Something different: The Beauty Routine

There is a lot of nail stuff.

In the shower I use first a water-activated gel cleanser, then a honey-almond body scrub, and on the face an exfoliating gel scrub.  Vidal Sassoon shampoo is especially good at getting rid of the coating of dried perspiration, salts, oils airborne pollutants and dirt that can weigh down hair and flatten it to the scalp which can make you look older. . . . If the face seems dry and flaky—which makes it look dull and older—use a clarifying lotion that removes flakes and uncovers skin (it can also make your tan look darker).  Then apply an anti-aging eye balm (Baume Des Yeux) followed by a final mosturizing “protective” lotion.

Ellis, Brett Eason.   American Psycho.  New York:  Vintage Contemporaries, 1991.

I recently tore through the archives of Beauty Schooled and loved a series of posts Virginia wrote on her beauty routine.  I mentioned lady-drag in my VS bra review, and I’ll examine it further later—relevant here, over the past couple of years I’ve taken on more aspects of the femme beauty routine while trying to maintain simplicity and a low-key process.  I have a very complicated relationship with The Beauty Routine, but I’m lucky enough to be comfortable with what is probably more on the minimum end of the spectrum, especially for someone with curly hair.  Anyway, Beauty Schooled says it best:

I’m realizing that we need to talk more about all the different kinds of beauty work we perform and all the different ways we value it. Because sometimes we’re ambivalent about sharing these details. It’s hard to admit you have lip hair, or you need to apply deodorant twice a day since these things don’t fit into the way we define pretty (hairless, sweet-smelling, etc).

So, this is pretty long and, frankly, kind of self-indulgent, so under the cut it goes.

Daily: Every damn day.

  • Shower: Now, this doesn’t mean soaping up, necessarily.  I’m an oily and sweaty beast who has to get up early.  Stepping under running water every morning sluices extra grease off, wakes me up and facilitates the next daily ritual—
  • Washing my face: After years of using only water and a washcloth in an attempt to remove grime without stripping useful oils, I’ve finally gone to a sugar/salt scrub.  The brand I use has an oil base, so I can scour daily and not need to lotion so hard.  I should note, when we were in Wyoming, which is a much drier place, my skin was perfect. I joke that I am “genetically formulated” for the desert, but it is kind of true.  All this oil does me no good in the humid Northwest.
  • Shaving underarms: Part of being sweaty and oily means I prefer to remove what can quickly become a cesspool. I am jealous of my friends with light and spare underarm hair.  I get a five-o’clock shadow there.
  • Lotion: Out of the shower I scrunch up my face and apply a heavier lotion to areas that feel tight, mostly under my eyes.  A simpler hydrating and conditioning lotion goes over that, and onto my arms, etc.  Again, trying to balance the oil/dryness.
  • Eyeshadow: This is the extent of my makeup, but it is intense.  I have no limits on what is appropriate for “day wear” so it ranges from dark liner to club-level sparkles and colour.  Almost never mascara, because of the glasses and how I mostly dislike it.
  • Hair: Pick out the worst tangles and mats with a wide-toothed hair pick.  I do something to get it off my face, braids or French twists or Minnie Mouse buns.  I was super influenced by Claudia of Baby Sitter’s Club and try to not wear it the same way two days in a row, ideally not repeating a style at all over the work week. This is less about looks and more about trying to be awesome.
  • Deodorant: Sometimes twice a day (I keep some at work), because I sweat. Like crazy.  I use a guy brand, because the spicier smells in men’s brands work better with my chemistry.

Multiple Times a Week: Every other day, twice a week, in between.

  • Eyebrows: Check for new growth, pluck offenders.  I keep them full (“like Brooke Shields” my mom says, sighing sadly), with only the bottom of the arch shaped, but it requires vigilance to keep looking clean and purposeful.  I guess I want it obvs that I choose to have heavy brows.
  • Leave-in conditioner: If I decide to get my hair wet (which feels awesome, but strips oils) I work in a conditioner after towelling and do a more thorough comb-out.  Sometimes I need it even if my hair is dry, it depends on weather and impending dread-level. It took me until I was 25 to come to an understanding with my hair as to how to treat it.  Poor hair, for so long you were treated like my mom’s thin Irish hair, brushed instead of combed even.
  • Scrub body: Using scrubby stuff from the same brand as my face scrub, I wash about 50% of me at a go, depending on grossness level.  So, neck/shoulders/torso one day, legs/feet/haunches another.  Staggering like this, along with no soap days keeps me from being too dry or too oily.

Weekly: Like clockwork, actually.

  • Wash hair: With conditioner and shampoo formulated for curly hair.  It seems to be lighter formulated and do a decent job, but most wash products feel the same to me.  Leave-in conditioner after I towel dry a bit, because no conditioner is strong enough and when you have semi-mixed hair like mine you cannot overcondition.
  • Pore strip: Doing this once a week seems to be the right span of time to do a decent job of extracting junk.
  • Paint/Tend nails: File, trim, push back cuticles, trim dead skin along sides of nails, lotion.  I buff to a shine, use a protective vitamin base coat, at least three coats (depending on formula and design) and a top coat.  I never do only a solid colour.  There is always at least a French tip variant.  Of everything I have in my beauty routine, this is the most time intensive and the most personally satisfying.  I am really vain about my nails.

Every Other Week (or so):

  • Shave sides of my head: Chase helps with this, because our mirror situation sucks.  I love my haircut so much, it’s garnered more compliments than any hairstyle I’ve worn.  It also makes my prone to matting/dreading, mixed texture curls easier to handle by reducing overall volume.
  • Shave between brows: It’s easier to catch the mass of central eyebrow hairs this way that I forget to pluck.
  • Blowdry with diffuser: This happens more regularly when it is cold and I don’t want a wet head while waiting for the bus.  It involves leave-in conditioner, volumising mousse, a fruit gum to prevent flyaways and a diffusing attachment on my dorky ionising blowdryer.

Couple times a year:

  • Straighten hair: Involves the same three products as before, only this time with the focussing attachment on my hairdryer, a round bristle brush and then a flat iron at the end to get it closer to straight.  It takes a long, long time. It rarely lasts the whole day.
  • Shave legs: This depends on what hosiery I’m totally in love with at the time.  I’ve gone years without shaving, but I have a soft spot for sheers and lace, which does not look awesome to me with hair mashed underneath.  I go over my legs with my electric clippers first, because it clogs the drain otherwise.  Then again with a razor, and an endless amount of lotion.

My daily routine takes about 20-40 minutes, including getting dressed.  The weekly stuff adds another ten, except for doing my nails, which averages an hour, but can take up to two.  It doesn’t seem like much when I’m doing it, but typing it all out makes me feel like I’m obsessive, which I know I’m not.

I’m curious about other folk’s routines.  It’s interesting how much can vary based on where you live and work and what your skin and hair is like.  I used to have a different routine when I was in catering, not least because I had boy-short hair at the time.  Beauty Schooled of course says it best:

I’m learning that even if the media makes it look like we’re all shooting for the same Beauty Ideal, every one of us goes through our own process of accepting, rejecting, ignoring, or celebrating different aspects of that ideal. Everyone has an unbelievably idiosyncratic and personal take on how they define “normal” in terms of beauty practices: Brazilians, yes. Leg shaving, no. Eyeliner, yes. Eyelash curling, no. It’s a constantly moving target that shifts based on your world view, your socioeconomic class, your job, your friends, and about a million other factors.

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8 Responses to “Something different: The Beauty Routine”

  1. Amanda Lightfoot Says:

    Oh, geez…Claudia! I was just thinking yesterday about how much her character has influenced my beauty sense, in a whimsical way (because I enjoy being rediculous). Into my 30’s, no less.

    I wonder how many others are out there.

  2. bzedan Says:

    I know quite a few just myself. It varies from one’s approach to layering to liking weird charm earrings to whatever, but dang that character did totally influence a tonne of our generation. It’s totally worth checking out the blog linked, so many of the scenes and outfits related cause instant flashback.

  3. Mioche Says:

    Curious as in you want a list? I guess I could oblige.

  4. bzedan Says:

    Or things that stand out. Like, I did not fully realise what all I do until I was writing it out. And, as someone who only started doing the girly stuff in the past couple of years I have little to no idea what other folks of the feminine persuasion do. Because I am pretty certain what they show in magazines is not too accurate.

    I am also really fascinated by haircare.

  5. Mioche Says:

    Things that stand out, sure.

    Daily: (morning) My hair is really thin and oily, I absolutely have to shower and shampoo daily. The shampoo I’ve found that works best for me is Collective Wellbeing “Less is More.” I tend to use “man-scented” products and veer away from florals. I brush my hair, fluff it a bit, part it on one side or the other and let it air dry– takes about half an hour because I keep it short. Night: moisturize hands, feet with a heavy-duty hand cream, face with regular lotion.

    Weekly: (1-3 times, as needed): Shampoo with conditioner. Shave armpits, trim nails short (they grow in fast but very thin due to stupid hormone stuff), moisturize legs, arms, torso. Any lotion will do. Pluck eyebrow hair– I don’t really shape them, but I have messy outlier hairs. Check to see if my one and only dark chin hair is growing in so I can demolish it.

    Monthly: finger waves, which requires shampooing in evening instead of morning and pinning up with bobby pins.* Paint nails.

    Several times a year: apply eye make-up and lipstick (for fun only). Shave legs, depending on what I’m wearing on my legs and whether I’m up for arguing with people. Have hair cut (anywhere between 2-5 times a year depending on style, cheapness, willingness to deal with strangers approaching me with scissors, and laziness– I go to the Aveda training school)

    *I used to have gobs and gobs of curls, but you can’t tell now– my hair spontaneously straightened itself out and now it’s all I can do to give it a slight, consistent wave.

  6. bzedan Says:

    I never would have guessed you used to be curly. And I demand pictures of finger curled hair someday. And I didn’t know you painted your nails! What colours do you go for?

    I haven’t had my hair cut by someone not friend or family in years and years. I’m thinking of going to our local beauty college (Aveda is in the city, and this one is only ten-ish minutes away) and getting it trimmed, which I haven’t bothered with in too long. So long that I didn’t note it in this list.

    Man, those single hairs that just will not die. I have one on my foot that I think has (after a decade of plucking it) finally given up the ghost. It’s just right in the middle of the top of my foot. Nobody else around it. Jerk.

    Eee, data.

  7. Mioche Says:

    The curls, as far as I can tell, were due to puberty hormones. Lasted through most of my teens, and my mom had absolutely no idea what to do with them so she tortured me with curlers.

    I usually go for pretty dark colors– my collection currently consists of a dark metallic grey, a metallic purple, a muddy turquoise, burgundy and… white. I rarely do anything fancy, but sometimes I’ll stripe them or draw little figures in with a toothpick.

    It can’t hurt to try the beauty college. I swear by Aveda, but it’s not actually that far from me– just a mile walk from work, so it’s easy to get to.

  8. I Like Socks » Blog Archive » Double take dupes Says:

    […] I am super into my nails and had to think, “does this fit what I am going for with this dumb blog?” And, I think […]