Building An Earthship In Darfield, B.C.

We are a family of five living in Darfield, BC.
Our house is six hundred square feet in total and we are feeling cramped.

We have decided to build an earthship!

So starts the adventure ...

Friday, May 22, 2009

DIY hair removal...

Many of you who follow our blog will recall that during late winter I began cutting the kids' and Chris' hair. I am happy to report that round #2 on the men's hair was entirely satisfactory. I am getting better with the clippers and with layering the top to blend with the buzzed sides and back.

Round #2 on the girls was not too bad, but we are still waiting for Katie's hair to grow out a bit more so I can even up most of it with a chunk I cut too short on one side.

Earlier this week I went to Crysti for a hair cut and colour (just can't quite bring myself to do it myself). Crysti Summers has been cutting and colouring my (and the girls') hair for the last 10 years. She didn't seem too upset when I told her earlier this year that I'd taken on the girls' dos. In fact, she gave me some great tips!

She's also been ripping out my eyebrows for about a decade, too. Brow waxing is something I've had done since beginning my PR career in Toronto in 1990. To me it's like going to the dentist for teeth cleaning; the procedure is bearable but unenjoyable but you feel much sleeker afterwards.

About 12 years ago my sister-in-law bought her own pot of wax and began doing her own eyebrows. I have always wanted to try but wondered if I'd be able to stand it; I'm one of those people who has to give myself a pep talk before peeling off a band-aid. And, I will often convince myself that a slowly removed bandage surely won't hurt as much...

In February we celebrated my birthday (which was actually in January, but with sick kids, sick get the picture). During my dinner out in Kamloops I popped into Chatters, a beauty supply store, to check out hair cutting supplies. Lo and behold, there was a waxing pot and all the paraphernalia to professionally remove ANY unwanted hair. On the spur of the moment, I gifted myself. To the tune of $145 taxes in. I figured at $15 a pop going to Crysti, I could justify the expense in just over a year, if I used the wax once a month. And, with two girls in the house, this might be a really frugal purchase!!

Before anyone accuses me of not supporting my local salon, I am not a big money maker for Crysti. I've watched women go through her salon and they get the whole schmoo done: nails, face, hair (cut and colour) and then pop into the tanner. I tend to get so busy that I forget that my hair is scraggly and that my grey is popping out all over the place. If I see her every two months I'd be surprised... (O.k. I DO feel guilty, but my desire to keep this "mostly retired" scenario possible is overcoming it little by little. I like NOT working right now!)

And, please realize that it's taken me four months to gather up the courage to blog about this very personal topic; I'd be happy if people thought I never had my hair coloured or my brows waxed! I have this fear that everyone I know will now be flicking their eyes up when they talk to me at the kids' ball practice, or at a 4-H meeting to see the state of my brows! Hopefully one day I will get an award for sacrificing my personal life in the name of frugal experimentation!

I digress. Pleased to no end I opened all my new stuff the next evening and carefully read the instructions. Once the kids were in bed, I plugged the unit in and popped it to high and waited. And waited, and waited. After 30 minutes it seemed good to go and I turned it down to medium for awhile (as instructed). After a little longer I decided it was time to go for it!

I took my hair clip and clipped my bangs back. Then I took the little popsicle stick and dipped it into the wax. Cool. The wax was silver (a zinc formulation to go easy on my brows) and it looked quite neat. I never knew wax could stretch like mozzarella cheese, though. After I couldn't bring my hand up any higher, I jumped up on the chair and kept going, twirling the stick like spaghetti. Finally I broke the connection to the pot.

After sitting down, I raised the stick to my face, only to foolishly realize that I had no mirror in the kitchen. Twirling the stick, I raced to the bathroom, where resides our only mirror. After bringing my face REALLY close to the mirror I realized I couldn't see my eyebrows very well. I raced to the bedroom and put on my reading glasses. I raced back to the bathroom and put the stick back to my eyebrow. And pulled out a patch of hair from the middle of my head in the process. Crap. Ouch. It's difficult to keep track of that little stick! I pulled the hair out of the wax and tried again only to realize that my glasses were in the way. I pushed them further down my nose and tried yet again. I managed to get a little round ball of wax on the edge of my left eyebrow and no matter what I did I couldn't spread it.

I ran back to the kitchen and grabbed a piece of muslin and pushed it on the wax. Worried now that I wouldn't get the wax off at all, I pulled as hard as I could. I removed three eyebrow hairs...and a patch of skin. Ow!

Chris sat back on the couch looking amused and asked if everything was o.k. Yup, yup, yup. Did I need help with anything? Nope, nope, nope. I surreptitiously pulled a bottle of wine out of the fridge and poured a totful in Helen's Barbie Princess cup. (Covert operations).

I felt the damage. Just a little bleeding. I meandered nonchalantly to the bathroom with Chris' eyes following me (in just 600 square feet you pretty much can feel the pulse of most activities in the house, unfortunately). I surveyed the damage. I ripped the skin WAY below the brow, so I was good to go again.

I went back to the kitchen and dipped the other end of the stick in the pot, too late realizing that I probably wasn't fit (what with the wine and everything) to handle a double ended waxer. I left the stick in the pot, resolving to deal with it when the deed was done. Then a brainwave hit that really should have occurred to me sooner. Move the pot into the bathroom! Right on. I moved the pot, but felt it more prudent to leave the wine in the kitchen.

I felt even smarter when I thought to close the door to the bathroom as the living room has clear access to the bathroom door. O.K. I very carefully applied the wax in a line underneath my left eyebrow, being very careful to miss the bleeding patch. It went on smoothly and looked good. I pressed on the muslin and waited a few seconds. I took a deep breath and pulled. After my eyes stopped watering I took a look, pushing my glasses further up my nose. Not bad. So I did the other eye. I took a deep breath and pulled. Ow! I stomped my foot only to realize just in time that the pot was right underneath it. I managed to hop backwards, but thought it wise to move the pot back to the kitchen.

After several mad dashes between the kitchen and bathroom, I was finished the waxing portion of my ablutions and surveyed the job. Hmmm. A little off kilter. So, with tweezers in hand I started grabbing. It's a lot harder lining up the tweezers to a tiny little hair than you may think. After 20 minutes of tweezing I decided I'd done enough damage and realized if I was lucky at least I wouldn't draw attention to myself with my lopsided brows.

I carefully marked a -$15 on the lid of the box and dated it. I was going to track to see how long it would take me to justify the expense.

March went a whole lot better because I invested in a $5 mirror I could use sitting down. My lines weren't perfect and as my April session came and went I decide the reason it was not up to Crysti's standards was because I wasn't taking ENOUGH off. Like so many things in my life I wasn't COMMITTING.

May rolled around and I set up the pot and the mirror and took a deep breath. I flipped the mirror to the stomach rolling magnification side (reminded me of trying to get into scuba gear in the bottom of the boat, off the shore of Georgian Bay in six foot rolling waves). I start. If you ever want to really know what kind of hell you've put your skin through, examine it on the magnification side of one of these mirrors. Yikes! It's really best not to dwell on it.

The wax flowed freely and I made a very artistic swipe with the stick. Without pausing I press on muslin and pull. Still looking in the magnification side, I do my tweezing finish. Wow, it looked great! Time to flip the mirror and take a look on the other side.

OMG! DO I HAVE AN EYEBROW LEFT? After hyperventilating for a few seconds, I put ice on my brow, hoping that it's not as bad as I feared. And, surprisingly, it's not. After slowing my heart rate, I wax the other side and I am moderately pleased with my progress in aesthetics training.

When I go into Crysti's I feel confident enough to confess to her that I am waxing my own brows. I hadn't told her up until then because if I had to run to her to fix something I thought I'd blame it on some nameless aesthetician in Kamloops...

Crysti laughed at me and gave me great tips for doing my brows that might just dispense with the drama involved in the process.

All of this begs the obvious question. Why bother waxing at all? It costs money, takes time and do I really need to do it? Aren't I happy with how I look? Do I want to be teaching the wrong things to my daughters and son? Hmmm. I am so used to having nice neat eyebrows that I feel very conspicuous when they aren't. I DO have a great self image and don't think I go overboard with the wrong messages. Plus, we don't have TV and this is great entertainment for the kids!!

With another success behind me in the Newton/Burkholder Personal Care Department I am now actively seeking an assistant to colour my hair in two months time. Crysti says to be careful because if I turn it green even she might not be able to fix it!!!


Anonymous said...

Sandra, I laughed so hard when I read this, tears were running down my face!

I've never had my eyebrows waxed, and I gave up plucking them about 20 years ago. Luckily, my "Chrissie Hynde" bangs cover them anyway, so I don't look too "Brooke Shields" (I hope). LOL

Hey, maybe once the earthship's finished, you can start a new career as an aesthetician!

Cheers, Jan

Paula said...

Hey, I stumbled on the story of your hair removal escapades when I was looking up your Earthship project (my brother, Mike, volunteered last August).

I started making my own wax after getting hives with every commercial preparation I've ever tried (including those that were supposedly just "sugar"). Even getting sugaring done professionally left me itchy! So, if you are feeling bored/adventurous/masochistic, read on.

Go to a second-hand store and buy yourself a medium-sized cooking pot with a lid. Also, find yourself some smooth cotton fabric to cut into strips. I use strips approximately 3" x 8" long for legs and arms, but make them smaller for other areas (upper lip, eyebrows, "nether regions", etc.).

You will need the following: white sugar, water, and lemon juice. The recipe isn't an exact science, and takes a little practice to get just right, but it's also pretty forgiving and easy to adjust if you find the consistency a little bit "off".

Fill the pot with sugar, allowing a couple of inches at the top to add water and stir. (I make big batches as they can last for years, depending on how often you wax.) Add enough water to the pot to saturate the sugar, so that you have a thick, gritty mixture that can be stirred. Next, mix in about three tablespoons of lemon juice.
Slowly cook the mixture on low to medium heat to liquify and caramelize it, stirring it from time to time; it should be cooked until the mixture is about the color of a cola soft drink.

How to know it's good to go:
Take a butter knife and trickle a few drops of the wax onto a cool surface (such as a plate). You should be able to easily squish the drop of wax, but it should not adhere to your finger. If it's too hard, you will need to add a bit more water to the pot. If it sticks to your finger, the mixture has too much water in it and must be cooked longer.

Tips for good results:
-Wash and exfoliate the area you are going to wax with a gentle scrub (you can make your own, once again with sugar and water, but I've never done it so you'll have to research it).
-Dry the area thoroughly and apply a small amount of talcum powder to it to wick up any additional moisture or oils from the skin.
-Using the dull edge of a butter knife, dip into the wax, then touch the tip of the knife to gauge the temperature of the wax. I prefer to use a butter knife rather than the popular tongue depressor for this reason, as metal is a conductor of heat and wood is not, which allows you to know how hot the wax REALLY is. If you are comfortable with the temperature after touching the tip of the knife, you are ready to apply the wax.
-Spread the wax thinly onto the skin in the direction of the hair growth.
-Apply a cotton strip to the wax-covered area, and smooth it on in the direction of hair growth.
-Rip off the cotton strip in the opposite direction to the hair growth. If you have an optimal wax formulation, the area should now be clean and hair free!

Advantages of this wax:
-It is water soluble, so if you are working with a delicate area (like the eyebrows) and spread wax over just a little more hair than intended, you can just wash it off and start over.
-The cotton strips are totally reusable. Not only can you use a strip several times during a hair removal session (after a while, the wax soaks through and things get too sticky), but you just need to soak the strips in warm water when you're done with them to remove the wax and hair, then run them through the wash. (Tip: always use fresh strips if you are working with the eyebrows, so you don't accidentally rip out hairs you want to keep.)
-Once you've had enough hair removal on a given day, just stick the lid on your wax pot, and store it for your next session. Next time all you will need to do is very gently warm up the wax to a spreadable consistency, rather than tweak the formulation every time.