Here’s a follow-up to this post about the politics of body hair among women. As it turns out, you folks ARE interested in how I deal with my own, copious amounts of fuzz.
As always, what works for me may not work for you. You may not want to do some or all of these things, you may not want to invest the time or money, you may think it all sounds positively loony. And that’s just fine. To each her own, as always. I am someone who prefers the aesthetic, feel, and sensitive-skin-related serenity of keeping certain areas hair-free, and this is how I handle my routines. I am responding to queries about my own behaviors, not attempting to make judgment calls about how others deal with hair removal, growth, or maintenance.
All righty? Here we go:
I have had laser hair removal treatments
I started getting big, black hairs on my areolas in college after I switched my birth control meds. And initially, I plucked them. Wow, people, did that ever hurt. Plus when they grew back they were ingrown and zit-like and it was just awful all around. So around the time I moved to Minneapolis in 2000, I did my first laser hair removal treatments for those babies and for my chin. About six years after that, I plunked down several grand for treatments on my legs, and several years later did some sporadic treatments on bikini line, lower belly, and armpits. I am a terrific candidate for laser since I have pale skin and dark hair. My understanding is that the lasers target contrast, so women with pale hair and pale skin or dark hair and dark skin have a tougher time of it.
Was it painful? Yes. A bit like someone snapping a large rubber band against your skin. Was it 100% effective? No. I still have gobs of hair. Was it worth it? OH HELL YES. At least, to me. Most body hair growth is hormonally fueled, so laser hair treatments will never eradicate all hairs forever and ever amen. But they can drastically reduce growth rate and number of hairs. And that has been the case for me. And since my alternatives were to grow out my body hair and be itchy and uncomfortable, or shave frequently and be covered in a horrible razor-burn rash, I feel I chose wisely.
When I got my legs done, I already had my large green calf tattoo and tattooed areas cannot be laser treated. (It’ll burn the heck out of you anywhere you’ve got ink.) So every week, I observe a little personal control group: The hair on my tattoo grows back immediately, thick, dark, and copiously. The hair on the rest of my leg is slow to grow back, sparse, and a bit lighter. The difference is astonishing. You can read more about my experiences with and thoughts on laser hair treatments here.
I stay the hell away from waxes and creams
Since I have extremely sensitive, acne-prone skin encasing my entire personage, waxes, depilatory creams, and anything chemical-y is bad news for me. I’ll admit I’ve never done professional waxing, and I might give it a try someday. But I have my doubts that it’ll go well. My skin just hates … stuff. I’m better off with methods that don’t involve any kind of goop that might clog my incredibly cloggable pores.
I get my eyebrows threaded
Syreeta is amazing, and I go see here every couple of months. Threading causes some minor irritation around my brows, but nothing compared to the mayhem of waxing.
I trim the bush about once per month
Designated scissors and a bit of topiary action is all I need. ‘Nuff said.
I shave my legs and pits every couple of months
Yep, that’s right. The joys of laser hair removal mean I don’t get visible hair growth in either area unless I let it go for eight weeks or more. They still appear, and around eight weeks they’re mighty long, so I do shave occasionally. But I feel very lucky – and happy – that I don’t have to do it often. My tattoo gets super hairy, but I mostly ignore it. Or wear boots.
I shave my chin nearly every day
The laser removal helped with my ladybeard for many years, but in the end my hormones won that battle. Plucking my chin hairs is incredibly painful and causes ingrowns, so I shave. It’s kind of hilarious to look in the mirror each morning and feel like my dad, but it works. Well, it mostly works. If you get out the magnifying glass, you’ll see the little black dots even moments after I’ve shaved. But let’s make a deal: Don’t do that. OK, deal.
And that leads me to my final hair management strategy:
I try not to worry about it
Despite this extensive routine that seems to imply a LOT of worry, I do my best to remember that body hair is natural and normal and anyone who gets close enough to my legs to examine and critique my stubble should be bonked on the head and told to get a job. I’m hairy. I don’t like it, but it’s just part of my genetic makeup. I do what I can to keep it under control, and have learned over the years that I can’t keep it ALL under control ALL the time. And I do my best to just roll with that.
I have no idea if any of this is helpful, but this is what I do. I am in NO WAY implying that all, any, or some of you should follow these practices. Body hair is personal, and body hair removal is almost more personal. A loaded topic full of sensitivities, body-specific needs, and personal desires. But since there were many requests for my personal routine, I’m more than happy to share it.