The world is under assault from wars and rumors of wars, illness, crime, weather calamities, and Internet photos of Walmart shoppers. But what really causes anguish to most middle-aged women is to discover coarse, industrial-strength hairs on their chins.
These unwanted and unsightly growths often are strong enough to be woven into nets to transport military tanks. And they usually erupt in two seconds and protrude six inches before we’re even aware they are fouling our faces. That’s why we always carry lighted mirrors and pliers in our purse, right next to the flask.
In my book Menopause Sucks (gratuitous plug) I wrote that untended black hairs on your chin will make you resemble a Chia pet, and you’ll need to bribe your grandkids for a hug. Blame the problem on hormones and genetics. These two culprits – along with politicians and bad lighting – usually are responsible for most of your problems.
You can’t do a darned thing about heredity. If your ancestors came from the Scandinavian countries, you may never need to shave your legs and you could have a full beard of fine fuzz and no one would notice. However, if your people came from southern Europe, you’ve been shaving since you were ten years old and have a five o’clock shadow by lunchtime. You like to eat meat, and sometimes you cook it first.
As for the hormone issues, you can control them with proper medication, meditation, and massive amounts of Merlot. Hair follicles are extremely sensitive to imbalances of hormones, and your internal estrogen and progesterone factories are rioting and sending baffling signals to the hair growth office in your brain. Then the hair on your head begins to fall out until your once-thick pelt resembles a dog with mange. Don’t worry; the hair will reappear on your chin and toes. This causes stress, and stress exacerbates hair loss. At this stage, the quality of life depends upon your sense of humor and your motivation to get out of bed.
During menopause, you may notice other changes to your hair. My hair was wavy, so to get the popular straight styles I would curl my hair around used orange juice cans, which made for a troublesome night’s sleep and a sticky buildup on my Herman’s Hermits pillowcases. After I entered menopause, I started growing someone else’s hair. It’s dry and thick in the back and so thin on top that my head often shines like the Chrysler Building. I’m giddy to wake up every morning and still have hair to comb. My doctor said it was thyroid issues but in my age-induced confusion I thought she said hemorrhoid problems. That cream didn’t help my hair at all.
To fight hair loss, you can try several products that are available without prescription. These topical ointments take at least six months to activate, so you have time to enjoy other symptoms of age that include hot flashes, mood swings, incontinence, memory lapses, weight gain, sleep problems, and adult acne. The fact that we survive at all is a true testament to our strength, resolve, and refusal to quietly go away.
For middle-aged women, every day brings new opportunities for humiliation, the kind that comes when you sneeze, fart, and wet your pants at the same time, usually in a business meeting. This week I was preparing for a dental appointment when I noticed a mini-redwood growing from my chin that had the dangerous potential to distract the dentist as he was using sharp tools in my mouth. The stubborn hair was rooted in my ribcage so I attacked it with tweezers until there was a huge, bloody hole in my chin. I slathered on some Bag Balm to stop the bleeding then applied perfume to hide the ointment’s pungent smell. I hurried into the office and plopped down on the dental recliner. That’s when I noticed my black boots didn’t match. I didn’t need the laughing gas.
Today’s blog was fueled by a 2008 Basel Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon from Walla Walla Valley. This estate vintage is $40 a bottle and is full-bodied with a touch of cinnamon and flavors of dark fruit. After a glass or two, you won’t care if your chin hairs are long enough to braid.