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March 28, 2013

FREY: Unnoticed battle begins

I had never given much thought to facial hair until six years ago.

It was a bright, sunny day in the middle of summer. My son Charles and I were standing on the backyard deck having a pleasant conversation about a topic which has long since been forgotten.

He was 10. I was 49.

I noted that the conversation turned quiet, and my son, who was staring intently at my face, more specifically at my upper lip, and squinting his eyes, made the following declaration: “Mom, you have whiskers.”

I am not sure I liked that statement.

Even worse, how was it that I had not noticed the whiskers, but my son had. Who else, pray tell, had noticed the whiskers (guffawed out loud in their minds perhaps), ignored the situation, and said nothing?

The whisker revelation got me thinking about my eye sight. Clearly, I was missing a few things while cleaning, exfoliating, moisturizing, and applying make-up to my face each morning.

So, post haste, I ran into the bathroom, grabbed my daughter’s magnified mirror, and began inspecting the unwanted facial hair.

Much to my chagrin, they were really there. Whiskers, I tell you, similar in nature to what a cat would sport, only not quite as long. They were black. They were nubby. They were nasty looking. I also found a few of them lurking on and under my chin. It was alarming.

When had this disturbing turn of events taken place? How was it I had not noticed?

In the wee hours of the night when all in the house were asleep, I crept into the computer room, quietly sat down, and began my quest to conquer the whisker situation. Here is what I learned.

The problem itself is called the management of unwanted facial hair, a frustrating and embarrassing condition, which, according to varying statistics, affects between 25 and 40 percent of women worldwide. Epilation is the removal of hair from under the surface of the skin. Depilation is the removal of hair from the surface only.

The most awkward of hair removal systems, it would seem, is delapitories (which sounds like lavatories, and therefore, not so good), and involves smothering the area with a harsh alkaline cream and then washing away the broken pieces of hair.

The oldest is threading, an ancient and somewhat archaic method originating in the Middle East and India, whereby a thin cotton string is attached to the unwanted hairs and then yanked out of the face.

Waxing, seemingly the most painful of methods, involves painting the upper lip with a blazing hot resin-base wax. The hairs, which permanently attach to the wax, are then quickly ripped off the face in one fell swoop.

Laser hair removal sounds just like what it does, and involves an intense, pulsating beam of light that destroys the unwanted hair and hair follicles. Darth Vader comes to mind. Need I say more?

And finally, there is the old-fashioned razor and shaving cream method, recommended highly by Dr. Oz. This is the method I initially chose for the management of my unwanted facial hair. Sadly enough, my husband’s shaving cream broke my face out. Which was yet another problem.

Here is what I now know.

The least painful and least expensive way to remove facial hair is to pluck them out with tweezers.

And unless you are a man, I encourage you to put the razor and shaving cream away. Oh yes, and purchase a new pair of glasses.

Alvia Lewis Frey is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at alewisfrey@aol.com.

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