Monday, 16 November 2015

Makeup Monday: Temporary Fixes for a Permanent Problem

There's something that I have wanted to talk about on the blog for some time now, but I've always been a bit too self-conscious to share it. With where I see my blog going, I've decided to open up more about my life. For the last 8 years, I have struggled with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (aka PCOS). PCOS is a reproductive endocrine disorder where the female reproductive organ produces surplus "male" hormones (like testosterone). Having PCOS means that you can (but not in all circumstances) have physical cysts on your ovaries, which cause fertility problems.

PCOS comes with several other medical and inconveniencing or "ugly" side effects (as if having cysts on your ovaries, and potential infertility isn't enough?!). In fact, I've struggled with these symptoms much longer than I've officially had PCOS (I was diagnosed at 17, but started having symptoms at 15). Although they may be looked at as "superficial", the symptoms I have experienced are pretty terrible and damaging for one's self-esteem. For more information about PCOS, you can visit here.

Personally, I have experienced the following: irregular (let's say it's quite limited) menstrual cycle, skin tags, thickening and darkening of the skin (it's awful, trust me), weight gain (although it's a perpetual cycle, because excessive weight can lead to complications),  depression and anxiety, and unwanted facial/body hair (called hirsutism). The symptoms that I struggle with the most (and continue to struggle with) is thicker/darker skin and hirsutism. A few years ago, I surgically removed my skin tags, I manage my menstrual cycle and weight as best I can, sought help for my low mood... but alas, there's only so much you can do.
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bumps on my chin accumulated from years of waxing, plucking and pulling

Hirsutism is defined as "abnormal growth of hair on a person's face and body, especially on a woman". To me, hirsutism is so much more than that. For years, I let my hirsutism define my femininity. I felt that I had to overcompensate for it (read: hours of plucking, flawless makeup, manicures and more), that having some "masculine" qualities made me less of a woman. When I really break this apart, I realize that I have kept up this rouse so I could fit in. I wanted to feel the same as other women, when in fact, I'm just not.

Yet, I can't stop. I won't stop. Maintaining my physical appearance is important to me. There is the key word, me. I no longer seek the approval of others, but seek the confidence I have when I am well groomed and put together. What I have decided to do is engage in "safer" hair removal practice.

I was reading an article published by Allure Magazine (see here) about the Top 10 mistakes you are making with hair removal, and it really stuck with me. There are so many times that I would skip the appropriate routine, or use extreme measures just to remove my hair (often due to impromptu plans). So, how should I deal with my unwanted hair? When I decide to remove my hair, I attend bi-weekly waxings. Honestly, I've spent more money on these in my lifetime than I would ever wish someone to spend (I could probably pay for a down payment on a car, easily).

Tip: Make sure you go to a salon that you trust, and that takes their time. There is nothing worse than a wax job done in haste. Trust me, you will leave with red bumps that will remain on your face for days, weeks, and even sometimes, permanently.

Sometimes, I decide to pluck my strays, but this should really be done in moderation. I would say not to even do this as a last resort if you have to remove multiple hairs. Plucking can lead to inflammation, redness, bumps and even the dreaded ingrown hairs!!! What I have opted for instead, was purchasing the Tweezerman 'Smooth Finish Facial Hair Remover' available at Sephora for $25. Honestly, it's a dream for someone with hirsutism. Essentially it's a two-handed tweezer that you twist and rotate the handles of, while gliding the metal coils on your face. The result, plucking. However, I will still encourage you to be mindful of how much you are pulling, to avoid the same side-effects of tweezing. I personally find this tool to be a lot more effective than tweezers because it:
a) covers more surface area
b) can be used without a mirror to catch hairs you may not have seen
c) can catch white baby hairs and hairs that are just starting to form
d) hurts a lot less (unless you catch an awful snag)
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Tweezerman Smooth Finish Facial Hair Remover
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Everyday, I am self-conscious and embarrassed about my stray facial hair. It causes me to second guess going out on dates and being intimate. On occasions, I will even spend hours tweezing hairs from my chin before a date (especially if it's an impromptu date and I can't make it to the salon). Sowhy do I do this? I've actually had men straight up dump me over my hirsutism (and not even on a bad day). I went to sleep with my (ex) partner once, happy and in lust, and woke up to some comments fueled by judgement and disgust when he saw the sunlight on my face (from the worst particular angle). This incident beat me down for years, but I refuse to let it keep me down any longer. Writing about this has been terrifying, yet extremely therapeutic. I hope that I have inspired you with my story. Please feel free to comment or email me if you have any additional questions about PCOS in general, or my story.





Disclaimer: All opinions are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the experiences of others with the same (or similar) condition. 

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