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Confessions of a Face Shaver

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I Shaved My Upper Lip and Everything Is Fine

I have extremely sensitive skin. Right now, I use four different topical prescriptions and am trying to wean myself off an antibiotic. My dermatologist isn’t sure exactly what’s going on, but her guess is some combination of perioral dermatitis, sebhorreic dermatitis, rosacea, and keratosis pilaris — give or take a few. So it probably goes without saying, but my skin never took kindly to waxing.

When my friends started getting their eyebrows waxed, I played along, heading to the salon every couple weeks to have hot wax spread on my face and promptly ripped off. I’d spend the rest of the day with two pink halos surrounding my now-too-skinny brows, and the next couple weeks with the little bumps that took their place. I hated it, but I was so bothered by the little dark hairs that were starting to line my upper lip, I decided to subject that especially sensitive area to a wax job, too. It took exactly one painful treatment for me to decide, NOOOOOOOOOPE. Never. Again.

In college, I also stopped getting my eyebrows waxed, conveniently in time for thick, messy brows to become cool again. (Thanks, Cara Delevingne!) But I was still bothered by my upper lip hair, so I tried other methods. Bleaching mostly worked, but I didn’t like putting the chemicals on my face. For a little while, I just used those tiny grooming scissors to trim it, which — shockingly — wasn’t that effective.

Finally, my mom asked me, “Why don’t you just shave it?” WHAT! MOOOOOOM! This was an option this whole time, and you’ve been keeping it from me? I was equally outraged and intrigued. I asked her about the laundry list of shaving myths: Won’t it grow back thicker and darker? Once I start, will I have to shave every day? She assured me none of this would happen, and that she herself shaved regularly. Later that day, I grabbed my Venus from the shower (which I wouldn’t recommend) swiped it over my upper lip a few times, and the deed was done. And you know what? A few years later, everything is fine.

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I shave maybe once a week now. I upgraded from the Venus to the effective but unfortunately named Touch n Brow ($7). I’m not that bothered by hair elsewhere on my face, but plenty of other women opt for a full shave. My hair is the same thickness as it was to begin with. There are no complaints about stubble from my boyfriend. I don’t have to spend the money getting a wax that would just aggravate my skin anyway. But while shaving isn’t expensive (although it’s more expensive than it should be), it does take up a lot of time — about 72 days over the course of the average woman’s life.

Of course, the idea that women are supposed to appear hairless everywhere — except the top of their head, where they’re supposed to have a full mane of flowing, suggestively fertile locks — is total and complete patriarchal bullshit. Hair removal and maintenance are a personal preference that shouldn’t be based on or suggestive of gender. We’re animals! We all have hair that grows places! I hate that I hate the hair on my upper lip, but at least for now, shaving’s a convenient, affordable, and safe way to deal with it. Stephanie Talmadge, social media editor

I Ordered a Red Carpet Gown From One of Those Sketchy Knockoff Sites
Mandy Moore at the Golden Globe Awards.

For Hollywood’s biggest stars, a walk down the Oscars red carpet represents the grand finale of the entire awards season. After almost a year spent sitting through press junkets, laughing on cue during late-night TV interviews, and posing on the carpet at countless premieres, all that’s left to do on Oscars day is show up, dress up, and hope for a lucky night.

But for the companies that hustle to turn around affordable copies of red carpet couture, the hard work’s just beginning. There’s a huge market out there for shoppers who dream of dressing like their favorite stars, but need options at a much lower price point and in sizes above a zero or two — and, like most consumers, they want them fast.

Throughout the aughts, ABS by Allen Schwartz dominated the big business of red carpet replicas, turning around gowns almost identical to those worn by stars like Halle Berry and Gwyneth Paltrow in a matter of weeks. Typically priced around $400 or $500, ABS dresses were popular picks for proms, bar and bat mitzvahs, and Sweet 16 parties; if you didn’t personally own one, you likely had a friend or family member who did. Schwartz himself regularly appeared on shows like Entertainment Tonight and Today to discuss his best-dressed picks and hint at which gowns his company would be recreating in the weeks to come.

Several years ago, however, the brand shifted its business strategy and stopped producing those famous awards show facsimiles. “I didn’t like the publicity,” Schwartz told the New York Times in 2013. “It kind of takes away from the creativity.” Today, ABS’s e-commerce site offers plenty of cold-shoulder cocktail dresses and printed palazzo pants, but nary a ripped-from-the-red-carpet gown in sight.

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The Problem With ‘Something for Everyone’
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There cannot and should not be "something for everyone." A restaurant with a menu the size of the book that claims to offer you American, Chinese, French, and Italian probably isn’t serving up five-star cuisine. A movie focus-grouped to death in order to hit all the "demos" is called Suicide Squad, and we know how that turned out. And a fashion designer — whose mission is to create cohesion, a vision, a unique style — should not be rewarded for putting together a collection as universally beloved as white bread. I haven’t read the words "aesthetic" and "vibes" this many times so that we can praise collections trying to do it all.

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Just One Thing
When You Have ‘Literally Nothing’ to Wear, Just Wear This Shirt

Madewell White Cotton Courier Shirt, $65

We’ve all had this moment: The one where you stand in front of your closet, curse quietly under your breath, and declare your undying hatred for all your clothes. You’ve worn every “cute” trendy item too many times, and the rest of your stuff is dated, dirty, or simply the most boring thing you’ve ever seen. You are out of acceptable options. Meanwhile, all you want to do is wear sweatpants and a baggy T-shirt.

When that happens to me now, I just go with a white shirt — specifically, the swingy White Cotton Courier Shirt from Madewell that somehow turns everything into an Outfit.

It’s big and billowy for maximum comfort, but somehow not baggy. The long hem, wide sleeves, and oversized pockets all seem perfectly deliberate, so you can have the joy of dressing like an unhinged slob while projecting a look of cleverly stylish, offbeat professionalism — or at least a look that says you tried.

For all those reasons (and the fact that it’s thick enough that I don’t need a camisole or flesh-toned bra), it’s the shirt I turn to when all else fails. Weekend brunch? Big work meeting? Family event? This is the shirt that makes you look grown up, like a Real Person, but with a level of comfort befitting the lazy, hopeless child you truly are inside. —Ellie Krupnick, managing editor 

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