Updated: Jun 13
One of the side effects of testosterone is facial hair. Prior to transition, my facial hair was spotty at best. I tried growing it out but all I could really muster was a goatee. I wore it partly because I was trying to hide behind it and partly because I think they look good on a lot of guys!
Post transition, I had trouble going all day without a 5 o’clock shadow. I wanted smoother skin so I could do things like camp for a week without worrying about shaving. Looking into options I realized that there was laser or electrolysis. Laser was appealing because it was cheaper and just took a few sessions. The downside is that it isn’t permanent and only works on dark hairs. With my salt and pepper beard, I decided to buckle down and endure the electrolysis.
There is only one electrolysist in town, and she is AMAZING. Shoutout to Erin at Transitions Electrolysis for her skillful and sometimes tedious work. If anyone wanted to learn the trade, I’m told it takes about a year of schooling and Erin would hire you in a second.
I met Erin the first time and she gave me the 411. She would insert a very thin probe into each hair follicle and then zap it with electricity. To be honest, I sort of disregarded a lot of what she said because as a young teenager, I had electro-shock therapy for acne so I thought I knew what it was all about.
She had me apply topical Lidocaine an hour before the procedure, so I dabbed a little on thinking it was like moisturizer where a little goes a long way... When the probe hit my skin, YAWZA!!! I tensed up like a corpse on an embalming table. Then, I realized that after each shock, she had to pull out the hairs one by one - I had thought all she had to do was apply electricity to the skin and that spot would magically smooth out. Not so! Somehow, I made it through that first session but came away a bundle of nerves!!! At least, I would only have to do this a couple more times, I thought… wrong again!
The average male has about 30,000 hairs on their face. By my count, Erin cleared between 200 to 250 hairs per hour (depending on how much pain I could take.) I about fainted when I did the math and realized I would need close to 150 hours under the electrologist’s needle! At the rate I was going, which was about 2 hours per week, it would be YEARS before this was done. Worse yet, I had to let the hairs grow for 3 days before each session which was utterly humiliating!
Since that time, I’ve become a much better electrolysis patient. I’ve budgeted for the expense (which equates to about $70/hr or around $10k total) so I’m not taken back by the cost. I’ve gotten pretty good at ventriloquism so that I can make light conversation during the session, which helps the time pass faster. I’ve learned to hydrate before each session so that the electricity can flow more easily through my body and perhaps most important, I’ve learned that lidocaine comes in different strengths. Switching from a 2% solution to a 10% solution and slathering it on before each session is one of the BEST decisions I’ve made. Erin also told me about Witch Hazel which is the secret sauce for skin recovery.
One of the wildest things she had me do is get a dental block on my upper lip before one of our sessions. I couldn’t feel a thing and she was able to attack the upper lip with impunity and remove probably a thousand hairs in a single session! I had a fat lip when we were done, but it was totally worth it! I’ll probably need to do that a couple more times before I’m through, but mad props to my dentist for going along with the craziness.
I’m now about halfway done. I no longer have black hairs or a 5 o’clock shadow and I can get away with a few days without shaving. Obviously, there is work to be done but my expectations are more realistic and my face a little more clear. I still might opt for laser on my legs at some point, but at least I know where to go to for those pesky random hairs that always seem to grow in the wrong place. I find it ironic that so much of transition is moving hair from where you don’t what it and putting more hair where you DO.
So it is that I joined the ranks of girls that have endured hours and hours of medieval torture all in the name of beauty. Not complaining, just observing and being thankful for he experience.