Here we go again…
I have been holding on to this post for a long time; every week saying I will share it and then chickening out.
Because, once again, it means sharing with you another incredibly embarrassing truth, but one that has set me free and I hope will do the same for anyone suffering the way I was. For years, I hid my secret and felt ashamed and awkward. It had me feeling nervous that boyfriends could “tell” or they’d feel it or, worse, that they’d catch me in the act. It had me feeling self-conscious.
I really don’t want to tell you what I’m about to tell you, but I know that if even ONE person can find more freedom in their life because of what I am about to share, then this admission will have been worth it.
So, here goes.
AGGHH!!! I REALLY DON’T WANT TO SHARE THIS!!!!!!
Because you will judge me.
You will decide whether or not my choice would have been your choice and you might think I am completely superficial and ridiculous or that I worry too much about my appearance or what others think of me.
And all of that might be true and all of that might not be true, but I have done what I have done and I am going to tell you about it because I think it is important to share about this stuff.
So here goes.
I used to shave my face.
In fact, I had so much facial hair on the sides of my face that I could literally tug on it. Yes, it was blonde, which made it “better” maybe, but it was still there, and it was still noticeable, and I still didn’t like wearing my hair in high ponytails, and it still stood up when I was cold (and I live in a country that gets cold in winter!) and it still hurt when I’d do a facial mask (the ones where you peel it off–ripping the hair out as I removed it) and it was all just too much to take, and so one day, I’d had enough.
And I grabbed a razor and I shaved it off.
And in the moments after, I felt a rush of emotions that ranged from relief to exhilaration to surprise to panic.
While it felt amazing to finally see the skin on the sides of my face and not have it covered in hair, I knew I had done something drastic…I’d done something that I was now going to have to keep doing…
Exactly the next morning, I started to really freak out. I touched the sides of my face and I could already feel stubble where I had shaved and I knew that I had embarked on a slippery slope…one I was certain to fall off of.
“Oh my God, what have I done?!”
“What am I supposed to do now?!”
“How often am I going to have to DO this?!”
“How am I going to hide this from my boyfriend?!”
“WHAT HAVE I DONE?!”
So I did what I do in any crisis situation.
I remained calm on the outside.
And I got to work.
I began researching all causes of hair growth and I learned that it can be caused by certain blood pressure medications; congenital adrenal hyperplasia, a hereditary condition which affects the adrenal glands (which produce sex hormones); a rare hormonal disorder called Cushing’s Syndrome or Acromegaly; being overweight or obese; or an ovarian tumour.
I also learned that it can be caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), as it tends to cause increased testosterone in the body, which can lead to hair growth. I was experiencing somewhat irregular periods, which is another symptom, so I booked an appointment with my doctor who sent me to a specialist. A few unpleasant tests later (I had to gather and send stool samples to a lab and track my temperature every morning for 3 months), they ruled out PCOS.
While it was a relief, I was still faced with my unwanted hair issue.
I was left to accept that it was just a part of my make-up and I began researching hair removal methods. First up, depilatory cream. This seemed like a relatively easy and inexpensive approach that would effectively “dissolve” the hair. I had to wait until there was enough hair for it to work, though, and so I spent an agonizing week watching my facial hair grow, now feeling prickly and more noticeable to the eye, which made me extremely self-conscious. It was an awkward time and I felt embarrassed and deceptive with my partner.
But I knew I could never share my secret.
“What woman has side burns??!!”
I headed out to the drug store to buy the cream. I shoved it in my bag and raced home where I locked myself in the bathroom and followed the instructions. The cream stunk. It was messy. I felt weird doing it. And after rinsing it off and inspecting my face, I could see that while it worked in some areas, it was patchy, and so I still had to break out the razor to finish the job. It was extremely disappointing and I hated the experience and my heart sunk further when the hair started coming back again within a few days.
Again with the cream. Again with the razor. Again with my feelings…
I continued to research and I learned that laser hair removal was a safe and effective method for removing my unwanted hair. I scheduled an appointment and lied to my boyfriend about where I was going. I prayed that all of this would be behind me in a few short sessions and I would be free.
My first appointment went great. The woman who performed the procedure was lovely and she did a great job explaining what I was about to experience. While it didn’t hurt, my face was left very red and it was obvious something had been done. As I left the spa, head down, wishing I was invisible, I prayed I wouldn’t bump into anyone I knew.
After several sessions, it was obvious that laser wasn’t going to work for me. The hair was too blonde. Laser really only works with pigmented hair.
Great. Hundreds of dollars spent and many lies to my boyfriend about my whereabouts later, I was in pretty much the same boat as when I’d started. I was frustrated and disappointed and still so embarrassed.
Every time I would see a commercial for the “No No” hair removal tool, I would secretly want to order it but knew, deep down, that it was just a fancy-looking razor. If my boyfriend was home when the commercial came on, I would feel my face flush as I tried to act like it was no big deal watching a commercial where a beautiful woman was removing hair from her face. If he made a comment about how ridiculous it was, I’d secretly wonder, “Was he trying to be supportive?” “Was he saying that my facial hair was no big deal and I shouldn’t worry about it?” “Was he trying to open a dialogue about it?!” “Was he just commenting on a dumb commercial?!”
I needed a permanent solution. I had an appointment with my dermatologist, so while there, I asked her about permanent hair removal. She explained that electrolysis would work but that it would take years to remove it completely as it is a slow process. Instead, she prescribed a cream. With my prescription in hand, I headed out to the pharmacy. The pharmacist explained that the cream had to be used every day and as soon as I stopped using it, the hair would come back. It was expensive. Like $200 a tube. I asked about the ingredients. I didn’t like the idea of those chemicals on my skin and I hated knowing that this was going to be a part of my life moving forward.
I wanted freedom!
I knew I had two choices. I could either just stop all of this and live with the hair; or I could book an appointment with an electrologist.
Now, I am someone who feels pulled in both directions when it comes to appearance. On the one hand, I want to just feel good in my skin! I want to embrace myself and love myself, wrinkles, warts, (or hair) and all!
And then there is this other part of me that feels strongly about improving my appearance in ways that feel empowering. Things like working out with heavier weights to define my shoulders better. Or getting braces (twice) to improve the appearance of my smile. Or having my hair coloured because it makes me feel good when my hair looks nice. Or wearing makeup when I go out because it helps me feel pretty.
I mean, I definitely feel there is a time and a place for everything. When I go on a bikeride or for a hike or when I hit the gym, for example, I tie my hair up, throw on some lip balm and I’m good to go. But, still, my appearance is important.
It is important to me.
And while I am working on it having less importance in my life, focusing more on what’s going on inside of me, my external is tied intimately to my internal.
And this whole facial hair thing was driving me crazy and making me feel unattractive and embarrassed and awkward, and that was definitely not how I wanted to feel.
So I did my research and I read the reviews and after hearing several people’s stories about Caress Electrolysis, I booked my first appointment.
I can’t say I wasn’t skeptical, but Kathryn made me feel completely at ease and she did an amazing job of explaining what was about to happen.
And she answered all of my questions.
She explained that electrolysis was invented in 1875 by an ophthalmologist, whose patients were suffering from painful ingrown eyelashes. He discovered that inserting a probe into the hair follicle and releasing an electrical charge destroyed the growth cells in the hair follicle, preventing the reproduction of hair from the treated follicle. He decided to test it on other parts of the body, and this was the beginning of what we know as electrolysis today.
She explained that electrolysis is the ONLY method of permanent hair removal even though many laser clinics will claim otherwise. I told her about my experience with laser, and she agreed that, yes, my hair was too fair. She said that for some people with a lot of dark hair to be removed, she sometimes recommends that they start with laser (for example women with dark facial hair, men with back hair, or women with a lot of pubic hair that extends down the legs, for example), but that electrolysis can finish the job.
For me, she confirmed that after several treatments, I would experience permanent freedom from my facial hair. I was cautiously optimistic and we got started.
All I can say is that the experience has been nothing short of life-changing. There is a mild sensation when she inserts the probe, but it is honestly nothing to be afraid of. Within the first few treatments, which I did weekly, I could notice a difference. And within a few months, I was only going every two weeks. Now, only a year later, I only go once a month and my face appears to have little more facial hair than other women who don’t suffer with this issue.
I have even moved to other areas of my body like…my nipples!! After sharing my facial hair story with you, it seems like nothing now to tell you that I had a few annoying dark hairs there and in a few seconds, voila! Gone forever!
If you are struggling with unwanted hair anywhere on your body, please do your research and find an electrologist with lots of positive reviews, a clean and welcoming practice, and if you live in Ottawa, I highly recommend Caress Electrolysis in Barrhaven. Kathryn and her team are professional and warm and completely discreet. It truly feels like a spa visit, complete with the music and the bed!
I could have made the choice to embrace my facial hair the way Harnaam Kaur does in the film, Embrace (an amazing film about empowerment and self-love), but I didn’t want to.
I wanted it gone so that I could enjoy how it felt not to have it. And if that makes people think of me as superficial or unwilling to accept myself as I am, I am okay with that.
Because I did this for me.
Permanently removing my facial hair has allowed me to feel more freedom in my life.
And that feels really good.
Because I want to feel as good as I possibly can.
Because I want to love my life.
Because I want to love my life one bite at a time.
P.S. I share these posts not to talk about myself, but to let you know that we are not alone. We all have sh*t we are dealing with, secrets we are keeping, embarrassing things we might want to hide. But I am a firm believer that our secrets keep us sick. And if we talk about this stuff, we will realize that we are not alone. I do hope this helps even ONE person find more freedom in their lives. Feel free to reach out to me personally if you have any questions about this or want to talk about any of YOUR embarrassing stuff! xo
P.P.S. Kathryn Ray, owner of Caress Electrolysis, will be at The Healthy Brain and Body Show on April 22 & 23, 2017 at The EY Centre! She is an incredibly open and warm lady and I hope you take advantage of her Show Special by coming to the show! It is a wellness event unlike any other in Ottawa and we have so many amazing things in store for you. If you live near me, I do hope I get to meet you in person! Oh, and the show is FREE to attend!