Concerning the Removal of Hair
Admittedly, this is a massive subject for such a limited space, but one that’s never far from the mind of the male-to-female transgender person. Whether you are transitioning full time, in which case the matter of hair removal is virtually an essential facet of your plan, or a recreational crossdresser who simply wants to more easily achieve the female image when they dress, the ins and outs of hair removal are a subject that one must acquaint themselves with.
It stands to reason, then, that much of what I will say in this column is already common knowledge for many of you, but let us be mindful of those seeking out credible information who are not so well informed and start with the basics.
It must be noted that the intensity of this concern varies according to how much natural body and facial hair growth one has. So are blessed in that even the beard area is relatively sparse, others – like myself – are cursed with enough body hair to make a Wookie blush. The former has considerably more liberty in regards to hair removal than the latter. For us hairy beasts, it is as much a concern as the voice or the figure.
Whatever your starting point, you have basically three tiers of options available to you. There’s the very short term – that which is only helpful over a matter of days or even hours. There’s the medium short term, which is effective from several days up to a few weeks. And there’s the long term (sometimes referred to as permanent, though only one method actually is) which dramatically reduces or eliminates the target hair for good.
In the first category is shaving, and depilatory (i.e. Nair et al). Shaving, as we well know, has a shelf life ranging from 8-12 hours on the low end (for beards) to 3 or 4 days (for areas like legs and underarms). Compared to other methods, it is relatively accessible cost wise (it IS expensive, but the cost is spread out over multiple small purchases rather than all at once) and, especially for the CD, is less of an “outing” mechanism than some others. You are not doubt familiar with the pluses and minuses here. One obvious drawback is hard or impossible to reach areas. Believe me when I say, there is no such thing as shaving your own back.
Nair and similar depilatory products work on a similar but slightly longer time frame, depending on how sensitive your hair is to the product. In my personal experience, such products don’t get all the hair and are not as effective as shaving but your mileage may vary, some swear by the results. One word of caution – these products are NOT recommended for the face. This will come up again in a bit but I’m aware that some girls say “screw the popo!” and do it anyway, but some of them end up with very unsightly scarring from ignoring the wisdom of others too. Proceed with caution.
In the medium short range group we find plucking methods of various sorts. There’s plucking, of course, but who has that kind of time? There’s the ever popular waxing option (again, very bad idea to wax your face) as well as threading and epilation. Waxing, depending on your pain tolerance and budget, has advantages. I swear by it for eyebrows, but I can’t afford the regular (every 2-4 weeks for most) sessions over larger areas. Also, of course, the larger the area the more pain you’ll endure. Threading is only really practical for small areas and is sort of a dying art as it’s difficult in many areas to find someone that knows how to do it properly. It’s also a more time consuming process which, presumably, leads to more expense though I honestly don’t know what the market is for this service.
Finally, there’s the love/hate machine known as the epilator. For me, it’s an indispensable item. As with other methods, how long it lasts depends on how your hair grows, I find it best to treat an area roughly once a week. If you maintain a regular schedule, and rotate so that rather than doing your whole body once a week (which might take you most of two hours) you do a certain area (such as the arms or the torso) each day for maybe 15 minutes or so, you can make some headway as, for most people, enough regular epilation will lead to thinner, more sparse hairs and some that stop growing at all. It’s true that they can be pretty intensely painful, some never get adjusted to it but for most it’s true that with a regular habit pain lessens after the first few times. Once more with feeling, never even think about plucking hairs from your face by whatever method, you can end up with scarring that’s much worse than hair.
In all these methods, it pas to remember to exfoliate to avoid ingrown hairs. I’ll discuss the more semi-permanent methods in an upcoming article.
Photo by Rachel K.