Monday, February 20, 2012

simplify your beauty routine: less is more.

This lovely lady could almost certainly benefit from the tips below.
You could probably pare back, implementing some of the suggestions here, to save yourself both time and money.  This is something I've been experimenting with a lot recently in an effort to determine what is truly worth the cost of my time and money, and what really just isn't.  Funny thing I've noticed about using less makeup?  I find that I am spending way less money on makeup, and I'm able to wake up later in the morning.  Those are results I like.  Here are some of the ideas I've come up with.

-When purchasing beauty products, don't allow yourself to be fooled by elaborate advertising schemes.  The truth is that inexpensive products usually work just as well as expensive ones.  (Large conglomerates own and produce the high-end products as well as the cheap ones, so there is generally little to no difference in quality.)  If you choose to pay for high-end products, what you are paying for is most likely fancy packaging and the extensive marketing that allows them to charge you the high price in the first place.  I find that it is, however, absolutely worth the effort to search for more natural products and to avoid irritating ingredients like sulfates.

-Get some sun, just not too much.  There's no need to be paranoid about it, and likewise there's no need to use a tanning bed, ever.  Use sunscreen everyday-- it needn't be an expensive one.  Right now I use Lavera, a natural German product, but I have also been happy with less expensive domestic brands such as L'Oreal and Neutrogena.  To prevent eye wrinkles (not to mention eye damage), always wear sunglasses when enjoying the sun.

-This is probably the most helpful tip I can give overall: Do less.  Use as FEW products on your skin as possible.  This goes for cleansing products as well as makeup.  Most women use far too many substances on their skin to begin with.  You shouldn't be exfoliating more than twice a week, and if you have sensitive skin like I do, do it sparingly, once every week or two.  In the past I've been guilty of over-exfoliating and using harsh clay masks, not realizing how much damage I was doing to my delicate skin.  After years of trial and error (largely error) I've found that it's best to simply wash my face with cool water in the morning, and then use a very gentle cleanser at night.  A lot of products create problems, which you then use more products in an attempt to resolve.  A great book that touches on this topic is The Japanese Skincare Revolution, by Chizu Saeki.  One of my favorite ideas from her book is the concept of "skin fasts": do your skin a huge favor by simply "fasting" from all product usage for a day or days at a time, and your skin will thank you.  It really works for me-- I do skin fasts on the weekends.

Clemence Poesy, one of my favorite French actresses, perfectly illustrates Le No-Makeup Look.
-Do like the French, and aim for Le No-Makeup LookGive yourself a make-under.  Many American women are in the habit of wearing FAR too much makeup for their own good, and too much visible makeup is aging.  More is emphatically not better.  If you wish to combine a lot of products to create the look of flawless skin, and you don't mind putting in the time and effort to apply them, then go for it-- but use these products to create a totally natural appearance, however artful. If you wear lipstick-- don't.  Fortunately, I got out of that phase circa 1999.  Use a light gloss instead.  I use gloss on rare occasions but daily I prefer a sheer Burt's Bees lip balm.

-Break a sweat.  Exercise, or use a sauna (I prefer the latter option, but around here, they can be hard to find.)  Sweating improves circulation, eliminates toxins, and is all-around fantastic for the health and appearance of your skin.  It also doesn't cost anything.

-I don't know anyone who actually does this around here, but there are a ton of young women in the UK who need to know this, so I'll put it out there: don't use sunless tanner.  Just don't.  You look like an orange.  Accept your skin the way it comes-- if it was meant to be a different color, it would be.

-Pare back on the number of makeup products you use.  I've found that many products simply aren't necessary.  Experiment and evaluate the products you use to determine what is truly worth buying and using, and what isn't.  Remember that your time has value as well as your money-- is the time you spend applying the product worthwhile to you?  Personally, I've found that my Lancome eyeshadow primer and undereye concealer do genuinely improve my appearance-- but I simply don't care to spend the time to apply them.  And at around $30 each, for the minimal improvement in appearance, neither product would be worth the financial cost to me personally, so even though they work, I won't be buying them again.

-Go from black to brown mascara.  I made this switch a couple months ago and have been quite pleased with the results.  Since the age of 12 I've always worn a heavy coat--or three-- of blackest-black mascara, which has a dramatic effect, but I began rethinking this recently, after realizing that my natural lash color and brow color is very light, which makes the heavy black seem costume-y.  GreatLash by Maybelline is the cheap and effective product I've used for the last 14 years, but I recently upgraded to a more pricey Lavera mascara, which I like because it has only natural ingredients.  The downside to this is that the product has a shorter shelf life, so when I need to replace it, I'll probably revert to GreatLash-- which they have for even cheaper at the dollar store here, by the way.

-Don't over-pluck.  Another example of doing less.  I over-plucked my brows in years past, as do many women.  Don't.  Fuller brows are more attractive, and obviously, appear more natural.  I've stopped plucking mine, aside from obvious strays.

-Accept what you've got.  Stop worrying about it; stop trying to change it.  (This can apply to lots of things in life, not just your visage.)  I used to try to cover up my freckles and used heavy powder to make my skin appear more single-toned.  Now I've chosen to accept that I will always have freckles, and I'm just going to let them be, and let them be seen.  I'm OK with it now.  I've got wrinkles around my eyes, too, but I don't plan on buying any expensive creams that promise to combat it.  It is what it is.  (I do, however, wear sunglasses when in the sun, and you should, too.  That only cost me six dollars.)

Reserve elaborate eye makeup for special events, not daily wear.
-I've gone a bit extreme lately and saved wearing all eye makeup only for special events.  This isn't about cost-- I already own the makeup.  For me, right now, it just isn't worth the time and effort, and I've found I actually like the way I look without it.  (To open up your eyes visually without a dab of makeup, use an eyelash curler.  In fact, you should be doing this everyday.  The cost is just a few dollars, and remember never to use it once mascara is on the lashes.)
-If you wear glasses all the time, try contacts.  This allows your beautiful eyes to be better seen and admired.  I wear glasses or contacts, depending on how lazy I'm feeling, but I know I always look better in contacts.

-Accept your hair the way it comes.  Whatever nature gave you-- curly or straight, light or dark-- choose to accept it, and then learn to love it.  I spent many adolescent years dyeing (and even perming) my hair, making it darker or lighter, and never being quite happy with the results.  And now it's never looked better, because for the past several years I've committed to just leaving it alone, simply getting a trim every few months.  Simplify your hairstyle: get a cut that doesn't require styling or extensive product use.  My hair routine is simple, and I like it that way: I brush it.  Rethink coloring your hair.  Hair dye has strong chemicals in it, which are readily absorbed by your scalp and then passed into your bloodstream.  And personally, I think every human on the planet looks better with their natural hair color.  I have yet to see someone whose appearance is improved by chunky highlights or visible roots.  Hair-coloring is also an expensive cycle to get into.  Personally I use only shampoo and conditioner, no styling products, and no heat styling tools.  Over time, blowdryers, curling irons, and straighteners really do damage your hair.  In the past I've had higher-maintenance cuts that required styling and straightening, and I would never consider going back.  My hair looks fabulous after a blowout, of course, but I've simply stopped doing it-- and the quality of my hair has improved.  Think in terms of long-term benefits, not short.

So here's how my current minimalist makeup usage breaks down:
What I use everyday:
    -lip balm
    -light concealer/mineral powder, as little as possible, only as necessary
What I use on special occasions:
    -light coat of brown mascara
    -possibly eyeliner
    -lip gloss
What I never use:
    -blush, eyeshadow, undereye concealer, lipstick.

One last thought: DO make the most of your appearance!  Not everyone needs a make-under: if you never use ANY products to enhance your appearance, a light gloss or lip balm, an eyelash curler, and a little light mineral powder could make you look and feel like a million bucks-- at minimal expense and effort. 

What products do you deem worthy of everyday use, or worthy of the expense?

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