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.


staticwarp said...

why not get laser hair removal?

Allerleirah said...

Why not, indeed? That's why at 18, I dipped into my college funds and bought some torturous sessions with a laser. That was when I didn't know very much about my condition at all. If I had, I might have saved myself the time, money, and pain. ;)

Laser hair removal isn't always a fix. Especially when the hormones behind the problem aren't under control. Mine weren't, and the hair came back. You'll hear the same thing from a lot of women like me.

Thank you for dropping by and having the curiosity to comment!

staticwarp said...

interesting. i'd actually been getting laser treatments every 8 weeks or so before the company that i had bought services from up and disappeared. i've always had a very thick beard that comes back within hours, however after 4 or 5 laser treatments the density of the hair growth has been halved and i can now go 24 hours without looking like a wolfman.

i've been researching more reputable laser companies in my area and will be going back as soon as i can afford it. depending on the quality of the equipment and the skill of the technician, laser hair removal is not supposed to be as painful as it was for you or i. unfortunately i started out with a sub-par company and the pain was excruciating. the first time i went, the pain was so bad my fight or flight response kicked in, the contents of my bowels liquefied and all i wanted to do was rip the womans head off and run screaming from the place lol. somehow though, i managed to get through it without screaming, shitting myself, or hurting the woman administering the treatment. afterwards the endorphins kicked in and i felt kind of high for a few hours. the only redeeming trait of the sessions is that they went by very quickly, between five and ten minutes. i was able to keep going back because i knew the pain would not last long, unlike the pain of shaving every day, sometimes twice a day, over the same pimples that come back over and over because of the irritation, and eventually become dark red spots and scars on one of the most sensitive parts of my body. as soon as i can afford it i will be going to a more reputable service to finish the treatments. i consider the pain and money well worth the end result of never having to shave again, or at least not having to shave more than twice a week.

how many sessions did you go to? the place i went to told me it would be over with after six sessions, but that only served to halve the amount of follicles on my face. i had five sessions with them before they skipped town so i imagine i'll need at least five more before i'm fully satisfied with the results.

is there really no permanent solution to your condition? can the follicles just grow back after being shot down by a space age light beam? XD

i really like the pictures on the front page of your blog. this is some of the most intriguing material i've come across in a while. thank you for writing about your experience. ^_^

Allerleirah said...

They skipped town? That’s... unnerving. I was referred by a dermatologist, so I got into a great clinic. It may be that I’m just a pussy when it comes to pain. *lol* And I was using topical anesthetic, too, after the first time. You’re right, there is a high when it’s over. Despite the feeling of someone maliciously snapping elastics on my face, I did enjoy the sensation of each hair follicle burning. And the hope that it would all be worth it definitely does keep you going back.

I had six sessions, too. Before beginning the final one, the technician said to me, “You should be seeing some improvement by now. Has your doctor had your hormones tested?” He hadn’t, and stupid me didn’t know any better. About a month after that sixth session though, the hair just started shedding, and I had three months of almost complete normalcy. But I didn’t know that the testosterone in my blood was stimulating the follicles, and it all grew back. At the time, I was pretty crushed.

I’m still working on finding out exactly what’s causing my problem. Since the prescription I’m on is normalizing my testosterone levels but not helping the hair, I suspect I might end up being told my skin is just extremely sensitive to even normal levels of testosterone. The likelihood of a permanent solution depends on the reason behind it all--and there are so many. Some girls have found success with laser or electrolysis, or even with the same pills I’m taking. But perhaps I won’t be one of them, so it interests me to try to perfect the shaving process as much as possible.

I might try laser again eventually, while on the medication. Who knows? And if it doesn’t work out, even three months vacation from shaving would be nice to have again one day. But it’s a lot of money, pain, and hope to risk, as you know. I was aware there are a lot of men who try laser hair removal but this is the first time I’ve read an experience. So thank you, it’s very interesting!