Welcome back, everybody! One question I get repeatedly is how to get rid of post-menopausal facial hair. It seems that women across the country are traumatized by thinning head hair that has seemingly migrated to their chins, cheeks, and upper lips. As my childhood bestie would say, “Awesome.”
There are many ways to address renegade hairs that pop up off the plantation. Considerations include whether or not they brought friends (solo sprout or more of a mustache?), where they’re located (nipple hairs can be particularly pesky. Do you pluck? Wax? Just let it grow and hope it falls out?) and what type of hair it is (dark and coarse or light and fine?).
Dark, coarse hair is most benefited by professional intervention or waxing. It removes the hair from the follicle, extending the length of time before it resurfaces. It’s a pain in the booty, but the surest route to have skin like a hairless cat.
Insider secret: Fine, light-colored or blonde facial hair (the kind you see when your face is in the sunlight) can just be shaved off with a Women’s Gillette razor. Yep, the one in your shower that you use for your legs. One or two quick swipes on a wet, lightly soaped face, and boom, peach fuzz-free for days. Women in the industry have been doing this for years, and have collectively saved thousands of dollars on unnecessary professional help.
“Oh no,” you say, “That’ll make it grow out faster and thicker.” No, it won’t. That old wives’ tale belongs with “Put butter on a burn,” and “Hair of the dog” (also called “Drinking your way out of a hangover.”) If this were true, we’d all be shaving our eyelashes, and I’d have glorious, thick hair down to my woo-hoo, because I’ve been buzzing it weekly since I was 35. And I’m 60.
A razor is not a magic wand. It cannot change the science of hair. It cannot thicken the hair nor deepen its color. The hair on your face acts no differently than the hair on your head. It lives in the follicle, underneath the skin. That’s where everything happens. So whatever you do at the surface doesn’t matter. It’s true that it may appear to be thicker or darker, because you’re seeing the blunt edge, where it comes to the surface and looks shorter and stubbier. But that’s only if your hair is that color naturally. If it comes out baby fine, and looks like the soft, pale fuzz on fruit, use a razor and take care of the problem lickety-split (I’ve been waiting for years to use that term. Don’t you love it?) Twice a week should do it for most of us.
The only benefit from a professional waxing on peach fuzz is that it rips the hair out from it’s follicle, so it will take longer to resurface. But for me, it’s a hassle, it hurts, and you have to pay for the service. The trifecta of “Never mind. I got this.”
Now, to your other questions!
Q, My eyebrows are sparse and patchy from overplucking since high school. How do I fill them in without looking like Joan Crawford in “Mommy Dearest”?
A. Fortunately. dramatic eyebrows are super hot right now, so you have an extensive selection of products to choose from. Rite Aid has several brands hawking every conceivable type of brow product you can imagine. I like to keep it simple. A soft pencil that you keep sharpened, that has the pencil at one end and a spooly brush at the other end, is my go-to. Take the brow pencil and, using short, upward strokes, gently fill in the sparse areas across your brow. Follow your natural brow line and extend to the outer edges. Use the spooly end to gently brush your brows up and out, smudging that liner and making it look more natural, less “penciled in.” Avoid obvious reshaping by applying the pencil beyond your natural length or width. It looks harsh, and only works in photo shoots.
Q. Can older women wear powder?
A. Sometimes. It depends on what kind of powder, why you’re wearing it, and what you want it to do. It can be a little tricky because too much can make your skin look pasty or dry. Gorgeous skin has a glow and looks hydrated and healthy. Packing powder on during the day to “set” your makeup or eliminate the shine will destroy that fresh glow. I prefer blotting papers. They’re the coolest makeup invention since lip gloss. Blotting papers come in handy little packets, and you simply press one gently on the shiny area (often the forehead and the nose, called the “T-square”) and voila, no more shine and no more product being layered onto your skin. These can be used as often as you like, and are a perfect solution to powdering.
Q. I recently had an eye infection. Do I have to throw away all my eye makeup?
A. That depends. It’s a good idea to toss any products you used during the time of the infection. The eyes are moist, and that moisture is a breeding ground for infection to spread. I would definitely toss any mascaras and eye pencils. I’ve never thrown out powder eyeshadows because of an infection, because they’re a dry product. Your call on that one.
Q. I love the look of fuller lips, but I’m not going to get those injections. Can I make my lips look fuller by lining them outside the edges?
A. Absolutely. But be careful. Using short strokes, apply a nude lip liner along the outer edge of your lips. Avoid bright colors. It’s extremely difficult to blend them, and often looks clownish. Remember, this is not an opportunity to draw a whole new lip line. You need to work with what nature gave you, or you risk creating an obvious line that looks weird in the light of day. Makeup artists call this the VPL (visible panty line) of the cosmetics industry. Make sure that when you apply your lipstick or gloss, you blend it into the lip pencil (quickly accomplished by smooshing your lips together 2-3 times). Like panty lines under your yoga pants. lip liners are not supposed to show.
Q. How long should my mascara last?
A. Cosmetic companies tell us that mascara should last no longer than 3 months. By that time, it has usually either dried out, or it’s been used up, or it’s got environmental gunk in it. Remember, these are your beautiful eyes we’re using this product on. External moisture, in all its germy glory, gets into the mascara every time you use it. You should also toss any mascara that you can smell. If it has a funky scent, it’s either got added fragrance (why?) or germs (yech), neither of which you need in an eye product. So to be safe, figure three months or if it ever smells “off.”
Keep those questions coming, and I’ll see you in two weeks!