Each week, we answer your beauty-related questions, even the dumb ones.

1. I’ve always had a little bit of downy hair on my cheeks, but as I get older it’s gotten thicker and it’s beginning to annoy me (in part because any kind of makeup accentuates it and makes me look extra furry).

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Problem is that my skin reacts VERY badly to waxing. I literally break out in hives that last for weeks. So what’s the answer? I’ve heard that there are places that use cooler wax which is supposedly gentler on the skin. What about threading?

My friend MacKenzie claims to have this same “problem” and admitted to waxing hers off for her wedding and I was like, “HUH!? WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT?” I’m a little bewildered that this is a thing.

Moving on to an answer....

Try shaving! It’s cheap and easy. For the life of me I cannot find the video of the hot mom who went on Oprah twenty years ago to talk about how shaving her face is her anti-aging strategy, but she convinced me to give it a try. I have the same bad luck with waxing, so my ‘stache gets the blade. Personally, I like to use a brand new Daisy razor every time, but feel free to spend an arm and a leg on some fancy shit. Let us know how it goes!

2. Home teeth whitening — yay or nay?

Way “yay.” My dad is a dentist and is all about at-home whitening. He’s explained to me that the the stuff they use in-office is essentially the same bleaching agent but that the blue light they add in actually creates whiter teeth by dehydrating them. It’s kind of a short-term optical illusion — drying out your mouth bones so they appear lighter. But if you just want to remove stains and aren’t planning on starring in any Real Housewives reunion specials this week, at home kits are excellent.

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Depending on your budget and personal preference, I’d recommend either Crest Whitestrips or Opalescence. The Crest strips are like disposable teeth stickers that you can get at the drug store; Opalescence includes a reusable plastic mouthguard-like tray and gel and must be purchased at the dentist. Either way, just try to stick with it. That’s one downside to home bleaching: you’re kind of on your own to complete the week-or-so of daily treatments. I typically forget to keep putting the strips on around day three, and yet I still see some improvement.

3. Can a girl get a perm that will look like pin curls? I just want hair like this or this all the time without having to work much for it. Is that too much to ask?

It IS too much to ask, yep. I mean, you can have that hair, but a perm alone won’t do it. I asked my hairstylist pal Janine to explain:

The answer is kinda. A perm can build in the wave shape but you have to brush and tease it into place. Having your hair roughed up a bit from the perm definitely helps. I don’t recommend a perm on fragile or previsouly lightened hair. Ask for a “finger wave” perm.

And this is where I want to preach a little tiny bit about how to get the hairstyle you want: when looking at photos for inspiration, try to scan for all the relevant facts. Does the model have a different hair color than you? Texture? Is it obvious they (or a team of stylists, rather) spent quite a bit of time manipulating their hair? So often friends send me a picture and say, “Do you think I’d look good with this haircut?,” and I’m like, “That’s not a haircut, that’s a hairstyle.” Sure, it’ll look good if you want to get up an hour earlier every day, but do you?

So, my advice is to ask yourself how much work you want to put into a look before taking the leap to a perm and ending up bummed you can’t just wake up looking like Elizabeth Taylor.

4. How do you cook with jalapenos without creating a disaster as soon as you touch your eyes/nose/face, even after washing your hands reeally well? I know this isn’t a beauty question but I feel like you would have this figured out.

You’re right on both counts. This is most certainly not a beauty question and I do have it figured out: wear gloves. Dishwashing gloves or latex work great.


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