It started with this weird tickling sensation just below my nose. No amount of wiping was clearing away whatever was randomly irritating that skin.
I peered into the bathroom mirror–huh, nothing there.
A slight turn of head, a squint of my eyes, and a gasp. What the hell?!
Growing sideways from inside my left nostril was a thick black hair. That tickling sensation? The gentle sweeping motion of said hair as it brushed the tender skin. Outside my nose.
It was a moment worthy of any horror film; all it lacked was scary music cueing the thought “where did that come from?” before building to a frightening climax of “oh, dear Lord, how long has that been there?”
Body Hair Attitudes Over the Ages
Friends prepared me for many of the bodily changes that take place after the age of 50: gradual thickening from extra pounds, embarrassing hot flashes, the need for cheater glasses….but not one person ever mentioned I would suddenly sprout shocking new hair.
When I was about to turn 40, my mom looked at my long ponytail and said, “Well, you’re going to have to cut your hair now.” What?
I’d never considered my hair as anything other than personal decoration. Sure, I wanted to have the Dorothy Hamill wedge back in 7th grade, and then there was obligatory Farrah Fawcett envy in high school, and I so copied Princess Di in college, but I hadn’t thought about body hair as a statement. I really didn’t think that much about it at all.
My college roommate demonstrated eyebrow plucking beyond merely creating two distinct entities. Shaving my legs and underarms…well, I don’t remember when that maintenance began, which says the first time was not such a big deal (though I do recall being enamored of my mom’s cute little electric razor). Bikini line patrol evolved with triathlon training; prior to serious swimming, it had been a purely need-based, sporadic “oh, hey–trim that sticking out bit” activity.
My oldest daughter hails from a different, less simple generation.
In 6th grade, she argued for shaving her legs. “Everybody” on swim team was, and she had such dark hair. She begged; I resisted, relented, and then wondered–were these young girls being pushed to adopt older grooming habits too soon?
As she grew, “beauty regimens” evolved, becoming much more sophisticated than my teen years of occasional hair rollers and Cover Girl. Whereas I experimented with cutting my own hair and let my eyebrows do as they would, my daughter colored her hair and shaped her brows a la certain celebrity looks. Currently, she’s liberated herself from the razor to sport underarm hair. Acceptance of and abhorrence at women’s body hair clearly has its moments and trends, and the late ’70’s (sans internet and social media) seem much kinder and less involved for teenage girls than the Noughties.
But old lady nose hair? Whatever the decade, nobody’s ever breathed a word.
How To Deal With Nose Hair
Articles with sexy titles like “Sprouting Nose Hair as You Age” have yet to cross my radar, and I’m not seeing anything on Instagram from celebrities of a certain age (#nosehairselfie so not trending). While Madonna has championed underarm hair, she remains silent on nasal bush. So how is she coping? Because, evidently, my enormous nose hair is another common (albeit little discussed) by-product of an aging female body.
We over-50 ladies can blame an imbalance of hormones, caused by decreasing levels of progesterone and estrogens. Lower amounts of estrogens result in coarser hair growing in some unexpected places.
Nose hair serves a purpose (filtering out crap, like pollen, dust, and other irritants), which is essential to life in allergen-rife Austin. Aging just makes those previously unobtrusive hairs grow like crazy.
The key, therefore, is taming that nose hair.
- Don’t wax. Eliminating the hair removes that important filter, and the waxing process can pull off sensitive nasal tissue. Ouch, on so many levels.
- Don’t tweeze. Pulling out offending hairs can result in skin breaks and harmful bacteria growth.
- Don’t stick nail scissors up there. Sure, they’re handy and trimming is a good solution, but do you really want to probe your nose with something sharp?
- Buy facial hair scissors. These have rounded tips, making them safe for nose, ears (evidently, that’s a guy thing), and the face. Tweezerman sells both scissors and an electric nose hair trimmer.
- Use a magnifying mirror. You’ll want to view all angles. Some nasal hairs are very fine and pale, making them hard to see (doubly so with that fading eyesight).
- Be vigilant. They grow back quickly, and I don’t think nose hair acceptance is in the immediate fashion future. But I will be sure to check in with Miley Cyrus in about 25 years, just in case trends change.