Beauty and the beast: Hair today gone tomorrow

 … we wish!  [with abject apologies for really AWFUL pun]

Hair and it’s removal is a topic fraught with implications, decisions, terror, and financial burden.  Obviously I’m not referring to the plain old hair on the top of your head – although cuts and colours and treatments and styles can be equally panic-attack-inducing [which is why we females are always, ALWAYS cringingly nice to our hair-dressers/stylists – only imagine the damage they could do if they had a grudge?].

Nope, it’s all that extraneous and culturally unattractive hair elsewhere – underarms, forearms, legs, pubes … even, for some ladies [and blokes, but I’ll get to that in a bit] backs and bums.  Shade, coarseness and density differs for every single individual but we all, at some point, ask the same questions.  How?  Where?  And for bloody fuck’s sake, WHY?

I won’t get into the whole gender-political debate, and the cultural implications of being hair free vs hairy just now [although feel free to go wild in the comments section].  Let’s assume for the sake of this post that the need for hair removal is on your agenda.  Appearance is the main reason for most folks;  comfort is another. 

Appearance:  Satin-smooth legs and arms are sexy, there’s no doubt about that.  Neanderthal uni-brows and lady-‘staches are not.

[If you’ll allow me to go off on a tangent for a sec, my mother has on several occasions extracted a solemn promise [I believe it’s also in her Will] that when she is old and infirm in an old folks’ home, or in a coma, or otherwise incapacitated, I am to visit weekly and get pluckin’ and waxin’ those eyebrows and ‘stache.  AND dye her head-hair.  I guess that’s what daughters are for?]

Comfort:  Extraneous underarm, leg and arm hair is bloody uncomfortable in summer, and the itchiness and ouchiness of hairs-rubbed-up-the-wrong-way in opaque tights, jodhpurs, and lycra cycling / gym gear can be unbearable.

A trimmed, shaped or completely defoliated bush is generally preferred by the female population and their sexual partner/s;  let’s face it, pubic hairs between the teeth are icky.  And if you trim / shape then it is your right to insist your partner/s does / do so also.  Fair’s fair.  Quid pro quo, all that.   Then there’s fickle fashion;  given most undies and swimwear leave little to the imagination these days, wayward curls sproinging joyously free are somewhat unsightly.

Blokes are not exempt from the slings and arrows of fashion and comfort, and points may be awarded if they have to endure similar torture.  Now I am most certainly not referring to daily shaving of da beard here, that’s just tough, too bad, no sympathy.  However blokes who have their back, bum, bits and full leg hair stripped / ripped because they are cyclists, swimmers, strippers or just extra hirsute are indeed a) very brave boys and b) appreciated immensely by their womenfolk.

[Thanks Tuxedo!  You are very brave and you look simply stunning in your ASSOS cycling gear!]  [mmm … cyclists’ legs mmm …]  [*cough*  I apologise for that interruption in transmission *cough*]

Okay so that’s the “WHY” dealt with – more or less.   The “HOW” is trickier.  There are many methods, of varying efficacy, regrowth time, pain levels, etc.  Actually, more or less is a relevant issue, here.  Depending on how furry you are, some methods will be more effective, ditto with shade of fur,  and the sensitivity and condition of your skin.

. . . . . . . . . .

Tweezing

My eyebrows are incredibly bushy and shapeless but fortunately [gotta look on the bright side] they are so fair as to be invisible.  I do mega-tweezes every couple of weeks, with smaller maintenance sessions in between times. 

Very Important Tip:  Use a really, really good set of stainless steel slant-ended tweezers – I love my groovy looking Swiss-made Rubis Perforated S/Steel Slant Tweezers, it’s miles better than even the cult favourite Tweezerman and leaves the cheapie versions in the dust.  It really is worth spending the $$$.

Shaving

Shaving is probably the quickest, easiest and less messy method – unless you’re a butcher like me and manage to hack chunks of flesh out of your shins.  Once you start shaving, that’s it, you have to keep doing it every two days or so, as leg hair grows back really quickly and, the big disadvantage [aside from potential scarring and bleeding to death], even coarser and thicker and more bristly than before.  Double, triple, quadruple ugh. 

Let it be noted that I’m biased as I hate shaving.  The only time I’d countenance shaving is if you are desperate to de-fuzz and have no time for a waxing appointment or messy home wax session and must have silky smooth legs [say, if you have an unexpected date with Viggo Mortensen].  Use a really good razor and blades – I prefer men’s razors to women’s, all that “follows the special curves of a woman” is marketing shite – for example, a Gillette Mach III Turbo razor with matching blades; and in lieu of a “specially formulated” shaving foam, use a thick creamy body wash like Dove’s Moisturising Body Wash.

Waxing

Waxing hurts.  It really, really hurts, and some parts of the body are far more sensitive than others.  Not only the obvious ones – lower back is more sensitive than upper [for the blokes] and underarms and brows are really painful.  However, looking on the bright side, the pain does decrease after a few waxing sessions; probably your skin becomes a little desensitised, and also – major plus – the hair becomes much finer and less dense.  Waxing is my preferred de-furrifying method [lucky for me I have a ridiculously high pain threshold].

Other pros:  waxed areas feel gorgeously smooth and satin-y [once any redness and bumps have calmed down!  Hey, I’m being realistic here]; speed of hair growth is much slower than, eg shaving, because it’s removed at the follicle whereas shaving just removes the hair at the surface of the skin, and over time becomes even more reduced, so your trips to the torture chamber beauty therapist may become less frequent.  Say, from four to eight weeks in my own experience. 

Apart from legs, you can also get other bits waxed;  brows, aforementioned lady-‘stache, underarms and forearms [if you are especially furry].  And lady-bits, of course; there’s a huge variety of shapes and “degrees” from the traditional map of Tasmania to the landing strip to completely bare.  There’s more “creative” shapes too, intended to surprise one’s fella / gal; hearts, arrows, X marks the spot and so on.  Oh and don’t forget colour!  Pink for St Valentine’s Day, green for St Paddy’s Day.  Blue or red for Election Day, maybe?

You can also wax at home, using one of the myriad waxing kits available at pharmacies, Priceline, etc.  Nair and Sally Hansen are good brands.  The main problem with at-home sessions is the mess.  Even regardless of “no mess” claims there’s always something.  Although we’ve undoubtedly come a long, long way from heating up tubs of Waxeeze in a saucepan of water which you then slopped all over the floor, all the cotton strips stuck together and then the palette knife stuck to your fingers …

DIY kits are nowhere near as efficacious as a good beauty therapist.  Then there’s the human error factor;  asymmetrical eyebrows, burned upper lips, and I don’t want to even think about some of the horror stories involving at-home bikini line kits … OUCH.  And OOPS. 

DIY can be an expensive and painful – not to mention embarrassing – lesson in false economy.   Professionals are quick, neat and thorough.  Also most beauty salons have “value bundles” which include legs, bikini line, arms, whatever, and the price is much cheaper than the individual costing.  A great “bundle” is having your brows waxed, and have a brow and lash tint at the same time – good for the wallet and molto bellissima!

Threading

I’ve never been “threaded” but I’m very interested in it, I just need to find a good threading salon.  I think my best bet is at a salon catering more for Asian women.  Threading originated in India lo, many millennia ago.  It’s specifically for smaller areas, eyebrows and ‘stache.   A cotton thread is twisted around a line of hairs to be pulled out, as opposed to tweezing where it’s one hair at a time, and then yank!, the hair is pulled out at the follicle.

Threading is often preferred to straightforward tweezing because a lot of hairs can be removed at one go [farewell, uni-brow!], as well as more precise work, and the hair is pulled out in a more natural line of growth than, say, waxing where it depends on where the wax has been applied.    As with waxing and tweezing hair re-growth slows down and hair becomes finer and less dense after several session.   Also the top layers of skin aren’t irritated as with waxing [both the heat of the wax and skin being pulled] so it’s an ideal method for those who have sensitive skin. 

My problem with having eyebrows and ‘stache waxed is that my skin is so fragile and stretchy [due to EDS] that I get extraordinarily inflamed tissues and broken capillaries from the strips being ripped off – it’s not just the hair that goes with it, my skin tries to also!   It takes about a month for my poor face to recover.   Thus the quest to find a good threader begins …

Depilatory Creams

They stink.   And they’re not that effective.   But hey, if you’re a convert by all means don’t let us stop you. *sniff sniff ewww*

Oh OKAY.   I don’t think depilatory creams for legs are very effective, but the kits for face [upper lip etc] are pretty good – I quite like the Sally Hansen one and has a pleasant post-napalming calming cream.

IPL – Intense Pulsed Light aka Light Therapy Hair Removal

IPL or Intense Pulsed Light is a method of hair removal whereby the beauty therapist [hopefully trained but don’t count on it … ] uses a machine that beams a focused, broad-spectrum light on the area being treated, which travels through the skin tissues until it hits the hair shaft, which is then vaporised destroying the hair shaft and the follicle.  Sounds way effective if a bit drastic, yah?

Well I guess it is … if it worked.  Although advertised as a permanent hair removal I’d say at the very most you’ll experience some reduction in hair re-growth over the eight or so sessions required.  IPL works on dark dense hair only so if you are fair-haired then this is not the method for you.

And just fuggedabouddit if you’re thinking of trying it out for the “lessening of redness” effect.  See above, “IPL works on dark dense hair only”.  IPL will not work if you have fair hair whether you have rosacea or not – I hoped it would work for me but I’m like a white rabbit as far as melanin goes.  This is what I was told by a beauty therapist without a conflict of interest, and backed up by further research.  Unless you are a young woman with a heavy black beard this will not work on you.  And if you are a young woman with a heavy black beard, might I suggest seeking a job in a circus to pay for more effective albeit expensive rosacea treatment plans and products.

Another issue is that IPL is expensive, and you will have to sign up for at least eight sessions at about four – six week intervals.  When Tuxedo went for IPL, we got a half-price deal and it was still close to $ 3000.00.  OUCH.  [And the salon signed us up to a “lay-by” payment arrangement which turned out to be with a “financial institution” ie debt collection agency which screwed us even further.]

Aside from the cost, given the fact that IPL only works on dark dense hair and then only reduces regrowth, and is not a permanent hair removal method [like laser therapy] I’d hesitate to recommend it to anyone.  Then again I am extremely biased.  Tuxedo’s experience – aside from the cost and rip-off merchants [both salon and financial institution] was not good.  His leg and back hair is very dark and dense, but he still experienced absolutely no reduction in regrowth.  Waxing has been a much more successful treatment route for him, he’s got significantly finer and less hair than prior waxing.

So basically IPL = Crap!!! And Expensive.  And those BEFORE and AFTER pics you see on beauty salon ads are a downright LIE.  I think to get that shot the PR company resurrected a Neanderthal and shaved him.

Other? 

Then there are various groovy devices [that look rather obscene – i know a lot about sex toys and these make me widen my eyes a bit .. alternative use anyone?] of the epilator species.  These are electrical doo-dahs which grasp the hair as you roll it over the area and yank them out.  It’s a similar process to waxing but seems less popular possibly because of the pain [even worse than One’s First Wax] and less effective.

I’ve never tried any type of epilator so I’m totally ignorant.  Anyone want to educate me?  I know there’s a *new improved* epilator on the market [at least in the US] called the No!No!  I’ve been following the trials and tribulations of the Beauty Addict as she experiments with the device and things aren’t looking good … May definitely be a case of No!Fucking!Way!

. . . . . . . . . .

What’s your preferred method of hair removal?

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