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.