Seven embarrassing beauty questions answered

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As you age, your body undergoes a number of changes, some of which you can see and many of which you can’t. Now, before you jump down my throat for stating the obvious, it’s important to remember that unlike during puberty – which came with a number of awkward conversations, explanations and diagrams – there doesn’t seem to be a guide on what to expect.

Society’s obsession with youth seems to shut down conversations about beauty in ageing bodies, leaving many people with unanswered questions.

Is my facial hair normal?
In short, yes. As you get older and your hormone levels change, you are likely to grow more hair in new places. While you may have become accustomed to plucking away a would-be monobrow over the years, you may feel differently about plucking away stray chin hairs. While these are completely normal, many people choose to remove them for cosmetic reasons. Methods of removing unwanted facial hair includes tweezing, shaving, threading and waxing. 

Can I get rid of my cellulite?
In short, no. Cellulite is a layer of fat that sits below the skin. It is usually most visible on the upper thighs of women and can appear on people of all shapes and sizes. There are some cosmetic procedures that claim to reduce the appearance of cellulite, though they can be expensive, and their long-term benefits are often disputed. Cellulite may be less visible on darker or more toned skin.

Am I going grey early?
If more than half your hair is grey and you’re below the age of 40, then yes, you are going grey prematurely. This is usually caused by inherited genes but can be associated with pigment or thyroid disorders. If you don’t like the grey tones in your hair, hair dye offers a quick fix. If you want to embrace the colour, there are products including purple shampoos than can intensify the silver tones in your hair and prevent yellowing. With the current beauty trend of dying hair a silvery grey colour, it may be the perfect time to embrace the natural look.

How can I get rid of calluses on my feet?
While calluses on the balls and edges of your feet are perfectly normal, in severe cases they can cause your skin to crack and become infected. To soften the calluses that form around your heels, soak your feet in hot water before scrubbing with a pumice stone. This will help to remove the dry, dead skin that has built up around your feet to help protect them.

Do I have pimples on my bottom?
If you have pimples or bumps on your rear it may be folliculitis, little staph infections in the hair follicles. These little red bumps on the surface of the skin may be itchy or filled with pus. Some at home treatments can help to reduce them. These include washing with a saltwater solution, exfoliating, applying tea tree oil, washing regularly and wearing loose-fitting clothing.

Small red or white bumps could also be keratosis pilaris, a long-term but harmless condition that can also appear on your upper arms, back, thighs and cheeks. Moisturising multiple times each day can help this condition, though it goes away naturally in most people by the age of 30.

Are spider veins normal?
Yes, varicose and spider veins are normal, and are most likely to develop in people after the age of 50. Most pose no health risks. If you dislike spider veins for cosmetic reasons, ask your doctor about sclerotherapy, injections that can help to reduce their appearance.

Am I losing my hair?
By the age of 21, 25 per cent of men who have hereditary male pattern baldness will already have started to lose hair. By the age of 35 this number will have reached 66 per cent and by 50 it will be 85 per cent. While baldness or hair thinning is a widely accepted part of ageing for many men, few people realise that women make up 40 per cent of people with hair loss. Women are genetically less likely to experience hair loss as the ‘baldness gene’ is carried on the X chromosome, but hair loss can also be caused by thyroid problems, hormonal changes, medications and pregnancy. If thinning hair is affecting your self-esteem, consult your doctor for treatment recommendations.

Before you become too critical of your body, remind yourself that the Australian beauty industry is worth $6.5 billion. This means that the very same people who tell you how you should look and feel about yourself are the same ones making a lot of money from your insecurities. The industry’s constant body shaming and obsession with appearing younger is a sure way to keep people buying the products that keep it afloat.

If you have thinning grey hair, callused feet, cellulite and chin hairs, then congratulations, you are stock standard, middle of the bell curve, perfect in every way normal. Maybe it’s time we stop criticising our bodies and begin criticising a system that seems to shame us for simply ascending in age.

Do you feel comfortable discussing ‘embarrassing’ beauty questions with your peers? Do you think there is enough open dialogue about our bodies as we get older?

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Written by Liv Gardiner



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