My math comes up short

By Mir
March 29, 2010

If you know anything about me, you know that I am frugal. It’s sort of a calling, really, in that I am incapable of just spending money without thinking about it. I must get the best deal. The most value for my dollar! It must all be LOGICAL and allow me to say BUT LOOK HOW MUCH I SAVED.

There are certain areas of life where the opportunity to save a few pennies is either very complicated or non-existent. Groceries, for example—I was just chatting with someone this morning about how that whole “hardcore couponing” thing really only works if you’re buying stuff that for the most part isn’t actually food. I’ve yet to see a coupon on organic carrots or local strawberries. And sometimes I create a logic circle that works out in my mind, like, “Well, I cannot possibly cut my own hair. And getting it cut somewhere cheap always turns out badly. So I will pay for a good cut, but then I will train myself to cut everyone ELSE’s hair in the house, and then the money that I’m saving THERE means I’m not spending much on MY hair, at all.” It works for me. Mostly.

But sometimes, I get caught up in the numbers and fail to factor in other stuff. Like, say, stupidity.

Let me just say that it warmed the cockles of my (probably hairy) heart that so many of you are also experiencing extra hair as we sail into middle age. I mean, it’s just nice to know I’m not alone. And also that if I miss one of those huge hairs on my face, one of you will either discreetly let me know or just overlook it entirely.

Now, that post was about the relatively new appearance of chin hairs, which, indeed, I’ve been kind of upset about. But it didn’t really tell the WHOLE hair story, as I am descended from very smart, kind, and morally upright gorillas and have dealt with unwanted hair for most of my life. For example: I had laser hair removal on my bikini line, years ago. And not because I’m into any sort of weirdness or wanted to look like a porn star, but simply because I was unable to wear a regular bathing suit without causing small children to scream and run away. The good news is that laser hair removal works great; the bad news is that I probably should’ve had one more treatment than I could afford, which means that I still have some hair in places I’d rather not. Ahem.

Also, I used to bleach the hair on my upper lip until one day I realized that all I was doing was giving myself a really obvious blond mustache, and then I started alternating between depilatory and wax strips for removing it altogether. The depilatories irritate my skin, but the “cold wax strips” are little more than glorified band-aids and don’t always work. So I’ve not been entirely happy with my hair-removal methods, there, and as for the bikini line, shaving gives me bumps, and waxing is expensive (not to mention that it involves inviting a stranger to drip hot wax on my crotch).

Hmmm. Expensive. I am the champion of FIGHT EXPENSIVE, am I not? Plus, dripping hot wax on my crotch sounds like something which—if I must do it—might be better in the privacy of my own home, with no one watching me except the dog, who thinks EVERYTHING I do which does not involve feeding her is weird, anyway.

So I promptly went on over to eBay and bought myself a kit to do waxing at home. I calculated that if I waxed a mere TWO TIMES that I would’ve saved money (not to mention dignity) over paying for wax at a salon. Easy enough. And of course I did my research and compared prices and types of waxes—did you know there are different types of waxes??—before I made my purchase.

I am now the proud owner of a wax warmer, muslin strips, “wooden applicators” (popsicle sticks!), and a tub of Azulene wax. Unlike hard waxes, Azulene is reputed to be a bit more gentle on sensitive skin, and as we all know, I’m a delicate flower. Plus, the Azulene stuff is blue, which makes it pretty. SO. Azulene it was!

I read the directions. I did my homework. And then I decided to test it out on my thighs, because that’s both an easily accessible area and a part of my body not nearly as sensitive as my face or, you know, my crotch.

Having been waxed before, I had a pretty good idea of how to do it, so I was feeling pretty confident. And in the beginning, all was well. It worked, it only hurt a little, and really, it wasn’t very difficult. Look at me, problem-solving and penny-pinching!

I did run into just a couple of problems, though. For one thing, the Azulene wax never reaches a solid state. EVER. Traditional wax will eventually harden (like a candle). Azulene does not. When cool, Azulene wax is the consistency of… hmmm… molasses mixed with motor oil, maybe? (Tasty!) So I’m waxing away and I drop a little, you know, a drop on the floor, another few on the bathroom counter. And of course I don’t notice the one on the floor, but spend the next four days stepping on it and watching my sock STREEEEEETCH rebound from it, and wondering what the hell is on my floor. And I thought I cleaned up the whole counter, but of course there was a little dot of it on the EDGE that would periodically just grab my pants when I leaned in to spit in the sink while brushing my teeth or whatever. Awesome.

This failure to harden also means that when you get a little on your finger, you’re sticky. Very sticky. And it means that trying to use PART of a muslin strip (like, having used half on one pass, then use the second half on the next one) is neigh unto impossible without winding up with wax ALL OVER YOURSELF, which is kind of annoying. It also means that if you set down your applicator stick, it sticks to wherever you’ve set it. Isn’t there some scene in Flubber where he gets some goop on himself and then keeps trying to shake/wipe it off and ends up dancing all around the lab, stuck to varying surfaces? That’s pretty much what it was looking like in my bathroom.

The other problem, of course, is that I haven’t had a bikini wax in a really long time, and so I forgot a couple of things. Hey, I waxed my thighs, I did my upper lip, eyebrows, no major problems. I then settled in one night to do a bikini line “test run” well in advance of when I might want to don a bathing suit (practice now, be proficient later, right?), and immediately realized why it makes sense to pay someone else to do it for you.

I am a pretty bendy person, people. Good flexibility, pretty limber. And yet, imagine if you will, sitting down on the bathroom counter, trying to find a position where one can splay out the legs and both SEE and ACCESS the verrrrry tops of the inner thighs, and then apply hot wax with some degree of accuracy to said area. Hey, it’s no problem! I just… ummm… brace myself tilted backwards with my left arm… wait, no, I need that hand to hold the skin taut… okay, I hold the skin taut with my left hand… tilt backwards by bracing my upper back against the mirror… apply the wax with my right hand… hold the hand mirror with my third hand….

Oh. Right. No third hand.

Somehow I managed it. I’m honestly not sure how, but I did. I got the wax where I wanted it and I applied the muslin strip and pulled and HOLY HELL THAT HURTS. I forgot that ripping hair out of, erm, sensitive areas is a tad more painful than removing peach fuzz from less sensitive areas.

I retrieved the hand mirror to discover that I was actually bleeding, a little bit. (Some of those follicles don’t give up without a fight.) Well, no matter, I would just hop down and get the after-wax lotion and a bit of styptic…

… except, of course, that I’d dripped a little wax on the counter… and when tilting forward to have a look at my handiwork had, essentially, glued myself in place. AWESOME.

I now had wax in areas I had NO INTENTION of waxing. Handy tip: Baby oil dissolves Azulene wax. It works even better if you unleash a string of expletives while using it.

Clearly the math in deciding what a GREAT idea this was was missing a sub-formula, the one that explains exactly how many stupid and/or painful things I might end up doing as a result of the “money I’m saving.” I might have arrived at a totally different conclusion, had any of that been factored in. But as it is, I remain committed to mastering the hot wax so that I can truly triumph, and be less hairy and more frugal and not, you know, stuck to my bathroom counter. Or something.


  1. Heather

    You nearly made me spit my coffee on the counter. If you ever do a one-woman show, I would pay good money to see you perform this as a monologue. That’s just all kinds of awesome. So glad you are willing to suffer like this for our entertainment and delight.

  2. Christie

    One word…THREADING!

  3. chris

    I *almost* bought a home waxing kit last week. But then I had visions of the same sort of thing happening. Or more accurately, I was afraid I would spread the wax on and stick my legs together.

    And threading? Do people get their bikini lines threaded?

  4. Nelson's Mama

    Oh Mir, how I love this! DIY waxing is a feat of courage, flexibility and stupidity! I wax early in the year and then TWEEZE the rest of the summer (sorry, you started this confession). Can’t even go there with a razor or I’m asking for trouble!

  5. Karen

    *sigh* I’ve been contemplating this very thing… Now I have to go google “Threading”.

  6. Angela

    Yeah….been there done that….spilling wax, having to scrub wax out of certain areas b/c I did it wrong and stuff wouldn’t come up….nightmare….never again…

  7. sassymonkey

    I cannot wax. My epidermis is a paranoid freak that goes on high alert whenever anything touches it and I end up looking like a blowfish for two weeks.

  8. Jen

    well, paraphrasing a famous commercial…

    The story you’ll tell=priceless!

  9. Heidi

    Schick (doesn’t look right typed out somehow) sells a lovely little instrument for trimming nose hairs that works beautifully on peach fuzz. (The same type of gadget is advertised as being able to run across a blown-up balloon without popping it.) Waxless, easy, and works great on the face. Never tried it elsewhere…

  10. Billie

    :) I have not waxed myself since an unfortunate accident when I was in the military.

    I am a redhead and tend to burn on my nose and upper lip before the rest of my face burns. When I burn, the blondish hairs on my upper lip are more noticeable. Being military, they have no compunction with pointing out peoples flaws (think high school all over again).

    I decided to wax said upper lip. Hmmmm…

    Don’t ask me why, but I decided to put the wax and the strips on and then remembered that I needed to stir a pot of boiling noddles on the stove.

    Warning for all that wax….

    NEVER stand over a steaming pan when trying to wax!! (although I’m sure it didn’t help that I still had a sunburn)

    When pulling the strips off, I ended up pulling skin off as well. So I no longer had the peach fuzz on my upper lip but now I had scabs on my upper lip to advertise to all that had picked on me that I had tried to wax the stuff off. :(

  11. annette

    Pay for the waxing of the face, a couple of times a year. Pluck in between. Buy a boy short or swim skirt. Problem solved.

  12. Ironic Mom

    I remember seeing Rosie O’Donnell on a late not talk show more than a decade ago. She joked that women should start a trend on growing that one chin hair (the one that keeps on growing when the others stop) and then we should braid it and add a bead…

  13. Hannah

    I am waiting not very patiently for Dad’s comment on this one! LOL!

  14. Em

    I go to the beauty school in town for waxing which itself is a monthly feat of stupidity. You never do know what you are going to get (once, I got a transvestite waxer. Imagine Carol Channing with hands that could palm a basketball shaping your brows.) but you do know that a lip and brow won’t cost more than $11. I have not tried bikini waxing yet, though I threaten to every summer. For some reason, the idea embarrasses me more than they idea of the spotlight razor burn puts on my nether region.

  15. Em

    Ironic Mom, She DID add a bead! I remember! It is burned into my memory her shaking that beaded chin hair around. It was chilling.

  16. Half Assed Kitchen

    My eyebrows are the only part of my anatomy hot wax is getting near.

  17. elz

    There are no words. Well, these: Thank you once again for nearly injuring yourself so that we may spew our beverages out at our computer screen! So funny. Not at the moment, or even now, but funny for the rest of us. And, as your twin in all things money and savings, waxing is worth every single penny. I was a miser in that respect until we bought a house with a pool in Texas. I now consider my waxer to be a therapist as well-see, money saved!

  18. Jennifer Joyner

    Mir, I LOVE that fact that you are willing to share this kind of stuff with us. I learned a great deal from this. But I have to ask…do you think your Dad read this???? :)

  19. jenn

    I really don’t like shaving my legs, I always end up with rashes and blemishes and all sorts of fun stuff even with brand new razors and shaving cream…. so I decided to try waxing. It wasn’t as painful as I’d imagined but I looked like a freshly plucked chicken for a week! Stupid 100% transparent skin.

  20. Jamie

    I just get waxed. Not fun, but I’m sure it’s not a lot of fun for the technician, either.

  21. Jen

    Okay you guys…. there is a product that is made for black men’s beards called Magic Cream (white tube). I have SUPER senstive skin and the same bikini line area issues and it works like a charm. Before you go all crazy and make yourselves bleed, go try it. For real. :-)

  22. Scottsdale Girl


    *checks self wax kit off ‘want’ list*

  23. Brigid Day

    I know lots of people use “LOL.” Well, I don’t. And I don’t often laugh out loud at things I read, even things that I find funny. THIS had me seriously laughing for a good five minutes. (And I kind of needed that today.) Thank you.

  24. Mare Martell

    I have also experienced the self waxing. I realized I couldn’t do it alone so I got smart enough to ask a friend who also wanted to have herself waxed. We tried and tried but both of us reached a very sticky impasse with the wax. That’s when my (now ex)husband decided to demonstrate how big of babies we were being.

    The man took the applicator and applied the wax to the same region we were waxing. He laid the muslin over the wax with a smug look of, “See, it’s not so bad.” He was standing until he ripped the muslin upwards. As he lay on the floor crying, he said, “Carry on, I can’t do it.”

    To this day I laugh when I think of that. Your story reminded me. Thank you.

  25. Lucinda

    That’s why I buy swimsuits with shorts in them. I’m too old to mess with that crap these days (at the ripe old age of 38). God bless you for sharing your story!

  26. Tracy

    You completely crack me up! And wondering, why you didn’t ask for Otto’s assistance? ;)

  27. meghann

    Oh, I wish you would have said you were going to try this before you actually tried it. My attempt ended with me sitting on the toilet, wax stuck everywhere in very painful places, and me getting drunk to help with the pain of trying to get the wax off. Good times!

  28. meghann

    Jen-the Magic Cream works for me somewhat, but I have a friend who tried it, and it gave her chemical burns “down there”. So people should definitely try it somewhere else first!

  29. SoccerMom

    I am not much of a thrifty shopper. I could probably use some tips from you. Sounds like you got every trick in the hat?

  30. Cassie

    OMG! I home-waxed once and realized quickly that it was a big mistake. I wish I knew that baby oil cleaned it up though, I was still fighting sticky goo stains on my bathroom appliances when I moved out of the apartment 6 months later.

  31. Karishma

    ohhh home waxing. fun. try the sally hansen water soluble wax, if you can track it down. i can never find it anymore at cvs, but i did randomly find it in bed bath & beyond. (the 20% off coupon is a plus…) it’s not quite as strong as azulene wax etc., so don’t try it on super coarse hair. (ahem.) but i’ve used it all over myself, including bikini line and a little bit beyond bikini line without any issues. and it’s the easiest thing ever to clean up.

  32. J from Ireland

    Hahaha,very funny Mir. Your a braver woman than I.

  33. RegularCinderella

    I have purchased home waxing kits a couple of times. (Nads? Remember the infomercial for the stuff so natural, you can eat it? Great for those long car trips when you’re covered in unwanted hair AND the kids are hungry!)
    I can’t even manage to wax my eyebrows without a)making a huge mess, b)creating a huge bare spot that even an eyebrow pencil can’t fix and c) managing to make my eyebrows completely uneven and offcenter. Forget it–I will always, always, always pay to make someone else do the hard work for me.

    Good luck with the bikini waxing, though…I hear second time’s a charm???

  34. Rasselas

    Clearly the solution is to pay for an expensive salon to do it for you.. but you’ll learn how to wax everyone else in the house for free! …oh wait. :D

  35. dad

    La la la la la….

    I can’t here you.

  36. annette

    Glad I checked back for Dad’s comment :)

  37. Melissa

    I had one very bad paid waxing experience (got my money back immediately and some flowers, seriously) so I am a bit wax shy publicly, but I’m willing to try anything myself once (or a half dozen times to save some cash). Waxing has never worked for me as a DIY, but I recruited my better half and now it is a piece of cake. He can see it, there is a second pair of hands and hilarity always ensues. There are just certain places I can’t reach confidently (thanks Eastern European genes!) that he can. If Otto can handle it, have him help.

  38. carrien (she laughs at the days)

    My one attempt at DIY waxing ending up in such a terrible ripping/bleeding/bruising that I had a giant purple spot on my leg for over a month. Now I get it done. When I do it, which isn’t that often.

  39. Brigitte

    I only tried once, at home, and only on one leg. Besides all the work and pain, it only took about half the hair. What a waste!

    Now, if it were me, my husband would have walked in, and teased me mercilessly FOREVER. ;-D

  40. DixieChick

    Just go European and tell yourself to ixnay all the hair-worrying. It’s what I do. And it feels great. Although it probably helps that I actually am from Europe. Having lived in the US for quite some time now, I would like to immediately squash the notion that “we don’t shave”, because we do. Really. Just not as religiously. And we generally leave certain areas alone (such as the upper leg and one’s arms), and most of my European friends all but throw their razors away in the wintertime (I know, eeuw, right?). Not to mention the fact that a Bikini wax is something most people associate with well, let’s call them “models”, eyebrows are generally left alone, and facial hair is just a fact of life (it probably helps that I come from an area where most women have very light hair anyway). Now I have adapted a little – I do pluck my eyebrows, and shave, but wax? Anything? Uhm..pain, mess, Perhaps I’m not as ready for my citizenship as I thought I was :)

  41. Sheila

    And this is why I own a swim skort.

  42. JennyM

    I actually did laugh out loud when you got to the part where you glued your ladybits to the counter. In fact, I’m laughing out loud again now, remembering that part. Holy crow. I have several “at home” waxing kits languishing in the bathroom closet because I am not that brave an animal — apparently with good reason. Thanks for taking one for the team and reminding me while those kits will continue to languish, unloved.

  43. mamaspeak

    OK Mir, to your frugal self; figure out how much you spend on razors, hot wax, shave cream, etc… now, that doesn’t include the extra time you spend in the shower, the ingrown hairs, etc… (Like you, I have curly hair, so I KNOW the deal w/the ingrown hairs.

    Now, figure the cost of laser hair removal. Ok, in how long (probably a couple years) but how long till you hit that number w/razors, etc…? That’s how I justified the cost of my laser hair removal cost. Turned out, it was 2 years for me. Two years till I’d was technically saving money.

    It’s not the reason I decided to do it. (I was so tired of ingrown hairs and I got them w/anything I used, as long as hair was growing back.) But the way I justified it to myself cost wise was what I just explained it to you.

  44. Rinatta

    Mir, you know, after thinking about this post for a while I realized that the shock and awe over the subject matter closely resembles that other post you once put up, the one I will never, ever forget, about adult toy party. And I deeply thank you for both.

    I am so sorry for your pain/misery/clean up, really I am. However, please ignore me while I go over here in a corner and laugh my you-know-what off.

  45. sabian

    It reminds me of the time I’m trying to bikini wax when a phone call interupts me in the process of heating and preparing for the waxing. It’s my mother-in-law. So I chit-chat and continue on with my preparations and then i proceed with waxing my nether regions while talking on the phone…. you don’t know how much harder the waxing is while trying to keep the phone to your ear and also not scream into the receiver :)

  46. MomCat

    I see you’re waxing eloquent on this topic.

    Being a delicate flower also, I’ve never reacted well to waxing. Eventually, I went the swim skirt route as well, in spite of the fact that it ends up accentuating my rear. Better a wide load than a hairy one.

    And I have a horror story about brow waxing, which involved wax that was a wee bit too hot, and resulted in my losing the top layer of skin. Right before a friend’s wedding. Lovely.

  47. Bev

    WARNING TMI– Tip on self waxing– Sit on the toilet (lid up), tuck the back of your leg as tight against the seat under you as you can, then use your other hand to pull the front of your thigh as tight as possible. The seat gives you a third hand. I use the cheap microwave wax from the beauty supply store. Works well. Just pull everything tight and give a quick pull.

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