Simplifying Your Beauty Routine

Faced with being buried in an avalanche of beauty products, I had to make a decision.  I needed a way to simplify my beauty routine.  However, if you Google “simplify your beauty routine” you will find a bunch of useless tips that leave you with just as many products as before.

The only fool proof method  is to get rid of pretty much everything and go rogue. Unfortunately, we live in a society where image is everything, and if your hair is frizzy, and you smell because you don’t wear deodorant, you may have a bit of a problem.  I don’t plan on going rogue; I do, however, plan on going natural.

Basically, if you want to simplify your beauty routine, you have to let go of the beauty standards set by people trying to sell you something and determine your personal beauty standards.  For me that means:

Not wearing makeup.  Maybe there will be an occasion where I don a little eye liner, mascara and lip gloss, but that’s going to be it.  Cover up, blush, eye shadow and the like are getting trashed. I found a great article on Loving Your Face Without Makeup.

Revamping my hairstyling routine.  As an African-American woman, hair care is where I spend the most money and do the most work. I’m going to make a change by switching to higher quality, natural products.  Instead of buying a shea butter product where shea butter is the 4th or 5th ingredient, I could make my own shea butter leave in conditioner with the real stuff. Then, I won’t need fifty thousand additional products to make up for where one product falls short because it is filled with chemicals and other garbage. (I could do an entire post on how I’m cutting back on my hair routine)

Picking one or 2 ways to remove hair. As ladies we must pretend that we don’t grow hair anywhere but on are heads and eyebrows. The fact of the matter this isn’t true.  We are all hairy ladies.  And I use nearly every method available for removing hair: I have a razor, an electric trimmer, an epilator, a depilatory (Nair), wax strips and tweezers. This is completely unnecessary. I’m not going to stop shaving my legs or pits, but I am going to pick a limited amount of ways to do it. Maybe you’ve always wanted to stop shaving your legs. If so, here is a good place to find inspiration.

The reality is, there are so many places where you can cut back and reduce your usage of beauty products. That might mean you’ll stop trying to hide signs of aging, stop painting your nails, or stop fighting your natural hair texture. I’m not going to detail them all here because Minimalist Beauty created a whole website on how she reduced her beauty product usage. (It’s a great resource, you should check it out.) You have to decide which avenues are right for you.

What I’m going to be doing while I prepare to move is trashing pretty much everything and finding alternative care products.  I’d like to take a more natural and holistic approach to my personal care, and I believe I’ll be using far fewer products than I do now.

Just remember, you are beautiful the way you are, and you don’t need any product that tries to convince you aren’t beautiful without it.

True Cost of Vanity

Oh, what we ladies do to be beautiful. I probably have at least 1000 different items related to my beauty regimen.  While I’ve been attempting to declutter my house, it seems that the beauty items are the most difficult to pare down. My sink, shower, linen closet were so full with such items that I purchased a rolling cart to hold the rest of the crap.  Really, it is getting out of control. Then there is the weight loss side of beauty that is its own subject.   But this makes me consider the larger issue at hand.  We are so self-imaged obsessed. We spend so much money and time trying to look like someone else; I’m just not seeing the point anymore.

Remember in middle and high school where we are taught about advertisements, and the objectification of women for the sale of products?  I have to be honest. I never really understood what “objectifying women” truly meant. It means “sex sells” right? It means women are portrayed as objects, not people or individuals, right? But what does that really mean? Middle and high school students can only understand so much about “objectifying women;” at that age, we don’t have enough life experience to truly comprehend it. As of late, I think I’m starting to get it.

After watching the series the Way of Seeing, on YouTube, I’ve become hyper aware of all this vanity stuff. In the video series, the narrator addresses the fact that women are constantly being looked at, by themselves, men, and other women, and it is essentially what drives women’s vanity and obsession with appearance.  He analyzes the nude in art to illustrate his point. I absolutely agree with his interpretation. To take it a step further, knowing that we are constantly being looked at plays a role in our really messed up body image. There is an expectation of what we look like, if not met, makes us feel like crap. And this my friends, comes from advertising.

What I’m about to say is a tad cliche (at first), but hear me out. We are bombarded with advertisements that tell us what we need to do to be beautiful: what a beautiful woman wears, how she dresses, how she styles her hair, etc.  On some level, we understand that the images aren’t real, but we have internalized that message from society. We want to be that beautiful, confident woman who has maintained every inch of her hair, nails, body and skin, and nonetheless is perfect. It doesn’t matter that in school we were taught that the images in magazines are fake. The message to be perfect is so ingrained that it doesn’t matter if we know consciously that some fat nerd shaved 2 inches off the model’s waist and plumped up her boobs with a few mouse clicks. We still look for that image of ourselves every time we look at ourselves naked in the mirror.

The problem is we are looking for something that isn’t real or attainable.  I know you know this with your conscious mind, but every time you pinch a bit of fat on your belly when you are well within a healthy BMI (don’t get me started), says that you’ve been brainwashed into believing there is something wrong with you. Currently I’m 5’1 and 128 pounds and I would like to be 10 pounds lighter. Why? I don’t even look fat and a recent doctor’s appointment reveals that I’m perfectly healthy.  I’ve been brainwashed like everybody else, and only now wondering, “Why?”

I read an interesting post on The Belly Project where the author quotes a student saying that this is all a conspiracy by CEOs and the like to get us to buy crap. So we buy and we buy and we buy, just so we can look like someone else, who in that particular image, doesn’t look like themselves.  People don’t look how they look in magazines. And if they do, they have to be obsessed.  That is not a way to live.  We’ve wasted so much time and energy, some people just don’t think its worth it anymore.  It is getting ridiculous.

Think about painting your nails for a minute.  You take a bottle of colored liquid, use the little brush and paint it on your fingernails. Then you have to wait (forever if you are at a salon) for it to dry completely. And if you do manage to get it dry without ruining them by unbuttoning your jeans an hour later, you wear the color for a few days, before it starts to flake, peel and chip off the day you wash any dishes. What is the freaking point of that? It looks pretty? Is that the best you can come up with? See, and all this occurred to me right after I spent 30 dollars for an ocean blue mani/pedi.  There is no point. Sure, removing dead skin is nice, so are foot and hand massages. But the polish? An absolutely pointless endeavor.  And we have hundreds, if not thousands of similar, pointless rituals: pointless vanity rituals.

Am I saying that I am the perfect human who avoids all vanity rituals? No. Will I ever avoid all pointless vanity rituals? No. I really prefer having two eyebrows. (Then again, who says I have to). But if you need to save time, money, and energy, your vanity may just be the place to look.

Next week I’m going to be talking about how to find balance between perfection and reality… stay tuned, have a great weekend, and I’ll see you on Monday.