Posts Tagged: beauty

Why Taking Half an Hour to Wash My Face is a Form of Self-care

face washing routine

I believe I’ve spent some time carping about my nightly ablutions here on the blog. I have very, VERY sensitive, fussy, breakout-prone skin and over time I’ve learned that if I don’t take meticulous care of it, it will punish me. With large, painful zits. And for years, I resented the time it took me to prepare my face for sleeping. I resented my Clairsonic and the system of washcloths and the fancy cleansers and lotions I need to use to keep the infuriatingly delicate balance necessary to prevent breakouts. I dreaded the whole rigamarole.

And I would never have been able to predict that adding more steps and more time to my routine would be what turned this activity from a chore into a pleasure.

The fashion mags I read have been raving about Korean beauty products for a while now, and somewhere in my readings I came across the 10-step Korean skincare routine, and absolutely balked. It had to be expensive! It had to take forever! How could it possibly be effective?!? But many of the products listed in the magazines were cheaper than stuff I could buy at Walgreens, and claimed to be made with natural and naturally derived ingredients. Amazon has hundreds of them, including many expert and editor faves. But you know what really sent me over the edge? Snails. Lots of these products include snail slime, and I was just so amused by the idea of smearing that on my face that I bought a snail toner. And since I’d heard about bee venom for years, I bought a bee venom essence. I already had a serum I liked and was gifted this marvelous facial oil by the Kiehl’s folks, so I was shy of 10 steps but had at least six going for me.

And you know what? I love washing my face now. LOVE IT. It takes forever since you have to apply and wait for each product to dry before applying the next one, but it’s actually enjoyable now. Some of it is the scents – the bee venom mist is spicy and the face oil smells deliciously of ginger – and some of it is the ceremony. But I eventually realized it also has to do with self-care.

Before, I hated that my skin was so fussy. I felt like I had to slog through all of these annoying steps just to keep it from rebelling. But now – and bear with me here, because I know this may sound a little goofy – I feel like I’m honoring my skin. Stewarding it. I’m pampering myself each and every night by applying all of these cleansers and toners and moisturizers, and it makes me feel calm and happy and like I’m living an abundant life.

My acne is directly tied to my hormones and my hormones are STUBBORN AS HELL, so I still break out. I would say that this new, multi-step routine has made my skin less irritated, kept it moist and supple, and helped the zits that show up heal faster. But even if there was virtually no difference in my skin, there’s a strong possibility that I’d stick to this routine. Because it’s made the difference between feeling like I’m weeding the overgrown courtyard of my crappy rented apartment and tending the lush flowers in my own home’s backyard.

A long, multi-step face-washing routine isn’t for everyone. It’s not outrageously expensive, but it’s also not cheap. And if your life and your kids and your health mean that you don’t actually have a half hour to spare for skin care, it might not be possible. But if you can find one little self-care ritual to help you center yourself each day – applying hand lotion before bed, brushing your hair before leaving the house, anything no matter how small – I’d wager it’ll make you feel calmer and happier and more abundant, too.

Image courtesy Dan Watson/Unsplash

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Yes, And …

improv

There’s a passage in Tina Fey’s Bossypants that has been repurposed about 16 gajillion times. It’s the one in which she outlines the basic rules of improv. Let’s review the pertinent rule:

The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own.

If I start a scene with “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you just say, “Yeah…” we’re kind of at a standstill.

But if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “What did you expect? We’re in hell.” Or if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “Yes, this can’t be good for the wax figures.” Or if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “I told you we shouldn’t have crawled into this dog’s mouth,” now we’re getting somewhere.*

I’ve seen this – and her other three improv rules – applied to career advice, weight loss motivation, training your mind to be more innovative, and many other topics. But as you might’ve guessed, I intend to bend and warp it until it applies to body image. Let me tell you how. Using an assortment of completely unscientific assumptions and observations.

Our brains are obsessed with scarcity. I imagine this is partially due to our collective hunter-gatherer past: If Sheila over there hoards all the berries there will be fewer for us and we’ll go hungry. Actually, hangry. But to continue superimposing this family of worry over just about everything in our lives NOW? An imprudent waste of energy. I’m thinking specifically of intangibles like success and love and intelligence. When we see others who have these things in abundance, we feel jealousy fueled by the misguided belief that their having of something means there is less of it available overall. That there is a finite amount of success or love or intelligence in the universe, and when Sheila over there proves that she’s got some of it, that means less for the rest of us.

Based on the ways I’ve witnessed women get catty about other women, I think we may subconsciously experience scarcity worry about beauty. We see women around us that are wrinkle-free or tall or marvelously curvy, and we resent them. We want what they have because we think it gives them advantages, but this assumes that what they have isn’t available to us, too. That just because they’re beautiful, we are not. That their specific group of traits works, but our specific group of traits is broken.

Which is bullshit, of course. And my suggestion is this: Next time you catch yourself thinking, “Wow, she sure is beautiful,” tack on a “Yes, and so am I.” Force your brain to realize that there’s no mutual exclusion at play here. Even if you don’t think you’re scarcity-motivated, even if you don’t feel jealousy acutely, even if you are convinced that everything I’ve just said is utterly ludicrous, I urge you to give this a try. Because I believe that completing a thought about someone else’s beauty with, “yes, and so am I” will prove beneficial in the long-run. When you actively compare yourself to someone else, it’s frequently because you view them as being superior to you in some way, right? Well this little phrase – “yes, and” – does two marvelous things at once: It acknowledges that someone else is good/beautiful/in possession of something valuable, and it reminds us that we are also good/beautiful/in possession of valuable things. It creates a circuit of kindness and acceptance, preventing us from falling victim to the scarcity fallacy.

Not exactly what Tina Fey was talking about in her improv rules, I know – she’s focusing on agreeing and adding to the conversation. But the phrase is so perfect for this purpose. And she’s the one who taught it to me. So I hope she doesn’t mind me appropriating it for my own uses.

And for yours.

Image source

*Somewhere around this part of the book she’s giving further improv examples and pens the line that may have made me laugh hardest of anything I’ve ever read: “Here we are in Spain, Dracula!”

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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This Week I Love …

eff your beauty standards

… Tess Holliday’s Instagram, Eff Your Beauty Standards.

So first, if you don’t know Tess, she’s a size 22 model with a major agency contract and a huge fanbase. As you can imagine, she is the target of a whole lotta body hate, and she does her best to take it in stride. And because Instagram is social, you’ll find some godawful comments on her Eff Your Beauty Standards feed, but the posts themselves are a marvelous mix of inspirational-but-not-sappy quotes, photos from fans of all sizes and ages, a general celebration of bodies, beauty, and humanity.

I highly recommend following Eff Your Beauty Standards.

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