Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beauty Misadventures: Smooth Away Layers of Skin!

Dear No One in Particular,

I am a huge fan of infomericals. I think they're hilarious, and if they're good (or at the very least, ubiquitous), I'll consider buying whatever they're shilling. I blame this on my mother, who is Billy Mays's dream customer. She'll buy almost anything, so long as she can convince herself she really does need a special chair to help her wiggle her way to a smaller waist. But this isn't about her -- not yet, at least.

Ok some background information: I am a hirsute lady. I'm not about to join a sideshow or anything, but I've always been aware of -- and therefore painfully self-conscious of -- my general furriness. No joke, I've met men with less arm hair than me.*
Only recently have I adopted an "Eh, fuck it" attitude about these things, but that changed when I saw the informercial for that best-selling European depilatory product, Smooth Away. $10 and I can have the hairless arms I've always wanted?! Jiminy Cricket was right: when your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme. My request? Not looking like Teen Wolf.

About a week after my television beamed video of some toothy dame gleefully rubbing her hair off her arm into my living room, I traipsed into my local As Seen On TV store and was greeted with the glorious sight of a Smooth Away display. I eagerly grabbed one of the shiny pink-and-white boxes, daydreaming of my soon-to-be naked arms.

When I got home, I opened up the package to find a little blue plastic oval with something that looked like fine-grain sandpaper stuck to one side. It reminded me a bit of a curry comb, only more industrial.
I decided to try it out on my legs before I moved to virgin territory. I followed the directions, gently rubbing the Smooth Away in circular motions over my skin. It took a bit of time, but it did what it advertised: it removed the hair and left smooth, if slightly grey, skin in its place.
So emboldened, I went to town on my forearms. Again, it took some time (probably somewhere in the vicinity of 45 minutes) and a lot of effort, but my arms! They were bare! I danced around my apartment singing "Nooo hair! Nooo hair!" for about five minutes before the burning set in.

That's right: burning.

I don't know why I was so surprised (although, in my defense, the ad did say it was "painless"), since I was rubbing my hair off with "superfine crystals". My arms hurt so badly, the Boy suggested I apply some aloe vera to soothe the irritated skin. I don't know what happened, but "soothe" the aloe did not. It felt like I had dipped my arms into carbolic acid. I spent the rest of the night with ice packs on my forearms, whimpering about what went wrong.

We eventually chalked it up to applying too much pressure when rubbing with the Smooth Away pad. It sounded plausible enough, so a week later, after the burning subsided and the hair grew back, I (idiotically) tried again. Despite my best efforts to be as gentle as possible, the burning returned, and this time, it brought friends! Along with the pain, redness and rash decided to join the party. More weeping, more ice packs, etc. I decided that the Smooth Away people were sadists -- rich sadists, no doubt -- and liars, so I ended up tossing the whole lot.

Two weeks later, I get a call from my mother.**

Mom: You know that hair remover you bought? Rub Off? Hair Away?
Me: Close; Smooth Away. What about it?
Mom: I saw it at Walgreens and decided to try it!
Me: What? Why? I told you about what happened to me.
Mom: Yes, but that was you. I wanted to try it anyway. So, I bought it a while ago but I forgot I had it until last night. I wanted to try it on my moustache.***
Me: Oh God.
Mom: So I rubbed like the thing said and it hurt!
Me: Why didn't you believe me? I told you.
Mom: [swears that I shall not translate] And then, when I woke up this morning, it was all red! Really, really RED. And I had little ... you know, spots? Like pimples. ALL ON MY UPPER LIP.
Me: *can't breathe, I'm laughing so hard*
Mom: WHY YOU LAUGH? DON'T LAUGH. I had pimples! RED PIMPLES all over my lip. I didn't know what to do! Oh God, Aman, I had a big meeting this afternoon, and I was talking to, you know, a manager, and she couldn't stop staring at my lip! She was giving me this ... look ... like she was so grossed out. She was so grossed out.
Me: *gasping for breath* Stop! I have to go to the bathroom!
Mom: Oh. My. God, I looked AWFUL. It kept getting worse as the day went on, too. And that's not the worst part.
Me: You're kidding.
Mom: I was talking to my coworker, and I told her about the Smooth Away, and how it made my skin blister and she said "Oh, thank God. I was going to ask my husband to get me some tonight, and now I know to stay away." BECAUSE OF ME.
Me: She owes you $10.
Mom: I'm the opposite of a billboard for Smooth Away!

Moral of the story: Smooth Away is terrible. I can't get over how something so simple caused so much pain. For all the irritation, I'd rather wax and have the results last longer.

Anyone else try it and have a positive experience?


*I've also met men who insist on pointing this out. Yes, I have hair on my arms, thank you for pointing that out. You will have intense pain in your groin in 3 ... 2 ...
** She'll probably kill me for telling this story, so shhh! She already thinks I'm the Bad Seed.
***Her word, not mine.


Diana said...

I think I can really relate to you when you said you went back for more. We are narcissist when it comes to beauty. Good luck finding with what you need. Personally, I stick with Nair and eyebrow threading

amanda said...

@Diana: Threading is amazing. Dirt cheap and much cleaner brow-shaping than waxing alone.