Heir to Facial Hair

By Melissa Face

I remember filling out beauty inventories from Glamour Magazine as a teenager. “What beauty product would you want with you on a deserted island?” was a frequent survey question. Back then, I probably answered lip gloss or face powder.

Today, however, only weeks away from turning 40, my answer would be very different. In fact, I’m not sure it is even a true beauty product. It might be better classified as a gardening tool.

Tweezers.

I wouldn’t want to be on a deserted island, or anywhere else for that matter, without my tweezers.

“Damn Eve, anyway,” I recall my great-grandmother saying. She frequently cursed the Biblical female while plucking her chin hairs. As a young girl, I watched her in horror, fingers-crossed, hoping that wouldn’t be my fate. I prayed I wouldn’t become heir to the whiskers of my female predecessors.

But I did inherit them: the whiskers and the cursing.

Long gone are the days when I could get away with Covergirl concealer and a little Wet n Wild lip gloss. I still wear concealer, but I’m definitely not “getting away” with anything. My face just looks old. It’s oily in the t-zone; I have zits, sun spots, creases in my forehead, and worst of all, the unwanted facial hair.

In my mid-30’s, I had to add tweezing to my beauty routine. At first, there were only a few stray, coarse neck hairs. Then, I began needing a monthly lip wax. I’m fortunate to have an amazing stylist who doesn’t make me feel the least bit awkward about my facial hair. “You are one of many women,” she says. “People just don’t want to admit it.”

I don’t blame them. It’s pretty gross. But I’ve made a habit of admitting things that many people won’t.

Today, even the monthly waxes aren’t enough for me to remain hairless, and maintenance requires almost constant tweezing. Every now and then, one still escapes my efforts.

For example, in the natural light of my workplace bathroom the other day, I noticed a black whisker poking out from my upper lip. It wasn’t a dark hair, lying down, waiting for me to deal with it at the end of the day. No, this hair was at attention, jutting out of my face, negating my attempts at looking presentable. It shouted, “Hey! You can’t hide me!”

I sprinted to the clinic at my school and asked the nurse for tweezers. I went into the bathroom and plucked the demon hair. I swear it was at least two inches long, and plucking it stung so badly my eyes watered. I took a few minutes to glance at my reflection and thought, “This is it. This is what 40 looks like. This is my middle-aged face, and tweezing unwanted hairs is my new normal.”

Tweezers are an essential part of my daily routine and a mandatory packing item. When I take trips, they’re at the top of the list, with my glasses and underwear right behind. So yes, that means I would rather be without clean underwear than have visible chin hairs.

As much as I don’t want to draw attention to my plucking, I often risk being seen in my car performing this awful ritual. My husband drives and I sit in the passenger seat plucking chin hairs at stoplights. And I know I’m technically in public, but the lighting is just too perfect to resist.

Plus, I would rather someone see me pluck than see what I looked like if I didn’t.

And though I know it’s morbid, I’ll go ahead and announce now that I have decided I want to be cremated when I die. I read that hair can keep growing for several weeks after death. Maybe the truth is that skin simply retracts and gives the illusion of facial hair growth. Either way, I can’t risk the possibility of my body being exhumed, exposing my thick, dark mustache. There are some things the world just doesn’t need to see.

Damn Eve, anyway.

About this writer

  • Melissa Face

    Melissa Face

    Melissa Face is the author of I Love You More Than Coffee, an essay collection for parents who love coffee a lot and their kids…a little more. Her essays and articles have appeared in Richmond Family Magazine, ScaryMommy, and twenty-one volumes of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Read more at melissaface.com

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15 Responses to “Heir to Facial Hair”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Laugh out loud funny. And hey girl, watch out for your big toes.

  2. Haha! Thanks, Linda! I’ll be on the lookout!!

  3. Tracey Partin says:

    This made my day…so funny!
    And if you are worried now, wait until you are knocking on 60 like me. Scary….

  4. Lisa Britt says:

    Oh, Melissa! I love this. When I was in my early 20s and visited my Grandmother in a nursing home, my Mom pulled me aside to show me the nursing home administrator who came into each room and tweezed chin hairs of the patients. My Mom said, this woman is a hero helping these women maintain some dignity.

  5. Kim Seeley says:

    Another winner! Love your title and conclusion!

  6. Susan Moss says:

    Way too true and funny. Loved your story.

  7. Colleen Shinault says:

    Awesome article. I can rember visiting my grandmother each year upstate New York and her neighbor outside with a mirror and a pair of tweezers, plucking her eyebrows. I thought she was crazy. Now that I am older and I am in the car always doing the same thing, I realize she was not crazy, it is a part of life, unfortunately. You did a great job on this article. You are the best Melissa.

  8. Rose Ann says:

    I love this–it could have been my story (and I thought I was the only one.) Tweezers and a small mirror–never leave home without it!

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