hair.

Hello friends! This is the first of two posts on the subject of hair. The second will be more frivolous and fun but here is a post about the literal bane of my life.

If you asked me ‘what is the first thing you could change about your appearance?’ I would probably say I would like super-white, straight, Hollywood teeth. But it wouldn’t really be true: my teeth are fine. I don’t think about them much. The real answer, which I would never tell you because I find it so profoundly troubling, would be ‘I would never grow a single hair between my neck and my eyebrows’.

It’s not a secret that I have a lot of body hair- you can often see it in photos I choose to post online. I don’t shave my underarms, I maybe shave my legs twice a year, my forearms are covered in dark hair. But that’s not all: I have hair everywhere. Basically anywhere it is physically possible to have hair, I have it there. I would probably go as far as to say that the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet are the only places that I’ve never found dark hair.

The underarm hair, the leg hair, I can deal with, and have actually embraced. I like the way underarm hair looks on me, I don’t feel like it undermines my appearance or compromises a feeling of looking good. The hair in other weird places, I basically just ignore or shave every so often. So far, so good.

The face hair, though? It ruins my life. I know it sounds like hyperbole, but if you fully understood (which I will probably never enable anyone to understand because I will never show you) just how much thick, dark hair I could have on my face if I didn’t keep it under control, you might get it. On the very odd occasion I’ve spoken about it, people have reacted with disbelief when I gesture towards a man with stubble to try to demonstrate how much hair I would have if I didn’t remove it. Even typing this post is making me feel panicky at the thought of acknowledging what I actually look like and how much I hate it- it makes me feel weak that there’s something about my appearance that causes me so much anxiety and shame.

It doesn’t matter why it’s there. I was tested for PCOS as a teenager and it was inconclusive. My dad has a lot of thick dark body hair so it’s more likely to be that, but whatever the cause, I’m stuck with it. Very pale skin and very thick dark hair.

I’ve been in the world for 28 years and there are a lot of things I’ve come to terms with about the way I look, but this will never be one of them. I just can’t, and it makes me feel vain but I just hate it so much. I used to shave it, every other day. I had to: that’s how fast it would show up again. But then (and maybe hormonal contraception made it worse) it was resurfacing after a day and a half, which basically meant I had to shave it every day so I was never in public with dark hair. It was taking over my life, and I hated it.

I actually hated it so much that finally, this year, I decided I had to try something. I’d had a course of laser hair removal at a clinic when I was 17 but didn’t carry on the top-up appointments after the course finished because I moved cities temporarily. I wasn’t particularly convinced it had worked- going once a month or so just didn’t feel like it was making a huge difference. And in the 10 years between getting the initial course at a clinic and this year, it got so much worse. So I used some money I’d saved and bought an at-home IPL machine. I did research (there are a lot of models out there, and many by the same brand) and asked around on social media and finally made a decision and coughed up.

I use a Philips Lumea Face & Body, in a model that isn’t available anymore but I’ve linked to the closest currently-available model. If I followed the instructions I would use it once every couple of weeks, but I went rogue and just used it every time I had to shave. At first this was my normal amount, so I was literally using the Lumea every couple of days for several weeks or even months, but over time, I found that I could go for days and days without shaving, and when I did feel like I had to, there was hardly any hair there to shave.

I’ve been using it since January and while I still feel like I need to use it, and still need to shave the hair that’s left in order to use it, it’s really been a huge change for the better.

The way I would explain its effect on me, someone with an extreme amount of very strong, tenacious dark hair, is that it’s reduced 80% of the hair by 100%, and the remaining 20% is about 70% gone. There are really only a few patches that are still hanging in there, ruining my life, and they’re generally on areas of my face like my jawline that are curved, so it’s harder to shave them right down to the root, and harder to get the Lumea fully flat against the area.

It’s always said that laser hair removal works best on people with pale skin and dark hair, which is theoretically me, and I think it’s just testament to how thick and aggressive my hair is that even after 11 months of using laser hair removal on my face multiple times a week, it’s not totally gone.

I guess I wanted to write this post to properly confront the only thing I truly hate about my appearance, the thing I will always hate, but also to say that using the IPL machine has seriously improved things. It’s really, really expensive, but kind of the way people feel about laser eye surgery, it can make such a huge difference that long-term it kind of works out.

Anyway, solidarity with other femmes who are extremely self-conscious or self-loathing because of their facial hair. I wish I was strong enough to just get over it, but I’m not, and using the laser machine has really made a difference to my self-esteem.

jewel toned.

Around this time of year, every year, the phrase ‘jewel tones’ starts cropping up in people’s fashion vocabulary. It’s a time of year when you want to buy pieces in rich, deep shades in luxurious fabrics, and I’m no different. I wore this outfit yesterday when I needed to look together, but not too done. This coat has been my favourite purchase of the season (so thank you to my mum who alerted me to its existence)- I get so many compliments on it, it’s a perfect fit, the perfect weight, perfect pockets. I just adore it. I paired it with my beloved Katy dress from Universal Standard, where, frankly, I would happily buy my whole wardrobe if I could. On my feet are this kind gift from Evans, where basically all my feminine shoes come from. I was wary because I never wear anything with even a slight heel because the balls of my feet feel like they’re burning after a few hours, so I put a pair of trainers in my bag in case things got bad, but nope. This beautiful tapestry-esque pair of boots were perfectly comfortable all day long.

Coat: Mango
Dress: Universal Standard
Boots: Evans

And I’m wearing my all-time favourite earrings, which I wear in one colour or another most days anyway, but had to wear yesterday because I was having lunch with my friend Maartje who designed them when she was a jewellery designer at H&M!

mini magic.

I always think pinafore dresses look so cute on people, but every time I wear one the straps keep falling down and I just end up getting annoyed. This Joanie one is perfect for me because it has wide shoulders so can’t fall down! My problems are solved and I am now the one feeling cute in a pinafore-style dress. Today I’m wearing it over this high-neck floral blouse, but have visions of pairing it with my turtleneck sweaters, breton tops and printed shirts.

Pinafore: Joanie
Blouse: Joanie
Shoes: Clarks

My lipstick is Urban Decay liquid lipstick in Time, and is the final day of Liptober so I will be doing a roundup post of my favourite shades ASAP!

 

a perfect pair.

I really don’t think there’s anything I love more than the combination of leopard print and kelly green. It’s so fresh and bold and beautiful and kind of hard to do because I find so few items in that particular shade of green, let alone in my size. That’s one of the reasons I was so keen to bring that colour into my collection with navabi, and why I wear these trousers so much. When I saw a leopard print top on ASOS Curve (ALSO! If you shop on ASOS today, 30th October, it’s 20% off everything!), I knew it was the perfect match for my green trousers, and I concocted this outfit to wear for dinner on Saturday night with some old friends from my Montreal days.

Jacket: River Island Plus
Top: ASOS Curve
Trousers: ArchedEyebrow x navabi
Shoes: Minorquines

On my eyes is Urban Decay Naked Heat eyeshadow palette plus an amazing orange-brown eyeliner pencil from their Basquiat collaboration on my waterline which really brings out green eyes. On my lips I have Marc Jacobs lip gloss in Sugar Sugar, and I wouldn’t normally wear lip gloss but I picked up a sample of this and in the spirit of Liptober decided to give it a go! I think I kind of like it?

a little lighter.

Makeup is probably my favourite thing in the world. I’m probably more interested in makeup than I am in clothes, but I never felt like I fit into the world of beauty journalism/beauty blogging etc and the plus size fashion world was a more comfortable place for me so here I am. But as you know if you follow me on social or if you know me IRL, I talk about makeup a lot. If I had to express what kind of makeup I like to wear, it’s full coverage base with a shimmery glow, matte opaque lipsticks, matte eyeshadows. But I’m trying to break out of that.

Now Glossier ships to the UK, I decided it was time to try more than just their excellent Boy Brow, and see if their makeup works for me. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out Glossier’s thing is makeup for girls who don’t want or need a lot of makeup, Cool Girl Makeup, natural beauty makeup. I don’t really fall into any of those categories, but in my quest to mix up my makeup routine and break out of my heavy coverage 100% of the time, I decided to give it a try.

In this photo I’m wearing the Perfecting Skin Tint in Light, Stretch Concealer in Light, Cloud Paint in Dusk, Haloscope in Quartz, Boy Brow in Brown and Generation G Lipstick in Crush.  I’m also wearing an Urban Decay mascara as Glossier haven’t released a mascara yet.

 

As you can see, this is a very different look to, for example, my usual full face.

(For reference, in the photo below, I’m wearing It Cosmetics CC cream, It Cosmetics undereye concealer, Urban Decay Naked 3 eyeshadow palette and mascara, Kevyn Aucoin contour powder, Anastasia Beverly Hills Glow Kit for highlight, Tarte blusher (which I can’t find on a UK site…), Hourglass Ambient Lighting powder, Anastasia Beverly Hills lipstick and NYX brow pomade applied with a hard angle brush. So, as you can see, quite different.)

 

Overall thoughts: I… actually love the look of my face in this super pared-down, natural makeup. I’m surprised by how happy and confident I felt with a seriously reduced amount of makeup. I wore this face for a long day of filming a video at work that involved going into and out of lots of shops and changing rooms and stomping around Oxford Street, getting extremely sweaty. Something I really liked about this face was that as the day wore on, I didn’t look loads worse than I did when I began the day. I sweat a lot, like enough for me to be considering Botox injections in my face to prevent it, and I find that on a day-to-day basis, I begin the day looking fresh and glowing in my makeup, but by the time I get to work, my sweat from public transport and fast walking has combined with my base makeup and powder and left me looking a bit wilted. The Glossier face didn’t do that at all and every time I saw my face in a mirror I thought how fresh and nice I looked.

On an individual basis:

Perfecting Skin Tint

This is much lighter coverage than I’m used to, and I liked it. I get a couple of spots every month around my period (which is… right now) but apart from that I don’t have particularly problematic skin. The reason I like wearing base makeup is to even out my redness, and I have very pink cheeks. This gives very little coverage, but neutralised my redness nicely and left my skin feeling really soft and chilled. It just made me look healthy and pleasant without being too done. If you need coverage from a base product, I would absolutely not recommend this, but if you’re trying to wean yourself off full coverage, then I definitely do.

Stretch Concealer

The best under eye concealer ever invented is the It Cosmetics one I’ve started wearing since buying it in New York. That, however, is not suitable to be used as a concealer anywhere else on your face (in my opinion) as it’s just so brightening. I wanted a concealer that would work on my under eyes but also be appropriate for the are around my nose and to cover spots when they appear on a monthly basis, and this does that really well. It comes in a pot which will become bad for me at some point when I’ve used a lot of it because I have very long nails so will start applying with a synthetic brush when it’s further down in the pot, but I liked being able to apply it with my hands. The consistency is quite wet so it’s really good on dry areas but if you have oily skin maybe it wouldn’t set as well. In the first photo in this post I’m wearing it on my under eyes and other areas of the face and I think it worked well, and I would definitely use it in conjunction with my It Cosmetics concealer when I’m doing heavier coverage.

Cloud Paint

A couple of people on my social (hi, Autumn!) are very passionate about the Cloud Paint. I generally only wear powder blusher as I’m obsessed with the idea that gel or liquid is hard to blend and will stick to the dry bits of my cheeks, so I took a chance on Cloud Paint on the recommendation of friends. I actually love it, and for me this might be the surprise standout item of my order. I’m wearing the shade Dusk which is a tawny pink, but it comes in three other shades so I might try those too. I found you need only a small amount, and that it was really easy to apply with my hands. It didn’t dry too quickly for me to be able to blend it by patting it around with my fingertips, and it just gave a really nice, natural flush.

Haloscope

If Cloud Paint was my surprise fave, the Haloscope highlighter stick was my un-surprise least fave. I’m going to keep using it and see if I learn to love it, but I found it had very little effect. I’m always conscious of stick products swiping off the products underneath them on my cheeks (this is how my buddy Alice ended up with a Milk Cosmetics highlighter stick which I bought originally for myself but then bought the same shade in a Becca powder form instead, knowing I would use that more). For that reason, I rubbed the stick onto my fingertips and pressed it onto my cheekbones that way. I found it left me dewy-looking but no real discernible highlight. Probably nice for a summer holiday, and I do hope it’ll grow on me, but not my fave.

Boy Brow

This was the first Glossier product I tried, and honestly, it’s kind of spoiled other brow products for me. Between running out of my first one and Glossier shipping to the UK, I tried different brow stuff at different prices. Some of them I quite liked, but honestly? I just wanted more Boy Brow. My heavy eyebrows are one of my defining facial features, so obviously I don’t need a lot from a brow product. This means Boy Brow works super well for me as it sets my brows in place and adds a bit of colour in the sparser bits. I much prefer this to heavier pomades as I find it so hard to get my brows to look even with products like the NYX Tame & Frame that I’ve been using. I know eyebrows are meant to be sisters, or cousins, whatever, not twins, but when I’m going to the trouble of using a heavy-duty product and a hard angle brush, I want them to look pretty perfect, and they just don’t. So I like the low-maintenance nature of Boy Brow that makes my brows look naturally great.

Generation G lipstick

80% of my lipsticks are liquid mattes and the remaining 20% are solid mattes… until now! These are sheer mattes, so they leave a solid colour but it’s a super light wash, and I just love how pretty the shade Crush is on my lips. It felt so comfortable and light and lovely and it was so nice to be able to reapply without a mirror and not worry about a super intense shade ending up in the wrong place or making my lipline look wrong. I also have the shade Cake, which is very close to my actual lip colour, and Zip, which is a sweet poppy red.

In conclusion: these products are the complete opposite of the products I usually go for… and yet I loved them, and loved the way they looked and felt on my face. I’m actually really glad I bought into the Glossier hype because now I know I like a much, much lighter look as well as my usual heavier, glowier, more-product look.

FYI, if you use this or any of the Glossier links in this post for your first order, you’ll get 10% off and I’ll get some store credit. This isn’t sponsored, it’s just their referral programme!