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Repair and Maintenance

In this economy everything seems to cost more. And a buck doesn’t go nearly as far as it used to. It’s harder to maintain.

And these days it seems like it costs more to maintain me. And I don’t mean that in a kept woman kind of way. I mean in a keeping things operational kind of way. Think of it as preventive maintenance.

Yesterday afternoon I hit the beauty supply store to get a few essentials to keep me functional—shampoo, hairspray, nail polish—and walked out there $100 poorer. When I got back I told Lesley how much I spent, and she laughed and told me she dropped $101 at Sephora.

I’ve always been a bit of a beauty junkie. I used to routinely blow my allowance (and later, large portions of my paycheck) on mascara, eyeshadow, nail polish, hair color, perms (God, the perms!) you name it. I loved it. I loved creating different looks every day. My parents were not so thrilled with some of them—pink hair? one side of my hair shaved? They thought it was best to ignore it with the hopes that it would change. It did.

I went through a bigger-is-better phase—bigger hair (I worked hours to cultivate the perfect teased bangs), lots of makeup! Long, talon-like nails. To quote Dolly Parton: “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” These days I go for a more subtle look, but it seems to take an awful lot of money to achieve that fresh, effortless low-maintenance look (which is anything but low maintenance). I need an “age defying” foundation with moisturizers and collagen. I’m finding that the one I use is more suited to 18-year-olds and drag queens. I’m neither. The feather-light powder I top it with doesn’t come cheap. And neither do the brushes I use to apply all this spackle.

When I was younger, I’d bake in the sun for hours without any regard for the damage it would do later. I knew that Wesson Oil would do in a pinch if I ran out of Ban de Soleil but I didn’t know what kind of havoc it would wreak on my face years later. It wasn’t until about 6 years ago, that I really started to take care of my face. I got lucky, there’s not much damage yet. The wrinkles are minimal and I don’t have sun spots, but now I feel like I’m making up for lost time. There’s the Clinique eye cream, the neck cream, the moisturizer. And that’s just for day. At night, I apply two other products that cost more than a good pair of shoes. Bill hates it because the smell makes him think of Ben-Gay. Some of it is preventative; some of it is full-on repair work to fix things like the turkey neck from burning in tanning beds (what do you mean it’s not safer than the sun?).

Slather, bake and turn

Slather, bake and turn

I won’t tell you what I spend to cut and highlight my hair. Haircuts every four weeks; highlights every eight. Then there’s the shampoo, styling products, styling tools (blowdryer, straightening iron) brushes. My four-year-old granddaughter was sitting watching me get ready one day, and when I was FINALLY done she proclaimed, “Mo-Mo! You’re kinda high maintenance.” Sigh, yes, baby, I know.

I don’t think I obsess, but I’m definitely more aware of what I look like. I’m more self-confident than I was during the years of pink hair and sun tan oil. Now it’s less of trying to find my identity and more about refining who I am.

I haven’t done Botox or fillers, and nothing is cosmetically enhanced. Which isn’t to say I won’t consider it at some point. I’m hoping this regular cash outlay prevents me from feeling like I have to do that at some point. I’m trying to avoid a full remodel. I would prefer not to have to gut the structure and start from scratch. It’s easier to slap on a coat of paint.

I’m curious if I’m alone in this, or if anyone else finds themselves throwing money at beauty products, trying to refurbish the real estate to keep the value. (I know, too many home remodeling metaphors.)

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5 Responses

  1. What a very timely post! A local blogger has started some of us on the great, no hair products adventure and I’m telling you not only are we saving a bundle of money, but our hair has never looked better. Throw out the shampoo, conditioner, styling gel, hairspray, texturizer, etc., etc. — we don’t even colour anymore. When our hair starts to look not so clean we rinse it in the shower, make a paste of a tablespoon or two of baking soda and water and massage the scalp for a bit. Rinse the baking soda out and then rinse the hair (not the scalp) with 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar diluted with 3/4 cup water. Let you hair dry naturally or use the dryer on a low setting/diffuser to help it along and you’re good to go. It takes a while for your hair and scalp to adjust, but when it does — whoa mamma. And for the skin — you can fix that much more effectively from the inside than with hundreds of dollars worth of products for the outside. Lots of fresh air and exercise and plenty of water. Don’t wash with soap, and eat well including at least one raw meal every day.

  2. I read Urban Panther’s Lair and I’m awed and fascinated by this, but I don’t think I can do it. Yesterday I was too lazy to wash my hair and went without. Even though I did shower, about halfway through the day I felt greasy and gross (not just my hair). Not only that, it’s very rare that I don’t wake up to half of my hair plastered to my face or, worse, sticking straight up. I have very fine blonde hair that tends to get greasy and limp if I don’t wash it every day.

    I’m totally on-board with the water and exercise. I’ve been lazy lately, but I do know that when I get back to the gym I feel better, I sleep better and my skin looks better (mostly from sleeping through the night).

    I’m going to keep following the posts on this, but I’m not sure I can part with my shampoo. Yet.

  3. HOLY CRAP, XUP. I could not do such a thing. You are like Super Woman or something. (Super crazy woman? 😛 ) Not color my hair? I’d be totally gray in no time flat and for me personally that just will not do. No, I will happily continue to flush, flush, flush my money so I can look pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty.

    Or, well. You know. Try to.

  4. Lesley: Amen to that. I have to fight the good fight at least as far as my hair goes. I know this makes me sound shallow and superficial, but so be it.

  5. I’m mostly grey, but I think it looks really nice and people (including my hair stylist) say the same. It’s been looking even nicer since I stopped coating it with chemical stuff. And yes, I am Super Crazy Woman

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