December 29, 2010


I meant to post again last week, instead of leaving a blog quiz up there, but I have to admit, it's been difficult.

I've had this cold since I started on Alesse, and it gets a little better, then gets a little worse. I've spent most of my holidays in bed. My sinuses ache, my nose runs, my throat burns, I'm constipated, and so darn moody that all of this bothers me way more than it normally would! I don't know how much of this is a winter bug and how much is the pill, but even though the cold finally seems to be making an exit, I still feel run down, achey, unable to concentrate. Work is torturous and takes all my effort. Composing a thoughtful blog post is a little beyond me right now.

But who ever heard of a contraceptive pill making you feel that way? It seems a little bizarre. The only reason I haven't visited a doctor for the cold is because I don't want to discount the chance that this fog I'm in is related to the pill, and I don't want anyone but the endocrinologist to change my prescription. Thing is, the endo's office is closed for the holidays, and she told me to give the pill three months before changing it.

So I'm living with it. When I'm off the pill for the next week, we'll see if the lack of hormone makes me feel better. And if it doesn't, then I've obviously got some kind of bug and I may need some extra help to kick it. Until then, it's tough, but not debilitating. Just have to hope I don't snap and tell off a difficult customer or a colleague. (Seriously, the irritability is scary!) Bleh. Lots of sleep for me!

December 22, 2010

What kind of facial hair are you?

Today I reveal that I am not above quizzes and memes.

You Are Stubble

You are assertive and confident. You know how to pull off being the least well dressed person in the room.

You have a lot of natural talent and charm. You get a bit of a free ride in life, and you enjoy it.

You are attractive and even downright sexy. You have that certain something that draws people to you.

You may be a bit irresponsible and flighty, but that only makes you more interesting. You play hard to get... and it works!

I choose not to comment on whether or not this is at all accurate. It just amuses me.

Real post coming soon. ;) I had some computer problems this week so I am very behind schedule.

December 15, 2010

Take Four

This time, going to the endocrinologist made me as nervous as my very first visit to her, a little over a year ago. I didn't get as lost on the medical floor as I usually do, and I had an idea of what would happen next, but my hands shook as I tried to read my book in the waiting room.

After two and a half months on Finasteride, I've noticed a negative change. Since coming off the 200mg of Spiro, my body hair has begun to get darker and more numerous. The dark vellus hair on my collarbone has come back, and I'm even getting more spots and blemishes on my back and chest than I did while on Spiro. To visually compare, my body is currently in a furry state somewhere between 100mg and 200mg of Spiro.

I was also finding that since being on the Finasteride, my stomach was even more unpredictable about how it reacted to food. I know Finasteride is reputed to be easier on your stomach than Spiro, so I tried to deny it, but it's certainly true that the strangest things have upset my stomach in the last few months. Maybe that's just a coincidence, because I found the pill itself quite tolerable.

But I figured the endo would probably want to move on to something else. And she did. She asked if I wanted to go back onto the Spiro, but it didn't seem to be worth it to me, since even at its best, I was still shaving every day. She apologized that there was really going to be no cure for me, and I tried to find the words to express that while I knew that, I was still hoping there might be something else to try. Something besides Cyproterone, the thought of which has made me very uncomfortable. I'd spent the whole morning trying to prepare myself by reading about it, and of course frightening myself with all the side effects. On top of which, there was the required birth control pill to worry about as well.

After some discussion, the endo asked if I would like to try a birth control pill on top of the Spiro. I'd spent the last couple of years with the assumption that most women are prescribed the pill along with androgen blockers because of the dangers of those blockers to a male fetus. Apparently, the pill can also reduce the overall amount of testosterone in the blood, which can improve the overall effectiveness of an androgen blocker.

It wasn't what I'd expected, but it was a drug I knew (and a drug I knew worked somewhat) combined with one new thing, rather than two completely new things to worry about. It was probably the most comfortable way to move forward. I agreed. Even if I never find anything that truly works, I like to imagine that I'll feel better knowing I've tried everything I reasonably could. And the endo said that if this treatment works a little better, I might find that laser hair removal will have a longer lasting effect--but likely not a permanent one.

So she has me on Alesse, because although she wants me on a low dose of hormones, she says Yasmin's active ingredient is too similar to Spiro. I really can't voice my own opinion on this choice, having never been on a BCP before, and from what I've read, every woman reacts so differently to each brand of oral contraceptive (some hate and some love each and every one) so it's hard to guess what would work best for me. I have read that Alesse is one of the pills popularly prescribed for acne, but I have also read that uses an androgenic progestogen, and therefore not the best choice for women with hirsutism. I'm not sure how both those things could be true, but I am willing to try it--I trust she has chosen it for good reasons. If any unpleasant symptoms, such as breakthrough bleeding, persist for over three months, she'll put me on something else.

I always feel strange after an endo visit. It feels like both a step forward and a defeat, all in one. And underlying that strange mix of emotions, each time I go seems to be an admittance that there is something medically wrong with me. I hate thinking that about myself. After the appointment, which took all of ten minutes, I walked through the city in a daze, got on the bus, and instead of going home went to the pharmacy to fill my prescription right away. Bought myself some new make-up, because... y'know. And from there, I rode the bus a little more, got the sudden urge to get off and walk to make the trip home longer, and ruminated a little longer.

I've only been on the pill for two days now, and so far so good. I'm actually a little excited I might become regular again. That would be pretty nifty. But there is a slight hang-up; my pharmacy anticipates no Spironolactone shipments for some time. They're not exactly sure when it will get here, but likely not until the new year. They had three pharmacists clicking away at their computers checking it, two of which were girls younger than me, but strangely I didn't feel that embarrassed. I just wanted my pills. I suppose in a way this is a good thing, though--I'll be able to try the BCP by itself for a month and then add the Spiro to it, so I'll be able to compare how I feel with or without it.

So here we go again. Always working away at it, trying to find a way to make life easier.

And now, I must go sleep off this wonderful winter cold. Hope everyone is feeling better than I am right this second! Blech.

December 7, 2010

When was the last time you heard this?

First of all, let me apologize for not updating last week. I found myself so busy that I actually forgot, can you believe that? Last month was pretty ridiculous, and I have a feeling this one will be, too.

After helping a woman at my desk recently, she pulled a business card out from her wallet, saying, "I give everybody I meet one of these." She put it down on my desk, facing me, and I saw that it simply said, You are beautiful. "Now doesn't that make you feel good?" she asked.

Taken aback, I said that yes, it did. A girl can go a long, long time without hearing that from someone. In fact, I started to get a little embarrassed, and felt my face grow warm. A part of me--and isn't this sad?--was already wondering what her angle was, while the rest of my mind was devoted to getting itself around the idea that someone might merely be involved in a crusade to give women a compliment in a form they can carry with them for the rest of the day, and take home and tack on their bulletin board and look at every now and then. What a brilliant idea! I thought.

Turns out, she did have an angle, which I found a little disappointing. She was selling spa treatments. As she left my desk, I brushed off the card and the coupon for a detoxing body contouring treatment and my cynical side took over. What kind of message is that? I wondered. 'You are beautiful, but you could be more beautiful without cellulite and loose skin?' It's not just the facial hair we have to worry about, it's everything else, too. It's tragic that it is so hard to be happy with our physical selves.

I paused before I got too worked up, though. This spa lady was a pleasant customer and a nice person, and I'm sure she meant well. A gal could do worse than offer body treatments to other ladies, and in a way, isn't that kind of what I do here? Offer my experiences and recommendations for disguising what I don't like about my body? So I kept that business card, with the You are beautiful side facing up. It's sitting beside me now, on my desk, as I type.

After all, why not focus on the positive side?

It inspired me to tell each and every one of you reading this right now that

You are beautiful, too.

November 25, 2010

Product: BikiniZone Anti-Bumps Shave Gel

Okay, here's the story. I had run out my current shave gel and was going out of town. I went the drug store desperate for a shave gel; I wasn't about to get a can of flowery foam, I couldn't go back to that. I could not find anything at this store, even in the men's shelves. I was about to give up and just pack my big bottle of baby oil when I saw this gel on the shelf with the creme bleaches and chemical depilatories.

I've found BikiniZone's medicated cream to be useful for soothing bumps after shaving for some time. While I wouldn't recommend it for your face if it's irritated, it's helpful for those other sensitive spots that chafe. So when my eyes fell on this cute little bottle from the same company, I felt my curiosity pique.

BikiniZone Anti-Bumps Shave Gel - 120 mL

  • Water, sodium laureth sulfate, acrylates copolymer, cocamide mea, polysorbate 20, PEG-40 castor oil, fragrance, retinyl palmitate, glycerin, tocopheryl acetate, allantoin, aloe barbadensos leaf juice, chamomile recutita (matricaria) flower extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, lactose, cellulose, hydroxypropul methylcellulose, benzophenone-4, sodium chloride, citric acid, ultramarines, yellow 5, blue 1, DMDM hydantoin, disodium EDTA, sodium hydroxide.

Things I Liked:
  • The smell. Fresh and sharp and vaguely medicinal. I'm weird.
  • It's a gel, so you can see where you're shaving.
  • Works well enough where it's intended.

Things I Didn't Like:
  • It lathers up, so it's a little drying.
  • It stings! You don't want to use it on anything that's irritated. Like your face.

Did it do what it promised?

The gel is meant to prevent bumps, soften coarse hair, and sooth skin with nourishing ingredients. Being a gel, I like it already, as I've been turned off foam forever.

Yeah it's not designed for a woman to use on her face, but really, what shave gel is? I had to give it a try, and it stung so much I could barely go the week using it. So ladies, this is not a multi-purpose medium. Ow.

I will say that it was fine in other areas. Nothing special on the legs--I normally use hair conditioner and didn't notice much improvement with this gel. But coupled with a brand new blade, BikiniZone's medicated cream, and ample exfoliation before and after, it was probably one of the best bikini shaves I've had. Usually I suffer through agonizing regrowth for the better part of a week. After using this, I had about a day of discomfort as the hair grew back. It was still a little harsh and drying to the skin in general, though. I've used gentler shaving gels. Bottom line, while I'd use it again, I'd rather have a shaving medium I can use everywhere.

See what other people thought of BikiniZone Anti-Bumps Shave Gel:

Reviews at
...Or, y'know, Google. There's a wealth of opinions on this gel, too.

November 17, 2010


The other evening I was invited to a "Girl's Night" with the family. I've never really done such a thing before, so I was curious about what it would entail. I was definitely nervous, but I see some of my family so rarely that I'm willing to put up with most anything to see them. We had all been given hints that make-up would be involved, and I just prayed it would not include someone else getting up close and personal with my face. It seems like my skin has changed overnight, and the methods I've been using to make my concealer go on smoothly no longer work. I've been extra self conscious lately.

Most of the evening was filled with intentionally embarrassing but innocuous games. I think the worst thing I had to do was roll across the floor, which excited the puppy into trying to hump my head. When it came to the make-up, it was just a challenge to put on as much as possible in two minutes, without a mirror. I'd already been to work, so my usual make-up was already in place, and I was certainly concerned about having to wash it all off afterward. That was the plan, it turned out, followed by mud masks and foot soaks. Slight panic.

I pleaded sensitive skin--which is true, to a point. Fortunately, the games had run late, we were tired, and no one insisted. We put our feet into warm water smelling of grapefruit, and then someone asked what the problem was with my skin. Dang, I'd forgotten one of them used to be an Avon lady.

I want to blame this partially on fatigue--I've been painting my room and sleeping (or rather trying to sleep) on the couch, and it had been an exhausting week. Or perhaps it was the camaraderie that grows between women who have done numerous undignified things in front of one another. But the words: "Well, I have to shave my face every day" were right there on my lips, in danger of taking flight. I can't believe how close I come to blurting it out sometimes.

But I always draw back. The more I blog and get to know other amazing girls and women who face the same things I do, the less I think about it as a physical flaw to be ashamed of. In my head it's becoming more of a health condition, and goodness knows I was aware of everyone else's medical history in that room. Some of the ladies surrounding me that night have some real health challenges, debilitating and terminal. Why was I hiding this little thing away? It would be so nice to tell them, to educate them if their minds clicked over into the cultural norm of "Ew", and maybe make them feel even less alone to know that I have difficulties too. But I've gone so long without telling anyone. I wonder if secret-keeping is an addiction?

Anyway, I answered the question vaguely, complaining of dryness and flakiness and irritation, and latching on to childhood skin problems as a way to divert from the challenges I have now. The conversation took off from there, and in the end we didn't even do pedicures after the foot soak. We sat and talked and ate cake until it was so late I was literally falling asleep in my chair. I went home with my little secret in tact, but I have to admit I felt a little emptier for not sharing it. Is it that hard to trust people? Is it worth the risk to trust them?

November 10, 2010

Hair in History: Ancient Greece

I've been having trouble finding much information on the Bronze Age and shaving, insofar as what hair removal meant to the European societies of the time. Just have to dig deeper I guess, but in the mean time, there's a ton of information on Greece and I've only done two history posts so far. You'll have to forgive me if I ramble on a bit, but in art history I always found it fascinating that this is where the Western ideal of beauty began to take shape. Sure, it changed a lot over the centuries, but who but the Greeks would think to turn beauty into a much-debated, much-philosophized universal standard?

Cultures leave such an intriguing record of themselves through their "art." Grecian art is especially interesting because you can see how their understanding and appreciation of the body changed over time. To them, their gods had human forms and were subject to the same challenges and errors as everyone else, so the Greeks' depictions of people in statues and on urns looked the same whether they were deities, heroes of legend, celebrated athletes or other highly praised men of the time. Studying and capturing the body was a big deal to them, and over time they became a little preoccupied with the "perfect" form.

There were critics who felt that perfection could only be achieved through mathematics, and preferred the more traditional, if less realistic and more stylized, way of depiction. That led to a lot of rhetoric on the subject, but for our purposes, let's just say that these criticisms didn't really end up altering the way Greek art was heading.

It's interesting to note that nude sculptures of women didn't appear in public until very late before our common era. And when they did, they were not sculpted with a single hair below the eyebrows--much like the statues of young men. It seems to hint that women were expected to be hairless in order to be in harmony with the ideal human form, particularly if they were of the upper classes. Body hair may have been ugly to them, even then. It certainly didn't ascribe to their preference for the beauty of youth.

And of course, it seems women had the usual hair removal methods of ancient times: scraping themselves with shells and blades, ancient tweezers, along with ominous concoctions that sound like potions from the Weird Sisters in Macbeth. One thing I hadn't heard of before was burning their body hair off with lamps like the one on the left. Not far from laser therapy, huh?

Towards the end of the Greek empire came Alexander the Great of Macedonia. According to many sources, including the Greek historian Plutarch, Alexander ordered that all Macedonian beards should be shaved so that this would not be a convenient handhold for enemies in battle. Apparently this was not an idea unique to the Macedonian army.

Some references say that shaving grew more popular thanks to Alexander, for with the practice of pederasty (older men taking younger men as lovers) ever-present, it was not uncommon for young men to shave to appear younger when they were taken as lovers by older men. This kind of relationship is described as being less about gender and more to do with active versus passive roles. The younger partner assumed the passive role, the one of lower status. The feminine one. Which brings us back around to this idea of hairlessness = femininity. Hard to escape that, though, since the female body was designed to have less hair anyway. So no big news there.

November 3, 2010

More Health News

The endocrinologist tried to call me not long after my last post as it turned out, but I missed it. That's Al for you. When I tried to call her back, she was with a patient, and the receptionist asked the best time and number for her to call me back, making it clear the endo wanted to speak to me herself. So immediately I thought, "Uh oh." She was able to reach me today, however when you're waiting for what you expect to be bad news, any amount of time is very long to wait.

In follow up to this post about severe, intermittent pain and the ultrasound to investigate, I share the results. I do have a benign cyst on my right ovary, 3.5 cm wide at its largest point. The radiologist reports that it is not a tumor and there is no need for further action. The cyst has nothing to do with polycystic ovaries, and in fact my ovaries are clear of such indications. It doesn't have anything to do with the hirsutism at all. It's recommended I just be aware of its existence, in case the pain gets worse.

I was kind of hoping they'd find something in the ultrasound, so at least I might have an answer. So I wasn't shocked, and only somewhat nervous, when she told me. It wasn't until I actually looked at 3.5 cm on a ruler--about the width of my three middle fingers--that it really hit me. Holy crap, I thought. These are my ovaries. As a woman, I have rather a particular attachment for them. And ovarian cancer is the One Big Thing runs in my family. And stupid me, I've misplaced the old records I used to keep about the pain, because it seems to me it has appeared not only on the right side of my abdomen. So perhaps it's not the cyst at all that hurts me now and then.

As this isn't really the endo's area, I'm going to see about being referred to an OBGYN by my family doctor to see where to go from here. I really don't know much about benign cysts. I'm fine with living with it, but I've got a few more questions. And yes, the pain might not be from the cyst at all, so there's that to consider as well.

Oh, and my liver's fine, so I can keep taking the Finasteride. I think--I think--I'm feeling all right about this. I have a possible answer for one problem, and am working towards finding a way to make another problem easier to live with. I'm still digesting the news.

October 29, 2010

One Month on Finasteride

Sorry for the lateness. Whew, what a week! I thought I knew what I was going to post this week, but the topic put me on some tangents that were too distracting to actually get anything done. So instead, just a quick update.

Been on Finasteride for a month now. Refilled my prescription the day before yesterday, and with no weird looks or admonitions not to get pregnant. It was a girl who gave it to me this time, though. I'm used to being on a pill now, so emotionally I don't have the same challenges as I did when I started the Spiro. But because of the various other things going on this month, I've still been particularly stressed, which I'm thinking is the reason my stomach is off a lot. I know stomach upset is not a big side effect of the Finasteride. It's certainly more consistent with days of high stress than with taking the pill. I haven't noticed any results yet, but I likely wouldn't, it's still early days.

Still haven't heard back about the ultrasound results, and I did go in for the blood test to check my liver function on Tuesday. Hopefully I'll hear back soon. I've been taking my cellphone absolutely everywhere with me. The call's gonna come at work, I just know it. It always does.

My other challenge this month has been finding a dress for a party (I've honestly been too overwhelmed to sew one). Why do so many cocktail dresses have plunging necklines? For once I'd like to have a go-to dress for a special occasion without worrying whether or not it's going to be a bad hair day on my chest? There's so many other things for a girl to worry about. Seems a little like shooting one's self in the foot, buying a dress to show off cleavage when you're going to cover the displayed area with razor bumps anyway.

I found an absolutely perfect dress at an outlet store. The fit and construction and fabric were just bang-on what I wanted, and it was a great price. But it really put the puppies on display. I mean, really. Even if I didn't have to worry about shaving my chest, I would have felt vastly uncomfortable walking around the party on the verge of popping out. So I left it on the rack (the clothing rack at the store) and ended up finding a similar dress with an elegant and understated boatneck. Just for twice the price.

Gah, the things we do for modesty. :)

October 20, 2010

One Step Closer

Had my ultrasound today. I'd never had one before, so other than movies involving pregnancy, I had no idea what to expect.

I drank my four 8 oz. glasses two hours before the appointment, promptly felt like I was going to burst, gave in and went to the bathroom--it didn't help I had a puppy walking on my stomach. Then I started all over again with half the amount of water, and spent the ride to the clinic thinking of nothing else but how full I was--and how bumpy the roads have gotten. I walked so fast into that clinic, sat in the waiting room for an agonizing couple of minutes, then was called into a change room to put on one of those fashionable open-back gowns. I sat there waiting to be called again, too tense and uncomfortable to read my book, knees jiggling desperately as I listened to other women finish their scans and go into the washroom. I started to loathe that flush sound. Oh, how it mocked me.

When the cute young ultrasound technician brought me into a dark, quiet room, I could barely lie in the examination chair with my legs straight. She asked me questions about past pregnancies and such, which I can only vaguely remember through the painful awareness that I was about to explode. I think I may have explained Finasteride, for her to understand why I wasn't quite sure when my last period was. A quick spurt of gel and a pass with transducer and it was determined that yeah, I was so full I was making the image blurry.

Once we resolved that issue, it was really just like I expected, squelching the transducer through the blue goo. The only sound was the beeps of an image being taken. I watched the reflection of the screen in the frame of a flat-screen tv used for displaying babies in utero, but it all looked like gibberish to me. Still, I wished I could have watched. Those were my insides on that screen, and I thought that was just incredible.

The endo had warned the exam would be transvaginal, and so I treated today like some women might treat a "date night." Let's just say, I was especially well-groomed for the occasion. But after pressing around on my stomach for a while, the technician brought the scans to a doctor, then said I could go. I was half relieved, trusting that was all she needed, and half simply unable to find the words to say, "Miss, I think we were supposed to go to third base, here." I can't account for where my mind goes in stressful medical situations. It wasn't until I had dressed and was on my way home that I realized I might not have done the right scan. I know you certainly can look at ovaries with a transpelvic exam, but I don't know if you'd see the whole picture that way. I guess if the endocrinologist gets the results back and thinks there's something missing, she'll let me know.

I feel like an enormous mug for not asking while I was naked from the waist down and covered in goo. But, the upside is, if I have to go back for another one, at least I know how much not to drink.

October 12, 2010

A Final Word on Spiro

When I learned that there were some oral medications that might help me, I wanted to know A: What are they? and B: Do they really work?!

I was on 100 mg of Spiro for six months (bar a couple weeks to flush it out of my system for the ATCH/CAH test), and on 200 mg for four months and a little over a week. (Can I just say how difficult it became to remember to take that second pill for the past four months? Man!) So let's call it ten months.

For the first couple weeks, the emotional stress of being on a medication took its toll on my stomach, but eventually I got accustomed to the idea. I would think twice about any potassium rich foods I ate, but I still ate them with caution not to overdo it. I never noticed a reduction in blood pressure that was enough to make me dizzy. I did sometimes have a sudden urge to "go" after taking a pill, and if I took it too late in the day, I'd be waking up in the night to pee.
The biggest impact it had on my life was the havoc it wreaked with my cycle. Sometimes it would be bang-on 28 days. Most of the time, it ranged from two weeks to two months. And as soon as my dosage doubled, I started having mid-cycle spotting at least once, sometimes twice with a longer cycle. It was annoying, but if you're vigilant enough, it doesn't catch you off guard. It was something I could have lived with, if the pill had worked well enough for me.

Now, I knew I'd probably have trouble tracking my progress. When it's something that reportedly takes months to notice, I knew the changes would be subtle. So I made photographic documentation before every endo visit to help me gauge the changes.

I thought long and hard about doing this post, mainly because it would reveal, in a whole new graphic way, my deepest darkest secret. Anyone who lands on this blog learns in short order that I have mucho excess body hair. But has anyone ever seen it? No. :P

However, this is the sort of thing I dearly wished other women had done. When they say what they used "worked" or "sorta worked" or "worked better than something else," what exactly do they mean? Well, let me show you what I mean...

This is my stomach, which displays the most noticeable change, from the day I started Spiro on the left, to the day I doubled my dose, to the day I stopped Spiro altogether. The photos are not great, but you can sort of see how the hair grew less coarse after six months on 100mg, and then became much more sparse after four months on 200mg. It's really hard to see in the last picture how much is still there, so you'll just have to believe me when I saw that there's still enough. But overall, you can see a difference. It did something, at least on that part of my body. Breasts, chest and thighs all show something similar, though not to the same extent, but my face gives no evidence of change in the hair that I can see. The only thing I can tentatively say is that the beard grew a little slower, which only served to make it more imperative that I shaved around the same time each day, or else took a day off when I didn't have to go out, to prevent irritation.

I can also assert a reduction in blemishes, though I didn't think to document that, and images of my chin were not all that successful. And it turns out I wasn't imagining the increase in breast size, either, though I'm afraid there's no way I'm showing empirical proof of that. *lol* Let's just say, it wasn't anywhere close to a cup size, but it was noticeable enough in pictures.

Bottom line, though, was that I still had to remove hair every day. And my dream is to be able to wake up in the morning without having to go through that ritual. If a drug doesn't improve my overall quality of life, I'm not going to keep putting it in my body, and so I said goodbye to Spiro. Now, some women on this medication don't have such good results. And some apparently have even better results. There's a lot to take into account, so weigh the pros and cons for yourself, and in the end, it's your body and your decision. I just hope I help put it in perspective for you, and show you that you're not going through this alone!

Some previous Spiro posts:
Or you can search for all posts with the "spiro" tag to see all posts mentioning Spironolactone.

EDIT:  It turns out this was not my final word on Spiro, after all.  I went on it again.  Click the "spiro" tag below this post to see what happens next!

October 5, 2010

About Finasteride

A week on Finasteride, and no unpleasant side effects. The nice thing about Finasteride is that it's not a diuretic, nor meant for blood pressure, so the extra peeing and the possibility of dizziness are no longer there. Neither is the risk of potassium build-up.

So, I wanted to do a post about the drug, and as always, this is for general information purposes only. Never try to self medicate; always speak to your doctor and get a prescription.

Finsteride (aka Proscar, Propecia, Finast, Fincar, etc.) was first designed for men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), and a few years later was approved for male pattern baldness. Like Spironolactone, it affects the male hormones in the body which cause these concerns. But it does it in a different way.

Spiro in the body competes with androgens for spots on the androgen receptors in the body. When Spiro attaches itself to the receptors on the skin and hair follicles, the androgens can't get in there to stimulate the cells to produce dark, terminal hair.

Finasteride in the body inhibits an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase which hangs out in places like the skin and turns testosterone into the much stronger dihydrotestosterone (or DHT) which really goes to work on the androgen receptors, causing hair growth on the body (and hair loss on the scalp). So rather than block the hormones themselves, it works to prevent their conversion. But like Spiro, this is not a cure. About the same amount of women find it works as they do with Spiro, and men who have stopped taking it usually find their symptoms return.

As with most things to do with hormones, it takes months to see results. Most of the reported side effects are for men, regarding reduced sexual desire and performance. Some drug sites report that this effect is the opposite in women. However, this drug is definitely not recommended for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or who may become pregnant, as it can harm a male fetus. I'd heard that with Spiro, too, but they even go so far as to tell pregnant women not to handle broken or crushed Finasteride pills. People on Finasteride cannot donate blood, and as with many drugs, there is a slight chance of liver toxicity. I'm going in for a blood test to monitor that at the end of the month.

Your doctor may prescribe you 1 to 5 mg of Finasteride. I'm on 5 mg a day, and the pill is very little. And blue. Which I joke about a lot. Being on a generic brand of the medication, I only noticed a price increase of a few dollars--my insurance covers 80% of the cost of prescriptions. I was paying about $45 for a month's supply of 2 pills a day of Spiro, so a month of Finasteride would have probably been around $55 without insurance.

The endocrinologist warned me I might get a few odd looks at the pharmacy for picking up a drug well-known for "male problems," but when I dropped off the prescription order, a male pharmacist assisted me, and I didn't notice him do a double take. When I returned to pick it up, he asked if I was warned about this drug, and I assured him I had, thinking about the liver toxicity. He didn't look convinced, and said, "Pregnancy? Absolute no-no while on this." When pregnancy is that far from your mind, it kind of takes you aback. I must have looked blankly at him for several seconds before it clicked that yes, I'd been told that, too. Felt a little foolish after that.


It's not easy to find sites that discuss its use in women with hirsutism. Usually, any reference to women is in the category of female hair loss, which sometimes does go hand-in-hand with hirsutism, but isn't well discussed. Some sites say Finasteride doesn't work at all for women. That seems to be because the studies in hair loss were with post menopausal women, so their hormonal make-up would be a little different from a young woman with male pattern hair growth.

Finasteride is mentioned for women with hirsutism on the Hormone Help Center site which I've had on my sidebar for ages. I've actually just bought the doctor's book to see if it can provide anything else enlightening on my situation. (I'll be sure to post a book review.) It's also mentioned on And a study comparing Finasteride and Flutamide in women with PCOS and idiopathic hirsutism is discussed in a paragraph on the European Journal of Endocrinology site.

But in the end, it's never going to help every woman. Let's just see what it does for me. Worth a try, isn't it?

September 27, 2010

Endo Visit No. 3

Hello and welcome to the new, more sexy blog! New look, and a new drug.

That's right, I'm done with Spironolactone. It helped with the acne and lightened up the male pattern hair growth on my body somewhat, but not my face. It still required daily shaving to hide. Not enough of an effect to want to stay on the medication. I'm ready to move on.

I always get so nervous when I go to the endocrinologist, more than any other doctor. And I know it's only going to be a chat to revise our strategy, so to speak, with some lab requisitions, which I'm getting used to now. As a bonus, I really like my endo, and I'm never worried about leaving with concerns unaddressed. Yet waiting in that room had me so wound up I could barely hold the book steady to read. Realized I've been reading the same book for a year now. In my defense, it's an enormous book.

And once again I was in that little room with the poster of the thyroid, and I told the endo how I was finding the doubled dose of Spiro, and again she seemed surprised and disappointed that I was not seeing a worthwhile effect. She gave me a req for an ultrasound for that pain I mentioned, and offered a stronger painkiller for it, but I really am not comfortable going on more medications than I have to. Then she mentioned a couple of other medications I could try (Cyproterone was a new one mentioned, I'll have to read about it a little as she said I would have to go on birth control with it), but recommended Finasteride again as it is so well tolerated, if less commonly prescribed to women, so I decided to give it a try. I'll do a post soon about what it is and what it does, for those who are curious. And from there we'll see what it really does.

Also of interest, I inquired about the possible increased effectiveness in laser therapy while on an androgen blocker, as I contemplated staying on Spiro a bit longer. She said my problem really doesn't seem to be high testosterone as much as increased sensitivity to it. She thinks I have idiopathic hirsutism, and I think it fits my situation best as well. I wasn't the least bit shocked. In any case, the answer to my question was just what I had experienced with laser in the past; though it might kill off the current hair follicles, even the most normal levels of testosterone will keep stimulating my skin to produce dark, terminal hair.

So on my to-do list in the next month or so are an ultrasound and a blood test to see if the new pills cause any liver toxicity. And in three months, a follow-up to see if the new direction is beginning to take effect. Finasteride apparently has a similar success rate to Spiro, so, no outlandish hopes. Let's just see what happens.

September 21, 2010

I'll Run Away and Join the Circus!

So here I was a few days ago, watching the National Geographic Channel with my puppy (or puppies this week, as I am also puppy-sitting and in absolute heaven) and caught a little section, completely unrelated to the show itself, about one of the last existing "Freak Shows" in North America. I assumed a few still existed, but it was the first time I'd ever been confronted with the reality of one. It spurred me to wonder, with complete sobriety, what if I grew out my beard and did join a circus?

Let's leave the connotations behind the word "Freak" aside. I'd be around people with genetic quirks that made them totally unique and intriguing. I wouldn't have to shave my face at all, or worry about feeling ashamed because I'd be in a context where I would be expected to be exactly the way I was born. Would I feel different? So vacated from my normal life that it would feel like a vacation? Would it in any way help me accept the way I am? I think the most attractive part of the idea is that I'd be opening peoples' eyes and showing them that we bearded ladies do exist, and aren't too hard to find, and are real, living, breathing, feeling human beings.

But there's where the fantasy falters. They'd be meeting a bearded lady in a fantastic, theatrical setting. Would that seem really human at all? Or would it just perpetuate the myth? Some people are truly fascinated by unusual animals, people, and talents, and find them wonderful and magical. But some go to be creeped out.

Let's bring the word "Freak" back into the equation. I hate hearing that word used in connection with a person. I wrote a very emotional blog post about the use of that word once, but found it just too upsetting to post. As I did a little research into some of these sideshows, I saw a lot of promotional material using words like "monstrous" and "horrifying." I don't think I'd want to stand beside a banner like that.

But maybe it depends on how you look at it. The people who join sideshows must find it rewarding, must enjoy the camaraderie with others with appearances or talents that set them apart. And I think therein lies the mystique. It's always portrayed as a close-knit fraternity of amazing people.

Maybe I just don't have the personality for it. Maybe I'm the kind of person who will always feel better just fitting in.

September 14, 2010

Happy (Belated) Two Years!

I was going through the blog's statistics and was surprised to find the number of visits has just about tripled in recent months. I was pee-my-pants excited!

When I started this blog I really wasn't sure who would even want to read a blog about a girl with a beard who shaves and complains, and complains and shaves, still lives at home and doesn't know why she's hirsute. I was hoping other girls who were just developing facial hair and searching for the Why and What-to-do might find me typing away here and take something useful away from my experiences. And back then, I certainly didn't expect to be going through so many diagnostic tests!

About a month after I started the blog, I was already asking myself if it was going to benefit anyone. Would people who are having different cosmetic troubles find it helpful? Or people who enjoy a chuckle about the imperfections of our bodies in general? Would people like that find it at all?

To my surprise, it was the women who'd already been through what I was going through who came and read and commented. I hadn't anticipated that. I'm sure they weren't the only ones who visited, but they were the ones who usually said a word or two, so they were the ones I was aware of. A simple "I know how you feel" was so encouraging. I might not be helping those new to hirsutism, or educating those who found it flatly repulsive, but I felt honored to be talking about what so many others were experiencing.

And discovered I was also helping myself. Talking about living with hirsutism helps me to come to terms with it. Now, though I've certainly got my mental blocks, I feel much better about it than I ever did before.

I'm grateful to anyone who has ever offered feedback, and to visitors who don't feel comfortable leaving a comment but constitute just one more encouraging number on the charts that assure me people are reading my blather. I feel privileged to have come into contact with people who have struggles similar to mine, and even more challenges besides. A big thank you to everyone.

In retrospect, that sounds almost like a take-leave, when it's not. I'm just having one of those Taking Stock moments. I'm looking forward to many, many blog entries to come!

September 10, 2010

Comedian on Shaving

A relative of mine is in the hospital to remove a tumor the size of a softball, so I've been all over the place this week. Can't believe I missed the two-year anniversary of this blog. I had all these ideas for marking the occasion but I just wasn't in a celebratory state of mind.

Last night we were watching the Gameshow network to distract us from the anxiety of waiting to hear how the operation went (would have been at the hospital but... you know me and anything remotely cringe-worthy) and an episode of Last Comic Standing Season 4 came on. I laughed so hard at Josh Blue's shaving bit. If you haven't seen it, take a look, it starts at 4:37.

Wish I could be that funny about shaving. :)

The operation went well, by the way. We're just waiting for his recovery and to hear the results of the tests of the lymph nodes.

September 1, 2010

Product: Dove Visibly Smooth Deodorant

A friend in Europe mentioned this deodorant to me quite some time ago (hi Soph!) and I was very curious. I have to say, I like Dove; their Campaign for Real Beauty always gets me. So when I saw a commercial announcing its release in Canada, I got a little excited. The next time I was in a drugstore, you bet I picked some up.

Dove Visibly Smooth Deodorant - 45g

  • Active ingredient: Aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY (14.8%) Other ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, stearyl alcohol, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, PPG-14 butyl ether, hydrogenated castor oil, PEG-8, fragrance (parfum), dimethicone, polyethylene, silica, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, steareth-100, nylon-12, sorbitan laurate, BHT, palmatine, red 40 lake (Cl 16035)

Things I liked:
  • The smell--I preferred the Nature Fresh scent, as it's much more subtle. Does everything a deodorant is supposed to do.
  • The moisturizers--it all but eradicated irritation from shaving my armpits. It softens the stubble to the point where it doesn't poke or itch, and I can shave comfortably much more often, rather than waiting for the skin to heal.

Things I didn't like:
  • Nothing!

Did it do what it promised?

The purpose of this product may come off as a little misleading. When I first heard of it, I expected it to slow down hair growth. If you investigate into their FAQ's, you can see that's not what it's designed for. When they say "feel stubble free for longer" they mean that the conditioning ingredients will make your underarms look and feel softer and smoother, so that you may feel like you have to shave less.

My armpits may not look any more stubble free, but they feel softer, and making shaving less of a torture. And that makes this my new favorite deodorant.

(Out of curiosity, when I shaved my legs, I applied it between my thighs as I will do now and then to prevent chafing. It made them prickle a little less, too!)

See what other people thought of Dove Visibly Smooth:
The Budget Fashionista (clinical strength product)
The Beauty Bunny
...There are a lot. You can Google reviews and find pages and pages. I just filtered out the reviews that were calling women with pit stubble "gross." I mean, come on. We all have it. Stop being a squeamish wuss.

August 27, 2010

It's Not Your Fault

One thing that particularly saddens me when reading things posted by other girls with hirsutism is the question, "What did I do to deserve this?"

I've asked it. Why me? I have enough troubles already. I've never had remarkable self esteem, or enough emotional armor to protect me from the way hirsutism makes me feel. But I ask the question a lot less than I used to, so I hate to see others asking it.

The reason this question worries me is because at its core, it suggests that we are responsible for our own bodily quirks. And unless you've been feeding yourself testosterone, that's totally not how it works. Not with hirsutism. There's nothing a woman can foresee to do differently to, for instance, stop her ovaries from developing cysts that release more testosterone than normal. There's nothing about a woman's character that would make her hair follicles extra sensitive to normal levels of testosterone.

We're all looking for the cause of our hirsutism. It's different in each woman, not always easy to pinpoint. It may be genetic. It's completely beyond our control. Life is unfair. Bad things can happen to good people. There's no rhyme or reason to a lot of things. No one is completely safe from misfortune.

If you (and I'm addressing anyone, including myself) can't find a reason and end up blaming yourself, does it make you feel any better? It find that instead, it puts you down by suggesting there's something inherently wrong with you that has brought this on you. Does it not simply emphasize your perceived flaws in your mind? Don't we all have more value than that?

Some people do prefer to think of themselves as a victim. It's a way of coping, and a contradictory one at that, as it only leads to depression and hopelessness. Little bodily aberrations like this don't have to make us feel worthless. Once we take that first step to think it through and realize we're not to blame for this, we can start to think about the wonderful things we can be blamed for, like a loving home, or a job well done, or the smile of a stranger. These things have nothing to do with how we look.

Some of my posts have touched on the ways I deal (or don't deal) with my hirsutism. But I think perhaps making more posts about coping methods might be in order. After all, it wouldn't do for me to bash self-blame without bringing up alternatives, would it?

August 18, 2010


Ha! That was sooner than I thought. I have cute little animation video for you.

Attraction (2008) from Rachinta Platts on Vimeo.

This is why I love the I Made You a Beard blog. She finds so many neat furry things, and not all of them belong to men! ;)

Hope this makes your day a little better.

August 17, 2010

Gory Pain Story

Ah, it was so nice to have a little break. But it's also so nice to be home.

The day I got back, though, I had a pretty rough night. A lot of it was melodrama from my head, but it's spurred me to do some more research into PCOS and other problems related to my wonderful reproductive organs. This post may be a little "TMI" for some as it deals with such organs and their workings. But come on, what do you expect from a bearded lady's blog?

Every now and then, from two weeks to a day or two before my period, I get a severe, sharp pain in my lower abdomen, around where my ovaries sit, that makes me feel like I've torn some intimate muscle--or something's going to burst. I'm doubled over, and pain killers don't help. It only lasts for about an hour while I lie in bed shaking uncontrollably, a hot water bottle on the offended region, and when I wake up I feel a little tender and achy from all that tension, but not sore to the touch.

This happens maybe only twice a year, for probably as long as I've had a regular cycle. When I asked my previous doctor about it (the one who sent me to the dermatologist for my hirsutism and I didn't know any better than to listen to him) he shrugged and called it an "ism" that involved my ovaries, and I can't for the life of me recall the word now. It was well implied that he just intended me to live with it. And so I've gotten used to it. I still get nervous, but I know it'll pass if I just ride it out. Except that this year alone it's happened four times already.

The night I came home, I woke up to the pain building swiftly, and lay in bed with the hot water bottle as per usual. But when I fell asleep again, I had a nightmare that the mattress was soaked in blood and I was dying, and I woke up having an anxiety attack. My muscles were so sore from clenching and shaking that I felt like I had one of those fevers that makes your joints ache and your skin sensitive, and I thought something inside me had burst and I was going to septic shock. Taking my temperature assured me I was fine, just scared out of my wits into hot flashes and chills. Hypochondria makes life interesting, that's for sure.

Rest assured I'm feeling totally fine now, but the experience shook me up a lot.

Because I somehow have always assumed the pain is to do with my ovaries, I've started to wonder if the Spiro and fooling around with my hormones has exacerbated the problem. I know it's not ovulation pain, as about 95% of the time it happens after that. From my recent readings I've looked at everything from luteal phase defects to endometriosis to things not even involving the organs, like muscle and spinal cord issues, which can actually make you feel like the pain is emanating from somewhere deeper. The confusing thing about PCOS is that while quite a few cysters have severe, acute pain similar to that, there are so many different kinds of ovarian cysts, and not all usually cause pain--though some can twist, and burst.

So there's going to be a lot to investigate, but I think it's time I do so. I've joined a fertility charting site just so I can keep track of any specific correlations between my cycle and the pain (I'm a nerd, I like my graphs). And on my next visit with the endo, I'm going to start with a request for an ultrasound. The endo has said the most accurate way to tell what's going on would be to go for an ultrasound while I'm in pain, but I'd only have a one hour window and I can barely stand, never mind walk, when I'm in the midst of it. Perhaps they may be able to see some scarring, or at least be able to see if I have any kind of cysts at all. That'd be nice to know. It's not a required symptom of PCOS, but it might help me to know if i fall under that fairly expansive label.

So, I hope I haven't freaked anyone out. I really do feel 100% better now. I usually don't talk about this kind of thing, but while I've been surfing the net to get an idea of what I should be looking at, I have really appreciated every single gory pain story a gal has posted online. You feel so much less afraid when someone else has expressed exactly what you're going through--or worse.

I'll try to find something more light-hearted to post later this week.

August 7, 2010


All right, I'm off on holidays, so no update next week. I am so ready for this break; mentally, anyway. Bodily, I just haven't had time to "take care of" everything yet. You should see the size of the toiletries bag I have to pack when I travel. It's embarrassing. :)

See you folks when I get back!


August 3, 2010

My Morning Routine

I noticed it's been a while since my last "Products I'm Currently Using" post: September 2008. My general routine has remained similar throughout the last two years, but I thought I should update again, and provide a more specific step-by-step walk through of how I do things. Not that I expect anyone to do it the same way I do, but when I first started shaving I often wondered, "Is this right? Is this normal? Do other hirsute women do it this way?" Without an answer, I just tried things until I fell into a rhythm which now makes me feel reasonably confident I'm doing the best I can for my skin.

Step 1 - Prep: I soak my face in a warm washcloth for a minute or so, to open up the pores and soften the hair. Sometimes I'll scrub a bit to lift the hairs from the skin. Then I wash my face with gentle soap-free Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser or a store-name imitation that works just as well.

Step 2 - Shave: I massage in some shaving gel or oil. You can browse the products tag on the blog to find shaving mediums and razors I have used--some worked better than others. Right now I'm trying out some gels and using Schick's Slim Triple razors. I find small strokes distribute the pressure on the razor more evenly and allow you to be more precise. Because I would rather have the closest possible shave and be a little irritated, I shave against the direction of the hair growth when shaving across it doesn't work. If I don't get it all the first time, I reapply the gel or oil and go again. Depending on the shaving medium I use, I usually rinse it off, and splash a little cold water on my face to close up the pores and calm my sometimes stinging skin, then pat dry.

Step 3 - Moisturize: I'll apply some jojoba oil to the shaved spots--sometimes before my regular moisturizer, sometimes after. It really depends on how my skin is feeling that day and how much time I have. Applying it before ensures it will be absorbed faster, and applying it after means it will sit for a while on the surface of my skin. Last time I did an entry like this, Lubriderm was my favorite lotion. Since that post, they've changed their look and formula and I've found it was no longer as helpful for my skin, so I've been trying to find something new to stick with. Right now I'm using a store-brand imitation of Aveeno's daily moisturizing lotion with natural colloidal oatmeal, which does a great job of moisturizing while staying light and non-greasy.

Step 4 - Make-up!: I recently posted my opinion on a new concealer I tried which applies easily and hides spots and shadows fairly well, and conditions the skin while you wear it. Most other concealers I used made dry flaky skin from shaving worse, not better. I used to have to rub it off and reapply so many times before I would dare go out of the house, but it happens very rarely now with CG Smoothers concealer. Once it goes on successfully, I finish by patting CG Fresh Complexion Pocket Powder all over. It's a very fine power foundation so I find it doesn't catch on dry skin as much either.

Step 5 - At night: I'll soak my face again with warm water and wash it with the gentle face soap. Once or twice a week I'll use Vichy Normaderm Purifying Cleansing Gel, which is a little astringent but I like having that boost to keep blemishes at bay. If my skin has been really dry, I won't use Persa-Gel that night--you can have too much of a good thing. I might moisturize instead at night if that's the case. And on top of it all I'll usually apply pure vitamin e oil to moisturize and speed the healing of shaved areas overnight. If my skin has been having an especially tough time and I have some open nicks or cuts, I'll use Polysporin instead to prevent infection and promote healing, as vitamin E oil can sometimes cause spots and is best used when "wounds" are no longer open.

That's what is working for me right now, and my skin is the best it's ever been--though that could also be partially attributed to age and the androgen blockers I'm taking. It's taken years to shape my routine and parts of it are still undergoing constant reevaluation. It's all about getting to know your skin through research and trying different products. Don't be afraid to experiment! You won't know until you try.

July 28, 2010

Hiding with Hair and the Sucky Social Subtext

Just for this last little while, I've had so many days of work in a row that my chin is crying out for a break. Today is my only chance. I was so looking forward to it, and I made sure no one had plans that would oblige me to leave the house, and warned my mother that I would not be shaving so she would dissuade any last minute plans to go out as a family coming from other members of the house. We're actually not really big on going out to do things as a family, but it always seems to be my luck that when the urge strikes, I'm trying to give my skin a holiday from the razor.

My mother can be a really great advocate sometimes. And other times... well, not so much.

I remember once, she went out to visit my aunt for the morning, and things snowballed into an invite to have everybody over for dinner that night. Well, I hadn't shaved that day, and if I shaved that evening I would not have a very successful shave in the morning for work when I really needed it. I told my mother to pass on my regrets, but anyone who knows my aunt would know this would not be the end of it. Apparently the excuse given was, "She needs some time to herself." My mother didn't bother to defend me while my aunt later accused me (in a joking way that meant she was offering serious criticism) of being antisocial. I was a shy child, and as an adult I've been trying to reverse this impression she seems to have that I didn't like her when I was young. That attempt took a backward step that day.

But back to yesterday morning, I declared my intent to stay home and be beardy. My mother had been considering taking the long drive out to visit her dad, and everybody always goes together as this is a rare treat--but she agreed this wasn't the best time to do it. However that evening, she said she had changed her mind and everybody was going to go down the next day. I urgently tried to remind her that I had not planned on going, and she replied with a mother's classic: "You don't have to come," which translates into plain English as: "If you don't come you will be exposed to ridicule." I pretended not to see the subtext and will take what comes.

I admit a lot of my frustration tends to come from knowing I'm letting my hirsutism cut me off from my family. But at the same time, we have so much opportunity to do things as a family; why does it have to be this particular day, when it's already established that I won't want to go? It makes me feel antisocial, like I'm a bad granddaughter for choosing to be hairy and cloister myself.

That's one thing I don't like about summer. I am getting better at handling the smaller clothes that come with the warm weather, but the family also gears up to spend more time together, and the merits of planning ahead seem to melt away with the snow. Not too long ago it was put before me to go camping in conjunction with our bigger vacation--but the question came from my mother. In front of everybody. There was the obvious impediment that I wouldn't be able to get the extra time off work, but my mind flew to what I felt should have been obvious to her: that camping is uncomfortable for me, as hair removal is a lot less convenient, and it saps the joy out of the experience. I think I cranked out a flabbergasted "No...?" after which she openly disparaged me while the rest of the family listened.

Yes... Yes I know it is my choice to let hirsutism rule certain parts of my life, even after a decade. I know that I put the way I look on a higher priority than it should be. But I also know I'm not alone in this. Even people without such obvious limitations won't go out without make-up or if they don't have clothes they feel they look good in. And I also know a family should be able to accept someone's limitations, even self-imposed ones. This is why it's so hard to trust them with the truth. My own mother can't seem to remember them.

I mean, if you're cooking a meal for your family, you remember the kinds of foods they don't like or are allergic to. Is the beard on my face more subterranean than that?

That should be a good thing, right?

Right, rant done, I feel better. Today is another beautiful day. Man is my chin itchy...

July 21, 2010

Product: KoS Woman Smooth and Sensitive Shave Gel

At the same time as I bought some of the King of Shave's oil, I also thought I would try their gel for women. I used to think a "gel" was the type of shaving medium you got in a can that came out like a gel but lathered into a foam. But after trying this non-foaming stuff, it's changed my perception of the average shaving mediums you find on the shelf for women.

King of Shaves Woman - Smooth and Sensitive Shave Gel - 175 mL

  • Rosa Damascena flower water, aqua, aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice, glycerin, cocamidopropyl betaine, coco-glucoside, glycereth-26, PTFE, anthemis nobilis (chamomile) flower oil, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) extract, lilium candidum (white lily) flower extract, tocopheryl acetate, silk amino acids, castoryl maleate, ethylhexylglycerin, lecithin, polyacrylamide, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, styrene acrylates copolymer, linalool, sodium chloride, citric acid, triethanolamine, polyaminopropyl biguanide, phenoxyethanol, imidazolidinyl urea, dehydroacetic acid, benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate.

Things I liked:
  • Like the oil, I thought the price was great - and now it's on sale so that's even better
  • Also like the oil, it protects without drying and allows you to see where you're shaving
  • You don't need much for each shave - it lasts as long as the oil, and I even used it on other body parts too. ;)

Things I didn't like:
  • You know that sweet, enzymatic smell you get from using chemical depilatory creams? It smells just like that to me. But you do get used to it after a while.
  • I think they're phasing it out!

Did it do what it promised?

Leaves "delicate skin silky smooth and gently moisturized." It really does. I used this one on more places than my face and it works with minimal irritation everywhere (the irritation is likely my fault, I shave against the hair growth, not with). It doesn't have the drying properties of foams, and though I thought I would really miss the more obvious moisture in the oil, this really is a nice product if oil is not what you prefer. If you've ever tried shaving with some of your leftover conditioner, this feels similar, but less likelihood of breakouts. And it's not prone to clog a razor, either.

I think they may be discontinuing this one, too, to make way for their new line of women's products. But the good news is, you can buy the Smooth and Sensitive and the Pamper and Moisturize Shave Gel half price on their website now! I might get both this time; I'm really sad my bottle's empty now.

See what other people thought of the KoS shaving gels for women:
Reviews on

July 13, 2010

The New Love of My Life

Once again I miss a week. This is becoming a very bad habit, I apologize.

But I hope this photo explains it!

I've wanted a dog for as long as I can remember, but have never lived in a place that allowed pets. Above and beyond the fact that a new puppy needs to be supervised all the time, I am so in love with this little guy that I can hardly bear to be away from him. I haven't read or written much at all since we got him.

What's interesting is that in the past week or so since he joined the family, there have been a few instances where I have allowed people from outside my trust zone to come near me while I haven't shaved.

As some of you may already know, in the interest of having a better shave when I must go out, I often skip a day and go stubbly if I have nowhere to be. When I do, I tend to stay away from certain members of the family, and absolutely never answer the door to visitors. I've had family visit on errands and have greeted them and introduced them to the puppy. I've even let them hug me. And when a neighbor wanted to bring her children over to see the puppy, I sat in the backyard with them in direct sunlight to supervise. These are all things I have never done before. With my mind on the puppy, it hasn't bothered me as much. I've still felt self conscious, but just... haven't cared. Because I have a tiny, dependent life to love.

I knew pets were good for your well being, but I didn't expect it to mellow me out quite like that.

June 29, 2010

New Uniforms!

Our office building is in the midst of renovations, causing us all to migrate down to the basement. (Yes, a few clients express surprise and concern at the health and wellness challenges, but for the most part are glad we haven't closed entirely, us being the only office in this quadrant of the city with a huge customer base compared to other branches.) While mostly developed and clean(ish), the usual dress code has been relaxed to permit comfortable shoes and bluejeans. The office has also provided us with t-shirts to keep our regular clothing safe from the new rigors of working "underground."

I love having a uniform, and not having to worry about choosing what to wear each day. I have also noticed less laundry, which is a definite plus for me. But the t-shirts they ordered are v-necks, which dip just low enough that I do have to worry about another matter: chest hair. I was very irritated to discover this, the first time I pulled one on, rather excited to be wearing cotton and denim for once. I wouldn't even have guessed the neck was that low to look at it; it is a unisex t-shirt. But I threw it on, let it settle, happened to look down, and oh crap.

I mean, of all the t-shirt styles available to print our logo on, what are the odds our bosses had to select the style that is so personally inconvenient to me? And now that the weather is getting quite hot, wearing a shirt underneath is an unattractive option.

It just figures. :P

I've put up a new poll that will run for the next couple of months. Age is one of the many stats I can't get from Google Analytics, and I'm very curious. Particularly regarding the youngest contingent. Searching online for help and support when I was developing hirsutism was something from which I probably could have benefited. As well, I do worry about posting content that might not be suitable for minors, such as art I've found that may feature some nudity. I don't want to exclude the younger folk from anything on my blog, yet I do find myself holding back now and then.

June 22, 2010

Product: Cover Girl Smoothers Concealer

I apologize again for my neglect. After another hectic week, spring has finally turned to summer and the snow has fled. As I type this the sunshine has turned swiftly to thunderstorms, but I still feel exhilarated and inspired, looking forward to... nothing in particular, but feeling generally optimistic.

I'm feeling no ill effects from doubling the dose of Spiro--no good ones yet, either, but I am trying to be patient. Why is it that when one is busy and happy one seems to have less to blog about?

So this week, a product review.

Cover Girl Smoothers Concealer - 4 g

  • Squalane, PPG 2 myristyl ether propionate, ethylhexyl hydroxystearate, triisocetyl citrate, petrolatum, phenyl trimethicone, euphorbia cerifera wax (candelilla), ozokerite, chamomilla recutita flower extract (matricaria), tocopheryl acetate, ascorbyl palmitate, panax ginseng root extract, C10 18 triglycerides, propylparaben, copernicia cerifera wax (carnauba), titanium dioxide, iron oxides, may contain mica

Things I liked:
  • It goes on nicely and is easy to blend with my fingers.
  • It conceals moderately well.
  • My dry, shaven skin actually seems to have improved a little, combined with more diligent moisturizing.

Things I didn't like:
  • It comes off a little easily on clothes.
  • Although concealing well, it's not completely opaque.
  • It doesn't quite match my inordinately pale skin tone.

Did it do what it promised?

From Cover Girl's website: "Whether you need to conceal a little or a lot, this conditioning concealer with botanicals such as ginseng, vitamin E and chamomile will help your skin look and feel smooth. Dermatologically-tested formula glides on easily to help cover dark circles, fine lines and other imperfections."

Short answer: yes. I am quite happy with this concealer, and have no plans to switch any time soon.

When I was going through a difficult period of extreme dryness after shaving my face, I was looking for better ways to moisturize. My skin was so scaly that concealers and foundations looked absolutely horrible, but I needed to hide shadow, irritation, nicks and ingrown hairs. To complicate matters, the rest of my face got quite oily during the day. While browsing around for something new to try, I had always stayed away from make-up designed for dry skin. But I thought, perhaps a concealer, something I wouldn't put all over my face like a foundation, might help. And this one had vitamin E. I well know how good that is for your skin.

I am now on my third stick of this stuff and haven't looked back. Combined with a better moisturizing regimen (and my usual oil-free powder patted on top) my jaw, chin and neck have looked so much better. While not perfect, it's still the best thing I've tried so far.

See what other people thought of the Smoothers concealer:

Reviews on Cover Girl's website
Review Stream
Make-Up Alley
Total Beauty
Associated Content

June 8, 2010


Have some of you wondered what you'd look like completely hairless?

Well, okay, with the hair on top your head still in tact? It's something far-fetched to some of us, especially when we're hirsute. We catch a glimpse of ourselves in the full length mirror while getting changed, and feel depressed, angry, embarrassed, but are accustomed to the sight. Some of us are able to maintain our body hair diligently, but I find it often painful and time consuming, especially when the only one who sees me is me.

But maybe because it's spring, and I'm feeling good, I went a little crazy with the razor. I was curious. I wanted to see if I'd feel that much different lacking this one thing that bothers me so. And I knew there would be burning repercussions, and figured if I could mentally prepare myself, I'd be okay.

When I first saw myself in the mirror, I just laughed. I knew it would be temporary, I knew it might even be hell growing back, but I couldn't believe I looked like that. It looked so absurd that I would snicker every time I glanced at myself.

But it was a little anticlimactic. I was still me. Same freckles, same scars, same basic shape. And for most of the days to come, I wouldn't even be thinking about the way I looked underneath my clothes. I'd be too busy trying to solve a problem or calm down an angry client or try to get a hundred things done at once to chuckle about that. The only time I'd really benefit from what I'd done to myself was when I got dressed in the morning, or showered and went to bed at night. Or the odd time I had to reach up somewhere high and my shirt rode up.

So really, all that work didn't enhance life as much as I thought. But it sure looked neat. Those few moments when I saw how I looked without all that body hair felt good. Keeping it up, seeing yourself look like that consistently, was far too easy to get used to. And in the back of my mind, I started to feel just a little bit better about myself.

So all I can say is, if keeping up strict and stringent maintenance makes you feel like you look good, go for it. It worked for me for a fraction of the day, which was nice, but it just doesn't have enough of an impact for it to be worth the hard work all the time. Or worth the torturous regrowth. It's itching like a fiend! Agh!

June 2, 2010

What's Up With That?

I should start naming these odd single hairs that pop up way out of the usual pattern--even the usual male pattern of hair growth. I've ranted about the one that appears low on my neck and often manages to hide from notice. There's one that's made its home on one side of my stomach, completely separate from the others. And there's one that I often forget about until the follicle wakes up from dormancy every few months, half an inch from my normal eyebrow, and thick and dark as anything. What do you think? Larry, Curly, and Moe?

I mean, I can understand (not like I am in any way admitting to liking) the errant hair follicles that sprout in a more masculine pattern on account of testosterone. They makes sense. But these random rebel strands that just pop up out of nowhere? What's their excuse?

All these manly hairs on my body are being all macho in their assigned groups: chin, chest, stomach... But one deviant hair decides, "I just want to be different!"

A beard on a lady? Fine. Logical. But Fred here, coming up on my shoulder from time to time? Now that's just weird...

May 28, 2010

Happy Thoughts

I just found The Happiness Project blog, and it's very interesting! Full of little tips on making your everyday life happy. I love that the author doesn't seem to look at big-picture things, but shows you how changing some of the little things can go a long way. Like this entry, which brought me to the site in the first place, about daily routines and how they can add or detract from your day.

It all just supports the idea that there are things about ourselves we cannot change, but we still have control over our happiness. I can't let myself forget that, and neither should any of you.

And while we're on the subject of positivity, who's heard of the 1000 Awesome Things blog? Just peeking over there now and seeing #496, "Seeing way worse weather on TV somewhere else" made me laugh. I was the place you'd all be looking at and feeling better about. We just had an end-of-may snow shower.

On a completely different tack, did you know that fainting after stressful things like blood tests can be hereditary? According to the lab technician who took my blood today, my brain is hardwired that way and no matter how used to needles I get, I will never be able to outgrow or outsmart the fainting gene. I will have to do my tests lying down for the rest of my life. I'll also have to Google it sometime to see if there are any studies to support that. I don't know if I like the idea of that response being beyond my control.