Shaving My Face Was The Best Thing I've Ever Done

Camryn Elizabeth Photo

I have facial hair. Not light, white facial hair – nope - the thick, dark, coarse variety. You can’t tell now aside from the odd stray hair that everyone notices on themselves in the rear-view as they're driving just as the sun hits at just the right time. This was different. I have lived a large portion of my life trying to hide what I was sure everyone could see: two thick patches of dark hair, one on either side of my chin.

If you don’t already know, I work in radio on a show that is regularly photographed and displayed on billboards and on the sides of buses.  I would experience complete agony the night before a photoshoot sitting cross-legged on my bathroom counter with tweezers, hand plucking or tweezing each individual hair, knowing that in the morning a MUA (makeup artist) would see what I couldn’t completely remove.  I would fear they would tell their friends and associates that they had worked on me, and that I had a patchy beard. 

I used to wax myself - once a week at home but I was never very good at it, and could never get all the wax off my face. I tried sugaring but it was temporary relief and I would still need to tweeze in-between appointments. I had heard about removing hair with light and or lasers and finally summoned up the courage to admit to a stranger that I needed help. It was on recommendation from a friend (all the best recommendations usually are) that I try her dermatologist.  I remember leaving a rushed message on the derm's machine barely breathing the words 'ingrowns under my chin' and hanging up.

A week later I was sitting red faced and embarrassed in front of Cindy, my derm.  I admitted under glassy eyes that I thought something was medically wrong with me. She listened patiently and once I had confessed it all to her, she told me something that had honestly never crossed my mind. She told me that she'd seen more severe cases than mine and that her days were full of treating women just like me.

I couldn’t believe she wasn't fazed by my condition. No one I knew had ever talked about it before. Sure, most women were comfortable joking about waxing their lip but I had never heard anyone joke about their beard.

Cindy explained that hair grows in three cycles and in order to fully remove a follicle we would need to let the hair grow, treat it with light which would run down and through the shaft where eventually the hair would shed. That meant letting the next cycle grow, treat it, allow it to shed and wait for the third cycle. Under no circumstances was I to pull that hair out. The only way to remove it without having to begin the whole process from the beginning, and losing weeks of progress, was to SHAVE my face. 

Physiologically, shaving my face was torture. What separated me from a man, I wondered. Not only was I burdened with this facial hair but Cindy assured me there was no other way to remove it while in treatment.  I'd close the door to the bathroom at home making sure my boyfriend was on the other side of the house, lather my face with the cream I used on my legs and I would Shave. My. Face.

Mentally, it became easier to shave and with continued treatment (every 4 weeks or so) Cindy and I began to see a noticeable improvement.  Eventually I got to the point where shaving regularly was no longer necessary, nor was seeing Cindy. I return to her twice a year for maintenance on the few hairs that may still pop up, but it’s nothing close to what I used to experience.

Here's your takeaway:

* The cost of treatment worked out to almost the same amount as having someone sugar me every two weeks. I will never regret spending that money on a procedure that changed my mental wellbeing as well as my physical appearance.

* Laser or light hair removal unfortunately only works on dark hair. The light does not transmit white, grey or blonde. If you have dark hairs now, they will eventually turn grey and this procedure won't work. Don’t wait until they turn grey.

*Facial hair is hormonal and so the treatments are more frequent at first than if you were removing hair from under your arms, which I’m in the process of doing.

*Japanese women regularly shave peach fuzz from their face to exfoliate skin. In North America, it's a spa service known as dermaplaning. There's now even an exfoliating device (DermaFlash, $189) that you can buy to use at home.

I don't shave nearly as often as I once did. Now it's about every two months just to remove the odd blonde hair (tweezers are no longer needed in my life) and to exfoliate my face. Immediately after, I apply moisturizer and/or serum. It leaves my face incredibly smooth.



Amber Saleem