October 27, 2009

Product: Nivea for Men Sensitive Shaving Gel

Sorry for missing last week's post. I got hit with the flu and was out for the week. Now I know what I look like with seven days growth of beard. After about four days, it actually stops feeling so prickly. It's bizarre.

As I've said before in this blog, I often wonder if it's more important to stick with what's made "for a woman's skin" when it's not really made for a woman's face. Hirsute women find themselves in a unique situation that way. There aren't really any shaving products made for a woman's face. However, women do use men's shave gels on their other sensitive areas and prefer them to those made specifically for their gender. It does happen. So what have we got to lose trying them where we need to?

Searching the web for what men found helpful with razor burn and sensitive skin when wet shaving, I found Nivea's shave gels mentioned and put it on my list of things to try.

Nivea for Men Sensitive Shaving Gel - 198 g

  • Water, palmitic acid, triethanolamine, oleth-20, isopentane, sorbitol, minderal oil, isobutane, gossypium herbaceum (cotton) seed oil, tocopheryl acetate, glycine soja (soybean) oil, chammomile recututa (matricaria) flower extract, bisabolol, PEG-90 glyceral isostearate, hydroxyethylcellulose, polyisobutene, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, PEG-14 M, laureth-2, methylparaben, DMDM hydantoin propylparaben, BHT, fragrance

Things I liked:
  • The dispensing top is made of plastic, so it doesn't crud up and get rusty like metal ones.
  • This stuff foams really well. I've been using it since July 1 for my face and chest, and long after I thought the can was empty, it kept giving me more.

Things I didn't like:
  • It smelled like a guy should smell. It doesn't linger after moisturizing, but it sure mans up the morning ritual.
  • At first the dispenser was not very sensitive, and would pump out more than I could possibly need. I wasted a lot this way.
  • There was no change to the redness or dryness of my skin.

Did it do what it promised?

It claims to use vitamins and chamomile to calm irritated skin while shaving. Whatever was in there wasn't enough to improve the look or feel of my skin, but it didn't make it any worse. Ladies, I'd skip this one just because of the scent. No need to make shaving your face feel more masculine than it already does. Though if this smell was on a man, yum!

See what others thought of this product:
Reviews on ciao.co.uk
Reviews on amazon.com
Reviews on epinions.com

October 15, 2009

Possible Mislabel

I woke this morning--9:00 on my day off--to the sound of my cellphone vibrating. By the time I had untangled myself from the duvet and pulled it out of my bag pocket, I had missed the call, but the display stilled show it as the name of my GP's clinic--the same clinic I had been calling all day to get an appointment with, and had no luck. Still groggy, I redialed. The woman told me my doctor wanted me to come in to discuss the results of my latest blood work, and could I come in today?

I agreed, and of course as the stupor wore off, all sorts of dubious thought started running through my head. Why did they want to see me today? Had they seen something urgent in the results? What had they found that was so different from the one I'd taken almost four months ago? (For those of you who are just joining us or have the memory of a normal human being, this details my last follow-up. She wanted to monitor my thyroid which showed hyperactive before, and testosterone and free androgen on the side.) I figured it was the thyroid. All morning I agonized. Trying to prepare yourself for the worst and yet calm yourself down is no easy task.

To ease the drama of this post, I'll let you know now that my thyroid is back within normal levels and it seems they just had an opening and wanted to fit me into it. This time, I got in right away and only sat for a minute in that small room with the examination table and the biohazard box. Then my doctor came in and asked, "Remind me, what are we doing about the PCOS?"

I'm sure I must have gaped idiotically at her for a second or two. Since when did I have PCOS? My only symptom had been hirsutism for the past eight years. Wasn't I being sent to the endocrinologist so they could determine the cause? When I regained control over my vocal chords, I said that she had referred me to said endocrinologist. She asked me about my previous treatments, which were only for the hair, and then I finally managed to stammer out that no one had ever tried to figure out the cause before now, and I had never had someone call it PCOS.

My blood work, she said, was consistent with it. I think I asked her what was off except for the androgens--such as the glucose. But she said the androgens were enough of an indication, and took me back into the little closet computer room to show me. The results were consistent with the last test, and not shockingly high. She printed off a copy to take to the endrocinologist, and started telling me about what I might be prescribed, and that although she could be communicating with the specialist that I should keep her abreast of how I tolerate the medication and any concerns I might have. She was very sweet again, touching my arm in that way she has, but I only noticed her manner on the surface, because I was still thinking, "PCOS... PCOS... PCOS..."

I just have never had any symptom but the excess hair. My periods are painful but regular, I am not overweight, have no serious problems with acne or insulin--but I know not everyone will have all the symptoms, or present them at the same time. I've considered the possibility of having polycystic ovaries, but I wasn't prepared to hear that when I did. It's possible my GP was just calling it that, and the endocrinologist may find something different, but she's the doctor, not me.

To kill time while I waited for my ride, I went to the drugstore and looked at overpriced makeup. I couldn't wait until we got in the car before I started to tell her what had happened. I haven't told her much about PCOS because I haven't focused a lot of my energy on that eventuality, so I tried to explain what I knew. As I was trying to say that fertility can be an issue, I turned and saw I was standing next to the wedding and baby cards. I don't know if I want kids, or even if that will be a problem I will have to face, but hearing those words come out of my mouth, I just couldn't believe I was saying them. Living with the hair is one thing, but having this name with all these other meanings and possible dangers is something else. For a few moments, I couldn't control my tears.

But after that, I got a handle on myself, came home, had some tea and fresh bread with my family around me. Received some kind and generous words from a friend who had no idea what exactly I was worried about, but never for a moment allows me to demean myself. And I thought of all the strong women I know, or know of, who live successfully with their health problems. And I knew that I could work through this, whatever the results happen to be.

Only a month away, now, and I'll be even closer to knowing for sure. It will be better to know. It can't be treated properly until I know.

October 13, 2009

Irrational Wardrobes

Ah, autumn is here. There's been a delay with the seasonal change in look for the blog, but hopefully we'll get the technical difficulties straightened out before winter sets in.

This summer, I assigned myself the project of cleaning out my closet. That's always fun in a way, if you enjoy organization as much as me, or get a kick out of the things you used to wear that you kept in case they came into style again. (New poll idea: Will Al regret donating those synthetic plaid pants in 20 years or so? Yes or no?)

But it's a job that requires you to be honest with yourself. You're trying to make room in your drawers so that you can actually close them. You really don't have the space to keep every piece of clothing you like. And then, if you're like me, you start to feel guilty about all the nice things you had to have but are now getting rid of because you just don't wear them.

There are so many things I have donned only once because of the length of the shirt or the depth of the neckline, or even the amount of sleeve--you know those cute little cap sleeves that rub your freshly shaven armpits until they burn like the dickens? There are so many ways a piece of clothing can make me fall in love with it, and then prevent me from feeling even minutely confident or comfortable in it.

Unfolding and refolding things, stuffing them in a gigantic bag, I kept thinking, "What a waste." There go all those t-shirts with quirky graphics or slogans because it was too risky to wear them with the hair on my stomach, and all those elegant scoop-neck blouses in beautiful colors because it's so hard to feel good about my chest. And necklaces--necklaces were my favorite kind of jewelry back in the day. Now it seems counterproductive to draw any attention to the neck and collarbone.

The problem is that, practical and realistic as I try to be, my head still gets turned by a great color and a flirty neckline. I know that it's best to invest in a crew- or boat-neck since I won't have to plan my week around wearing it when I'm able to get a good result from my razor, but there are so many other more exciting shirts around! I just blindly think: "I bet I could look nice in that," and forget that the chances of wearing a shirt that shows so much skin more than once in a season are slim to none. So many pieces of clothing that I thought I couldn't live without hanging neglected and eventually given up for adoption; it's kind of a tragedy for a girl.

I have a confession, though. I've hung onto a few audacious articles out of pure optimism--and when I say "audacious" I mean anything offering more than a glimpse of the clavicle. One day, there might be a special enough occasion to coordinate trousers, shirt, and shaving my cleavage. And then I swear I'll look fantastic. ;P

Thankfully, shopping for autumn is a little bit easier, with the abundance of turtlenecks and the opportunity to layer practically any exciting sweater over the most boring crew-necks in innumerable combinations. And long pants are a necessity. And growing out one's fur is sound judgment for any mammal. Well... maybe that's needlessly cheeky to say. But I'm in a pleasant mood and wanted to talk about something flippant and stereotypically girly tonight.

Also, I am trying to get into the spirit of shopping for, of all things, another cocktail dress for a wedding reception. One of the most deliberately flirty examples of an outer garment one can buy. And clever me, I leave it to the last minute. I struck a bargain with myself that I would not be allowed to peek into a dress shop until I'd had my next blood test, so of course I put it off and put it off and put it off. There was no dizziness at all with this one, though. I wonder if I'm getting better?

October 6, 2009

Beard Pride?

I learn through the grapevine of the Internet, through the "average" person's horrified exclamations or a woman's own proud defiance, that there are women out there who are not hiding their beards. It could be feminist thing, or a cultural thing. Perhaps all removal methods have been exhausted, or maybe it's just simply an acceptance thing. I see it as an I'm-not-sorry-I'm-me thing. Regardless of the reason, they're out there, courageous.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone would count it against me that I shave my beard and try to help others select their hair removal methods, all the while trying to tell readers, bearded and unbearded, that it's okay to have facial hair. If I'm hiding it, doesn't that indicate shame?

Well, yeah. I'm embarrassed. I don't talk to people about it, outside of my mother, my doctor (and if it counts, the two friends I've mentioned it to once), and the similarly afflicted, determined and beautiful women I've met online. If I'm feeling down and I find that I can't hide my hair as well as I would like to, I'll call in sick, shut myself in the house and throw a glorious pity party. But considering the widely held standards of attractiveness, can any hirsute women be faulted for feeling ashamed?

My goal is not to advocate the way we should present our bodies. That's every person's individual choice. What I want is to share and explore, and make other women see that they're not alone. I hope that the more comfortable we become thinking about it and talking about it, the easier it will be to live with hirsutism--or for those who don't have it, the easier it will be to not even see the hirsutism. Whether a woman wants to hide it or show it, we all have no choice but to wear it, so accepting it is probably what we need to work on.

Am I the only one who's wondered what they'd look like if they grew out their beard, though? I'd need an extended leave from work to find out, because I certainly wouldn't be comfortable wearing it out in public. But you know, some people do that sort of thing as a marathon for charity, or to nurture solidarity--hockey playoffs, the final push to the end of a big project and soforth. I'm trying to see myself at full bushiness and it makes me giggle. It would have to be one heck of a project.