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I know I’ve shared before about how important tweezers are to me, and how without them my eyebrows would almost certainly have taken over my face. Eyebrow trauma is easy to share. After all, stories about getting the perfect, face-framing eyebrows abound. We joke about unibrows, threading and waxing. But eyebrows are not my topic today. Honestly I feel like I’ve more or less won that battle, finally. No, this story is about a much darker, more shameful issue: the witch hair. Read any InStyle articles on dealing with them lately? Didn’t think so. Fashionistas clearly don’t discuss witch hair. Ladies either, I’m guessing. Oh, well. I’m known for my fearless honesty.

Witch hair is a much more recent entry into my Hall of Shame. I don’t remember worrying about the hair on my face – eyebrows aside – until I hit 40. Suddenly, the intrusions began. Just a single hair, here or there. But UGH, the texture! Unlike the baby fine hair on my head, these suckers felt like wire. Also, ironically, in spite of the fact that I am losing the war with gray hair (80% now, underneath the blonde), these enemies almost exclusively are the dark brown I was born with. Bastards!

I should mention that in spite of my approximately 25 years as a SoCal resident, I remain quite fair. Years ago, on trip to Boston, my not-yet husband remarked, quite unnecessarily, “I think we’ve found your people.” Yep, I fit right in. I haven’t been asked to play an extra on iZombie yet, but it’s not an impossibility. Anyway, back to the witch hair.

Stiff and dark, they stand out in horrifying fashion against the pale backdrop of my skin. Also, what started out as an occasional skirmish became a miserable daily battle. I’d pluck one out, and three more would pop up to take its place, Whack-a-Mole style. I couldn’t wax because the skin on my chin is way too sensitive for that (don’t ask). So I plucked, and I plucked, but it never got better. Often they would break in the process, leaving me with short-but-still-obvious witch hair. I hated them. So much so that I finally cracked and decided to try laser hair removal. I was initially concerned about the expense, but finally I decided for the sake of my sanity I had to give it a go.

The place I chose was in a nondescript center in a strip mall. It’s actually pleasant inside, in a clinical sort of way, but it isn’t a building that screams “glamor.” I doubt I’ll be running into any celebrities there. I filled out their forms, waived my right to sue them if the process of trying to rid myself of witchiness ended up setting my face on fire or something, and met the woman wielding the magic wand. She cautioned me to remove any makeup, lest the laser be attracted to the pigment and burn me. I scrubbed, hard. I was worried about the pain, which many describe as feeling like a snapping rubber band, but honestly there was none. The noise was startling, and the smell of burning hair was slightly disturbing, but otherwise it was all fine. When it was over, she handed me a tube of heavy-duty sunscreen and told me I should schedule another appointment for about six weeks later. Then she told me not to use dipilatories, wax or pluck in between. If she had told me not to pee for the next six weeks, I couldn’t have been any more shocked. “There must be SOMETHING I can do,” I wailed frantically. “It grows too fast! I can’t do nothing!” Inside, I was trying to rationalize staying inside my house for six weeks. What excuses could I make? Could I feign quarantine? “You can shave,” she said finally.

Shave. My face?!? Like a man?!? (Well, maybe not the hipsters sporting lumberjack beards, but you get the idea.) If I’d thought fighting a losing battle with witch hair was demoralizing, the idea of having to shave was somehow worse. Girls don’t shave their faces. Razors are for legs. Or underarms. If you’re desperate, your bikini line. Not your face. Never ever.

I made it three days before I caved. I couldn’t do it, but I couldn’t *not* do it, either. I wasn’t about to face the world with stubble. There are only two small areas that cause me all this trauma, one on each side, each less than a square inch in size. (The total cost of a laser treatment for an area this small is $10. Ten. That’s it.)  It took me only seconds. Demoralizing, yes, but also fast!

I had my second treatment two weeks ago. I thought maybe there was a little less hair on the right side after the first treatment, but somehow the left side seemed worse. I was frustrated. This time the technician was a bit more aggressive, since I’d had no negative reaction after the first round. In fact, a few days later, I had a light pink patch in one spot on the left, kind of like a sunburn. The hair grew back; again I shaved. And then the miracle happened: It’s been a week since I last shaved, and the left side of my face is clear. No stubble, nothing! On the right I have two small pieces of hair, but that’s all. Believe me, there used to be a lot. The treatments appear to be working! (Insert choirs of angels singing.) I look in the mirror, and the witch hair has almost vanished! It’s amazing!

I don’t know what price you can put on sanity, but at a grand total of $20, I’ll take it.

Don’t judge.

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