I Spend a Lot of Time Thinking About Hair Removal What About You

I have a memory of being 17 and on a bus, sitting near two beautiful Italian women, perfect head to toe. Hair, perfect. Clothes, perfect. Italian words coming out of their mouths, perfect. Then one one crossed her legs out of the shadow and into the sun, and glistening on her leg was hair. She was wearing heels and mini skirt and and she didn’t shave her legs. The light shifted and I saw that the other woman also had hair on their legs. I was shocked. Hair was supposed to be disgusting, I thought? But yet here were two of the most beautiful women I’d even been near—and hair on their legs.

My leg hair is not blond like the Italian women. It is dark. My legs are pale. In the winter I go weeks without shaving, and I walk around the house in my underwear and I look down at my pale legs with the dark hair. I’m taken aback. It’s so ugly. But it’s not ugly. What could be ugly. Why do I think it’s ugly? Think of the Italian women! I am a human woman just like them. I should be okay with this hair.

I let my pits go for awhile, too. It was a moratorium on shaving, out of laziness, then out of curiosity. But then one day I was wearing a tank top and standing in front of the mirror with my arms resting on my head and I crossed my eyes a little bit and imagined the dark stubble as dark tufts, curly and long, and I decided, it did not gross me out, in theory. Maybe I’d keep my pit hair, why not. I held out of a day then shaved it off. It took two razors.

I think about my leg hair and my pit hair but the hair I think about most is the hair on my face. I didn’t used to have it, but I do now, and not just one hair but many tiny little hairs. Dark, course. I’ve never shaved, but I’ve plucked and waxed and threaded. I bleached once, but while the bleach was on my face I got a phone call and forgot to wash it off. Twenty minutes later I had cream on my phone and a red, burning face. It looked normal by the next day, but it was not an experiment I’d replicate. Marring by hair cream.

I was in college when I first noticed the hair. In line in a drive through, when I looked in the mirror and saw tiny hairs where I didn’t think there were any—on the sides of my face, on my chin.

Sometimes the hair is all I can think of and sometimes I forget for a few days and then look in the mirror at the tiny whiskers growing out of my chin, my cheeks, my neck, and cannot believe, literally cannot believe, I’ve been walking around like this. I used to keep tweezers in my car and now I have them scattered around the house. I’ve gotten good at using my fingernails as tweezers. I’ve also gotten good at walking around with a splotchy face because I decided to use my fingernails as tweezers.

I did an experiment once where I didn’t look in the mirror for two weeks and let all the hairs grow out. This wasn’t exactly on purpose, though I wish I were the kind of person that did experiments like this. I was housesitting and alone and when I left the house it was to walk to the grocery store and I never had occasion to look in the mirror. My mom was the first person I saw after my adventure away from the mirror. Go get yourself groomed, she said, handing me cash.

I had hoped the experiment would go differently. I had hoped that as the hair grew it would get finer and lighter and then would disappear. Fall out. Be gone. This did not happen. Instead after two weeks of not looking in the mirror the hairs I had grown longer and darker and thicker, and new hairs had also grown, themselves shorter, but still dark and thick. I stared at my face for awhile and then I thought about leaving it, being natural, being me, this is who I am, this is what I look like. Then I took my mom’s money to a salon down the street and let them wax my face.

When I get my face waxed I don’t make appointments. I walk in and ask if someone can wax my brows. Then when I’m in the back I pretend like I just realized, during the walk back, that I have hair all over my face actually and would like to have all this—hand waving in a circular motion in front of my face—gone. Clean my entire face of demon hair, please. This has always worked out. It worked out this time. It costs $60.

The hair is very likely the result of a hormone imbalance that could be remedied with the right birth control pill. But the thing about the right birth control pill is that it can take time to find, and it definitely takes money to find—co-pays for doctors visits, the pills themselves. I haven’t been on hormonal birth control in some years. I don’t really want to be on it right now, or ever again. I take pills for my brain, I don’t want to take other pills unless I have to. But I research pills sometimes. Are there ones that could promise to keep the estrogen … away from my brain and just make the hair go away? No. Science doesn’t work that way.

I really want to throw money at this problem and have it go away. And that’s a possibility. Laser hair removal is a thing that exists. Sessions can cost $250, and you can need six sessions: $1,500 to get rid of hair. Groupons and promotions can halve the cost. But still hundreds of dollars. For vanity! I’d do it if I had the money. And will one day, when I have the money. Sometimes I wish I’d done it when I was still using credit cards. What would another thousand dollars be to me, now? Instead I’ll wait, just pay for it in cash in some years.

There’s a threading place across the street from the office. It’s cheap and no frills and they’ll do my whole face for under $40. This is the process I go through before I go there. Try to love the hair, grow out the hair, hate the hair, tweeze the hair, wax the hair, BCP research, laser research … then threading. When I walk in the lady will recognize me. She’ll wonder why it’s been so long.

Photo by m-air-ree

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102 Comments / Post A Comment

honey cowl (#1,510)

Love it. Logan you just keep knocking it out of the park this week.

@honey cowl Word!

selenana (#673)

@honey cowl Yes! Logan I love you so much.

theotherginger (#1,304)

this is hilarious. my best tweezer comes from outside of a subway station in mexico city. i wish i had bought like 4 of them.

Leila@twitter (#1,607)

@theotherginger I have a pair like that. From a random corner store in Barcelona. They are the best!

aetataureate (#1,310)

Do you ever have a few days of underarm stubble and then wear a new tshirt? Oh my goodness, it’s like Elmer’s Glue and glitter.

Leila@twitter (#1,607)

Ugh, Logan why are you in my head? I literally have a hair removal schedule and it goes something like this:
-threading every two weeks
-shave pits every couple of days
-shave legs once per week
-wax arms once a month
-eyebrows once a week
There might be even more to this than I would like to admit…

I’ve also lasered my pits and legs, which was ridiculously expensive and yet highly effective.

Logan-despite my username, I am a girl, and I have this problem, and I am going to send you an email and hopefully we can talk about it and the shame spiral that can contribute to massive depression. Or maybe that’s just me.

shannowhamo (#845)

@Jake Reinhardt I too have this same issue! I don’t pay anyone to do it thought because I am way cheap. I wax my lip and tweeze my chin- tweezers in my purse always, the light in the car looking in the rear view mirror is the best light! I also buy (illegal) Vaniqa online and it seems to help keep it a little at bay. I got laser hair removal (paid for by my parents, thanks folks!) and it did not help at all. I see a lot of conflicting info on this but it appears that it’s possible that hormonal hair doesn’t respond so well to laser (of course, the laser hair removal folks made no mention of this possibility.) I can’t take regular hormonal BC because I have migraines that make me at a higher risk for stroke and non-estrogen BC make miserable. Facial hair drama for life!

Logan I love this.

I have mostly blonde and mostly baby fuzz facial hair, but that baby fuzz the last few years has been slowly morphing into coarser and darker hairs and I am a plucking/CVS generic cream FIEND. I bought tweezers with an LED light on them for maximum chin hair visibility and they are my babies.

Dancercise (#94)

@polka dots vs stripes
I don’t know why I thought I was the only one this happened to. That’s silly. But it’s nice to know others have this too. Ah, mid-20s hormonal changes, why are you so awful?

nocs (#3,734)

@Dancercise Me too! so that’s three of us!

@nocs Make that 4. Every other day, I spend a day with a magnification mirror and tweezers. Ughhhh hormones.

BuffyBot (#189)

@polka dots vs stripes 5– It’s very specific to my chin too… I’ve always been self conscious of my lip hair, but the chin and neck are new.

Renleigh (#2,110)

@polka dots vs stripes 6 of us. :(

blueblazes (#1,798)

Seriously. Does my husband notice when my chin gets stubbly? Where did all these dark hairs on my neck come from? What if they are actually a power source (a la Samson) and I am plucking them out every morning before work and can never be successful?

lemonadefish (#3,296)

I don’t shave my armpits because I am a hippy, and they don’t show at work. I use beard clippers on my legs because the hair is fairly light and I can more or less get away with that, every week or so. I get my eyebrows waxed or threaded not often enough (8 weeks? 12??), because no one ever just shows up in my house to groom them, and I’m very lazy. The chin though, the massive, lustrous dwarf beard – that I shave every day (mostly. except sometimes on the weekends, or if I just can’t make myself shower). I used to pluck it, but there are too many, and I can’t spend all my time just pulling hairs out. Waxing is no good – even the professionals can only just remove my skin while the big black hairs stay firmly in place. (Scabby beard is not an attractive look, fyi.) I could save up enough for lasers in a few months if I tried (there’s a place in my town that offers 6 sessions + lifetime touch-ups for $500), but I have this fear that it will be like waxing – only traumatize my skin whilst the hairs just laugh and laugh… So… I don’t really frame the hair question in terms of $$, but I know where you are coming from.

TroutSprout (#3,971)

Yes, this is like me, too! And I thought BC would help, but it didn’t really. Maybe I didn’t find the right pill, but I also hate HATE having estrogen on the brain.
I am lazy about going to the salon, but became more motivated after I came home and told my boyfriend, “I got my eyebrows threaded!” And he said, “And your mustache, too!” So I was trying to be demure and ladylike and pretend that he hadn’t noticed, but of course he had. People see everything when they live together.
So intrigued by/must have the LED tweezers!

@TroutSprout Revlon!! I found mine in Ulta for $10 but I think CVS et al have them too

Reburkel (#3,383)

It would almost be cheaper for you to fly out to Vancouver and use my laser hair removal lady if you didn’t have to wait six weeks between sessions. $40 per bikini session! Probably even cheaper for your face! http://www.beamlaserclinic.com/

readyornot (#816)

@Reburkel I was gonna say, I’ve seen Groupon deals for six sessions on a small area (which includes chin and lip together) for a hundred bucks.

I will also say, however, that hormone imbalances imply it’s not a permanent removal. They come back!

whiteeyewhites (#3,995)

@Reburkel Thank you!! I am calling her right now.

nudenixon (#3,419)

I started letting pits & legs grow freely about a year ago and I LOVE IT A LOT. I’ve only had two negative comments to my face about it, which I file gingerly under “has issues I cannot address for him,” and go along my merry way. I feel super sexy and adult with pit hair and I rarely think about my leg hair (which is relatively course and dark, I’m a brunette).

If anything, it’s made me a little more into stepping up my shoes/boots/skirts game, so I can show off my downy gams. My boyfriend doesn’t give a shit, because he is a grown up and understands biology.

I do tweeze my brows to prevent their unification. I don’t think that’s completely gendered (only a little).

Li'l Sebastian (#3,297)

@nudenixon HIGH FIVE, unshaven sister!

I do feel completely different about any hair on my face, though. Body hair, whatever — I don’t even really mind showing off some of the fine dark hairs in my cleavage region. I think if I had darker hairs on my face it would be more of an issue for me.

amirite (#2,677)

@Li’l Sebastian

I am the same. I will never shave my legs or my pits again, partly because I love how they look, and partly because I hate stubble and never want to have to deal with it. But in the last 3 years or so the hair on my face has started getting coarser and darker. I am blonde so it’s still not really noticeable, but I tweeze regularly now, and I worry about what I’ll do if it gets worse. I have so little patience for spending time on grooming, I know I’m going to be so cranky if I have to up my hair removal game.

allreb (#502)

@nudenixon I never made a conscious decision to stop shaving, but I often go for months without doing it, because blah, it’s time consuming and I never remember to buy new razor blades and etc. And since I wear jeans and a t-shirt pretty much every day, all year, regardless of season, it seemed like no big deal.

Last summer I decided I wanted to step up my Cute Dress Wearing Game a bit, by wearing one at all, ever. Bought a super cute dress! And boots! It was very exciting! And then I didn’t have time to shave that morning and spent a few second agonizing over it, before deciding fuck it, putting on my cute dress and new boots, and going out. It only took a few minutes before I realized that no one was staring at me, no one cared, and my legs (and the hair on them) are my business. It was seriously liberating.

BananaPeel (#1,555)

I have a little at-home wax pot from Sally Beauty for my brows and my mustache. Shaping my brow arch is a little tricky but honestly it cannot be beat for the unibrow area. It’s the Gigi brand and the warmer + wax + cloth strips looks like it would run you about $45-50 on their web site.

hthomas420 (#3,973)

New hair growth years after puberty is often due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome- might want to check it out.

sventurata (#27)

@hthomas420 99% of the time it’s just getting older. We’re splitting hairs here, not talking coarse (not course! Seriously people?) patches of bramblebrush

breezee (#3,701)

I took bc + spironolactone in college to help with all of the new, coarse hairs that suddenly cropped up on my face around the age of 20 but it didn’t really help in a noticeable way AND they were not kind to my mental health!

I, too, spend a lot of time thinking about hair removal/tweezing with fingernails/horrifying myself by letting it grow out…it does make me feel better to read posts like this and know I’m not alone!!

Hair. Why do we care so much about hair??? Why is some hair dirty and some hair sexy?!! Is it a weird mammal fixation? I’m fairly relaxed on the hair-removal spectrum, but I do shave my legs and armpits every two or three days, bleach my upper lip occasionally, and I know that I take a bizarre pleasure in plucking random hairs out with my tweezers. I’ve never been waxed or gotten a Brazilian, but I do even trim with scissors as well if I think I’m going to get lucky. We are such strange apes.

redspectacles (#3,428)

“When I get my face waxed I don’t make appointments. I walk in and ask if someone can wax my brows. Then when I’m in the back I pretend like I just realized, during the walk back, that I have hair all over my face actually and would like to have all this—hand waving in a circular motion in front of my face—gone. Clean my entire face of demon hair, please. This has always worked out.”

–my waxing life summarized.

Facial waxing, anyway. Just yesterday, I mustered the courage to get a Brazilian wax at this well-reviewed place that had a Groupon-like deal. I’m surprised at how little it hurt (compared to what I was expecting) and how much I liked the results. I’m afraid I might have to up my hair-removal budget (but oh where will the money come from?!, I am thinking to myself as I twirl a stray, extra-long-and-wiry chin hair).

AitchBee (#3,001)

I did a backcountry hike this summer and came out of five weeks in the woods feeling all chill and one with nature and at peace with my body…and then I looked in the mirror and realized I was well on my way to being Teen Wolf.

Basically, it was really nice to hear from other people with the same issues. Want to have a hairy Billfold Lady meetup in a bar with no mirrors and/or poor lighting?

2for1cheesecake (#3,591)

@AitchBee I kind of want to do a meetup in the backcountry so you can tell stories about your 5-week hike! I did the same at-one-with-nature thing during a month-long camping trip last summer, then spent approximately 2 hours trying to de-hair myself before a wedding, all the while feeling conflicted about my vanity/adherence to beauty standards. Nature vs civilzation … blargh.

breakfast (#633)

This week the Billfold has inspired me to: a) open a second savings account for saving up for things I want to do and b) wax my eyebrows.

If I add up all the money I have spent on hair removal over the years it would make me cry. (Not happy tears. So much money.)

BUT: laser hair removal! One can get deals. Logan, you are in NYC, wait around for a Lifebooker deal on SkinSpa, which doesn’t suck (they’re not the best, but for the price they’re better than most.)

Do not do IPL (waste of time and money.) Nd YAG lasers have worked best for me. The ones with the blast of cold stuff are particularly nice.

I had the pleasure of needing, basically, medically necessary laser hair removal on my legs. No, it was not covered by insurance. Yes, it is the only thing that worked after years of scaliness, scratching, cortisone, exfoliating, moisturizers, everything. And even after spending insane amounts of money and going for something like 8 sessions, I’ve still got patches of growth. I’ll shave, quickly and poorly at the gym, maybe once a month.

Same with pits. Laser hair removal on pits was the best $79 (Groupon! 3 sessions!) I ever spent. I occasionally (every 8 weeks or so?) will take a razor to my pits. Or not. Whatever.

Next stop is bikini. I’ve had two sessions, and it’s already cut down on the painful ingrown hairs. I get (got?) horrific ingrown hairs. I’ve got dark, insanely coarse, and painfully thick hair. Shaving is painful (ingrowns and grow-out). Waxing is, long-term, far more expensive and I’m too lazy to make regular appointments.

Sorry for the long comment. I have weirdly passionate and strong thoughts on hair removal. (And yet half the time– on unlasered parts, I’m Yeti-like and don’t care.)

Oh: threading for eyebrows, not waxing. The place in the Rockefeller Center concourse is $8 and surprisingly good, and every 10th one is free. (I have also had my pits threaded, but that is another story.)

@angry little raincloud This? This sounds like me. Especially your “hair down there”. WHY THE INGROWNS, LIFE. WHY?

@Amanda OZ@twitter On the plsu side, there’s always the fun (is it fun? sometimes? just me?) of going after those pesky ingrowns with tweezers.

sony_b (#225)

@angry little raincloud When I was in electrology school (it’s a branch of cosmetology here in CA) we offered low cost electrolysis by students so we could get our practical hours in (this was 20 years ago, I think I had to have 200 hours on top of school work). There was a guy who came in and had to have his scrotum done. He was a professional bicycle racer (there is a better term for that, probably) and he had a massive problem with infected ingrowns in his nuts from the tight shorts, sweat, and pressure from the bike seat. If he didn’t do this he was going to lose his fertility and possibly his nuts. It was not a pleasant experience for anyone involved.

@angry little raincloud Oh. My. God. That is a horrifying story!

AitchBee (#3,001)

@Amanda OZ@twitter I am the queen of ingrown hairs, whether I wax or shave, but I’ve started exfoliating with sea salt and facewash (whatever drugstore anti-acne I’m using on my face that week), and it’s been so awesome that I feel the need to proselytize it on the internet.

OhMarie (#299)

So I have a major, Bearded Lady level problem with this and I say: shave your face! I used to hate it but it is SO easy! Also you don’t have to grow it out and it’s cheap.

I did get laser hair removal with a Groupon and the hair level is more reasonable now but not zero.

zamboni (#2,096)

@OhMarie Can I ask what your routine is? I am a lady who has to shave my face every day, but I think I could be doing it in a manner/with stuff that is nicer to my skin.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

@zamboni I am a face shaving lady also, and I use a fancy old-fashioned safety razor (merkur long handled, if you care)- it’s $30 up front, but the blades are like five cents, so you can afford to use a fresh one all the time, which seriously seriously cuts down on razor burn & ingrowns. I just do my washing in the shower, then at the end, slap on a little shaving cream (I use a pasty one from the Body Shop I think? I dunno, it came in my christmas stocking) (the fancy shaving soap with the badger brush is nice and all, but not worth the bother, really) and then just shave it off, and then go about my merry way with moisturizer, etc. The key is really the very sharp blade.

OhMarie (#299)

@zamboni Ok, so I recently joined Dollar Shave Club and it’s wonderful. It’s basically a mail order razor cartridge replacement service. Using old blades was the biggest thing that was irritating my skin, so that kind of forces me to switch them out and not be a stingy idiot about throwing old ones away. It also seems that razors meant for dudes work a bit better on my face but I may be imagining it. I get one of the multi-blades, the description has some blurb about how your girlfriend will steal it for her legs (lol, but it does work well on legs when I want it to).

Other than that, I always shave in the shower, never lathering up in front of the mirror like dudes in commercials do. I also use a super gentle face soap like Cetaphil to do it.

zamboni (#2,096)

@OhMarie @lemonadefish This is totally helpful. Thanks! I think cartridge replacement/razor sharpness is definitely my issue (and I’m slow to replace them specifically because they’re expensive, so these are especially hot tips).

notpollyanna (#2,841)

This is my hair removal circle, all about leg hair: get tired of shaving because you can still see my dark hair through my pale and translucent skin, start spending a lot of time with my $20 epilator, consider buying a better epilator, decide to tweezer my leg hair instead (which I find absurdly calming and can do for hours on end), worry about ingrown consequences of tweezing and epilating, consider laser removal, look at laser removal groupons, decide to suck it up and shave every other day like a normal woman, repeat.

I went to the doctor once and she asked about my belly and breast hair (so embarrassing) and said a different birth control pill might help that, but I don’t care because no one sees that hair, it’s the leg hair I hate.

I had laser hair removal and it worked until I got pregnant. It all came back with a vengeance! So, be forewarned, hormones are stronger than lasers!

CubeRootOfPi (#1,098)

Have you considered checking out electrolysis schools? They may offer electrolysis or laser hair removal for less.

limenotapple (#1,748)

Laser hair removal changed my life, but I’m also pale with dark hair, which is exactly what you want to be for this to work. I only went to three sessions. It didn’t take care of everything, but at least now I don’t have a constant 5 o’clock shadow. The remaining hair? I just sort of made a decision to own it. I get my eyebrows shaped and pluck the exceptionally long (WHERE DO THESE COME FROM) ones from my face, but honestly, I just decided that I’m not going to be bothered by it.

comments, oh my! (#3,986)

I can’t believe that I actually created a commenter account just to participate in this conversation. I love The Billfold, I love Logan (I’m totally in the process of writing you an email about your posts last week because I think you’re my spirit animal), and I love it that this topic came up exactly when I’ve been putting out massively embarrassed feelers to friends regarding how to deal with facial hair. What do I do about my moustache?!?! It just appeared out of nowhere upon entering my late twenties and I want it gone forever. Doesn’t waxing lead to ingrowns and weird stubbly regrowth? How often does it need to be done? Has anyone done electrolysis? If I do laser removal will I have a super burned upper lip? What do I dooooo?

@comments, oh my! I don’t know what kind of hair you have on your ‘stache, but mine is so fine and thin I just shave it every few days. I get a dry razor and go for it – takes 10 seconds.

breezee (#3,701)

@comments, oh my! I have done electrolysis and it worked BUT it is expensive and takes many, many sessions…I think it can be done faster/higher power but that comes with a scarring risk (this is just what my lady told me), and it left my chin/sideburns red and bumpy for a while afterwards so that might be an issue with the lip.

sony_b (#225)

@breezee, @comments, I used to be an electrologist. I got into it because I developed PCOS as a teenager and basically had a full, manly beard by the time I was in college. I was fully licensed and had a business in Berkeley, CA for several years in the early ’90s, until the lasers put me out of business and I had to go get a real job.

Couple things –

1) waxing does not make your hair come back thicker, but it can cause serious ingrowns if you are prone to them and not careful. Because of the way hair grows in cycles, after the first time you wax it can be substantially less painful if you maintain it on a regular schedule. Functionally, threading, sugaring, and waxing are all forms of tweezing. The way they differ is in speed, accuracy, and comfort level. Waxing and sugaring are not recommended for people who use retinoids or some other topical facial meds because they can pull your skin off with it. Check with a dermatologist about threading – most people should be fine because the threads only grab hair, not the skin like waxing does.

2) Lasers are a massive improvement over electrolysis if you are a good candidate. Lasers will work the best on people with dark hair and fair skin – basically you need to zap the follicles which can be 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep in your dermis depending on where on your body the hair in question is. The greater the color variation the easier it is for the laser to “see” the follicle. It hurts like you’re being snapped with a rubber band. There are topical creams that can help by prescription. It’s not bad though – if you can take waxing you can take this.

3) Electrolysis is expensive and painful, but can be the best option for people with darker skin, lighter hair or for serious eyebrow shaping. The way to tell if your electrologist knows what they are doing is to pay attention to what you feel as they are working. There are three possible pain sensations – first when they put the needle down next to the hair shaft – if you feel a poking or pricking sensation their aim is off. Everybody misses every once in a while, but if you feel it on every hair, find a different electrologist. The second one is a slight zap or buzzing feeling when they hit the electricity. This is normal and what you should feel, and it will be worst on your upper lip. Chin and eyebrows hurt, but I could take it for hours without a problem. The third thing to notice is if you feel them pulling the hair out – once the follicle is zapped by the electricity the hair should just slide right out. If you feel a tweezing sensation, they didn’t do it right. A few misses in a session are normal, but if it happens every time, move on.

Also, people prone to keloid scarring should not do electrolysis. If you are prone to it, you’ll know already.

jquick (#3,730)

@breezee I did electrolysis of my bikini line and agree with breezee that it worked – 15 yrs ago and just have a few here or there, and agree that it took A LOT of sessions. I have no idea, but would guess 100.

Christy (#3,892)

OMG girl, I feel you on this one. I straight up don’t shave my legs/pits in winter, and now that I’ve switched to a all-dresses-all-the-time work wardrobe, I’m shaving every day.

I’ve had the same waxer (for my eyebrows) since I was 11. I regularly drive the hour to my hometown to see her to get my chin, lip, and brows waxed. She cuts me a deal because I’ve been going there forever; it’s only $30/session plus tip.

I have SO MUCH angst about my face hairs. Sometimes I have to make my gf take away my tweezers so I won’t obsessively pluck. They aren’t even the bad hairs I’m plucking, most of the time, just ones that only I can feel/see.

RocketSurgeon (#747)

Oh Logan. You just hit a nerve. My chin hair and I have been at war for years. I’m pretty fair-skinned, so I’m dismayed that they grow in all prickly and dark. Especially since my eyebrows are light/tame enough not to require regular waxing or plucking, and I have very blonde hair on my arms and legs. Switching to an IUD from hormonal birth control didn’t make any difference, either.

I did laser removal – 6 whole sessions, with a Groupon discount – about 5 years ago, but in my case, it certainly was not permanent. The laser lady told me to shave any hairs that grow back, which I admit to doing out of desperation and not wanting to be a plucking obsessive, but ugh. I’m looking into electrolysis now. I’m to the point where I will throw money at the issue until it goes away for real, just to not have to deal with it on a near daily basis for the rest of my life.

Though it is heartening to know that I’m not the only person hyper-focused on those damn little whiskers (call it like it is).

sunflowernut (#1,638)

Yes to this topic a million times! Sometimes I think about all the time and energy and money I’ve spent on my body hair, and it’s out of control. I have thankfully calmed down since my youth/found some stuff that works for me, but oh my god, I wish more than anything that hair was a thing we did not care about, culturally.

I epilate and shave many parts of my body, including my mustache, ugh. I got my bikini line lasered with a $200 Groupon, which was totally worth it. Will probably get my pits done eventually, too. And maybe my mustache? F the fact that women “don’t” have facial hair, by the way. Who started that rumor?

@sunflowernut i um literally thought i was the only one ha HA

@Logan Sachon was really expecting tons of comments being like oh that’s weird my face is perfect that’s weird for you

Kate (#1,408)

God this is so great. I wax and pluck mostly (okay I also have a tiny electric razor) but I really have done literally every other thing in my quest to cut down on the CRAZY AMOUNT OF HAIR ON MY FUCKING FACE.

cmcm (#267)

It’s so funny because I was just rereading this today after George Takei posted it – http://jezebel.com/5946643/reddit-users-attempt-to-shame-sikh-woman-get-righteously-schooled

I keep a pair in my car so I can tweeze my bikini line while in my car on the 5th story of the parking deck of my building after work. The sun and all it’s glory lets me see every tiny hair.

Again. I do this at work. In my car. TO MY PRIVATE AREA. IN PUBLIC! (I wear a dress on these days)

So yeah… maybe I’m OCD about hair too… MAYBE.

@Amanda OZ@twitter hahhahahhahahah gurrrrrrrrrrrrL

@Amanda OZ@twitter I love this! I used to pluck my armpits: it got me into this fabulous zen-like meditative state. But at home. You are a rock star.

Titania (#489)

Are you positive they were Italian? This is actually de rigueur in Brazil, where lots of women don’t shave but they all have bleached-blond leg hair from being in the sun all the time–many Brazilian women are dark-haired so I assume their leg hair grows in dark otherwise. I have a super-cool Brazilian friend who does this and alerted me to it, and I observed it when I was there. Not the only reason to want to move to a Brazilian beach town, but an excellent one if you need another one!

yrouttasight (#2,967)

I try not to mess with my eyebrows too much- all the older women in my family lose them (and leg, and arm, and other body hair) by the time they reach menopause. I’ll be happy when I won’t have to shave my legs anymore, but I will miss my brows when I get old.

lookuplookup (#3,990)

Oh man, I have such mixed feelings about hair/hair removal. I shave my legs infrequently (my leg hair is light and fine and rarely seen – I typically wear pants or opaque black tights), it’s kind of a “when I think about it, thing.” I shave my underarms more regularly, but have recently begun to freak out about the hair on my upper lip/around my mouth. Part of me is like, “Chill out, you are a mammal,” and the rest of me is compulsively plucking it out or shaving it off with one of those mini pen shaver things that I just call a “wand.”

Honestly, it’s almost like a positive feedback loop – the more hair I remove, the more hair I spot that “needs” removing/the more I think about hair removal. I was so chill during my college years! I never shaved anything ever and I had nary a car about leg hair/lip hair/whatever, but now? Every time I catch my reflection in the window of the car while pumping gas it’s all I can do to not start plucking at my face right there at the Sunoco.

BornSecular (#2,245)

Clearly I am not one who should complain. I shave my legs (mostly out of fear of public shaming) and my arm pits (because after years of shaving the prickly growing out stage is just too unbearable for me). I have never waxed or tweezed my face or eyebrows, which clearly makes me in the minority for which I am extremely grateful! I know if I start I will never be able to stop.

I do really really want laser hair removal for my arm pits though. I had lasik on my eyes and it was the best $3k I ever spent. I dream that lasering my pits would be the same. Any one care to dispute or corroborate? Is that wishful thinking? Waxing was pointless because: expensive & still needed to be done every few days if I wanted to avoid the prickly growth.

sunflowernut (#1,638)

@BornSecular Do iiiit. I had laser hair removal on my bikini line and it was SO WORTH IT. I still have hair down there where they lasered, but it’s not as course/thick so it requires a lot less work. My armpits are next. You can legit find good deals on Groupon, too. I don’t know where you live, but in Metro Detroit I could get six sessions for a hundred.

myaimisgoo (#2,037)

My sister and I were blessed with coarse black facial hair, especially around the chin and mouth area. I used to pluck for 1/2 hour every day. Had electrolysis in my 30′s. worked , back came back with a vengeance in my forties (now 44.) Even more fun are the frickin grey hairs, like steel wool.
My sister passed away two years ago from cancer and her last wishes were that we shaved her before we buried her. One of my final, clearest, heartbreaking memories of her – she was out of it from the kidney failure and the meds and tried to shave her chin with the wrong end of the razor. It was the moment that I knew that she was gone.
I am back to electrolysis, and it’s working, but it’s slow. But I have more time in the morning, in the evening, in the afternoon. Time, money, dignity, all for some genetic lottery that we’re convinced we lost.

Martita (#3,991)

About 20 years ago, when I was much younger, I had a facial hair problem. I plucked for years, but was always self-conscious and nervous that dates/bfs would see stubble and redness. Eventually I ponied up for electrolysis and to this day I wish I had done it sooner. Literally every morning I look in the mirror and think of those years I spent limiting my sleepovers and panicking about concealer. The years when I should have been joyfully sleeping around I spent worrying that boys could see I was the Bearded Lady. Electrolysis is the best thing I ever did for myself, and to quote some ad exec somewhere, you’re worth it!

landshark (#3,875)

All the well-wishers in the world can tell you you’re beautiful and it’s fine, your concerns are in your head but if those concerns are real to you, that’s all that matters. It sounds like the hair bothers you a lot and has an impact on how you think about yourself and your life…so spending the money to laser it off sounds like a good investment.

I, myself, am not particularly hairy, never had much of a reason to think about it. But I had back surgery six months ago, and I was told absolutely no bending or arching the back — which made it pretty impossible to deal with my leg hair via razors or Nair, leaving my only good options of dealing with it getting waxed. So it came down to a literal price tag for me: was not having leg hair worth $60 a month to me? Turned out, I could live with the hair.

I’ve gotten some flexibility back, but it will probably be at least another three months before I can really do the job. Which means I will be going through shorts-and-minis-wearing summer without being able to really shave them. I’m fine.

Yoyo Moe (#3,992)

This was so me… Before my epilator addiction. After shaving my legs or pits, I used to still see dark stubble under my pale skin. Never had a seriously smooth shave, and hated showing my pits. Turkish friends turned me onto an epilator, got a good ($100) Braun and will never turn back. It has a light on the end, which is great. The first few times hurt so much (super coarse hair), but it has made the hair grow back thinner, eventually sparser. Especially in my pits. I’m going on my second machine since I wore out the first one after a couple years…

AuntAgatha (#3,942)

Have any of you found that letting your body hair grow naturally impacts how you are treated professionally?

Personally, I strongly prefer the way hairy pits look and feel, and I get awful ingrown hairs on my legs anytime I shave or wax, so I don’t do any hair removal for my personal life. But at work, when it’s summer and my legs will show, I shave/wax because I worry that not doing so will harm my career. (I work at a think tank in DC.)

ellabella (#1,480)

@AuntAgatha basically the same as you. didn’t shave all winter, and it was great for my super sensitive skin. but at work there’s no way… people would probably straight-up say mean things to my face.

AuntAgatha (#3,942)

@ellabella The thing is, I don’t even have any evidence either way, I’ve just been warned by other women that my career will suffer because people are prejudiced and I don’t want to take the risk. I already have a hard time being taken seriously by people sometimes because I’m extremely short and apparently look like a teenager to some people. UGH PATRIARCHY.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

@AuntAgatha I am just careful to not show my hairy pits at work, and I don’t wear a skirt unless I have trimmed my leg hair recently (red hair, but super thick, so very visible if unchecked, but kind of not very noticeable if clippered with the beard trimmers). My industry-standard workwear is slacks and a sweater or button down though, so it’s easy to keep my fur out of sight most of the time… I certainly wouldn’t let it hang out in the office (though I will totally go to the club in a mini skirt with my winter pelt – I don’t want to talk to anyone who doesn’t like it anyway)

megancholy (#4,002)

@AuntAgatha Having similar worries! I stopped shaving almost a year ago and it hasn’t been a problem yet because of sleeve-weather but now as summer approaches I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and do it. I work in fashion and am worried they would call it poor hygiene or something equally stupid.

monteig (#2,100)

I love this conversation! I’ve done it all over the years as well.
Lasering, while helpful in thinning out my bikini area, was not even close to a permanent cure for my face after literally YEARS of sessions. (Had a crazy insurance plan that paid for it all, thankfully!) Plus, having to shave my face between laser appointments just sucked. Nothing is worse for a lady than shaving her face. So demoralizing!
The one thing that helped with my lip/chin hair was electrolysis from Lucy Peters. Look them up, it is the ONLY electrolysis that works!! If I had the money, I would be there once a week getting pretty much everything beyond eyebrows removed. My friends are aware that should I ever be hospitalized, they need to show up with tweezers!
Recently, I decided to start waxing my lower legs (I already wax the bikini) and it has turned into a full on war between me and the ingrowns. Ugh.

km1312 (#213)

Logan/commentors, help a pathetic lady out! I have the same issue and basically just tweeze and use various hair-removal creams, because no one ever taught me how to go to a salon, and now I’m scaaared. How much does waxing/threading hurt? How can I not look like moron when I go in the first time? Any recommended NYC salons for newbie dorks?

upupandaway (#3,997)

@km1312 Of the “pull the hair by the root” categories, I’d say threading is way more painful because they remove much smaller sections at a time. For cost, it can be really a good deal to add upper lip threading if you’re already getting brows threaded. In any major city there will be a ton of reviews on Yelp, which will also help you understand what to expect.
I’ve done my own waxing (upper lip and bikini area) at home with hot wax, and suggest trying hard wax (doesn’t require a paper or cloth backing). Get it done a few times at a salon to see how they do it (pulling the skin tight, the angle/direction/speed they pull).
Any area that you wax or thread will be most painful the first few times, and get less painful over time. Be sure to go to a clean place and keep the area clean, plus gently exfoliate or use a cream that reduces ingrown hairs.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

@km1312 In my small city, waxing and threading of eyebrows are both $10 (plus I always tip $2). Waxing hurts like crazy for about a second. Threading hurts like crazy for about fifteen minutes solid, if you are as hairy as I. Threading always results in a superior brow for me though. Waxing often removes a little skin from my very sensitive face, but while threading doesn’t exactly remove any skin, I still end up with some scabby kind of thing going on for a few days. I don’t know any NYC places, but you can just pick one and go there, and it will be fine. My hair stylist also does brows and you can schedule your appointment on-line – I bet there are lots of things like that near you that you can try!

Also, and I cannot stress this enough, go in the middle of your menstrual cycle, like 1.5 weeks after your period. It can seriously impact the pain you experience! Do not go during the 5ish days before your period, or during, unless you like public crying a lot.

Sass (#1,248)

Logan! I hate to be all “buy this thing” here on the billfold, but! Buy this thing! I got one like it for 99 cents and it has saved me so much aggravation(thanks, PCOS + fair-skinned ancestry.) It’s a little sting-y, but not half as bad as any professional hair removal option I’ve tried.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

@Sass That looks… horrifying… Really, does it work? And not like terrible torture? I want one, but I also want to be protected form even having seen it…

@Sass looking at that gave me a full body shiver and not in a good way

Sass (#1,248)

@lemonadefish it does! It’s like tweezers that can get multiple hairs at a time. I found it through a makeup reviews site and was deeply skeptical, but the promise of not having to wax/tweeze/get threaded for a 99 cent investment was too tempting to resist.
@Logan sorry for the trauma, but I promise it is less horrifying in practice than it looks!

I cannot endorse going into a spa and not telling them in advance what you want to get done.

boringbunny (#3,260)

@Kira-Lynn@twitter I did not understand this part of the post. Is it cheaper if you do this or do you just not have to wait in line? Also, why would you have to wait so long for full face waxing when there’s apparently an eyebrow person ready at all times?

zeytin (#4,005)

@Kira-Lynn@twitter I think what she meant is that it is embarrassing for her to ask for the full face wax so she asks for the eyebrow wax and then has the whole thing done, and pays for the whole thing. I don’t think this is problematic as it would really add only 5 min or so to the appointment, they do this stuff really quickly.

boringbunny (#3,260)

Can Logan do a survey – how much do you spend on hair removal/month? (like Mike’s how much you spend on groceries/rent surveys?) And then eventually cycle through all the crazy things girls spend their money on – hair care, skin care, the illusion of youth, sunglasses, hosiery, clothing, cute belts, crafts we never do, things with moustaches printed on them, etc.. I want to see how normal I am.

chic noir (#713)

@boringbunny – This would be an excellent series of posts. I call this sort of thing “the bussiness of being female”.

Little_Lakes (#3,998)

Superfluous hair, whhhhhhy???!!??? Anyhow, as someone who has pretty successfully gotten her situation under control, wanted to share a few things that worked for me that might work for others: (Note that I likely have PCOS – there is no official test, it’s a diagnosis of elimination – but that is the most common disorder which causes these things, and it’s estimated that 10-12% of all women have it in some degree.)

1) EAT MOSTLY WHOLE FOODS. Refined, sugary foods spike insulin, which is one trigger of the superfluous hair condition (as well as acne!)

2) Vitamin D supplement. (I take 4,0000 IU/day. You need something like 50,000 IU/day over a period of about 6 MOs to get into overdose territory, just FYI…) People who have PCOS often have low blood levels of VItamin D.

3) Saw Palmetto Supplement (2000 IU/day)

4) Exercise. Also helps control insulin…

I saw better results following this regimen than years of BCP management and really wish I had started down this path sooner. I think ovarian-cysts-pcos.com is a really terrific learning resource and it got me on the right path. (I take no BCP at all now and really don’t need it if I keep on course with the four things listed above…)

Finally, even if you get your hormones under control, you still have the visible remains – the dreaded hair. For this, the gold standard really is laser and it is WORTH EVERY PENNY. It’s ultimately easier on your skin (no more plucking/waxing and it really is as close to permanent as you’ll get) and just frees you to move the heck on to other things.

Good luck! I always love your articles and was so happy to see you write this one!

Little_Lakes (#3,998)

@Little_Lakes I realize the above all sounds kinda hippie-dippie, but… well, sometimes these things work!

Spaghettius! (#4,004)

Ugh. I am sorry, I feel for you like you would not believe. I read this article and had to check the by-line to make sure my alter-ego didn’t write it in my sleep or something, because this. this this this this is me too.
I see a lot of comments here making awesome suggestions for ways to remove or reduce hair, but can I just take this in a different direction? I’ve always just really resented the general attitude of disgust toward body hair. More than a few people have an attitude that hair removal is “basic hygiene,” which is infuriating. Showering and brushing your teeth is basic hygiene, not ripping follicles out of your body. This is an aesthetic choice, but unfortunately it’s pretty mandatory, and also a special combination of any of the following: painful/expensive/humiliating/harmful/temporary.
I’m pretty pale with dark hair, so I can get away with bleaching my face (but I am still extremely self-conscious of people who kiss hello and goodbye and hate having my face touched), waxing is intolerably painful for me (also, really not enjoying having the woman in the salon look at my legs and say “Wow!” Legs are one thing, but I can’t stand the thought of her scrutinizing my arms way up to my shoulders the same way)and waxing makes me break out, so I can’t rely on it since it gives my skin a delightful cheese pizza effect that only subsides by the time the hair starts growing back. Lazers? I am poor right now, so no.
I’ve been teased about it all through school, I’d look at every part of my body and cry because this shit is everywhere and removal is pretty much futile, but every messege I get tells me that I am disgusting even if I am neatly dressed and freshly showered. People have said all sorts of helpful, completely unsolicited things like, “DID YOU KNOW YOU’RE GROWING A BEARD?” or “You have too much testosterone” or “I wouldn’t date a girl with arm hair.. oh, sorry.” Eventually, I just became burned out and exhausted feeling this self conscious, and shortly thereafter I turned 26. So now I still hate it, but it isn’t at the forefront of my mind anymore. I have a boyfriend who is perfectly fine with it and got me to the point of being able to take a joke about it, which I never thought could happen.
To wit, you or I do not owe anything to the people that are visually offended by any bodily fuzz, but while this is 1,000% true, it feels really yucky to think that everyone is internally recoiling at the sight of your arm handing them a report at work, or worse, a plate of food. It bothers me much less, but it will never stop fully bothering me. In the summer, I use a depilatory cream on my arms and try to avoid chemical burn and vaguely worry about sun exposure, I shave my legs and bleach my face. My shoulders break out in the spot where I rest my purse straps, but what can I do? I maintain a short haircut despite knowing full well that there is a fuzz trail leading down my neck, but I would never wear a backless top despite having the figure for it.
tl;dr – this shit is annoying, and I resent the fact that it feels mandatory not just to be considered attractive, but to be socially acceptable. Bleh.

zeytin (#4,005)

Nipple hair? No one else has it or no one else wants to post about it? It is my most shame-inducing hair, and that is including face/ neck hair but I am lucky to not have too many of those.

@zeytin Oh my god, yes. Nipple hair. I am SO EMBARRASSED. I also have a beard that could rival those of most the men I know–horrible, coarse, extremely dark hair all over my cheeks, my chin, my lip, and my neck. I even spotted a crazy hair on my NOSE. WHAT IS THAT EVEN.

Ughhhh, I also have hair all over my belly. : (

Ice_Cream (#4,011)

@zeytin Yes, nipple hair. Some of it colorless, and so so fine, and a few unpredictably dark. Two of my friends have divulged the existence of their nipple hair to me. And I wonder, as others have wondered here today, why do we think women are mostly hairless?

And what would the world be like if everyone assumed women had hair in all of the same places as men, if it weren’t important as a marker of gender difference for women to be mostly hairless? Sometimes I wonder if, instead of waxing, I would grow a cute little Errol Flynn mustache.

mumble (#4,017)

@zeytin Oh yes, I definitely have nipple hair. Chest hairs, too. Thick ones. I will shave those spots sometimes but I just break out like crazy when I do that and, for the especially coarse hairs, it grows in so quickly that it’s even more embarrassing. I spend a lot of time in front of the mirror every night tracking down every hair I can with my good tweezers. I shave the top of my feet, too, thankfully that’s just way too sensitive to go after with an epilator or something- otherwise I’d probably get obsessive about that, too.

I’ve had guys say stuff about how they know women are supposed to have hair blah blah blah but that’s all well and good until you have a boyfriend who rubs your feet and says “hey, is there stubble on top of your toes? What’s up with that?”

I found a laser hair removal groupon a while back for laser hair removal that had a few different options for what you could get done–the last being titled “Men’s laser hair removal for full back, front, neck, and arms–including full chest and stomach.” All for $250 in Indy. With a huge stomach churn, I called the place and asked if a woman could use it. They were really surprised, but said yes. So I bought it and called to make the first appointment–the woman asked what I was getting done, and when I told her about the groupon I had she ACTUALLY GASPED and ASKED IF I WAS SURE. It was the most embarrassing moment of my life–made worse by me asking if I could add a full face session as well. Even though I’ve gone there a couple of times, I still have to tell the receptionist what I’m getting done and they’re always shocked. So depressing.

I don’t actually get my arms done, because the hair on my arms isn’t the worst thing ever, but I was slightly upset they wouldn’t let me use what would have been for my arms on a different section of my body (like armpits, which are smaller than full arms!).

So far, the results have been promising. I can’t pluck anymore, which means I have to shave, which is a tricky thing since my hair is so dark you can see it easily behind my skin. I use Amazing Makeup concealer all over my chin and parts of my cheeks, which helps a lot.

I am so amazingly relieved to know I’m not the only one out there with problems like mine, though. I don’t feel nearly as embarrassed or alone now!

dirkbenedict (#4,012)

Thank you so much for this article. I’m a lady with dark body hair, and at about age 18 dark, thick hairs started cropping up on my chest and neck. It’s only gotten worse (and now I have some on the sides of my face), and I thought I was totally alone in this. Sooo glad to know that I am not! Even if I don’t find a good solution, it’s great to know there is nothing wrong with me!

Ice_Cream (#4,011)

One thing that has helped me deal with my pale skin + dark facial hair combo is thinking of the facial hair not as something repellent or out of the ordinary (obviously –look how many of us have this!), but as a “style choice” –so, I choose to wax or bleach my lip as a style choice, just like I choose to use some mousse in my hair as a style choice. My non-poofy hair is not gross, it’s just my hair! But I like it better with some poof. My facial hair is not gross. I just like it better bleached blond.

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