See? We’re so obsessed with thick, luscious locks that even adorably bald babies are supposed to put a mop on their top to prove they’re a girl!
Big accomplishment today: Remember the age-old gym debate of camel toe versus muffin top? You know, when you can’t decide whether to hike your ill-fitting workout pants up and give yourself wicked camel toe or tug them down and roll out your muffin top? Well, I have settled the debate once and for all by wearing an outfit today that managed to do both, thanks to yanking my capris up into dromedary territory and then topping them with a tennis skirt that rode low into bakersville! I win again!
That wasn’t my only dubious accomplishment for the day, however.
“Oh hey, just a sec. Let me get that for you…” My husband leaned in to brush something off the side of my jaw for me. Suddenly feeling a sharp pain, I yelped as he exclaimed, “What the?! It’s attached!”
The “it” was a chin (lower back jaw actually) hair long enough that I could allllmost get it into my ponytail. Yep.
Honestly it doesn’t bother so much that I have a chin hair – I just yanked that sucker out while my husband hid in horror – but what freaks me out is how it got so long without me noticing it! But before I could get really worked up about it, I came across this article on XOJane “I’m a Bearded Lady and It Controls My Life” by Britta Gregor. The author, for no apparent medical reason (she checked!), grows an abundance of facial hair. So much so that she has had to come up with an elaborate grooming routine that involves shaving her face and then covering the visible follicles with heavy makeup – something that she sometimes has to repeat several times a day.
“First, I wet my face and apply Bath and Body Works Shave the Day to the areas of unwanted hair. For a long time I shaved using a light moisturizer, but I find that the shea butter in Shave the Day leaves my face soft without clogging up my pores. The hair on my face grows in different directions, so it takes at least 15 minutes just to get the hair removed. The Bic Soleil is the only razor I’ve ever found that gives me a close enough shave without cutting up my face. Still, my chin never feels totally smooth. If I try to go gangbusters on it, the skin gets red, chapped, and sore, kind of like a burn.
Hair removal is only the first battle. I’m left with dark spots from the hair follicles, which are very visible on either side of my chin. First I moisturize my entire face and use a makeup primer. I apply a thick coat of Cover Girl concealer stick over the dark areas and cover my entire face in a liquid foundation slightly lighter than my skin tone. I apply a second coat of concealer, put on more foundation over the darkest parts of my face, and then use loose powder to keep everything in place.
At this point you can only see the dark patches if you’re really looking for them. Unfortunately, after about four hours, the hair has grown long enough to be visible through the makeup. (5 o’clock shadow my ass. I have a 1 o’clock shadow.) It’s subtle, but still annoying, and it makes me paranoid that someone will notice. I either shave again mid-day and completely reapply my makeup, or if I know that I’m going to be able to stay in dimly lit spaces, I just power through and tell myself that people will just think I have really uneven skin.”
Yeah that makes a rogue jaw hair seem pretty inconsequential, even if it is long enough to braid. First, I want to commend Gregor for talking about something that affects a lot of women and yet is hardly ever talked about. Female facial hair is still seen as unattractive at best and unfeminine or gross at worst – despite the fact that its prevalence makes it a pretty normal occurrence. I daresay I have very few friends who don’t have to wax or use a depilatory cream or laser some part of their face.
And speaking of traits deemed “unfeminine” or “gross’, the issue of female pattern hair loss seems to fall in the same silent category even though it turns out that fully 65% (!!) of us girls will experience it in our lifetimes. Granted most of the baldness seems to happen in later years but there are many of us for whom it starts earlier. I am 35 and I’ve been losing copious amounts of hair ever since Jelly Bean was born three years ago.
At first I wasn’t sure if I was just losing the hair I’d gained during pregnancy (it’s true – pregnancy really does give you a glorious mane!) but eventually I realized that it just wasn’t stopping. I tried basic stuff like deep conditioning, root cleansing, not sleeping with a ponytail and making sure to never comb my hair wet but it didn’t help. Then I got more proactive and, as you may recall, got tape-in hair extensions. That was one of the strangest moments of my adult life, honestly. I literally glue-gunned strangers’ dead hair to my head. But my purpose wasn’t to have those ridiculous Hollywood Rapunzel locks that are so en vogue right now. I just wanted to look like myself again.
And they worked! My hair looked gorgeous – I don’t think I’ve ever had so many compliments! Unfortunately not only could I not do normal things like run my fingers through my hair or let Jelly Bean play Giant Barbie Head on me but the extensions made my hair fall out even faster, thanks to “tension alopecia” or the weight of the extension putting too much stress on my natural hair. I remember one day over a year ago when I took the extensions out to give my scalp a good scrubbing and move them back up closer to my scalp. Huge chunks of my own hair came out with the extensions and when I saw what little hair I had left I sat on the edge of the bathtub and sobbed.
In desperation I called a hair dresser friend who came to my rescue and did what she could to trim my wisps into a better shape. She also advised me to never wear hair extensions like that again. She gave me some special product called Nioxin that’s a shampoo, conditioner and mousse designed to lessen hair fallout. After moving up the levels to #4, I think I can say that it works. It’s not a miracle cure but I do think it’s helping. (Note: Whenever I tell friends about this stuff, they immediately say they want some because who doesn’t want fuller hair? But let me reiterate, it won’t make your hair thicker or grow faster or add body. All it does it help it to stop falling out as much.)
Now I kind of feel stuck. My hair is longish but it doesn’t grow. I’m not bald by any means. It’s not noticeably thin but that’s only because my super secret identity is Poodle Girl. I’m really really good at “fluffing” using backcoming, volumizing sprays, thickening sprays, style tricks, the works*. I spend a lot of time styling it to camouflage the thinness but you can still see a lot of scalp peeking through if you’re looking for it.
But the question now is what do I do about it??
Should I just embrace it and start a wig collection? I’m seriously tempted to put the extensions back in just so I’ll temporarily stop worrying so much. But I won’t. Because the last thing I want to do is make my problem worse. I probably should go to a dermatologist who could look at my scalp follicles and tell me if I actually have female pattern baldness or if something else is happening. The hard thing about hair loss is that because it can have so many causes – stress, hormone imbalance, vitamin deficiency, illness, genetics, a Manic Panic addiction – it also has that many potential “fixes.”
I miss my Manic Panic days, not gonna lie. How cool is this??
My problem is compounded by the fact that no one talks about this. At my age the majority of my friends are still complaining about how their thick hair gives them headaches in ponytails or how they always have to have their hair thinned at the salon. If anything comes up, it’s gray hairs (which thankfully I have none of yet). I can only think of one other girl I know who has obviously thinning hair and she not only refuses to discuss it but I think she might actually be in denial bordering on delusion.
I keep trying to tell myself that my hair shouldn’t matter so much to me. But our society puts a lot of emphasis on female hair as part of the standard of beauty and I’ll admit that I’ve internalized a lot of that. Our hair is one of the first things people notice about us and the color, cut and length can be a social commentary without you ever opening your mouth. Just ask Miley
. She says her new ‘do literally changed the course of her life. From the mouth of (pop) babes…
Last weird hair confession: I also have hair on my big toes. I shave it. If I don’t it looks like I’m being attacked by tarantulas with a foot fetish. Or like I’m going to a hobbit convention.
So let’s talk weird body hair! Do you have hair growing places that you wish you didn’t? Can you relate to Britta Gregor with her face shaving or me with my hair losing? Any advice or recommendations for me??
*If you’re looking for product recs, I’ve tried them ALL. And in my opinion, the best ones are from the Tresemme “collagen” volume line. I use their root booster spray
every day and I swear it’s miraculous. Plus it’s cheap and I swear this $4 bottle works better than the $30 version I bought at the salon. If I’m looking for more volume I’ll add “dust in” mattifying powder. The two together are amazing! Them’s my tricks.