My Beauty Labor Part Two: My Daily Routine.

Morning Shower Photo

So, traffic tripled yesterday with Part One of this here series on beauty labor. Which makes me think I’ve either touched a nerve here, or you’re just the type of folk who like to snoop in other people’s bathroom cabinets.

Which is cool by me, because I absolutely look in other people’s bathroom cabinets. All the time.

So today I’m going to break down my daily routine Before Beauty U. (BBU; by which I mean, the routine that has held pretty steady for the past 3-5 years until last fall) and After Beauty U (ABU).

DAILY ROUTINE BBU:

  • Shower, using a foaming body wash, mesh loofah, face wash. Okay, really, most days. Definitely after working up a good sweat. Sometimes not until after putting in a full day’s work in my pajamas. Don’t worry, I work from home.
  • Shave under my arms. I walk around firmly convinced that even the tiniest of underarm stubble will be visible from miles away. I’m a sweater and armpit hair seems to make it worse. Yes, even one millimeter of growth. That last part might be more of an “in my head” thing.
  • Apply body lotion. I do have dry skin in the winter, but I do this all year round and it’s absolutely because I’ve bought into the idea that women should be soft and smooth.
  • Apply prescription benzoyl peroxide to fight breakouts on my face. When I remember. Or have a breakout to remind me.
  • Apply moisturizer with SPF on my face. Because we’re skin cancer-prone in my family. Think about how I should really wear sunscreen all over, but never bother with that.
  • Apply antiperspirant. See above re: I’m a sweater. Not willing to even experiment with most natural deodorants despite fears of aluminum and parabens building up right next to my lymph nodes.
  • Apply anti-frizz cream or shine serum to my (generally unwashed yet frizz-prone) hair. Contemplate wearing it down and then realize that means hair getting on my face, which I hate, so settle for some piece clipped back in a semi-clever fashion and hoping it doesn’t make me look eight.

DAILY ROUTINE ABU:

  • Shower every day without fail. If not first thing in the morning, then at least by noon. I leave the house more now. This is just polite.
  • Wash my hair (or at least rinse and condition). I don’t want you to think that my whole no-frequent-washing thing before was low-maintenance; I have always spent a shocking amount of time obsessing over my changes-texture-on-a-whim wavy hair. I stopped washing it more than once a week a few years ago on the advice of one of those “Curly Girl Salons” where they tell you that shampoo equals death for curls and giving up products that lather will mean embracing your natural beauty until you’re running through a field tossing your healthy locks around in the wind like (ironically) a girl in a shampoo commercial. Here’s the thing: That strategy was pretty great for my hair. But I’m in esthetics school now. And it was pretty not great for my skin, specifically where my skin meets my hair and all the lovely natural oils it contains when you don’t strip them away with sodium laureth sulfate on a regular basis. Brooke is also a curl/anti-shampoo girl… and also acne-prone. So the powers that be are slowly getting to us both.
  • Style hair. Apply a mix of curl cream and Moroccan Hair Oil and let air dry, then touch up with hair spray or shine serum. Because the secret to more frequent washing is more product use. Wonderful. Once my hair dries, I have the same “leave it down or put it up” debate I always have, and inevitably go the “clip up a piece and hope I don’t look eight” route that’s worked so well for years.
  • Apply body lotion mixed with sunscreen. We hear a lot about sun damage at Beauty U. This is probably not the worst habit to have picked up there, though most of the time when we talk about sun damage, we mean wrinkles and unattractive spots. Not skin cancer. (“You’re not qualified to diagnose skin cancer, girls,” is something we’re reminded at least once a week.)
  • Wash my face a second time and apply a night cream mixed with benzoyl peroxide every night. Also on the advice of my dermatologist, but also a key change wrought by Beauty U, where admitting you don’t wash your face every night before bed no matter what (no matter how drunk you are!) because you just absolutely have to and couldn’t go to sleep with the day’s gunk in your pores… is met with the same shock as if you confessed to torturing kittens in your spare time. Estheticians have to wash our faces. We just have to. We know too much. We value clean, youthful (yet not breakout-riddled) skin above all else. And we can’t have bad skin. It’s a professional hazard.

Even though I went to bed without washing my face for years, and you know what? I slept just fine.

  • Apply deodorant twice a day. When you’re going to spend your evenings getting up close and personal with clients, you think to apply a second coat before you go. But because I feel like I still haven’t found a good answer on that whole aluminum question, I bought a natural deodorant for the second coat. Logical? Maybe not.

The changes are subtle: More hair-washing. More sunscreen. More discipline about bathing. I’m guessing nobody is complaining about these upgrades or even noticing a huge difference. But they all stem from the fact that every pore on my face undergoes greater scrutiny now. From myself, as I file away facts I’ve learned in Milady’s and try to apply them to the face I see most often. And from other students and teachers, who revel in their expertise, dispensing advice like sorority presidents.

Oh! You’ll notice that armpit shaving is off the daily list now. This surprised me too; I fully expected Beauty U to make me even more paranoid about body hair. And in some cases it has — as you’ll see in tomorrow’s post about my weekly and monthly beauty work. But waxing a dozen hairy armpits has one secret perk: Armpit hair stops freaking you out. In fact, compared to the redness and swelling I experienced after I had mine waxed a few weeks ago (no, I’m not going to show you the scary pictures, but remember what my arms looked like?) the natural hairy state is even preferable.

I almost typed “normal hairy state” there and then I changed it to natural. Because yes, the hair that grows there is natural, not manufactured. But I wouldn’t say it fits into my definition of normal for myself. Not quite yet.

One thing that hasn’t changed about my daily beauty labor is time: I think it takes me the same 30-45 minutes to get ready as it always did. And there are mornings where I think “I can’t believe I have to put product in my hair yet again.” The thought of doing it is so boring I want to go back to bed. And there are definitely nights when I think “I can’t believe I have to wash my face yet again” because it’s midnight, I’ve been working/schooling/blogging all day, and I’m exhausted. Sometimes, I’m tired enough or busy enough that I do skip these steps. But not without a conscious “calling in sick” decision moment.

Because it is work. And it matters if you don’t show up.

[Photo: “Reflected Self Portrait” by Nadia Mcllhany on Flickr.]

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10 Comments

Filed under Beauty Labor, Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, week 26

10 responses to “My Beauty Labor Part Two: My Daily Routine.

  1. Caroline

    This post made me think about my routine in a new way, and I realized something:

    I do put on makeup most mornings… a little bit of foundation powder, some brown eyeliner a some mascara. I feel more awake, alert, ready for the day… knowing I didn’t just roll out of bed helps put a little extra bounce in my step. At the same time, it doesn’t occur to me to do this, say, on the weekends, when I don’t have a routine: classes to go to, work, etc. I often don’t even look in the mirror. If I do, sometimes I feel the urge to put a little make-up on anyway, even if I’m just going to write papers in a coffee shop downtown.

    It’s probably a good thing I am still capable of leaving the house without looking in the mirror, but what does it say that if I do, I want to improve what I see? Is that just normal and fine in our society?

    Overall, make-up is still something fun and feel-good for me. Like painting, but with my own face – a little egotistical, but hey. Still, it’s great to have the opportunity to reflect a little about the meanings of our own standards of “normal,” and whether they are what we would like them to be. I shave my armpits once every few days to once a week, and for my legs, once a week is a lot. I moisturize as needed. But I go to a women’s college, and if I am going to be in the presence of men, I generally spend extra time doing all of the above, even if it’s not a man I’m at all romantically interested in. Is this how I want to be? Still not sure.

    Food for thought. Thanks for the posts!

  2. This is fascinating and it’s made me realize that what I do each day comes down to cost, time and guilt. Cost (I would rather spend $20 on fancy cheese and eggs, or on the pricey hair products I swear by and mail order, than on a pedicure), time (I often skip washing my curly hair because I know applying product may make me late for work), and guilt (I feel like I’m letting my childhood dentist down if I don’t floss my teeth). I’m not sure where that leaves me, but I’m happy to read along this week to see if you help me figure that out!

  3. Marian sole

    Is it a myth that washing your hair every day removes natural oils ( whatever they are) and dries it out?

  4. Piper

    I think its wonderful you’re doing this. I’ve long been in awe of the effort women put into acheiving their beauty ideal. I, personally, am a minimalist when it comes to beauty, but I’m also lazy and resentful of my gender obligations. I hate having to shave anything and have only waxed once (armpits and eyebrows); I hate showering and shampooing/conditioning daily; I’ve never had a manicure or pedicure; I only wash my face during my infrequent showers; I never moisturize or protect my skin with sunscreen; my only jewelery is my wedding band; and if I wear makeup at all, its sparse and poorly applied. I figure if men don’t have to do all the beauty crap, why do I?

    Incidentally, I have a husband AND a boyfriend AND a lover who all think I’m the cat’s meow. So, be careful with what you expect to bring what you seek. Be yourself and men will find you more beautiful than you could ever imagine!

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