. A lot of these rave reviewers willingly claimed they used it on their face. (Where are all these ladies? Are they just not that bothered by their facial hair and remove it sans the disgust and self pity? I want to know their secret.) So I decided that instead of risking trying something completely new, I might as well just try to further improve what already works for me (to a certain degree).

It is time to perfect face shaving for womankind. Or at least, this woman.

There are a ton of how-to pages on shaving for men. Every razor or shaving cream site has an FAQ of some kind. But a hirsute woman can't always follow all those directions. For instance, the recommendation of an aftershave, astringent or otherwise? A woman's face is different. Mine in particular cannot handle that kind of treatment. I get dry, I get irritated, and I break out like a smallpox victim. Or the admonition to only shave with the hair growth, not against it, to reduce irritation? Bah, humbug! The shave's not close enough, not for me. Sure, the presence of hair is visibly reduced by doing it that way, but shaving against the hair growth, with my skin as taught as I can stretch it, is the only way to look and feel my smoothest, for at least a fraction of the day. There is just no other option. Irritation be damned.

Now, with as much research as I've done on razors, I've found a few recommendations from men for each other. And on shaving lubricants (creams, gels, oils) I've found a few recommendations from women for each other's legs, many of them from comments on an entry on Beauty Addict. Not much for those of us lurking on the fringes, wondering what to try for our more sensitive areas above the belly button.

I'm starting with shave preparations. I'd love to look into different razors, but the ones I use, Schick's Xtreme3 Comfort Plus for women, are already the most economical and effective I've found. Sure they're disposable, which means more waste to the landfill, but razors with replacable cartridges certainly aren't easier on the bank. I'm aware of some economical options such as safety razors or even straight razors, but I'm a coward and my purse strings are tight(ish) right now.

One of the interesting theories I read about shaving mediums is that the more they lather, the more drying it is for the skin. (I found it here while following a recommendation I read for preparations by King of Shaves.) All one really needs is a layer between the skin and the blade, apparently. I don't know if that's true; heck, it always felt like a luxury to be able to shave with foam from a can rather than soap lathered with a shower puff. There's got to be a reason why you can find more foaming gel in any hair removal section than shaving oils or creams. It must be popular somehow. Regardless of what is fact and what is fiction, I think it's all about finding out what's right for yourself.

I'm in the midst of my first experiment: shaving my left leg as I usually do, with the lather from glycerin soap; versus shaving my right leg with something else--right now, baby oil. There were loads of other mediums women swore by, like cheap hair conditioner, canola oil, plain water (are they nuts?!) If I can be convinced that there are more pleasant shaving preparations than foam that care for my skin, I'll start trying things on my face.

Are you excited? I'm excited.

Anyone have any shaving products that work for them? I'll add them to my list of things to try.

March 17, 2009

The Theif of Chances

Some offline issues have relegated musing over my womanly facial hair to the bottom of the list. So it'll be a light entry this week.

I was watching student films from the Vancouver Film School last week and found this animated short, which I thought was cute and very eloquent. So eloquent, in fact, that I'm going to let everyone take what they want from it.

March 10, 2009

Tastes Like Angst

When I was thinking about starting up a blog in which to try to humanize the idea of women with excessive body hair--as long as a few years before this point--I often wondered what kind of blog it would be. Or rather, what kind of narrator I would be. What kind of voice I would adopt.

Personally, I was most attracted to frankness in blogs, even if it was uncomfortable and offensive at times. Blogs with forceful attitudes that made me sit up and take notice. I also liked humorous blogs, especially those seasoned with sarcastic witticism. The desire to roll my eyes and to laugh with the author made it easier to feel connected with them. I often returned to blogs where I admired or were intimidated by the writer, wanted to have coffee with them, pick their brain, just listen to them ramble on.

But this theme of excess body hair is a tough one. It embarrasses some. I don't want to always be unflinchingly straightforward about it, or turn it into a joke. I like people to be comfortable. I want to be optimistic about the ongoing challenge. A lot of women feel unnecessarily bad enough about their appearance already.

But I get down, too. I get down about my hair a lot. Some of the worst times, for me, are when I start considering trying something new for my hair or skin. I get really excited about the idea. What if this one turns out to be the Best Thing I ever tried? What if after discovering it, hair removal--and my life--become so much easier? But I'm very methodical. I need to analyze. I research the crap out of the method, obsessively, often in one or two nights. I see people batting for the process, and others arguing against it. I begin to wonder if results among women are so different, or if some people are more interested in promoting a product than helping others. I see catty comments and know-it-all rebukes and it begins to disappoint me. Eventually, the negative reviews begin to put things into perspective and I realize I am better off sticking with shaving, which I'm sick of, but which I know very well. And I feel foolish for getting stars in my eyes.

Sometimes it's all I can do to keep from turning this blog into a black-backgrounded cyclone of angst.

And I don't always know what to do when that happens, so I just try to distract myself. The despair fades on its own, and I go back to a zombie-like shave-and-cover ritual every morning, and then go on to face a day that is totally unrelated to its first unglamorous fifteen minutes. A day that 95% of the time gets significantly better. Other times I'm able to remind myself that even if I never find a better way of hiding my hair, I still have my health and abilities, family and friends. Sunsets are still beautiful, chocolate is still delicious, and there are still some people out there who are inherently kind and understanding.

And the despair passes, hopefully without always rubbing off here, in my written voice. I certainly don't want to pull anybody down. But I do want people to fathom, even the tiniest bit, what it's like.

March 3, 2009

Romantic Outtakes

While writing the "significant other" entry last week, I took a long trip down memory lane. Most of my "dating" stories involved trying to hide the truth, not reveal it. In the interests of not overwhelming readers (more than I already do) with novella-length entries, I cut some of my musings out. But with the buffer of time between me and my memories, I actually cracked up thinking about them and really wanted to type.

For instance. When I was seventeen my boyfriend at the time fell asleep at our house. I blame it on my newly-discovered magical massage abilities. Before I really realized what I was doing, he was out like a light on our floor. And because we worried about him driving home in his exhausted state, we let him crash on our couch. Fear for his safety was the only reason I did not shake him awake and send him packing. I tossed and turned all night, worrying about the next morning. What if he bumped into me upstairs before or while I was bleaching my face? I resolved to get up early to make sure I took care of it before anyone else could wake

Instead, I gained consciousness hearing his voice downstairs. Utter. Panic. My ablutions could not be discovered! I locked the door of the bathroom until I had disguised my hair to satisfaction. But the anxiety was completely not worth it. By the time I was done, he had eaten breakfast and gone home to change. He didn't catch one glimpse of me.

It occurs to me that, ironically, he and I first got chatting the year before thanks to my self consciousness about my hair. I had been on a road trip with friends to see more friends, and it had been such a bustling couple of days that I had not had the time to make myself feel swimsuit-worthy. (Remember me mentioning trying to tweeze in a truck stop restaurant bathroom in an earlier entry? This was that trip.) So I was sitting quietly on a beach while my friends and their younger siblings played in the water. Had I been running around and splashing with them, he might never have sat down next to me and started talking. Is there ever a 100% disadvantage to everything?

Another brief romantic anecdote that makes me chuckle was born in a friend's car, in college. I had turned around in the passenger seat to talk to a guy friend in the back seat. Out of nowhere, he reached out and cupped my chin in his hand, trying to be affectionate and probably zoning in for a kiss. I jerked my face out of his grasp in terror--not of the kiss, but of him feeling stubble. Talk about killing the moment.

I share these things to make you smile. If you shake your head, that's okay too--I don't mind being the butt of a joke now and then. I hope it reassures you that if you are hampered by fear you're not alone, and if you have awkward moments, it's not the end of the world. Even girls who don't have beards know this feeling too, right? We all have things we worry about when trying to make a good first impression.