Who Brought the Bearded Lady?

The other day at work I encountered a woman who clearly cared about her appearance – her hair looked as though it had just been done, her nails were neatly manicured, and her clothes were neat and stylish. Sadly, her whole look was marred by an obvious strip of  hair above her upper lip. With all of her careful grooming, how could she have forgotten her mustache?

Facial hair is, unfortunately, a fact of life for most women. We ladies are not supposed to have facial hair, and as a result it’s often left undiscussed and is frequently unaddressed. This means that, as was the case with my mustachioed client the other day, many women are letting a little bit of fuzz ruin an otherwise well-groomed face. Here, some common types of female facial hair and how to get rid of it.

Fly Hairs: Puzzling and embarrassing, these random hairs are usually dark and stiff, and are some how able to grow to abnormal lengths before you will notice one on your neck or chin. There it stands, all alone, a single long dark hair poking out like the beard of a pubescent boy. Your best bet with these babies is to leave them alone until you can tweeze them. Nothing is less attractive than catching someone twirling or pinching a random neck hair. To catch them early, grab a magnifying mirror once a week and take stock of the area. But if you do notice one while out in public, take heart; chances are nobody else will.

Upper Lip Fuzz: Probably the most prevalent and stress inducing form of facial hair, the female mustache can be as insignificant as a dusting of nearly invisible peach fuzz or as thick and dashing as Tom Selleck’s. The fact remains that, in either case, removing this particular patch of hair will do wonders for your overall look and polish. My recommendation in this case is waxing. At home wax strip kits are inexpensive, easy to use, and work well on this type of hair, as long as you follow the instructions on the package. Some people choose to tweeze errant upper lip hairs, and this is also an effective, although more time-consuming, option. I would urge readers to avoid bleaching their upper lips, as this often has the undesired effect of drawing attention to the problem: the hair often comes out too light, and if you have enough upper lip hair to bleach, you’ll just end up with a blonde mustache.

Eyebrows: I’ve touched upon them before, and for a crash course in grooming your brows you can reference my earlier post, “Taming the Beast.” There are many schools of thought regarding eyebrows, with some women essentially eliminating them while others prefer to keep them full and sometimes bushy. Regardless of your personal style, regular brow maintenance is one of the easiest ways to brighten up your face and keep yourself looking put together. If your brows are out of control, seek professional help and get them waxed. From there it’s easy to keep up the general shape with regular tweezing.

 

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Taming the Beast

It happened this morning, while in the car. I glanced in the mirror and noticed that my eyebrows, which are usually tame and well groomed, resembled an overgrown shrubbery, vague strips of hair that had no real shape and did nothing for my overall appearance.

Come to think of it, my elbows have been kinda dry and my feet look terrible – cracked heels and chipped nail polish taking the place of my trademark pretty peds. (That’s right, I said peds.)

So what’s with my sudden beastly appearance? Obviously I love grooming myself. I mean, I write a beauty blog! It dawned on me today, as I stared in horror at my brows, that I am guilty of a classic girl-in-a-relationship crime; I have let myself go.

Not in a spandex-wearing, ate-too-many-buckets-of-chicken kind of way, but in a way that is noticeable to me and, over time, to others. My boyfriend and I are apartment hunting, and for the past couple of weeks I’ve pretty much been living at his house, a sort of trial run for when we finally get to co-habitate for real. It’s been great, but the unfortunate side effect of nearly 24/7 togetherness is that I stopped doing the things I normally do that I don’t necessarily want him to see me doing. Like tweezing my eyebrows and scrubbing dead skin of my feet.

Which brings us to the present, where I am soaking my foot in a peppermint foot bath as I type. In an effort to tame the beast that I have become, I have also tweezed my brows and trimmed my nails, and will be giving myself a full blown pedicure momentarily.

For anyone else out there who has been neglecting herself and just wants to feel pretty again, here is my favorite 30 minutes or less beauty routine:

Fill up a big bowl or  foot bath with hot water and a foot soak. Remove all nail polish from nails and trim both finger and toenails. Soak feet for 5 to 10 minutes, or until your skin has been softened and you feel relaxed.

While feet are soaking, I like to do eyebrow maintenance. Using a hand mirror, remove any obvious stray hairs. Using an lash comb, comb brow hairs upward and tweeze any hairs that are outside your lash shape. Then comb brows downward and do the same. When finished, comb brows back to their normal position and make sure you didn’t miss any obvious strays. This is a simple way to touch up between waxes or heavy-duty tweezing sessions.

When brows are done, remove feet from soak and use a generous amount of foot scrub on each foot, concentrating on any especially dry areas. Once you have scrubbed away any dead skin, rinse feet in the soak, and then pat dry with a towel. Immediately slather foot lotion on each foot.

If you have the time and would like to add nail color, swipe each nail with polish remover and then paint. The polish remover will remove any soak/scrub/lotion residue and allow the polish to stick to your nail. Your skin will be soft and your feet will look lovely.

My hooves look like feet again. Thank God.

Let’s Talk About Armpits

Armpits. What an irritatingly unfeminine body part. Left to their own devices they grow hair, are sweaty, and produce an aroma that begs to differ with the saying that “women only glow.” Right.

A few summers ago a friend of mine arrived at a party and, clad in a tank top, proudly displayed what had to have been the most attractive armpits I had ever seen in the real world. We’re talking deodorant commercial, model-on-a-billboard type armpits. She was not plagued by stubble, and her underarms did not have that dark appearance that most do, thanks to close-to-the-surface hairs showing through our delicate underarm skin. Instead, she freely raised her arms and showed off her smooth, pretty armpits. How?

She had discovered the Epilator, a seemingly torturous device that essentially yanks hairs out by their roots and is most definitely effective. Shortly thereafter my sister became a loyal user of the Epilator, and although she is generally in agony for a short period after de-fuzzing, she swears by the thing.

Another friend of mine recently confessed to waxing her armpits anytime she wants to wear a sleeveless shirt, and has apparently been doing so since her teen years. I once read somewhere that the key to beautiful underarms was tweezing, but I’ve never made it past one hair. I apparently just don’t share my friends’ patience and tolerance for pain. As much as I’d love to have the kind of armpits they write songs about (if, in fact, they do), I’ve stuck with the razor my entire armpit-loathing life.

Shaving gets the job done, but it definitely leaves something to be desired. Which is why I was intrigued when I heard about Dove’s latest creation, Dove Ultimate Visibly Smooth anti-perspirant deodorant. This product claims to condition your underarm skin and, over time, it’s supposed to make hair softer, less noticeable, and easier to remove.

It comes in a couple of nice fresh scents (pretty standard for Dove products). I chose the wild rose scent, which thankfully smells nothing like the old-lady-ish rose petal creams I was imagining before I sniffed it. My review? First of all it smells fantastic and (and this is the number one deodorant priority in my book) keeps my armpits dry. I’ve found more and more lately that  most anti-perspirant deodorants, even the top brands, are great at covering up body odor but fail when it comes to stopping sweat. So far, two weeks of use later, Dove Ultimate Visibly Smooth has been great on both counts. (I’ve also found that Lady Speed Stick is another very reliable anti-perspirant and deodorant, and it comes in a lot of different scents.)

As far as the reduction of armpit hair, it may be too soon to tell. Honestly, I haven’t noticed a real change in that regard, but I do think my underarm skin looks noticeably nicer. And I’m so pleased with how good I smell and how little I sweat, I will definitely buy it again.

So the quest for pretty armpits continues. I guess two outta three ain’t bad.