Eeeeeeeeeek Unwanted Facial Hair!
I was reading a post where you invited readers to confess their beauty secrets. Maybe you can help me with my problem because it seems like I have the worst version of a problem a lot of women have.
About 5 years ago – mid 20s I started noticing hair on my chin/front of my neck. I plucked. And plucked. This causes ingrown hairs and I loked like I had acne there. I finally got laser – which was expensive but HERE IS THE BAD PART about that: you cannot have any sun exposure for a month beforehand so you go to the apointment all excited and they basically hand you spf 50 and a straw hat and tell you to return in 30 days. AND…you CANNOT pluck for that entire time. You have to…SHAVE. They tell you to shave your face. So I did. And I felt like a dude. I went to my treatments (5 in all, about 800 dollars total) and you have to shave every day – they tell you the hair will be dead but it pushes its way out so you have to keep shaving. After my last treatment (which, BTW yes, it hurts – but as long as it worked, I totally didn’t care) I had to keep shaving and shaving and shaving. I kept getting ingrown hairs. The hair kept coming. Five years later and now I’m back to plucking.
Here is the current and really bad problem: Apparently all of the plucking has caused discoloration. I now have about 30 spots of dark skin on my chin and front of neck. If I look at that area in the car visor mirror, it is horrifying! Not only are there hairs – I pluck about 20 a day, I would estimate. But there is this shadow of dark skin in the shape of a beard!!!! I can’t tell how “obvious” it is – like if it’s visible from 20 feet away or if you wouldn’t notice unless I pointed it out to you. Thus, I wear foundation every single day – which sucks because you really have to blend down there so it doesn’t look weird, and it sucks because this time of year I have an awesome tan, but you can’t apprciate it because I have to cover it up with foundation – although I sometimes try to get away with blending really well so I only cover up the offending area.
At this point, I don’t know if I should go back to shaving – that has its own drawbacks – that prickly, 5 o’clock shadow feeling – you can see those suckers in bright sunlight!!!! and more ingrown hairs. I guess I would deal with that if the dark spots would go away.
I have been tested for hormone levels, PCOS and they are negative – I’m just hairy.
It’s a really horrible feeling. I’m married and this is the one thing I do not discuss with my husband.
Hey – don’t post my name, ok????
Well, if it makes you feel any better, yours is NOT the first question I’ve gotten about unwanted facial hair. Not by a long shot.
Of course, dozens of questions about it later I’m still not sure I have a great answer. We’ve all tried Nair and home wax kits and that fancy little no!no! gadget that Sephora is pushing says it’s “not recommended for use on the face” in the fine print. (Which…is pretty much the only spot on my body that would justify a $250 razor-type-thing, so honestly I politely suggest they go back to the drawing board on that one. I hate shaving my pits as much as the next girl, but please.)
I picked your question to publish because, frankly, most women struggling with the facial hair problem are debating whether to try laser treatments. Which you did, with less-than-awesome results. (Yours is probably the second or third anecdote I’ve heard about laser hair removal not being totally permanent too, which sucks. My husband has been eyeing the procedure for years.) I’m wondering if you’ve ever contacted the clinic to report the spectacular failure of your treatments? Any odds of a free or discounted re-do or touch-up session, or some “expert” advice about the dark spots?
From what little I know about laser hair removal, it’s very likely that the treatment is actually to blame for your current skin discoloration. (It’s a commonly-noted side effect, usually temporary, but in rare cases it can be permanent or very long-lasting.) The plucking and chronic ingrowns don’t help either.
Have you tried waxing? Piggy-backing the chin area with a regular appointment to get your eyebrows done? Tell the tech you’re very prone to ingrown hairs and she might be able to give you advice about what products to use post-wax and plucking to prevent them. (Plucking is no different from waxing, by the way, if you pluck and run without following up with a good product you’ll get ingrown hairs and irritation for sure. ) Waxing isn’t permanent, of course, but with time the hairs SHOULD get thinner and weaker, and your regrowth time SHOULD slow, and even cutting down on the number of hairs you pluck in-between waxes would probably be a relief, no?
As for the skin discoloration, it sounds similar to a sun or age spot, to which I’ve found nothing effective, at least in the over-the-counter realm. A dermatologist may prescribe a bleaching cream for you though, so make an appointment with one (preferably one on the “cosmetic” side of the field — you know, the kind with Botox and crap like that, since these doctors tend to be a bit more willing to help out with non-skin-cancer-type concerns). While you’re there, ask the doctor about hair removal options. Maybe a prescription hair removal cream like Vaniqa? (Disclaimer: I know nothing about Vaniqa besides what I’ve read about it on the Internet. This is not an endorsement or anything other than me throwing options wildly out to the wind, talk to your doctor about risks and side effects, blah blah back-peddling talkyspeak.)
One last note on shaving: I’m sure we all know this by now, but the whole “if you shave it’ll grow back darker and thicker” thing? Total myth. Shaved-off stubble may APPEAR darker and more noticeable, but shaving has absolutely no effect on the hair follicle, either by making it grow thicker hair or multiplying the number of strands. That said, I still totally get why shaving your face is probably near the bottom of your list of Ideal Hair Removal Options.