My Beauty Labor Part Three: My Weekly (and Biweekly) Routines


Photo of my hair blowout supplies

My once-every-two-weeks hair blowout arsenal.


Yesterday, we talked about  my daily routine and Amy had the most interesting comment: “…what I do each day comes down to cost, time and guilt.”


Yes, exactly.

Over on Feministing, Hollywood Marie said “Basically, my beauty routine sucks, and I definitely have a love-hate relationship with it. (And yes, I love actually doing it, most of the time…and I hate that I love it and am good at it).” And I had another “yes, exactly” response.

When I make a choice to do more beauty work myself to save money, I feel guilt about putting in that time — yet also anxious because I worry that a home pedicure won’t look as tidy as a salon version, and the world will wonder why I can’t be bothered to keep my heels perfectly callus-free at all times. When I decide to pay someone else to do my work for me, I feel guilt about whether they’re being paid fairly and respected for their labor. Because I know now that is so often not the case.

And all of these conflicting emotions become heightened with the kinds of beauty work I’m going to talk about today: The stuff that I deem too time-consuming, expensive, or indulgent to do daily, but still manage to fit in with regularity. Am defining regularity to be anywhere from three times a week to once every two or three weeks here; in other words, this isn’t the daily “must do or I can’t leave the house” stuff. But some of it (leg shaving, eyebrow tweezing) is stuff that Must Get Done or it drives me crazy past a certain point. And some of it is stuff that a big part of me wishes I did more often. That’s a part of me I don’t really like. It’s the same part that automatically calculates how many other females I’ll see on any given night out and what they’re likely to be wearing before I decide on my outfit. Which is also the part that thinks “My God, I’m fat,” whenever I watch a show on the CW Network.

Most of the time, when I write this blog, that part is off taking a nap somewhere. But as I ponder this intersection of cost, time, and guilt, I realize that the last one can be pretty demanding when it comes to this kind of beauty work. And that the longer I spend at Beauty U, the more beauty guilt I’m stockpiling. So it’s probably worth acknowledging that.


  • Shave my legs at least three times a week, every other day or even daily in the summer.
  • Wash my hair with low-foaming shampoo and lots of conditioner two or three times a week.
  • Dry my hair with a special microfiber towel (terry cloth is supposedly death to waves). Comb through with my fingers or a wide-tooth comb.
  • After most washings: Apply a curl cream and anti-frizz serum. Air dry, then touch up with hair spray or shine serum.
  • Blow out my hair, which involves a hair dryer, a flat iron or curling iron (depending on the style), a round brush, and a lot more anti-frizz serum and hair spray. And so much time (45 minutes-ish), which is why it only happens when I’m going Somewhere Important. Once every two to four weeks.
  • Wax or tweeze my eyebrows into a loose sort of submission, once every four to six weeks.


We talked about hair washing yesterday; it’s become a daily thing since Miss Stacy told me the real reason my skin was breaking out like crazy was not due to playing skin treatment guinea pig all the time (and living on fast food) but because of all the oil in my hair. Oy. (And yes, hair stylists all say that oil is good for your hair and you don’t want to strip it out with shampoo. But what is good for your hair isn’t necessarily good for your skin in the world of Beauty U.)

And I’m not bothering to blow it out with much more frequency — but being surrounded by salon-perfect hair all the time at school does make me wish I could do this a lot more often. (Frustrating Beauty U tidbit: We’re not allowed to get free blow-outs from the hair students even though we give them free services all the time. I don’t know what’s up with that.)

  • Shave my legs (unless I’m growing them in to get waxed) once or twice a week. Like underarm hair, learning to wax has made me tolerant of a little hair growth. Also, having had my legs waxed a few times now, I will say there seems to be a small grain of truth to the claim that it grows back finer. Do with that information what you will.
  • Get a facial, body treatment or weird makeup application two to four times per week. Because I’m a Beauty U guinea pig and whenever someone says “Damn, I need to get a microdermabrasion/bikini wax/European facial signature this week,” I’m supposed to say “let’s go.” And because once you get used to regular salt scrubs, you notice more when you go a week or two without one.
  • Put on a full face of makeup once every week or two. This means primer, concealer, powder foundation, blush, at least two shades of eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, lip gloss. This happened once a year tops in my past life. When I never wore makeup. Now I’ll go there whenever I go Somewhere Important. And on other days I often scrutinize my skin now (especially when it’s doing the rebellious teenager thing) and think, “I would look so much better with some makeup on.” This. Never. Happened. Before.
  • Have my eyebrows waxed and tweezed to perfection (or close to it — we’re in a nuanced growing-out process at the moment to correct some prior bad eyebrow tweezing done by moi before I got good at this). Every two to four weeks, or basically, whenever someone spots a stray hair and wants an eyebrow signature. I could write post after post about the Emotional Journey That Is Eyebrow Waxing. (In fact, I probably will, so get excited.) Even in a spa setting, there are very few other services where it’s okay for a esthetician to lean in confidentially and tell you, “[insert part of your body here] is all wrong.” But when it comes to eyebrows, well, everyone is a critic.

There’s no question that the time I’m investing in this once sporadic beauty work has stepped up since Beauty U came into my life. I pay more attention to these aspects of myself and I notice other people’s hair texture/eyebrow length/leg hair/makeup applications far more than I ever did before.

I don’t think this is a good thing. But I will tell you this: I went to bed without washing my face last night. And nothing bad happened, at all.

[Hair drawer photo by me and my iPhone.]



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

7 responses to “My Beauty Labor Part Three: My Weekly (and Biweekly) Routines

  1. Ha! I love the conclusion of this post. You’re making me think a lot about the little things I do every day to try to be attractive. Or feel good about myself. Maybe everyone should write out their beauty routine. Might be eye-opening…

  2. terry cloth is supposedly death to waves? really?

    hmmm… where do I get me a microfibre towel.

  3. Pingback: Eat the Damn Cake » Beauty Routine

  4. NancyP

    Microfiber towels are likely cheapest at your local auto parts store or big box auto department. The color is usually fake chamois (slightly darker than manila file), as they are a chamois (goatskin) replacement. You might have to pay a premium to get them in nicer colors.

  5. Caroline

    You can also just use a tee-shirt instead of a microfiber towel, I’m told…

    possibly helpful on the cost/guilt front? It’s more sustainable!

  6. My response to all of this is that I would like to have a beauty summit where we sit around and talk about this stuff. Sort of group therapy meets youth group meets stitch and bitch. Ooh, a lock in where we have a big sleep over! Sorry. Apparently I am in need of some female bonding—but this stuff is fascinating.

    This also made me remember that I stopped getting my brows done professionally because everyone I went to kept telling me how wrong mine were. It’s hard to pay someone for that type of criticism, so now I just mostly leave them be (working on leaving the part on my left brow that grows straight up).

  7. Pingback: My Morning Beauty Routine… Exposed! | Beauty Schooled

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