Category Archives: Beauty

Vaseline Redux

A while back, I wrote about how petroleum jelly is an inexpensive, useful hair product. Now Nikki at Cheapalicious takes it one step further and lists the many different beauty uses for Vaseline.

Hair color dilemma

I’m still alive, just been in a non-posting funk. And during that time, my hair has continued to grow. Back in August, I got a lovely haircut and highlights at my favorite salon. Since I spend more time inside now than I used to, the highlights make my hair look the color I think it’s supposed to be. They also help hide the gray. They are also rather expensive.

We’re just finishing up a large home renovation project, Christmas is coming, and so is the new baby. I can’t really afford to spend the amount of money I have been spending on highlights. I’m starting to get roots, and in a few more weeks they will have reached critical status. I need to decide what to do.

Let the roots and the gray grow out? Not an option I favor. I’m heavily pregnant and need every bit of help I can get to look nice. If I were going for the full-on frowsy earth-mother look, I never should’ve gotten the highlights in the first place.

Try a home highlighting kit? I’ve considered it; I did a pretty good job once helping a friend put highlights in her hair. But I’m worried that by trying to save money that way I will make a big mess that’s expensive to correct.

Go for a single-process color? This would be cheaper, and cover up the gray. I’d probably get it done at the salon just to make sure I didn’t turn my hair pink or something. But then my hair would no longer be the color it’s “supposed” to be.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Skin Deep

The first time I met Robin, I immediately disliked her. When I walked into our young singles Sunday school class for the first time, I thought she was one of the most beautiful women I’d ever met. She was well-dressed and seemed to really have it all together. I assumed we had nothing in common and would never get along.

Over the next few months, I got to know her better. I discovered that although she looked perfect, she was also a real person who got in car accidents and had trouble finding decent guys to date and complained about her job. And she was a good person, too, who really cared about her friends and family. So why had my first impression of Robin been so negative?

9th grade school pictureBack in grade school, the popular people were the fashion trendsetters for our little school district. They were the first to wear Guess jeans and all the other status name brands of the day (Esprit, Forenza, Op, Banana Republic). Their hair was perfectly permed and highlighted.

I was not a part of the popular crowd. Nor did I want to be: As a group, they came across as shallow and silly and mean. I really liked the friends I had and wouldn’t have traded them for anything. So when it happened one day in seventh grade that I wore the exact same outfit to school as one of the popular girls, I was probably more embarrassed about it than she was. I did not want to be like them, and I didn’t want anyone to think I was trying to be like them.

I felt that I knew that society in general seemed to value the popular types more, with their good grooming and fashion choices. Even so, I rebelled from that aesthetic. I probably ended up selling myself short – I never saw myself as pretty or even beautiful, but rather average-looking. I was OK with average though, since pretty carried with it the baggage of popularity and meanness and, according to some stereotypes, stupidity.

I know my lack of care for my appearance probably drove my mom crazy. In high school, she had to remind me to brush my hair almost every morning and beg me to wear at least a little makeup to school dances. At the same time, she had to keep me from making sometimes bizarre fashion choices as I strove to find my own individual style. I remember one time in particular when she vetoed my wearing a belt as a skirt (in my defense, it was a really wide belt).

Over time, I supposed I developed a chip on my shoulder. I refused to conform to the slick, stylish society ideal — I still didn’t want anyone to think I was like "those people" — yet I also insisted that I not be regarded as a lesser person because of it. I moved forward through college and beyond with confidence in myself and my abilities. I learned how to mimic some of the styling techniques pretty people used because I saw how they could be useful in certain situations, but it was really never more than play-acting, putting on a costume to achieve an effect.

I’m glad that I became friends with Robin. She taught me not to judge people based solely on their looks. But the fact that I need to constantly remind myself of that lesson just goes to show that the chip is still on my shoulder, that I am still inherently suspicious of anyone who looks too good, and that I’m still daring the world to think less of me because I won’t conform.

Banishing the Chicken Arms

shoulderIt’s summer and you want to wear short sleeves, but you’re embarrassed by the bumpy, red “chicken skin” on your upper arms. This condition is called keratosis pilaris, and it’s pretty common.

Both the site linked to above and the American Academy of Dermatology say there’s no real cure for it, only treatments. It sounds dire, until you understand that “treatment” more or less means putting lotion on your arms once a day.

I had really bad chicken skin arms, and I tried what seemed like the most obvious way to make them smooth: exfoliation. And if it didn’t work the first time, scrub harder. With 20 grit sandpaper.

Then I read that this is exactly the wrong way to go about clearing up this skin condition. What you need to do is moisturize, and maybe do some gentle chemical exfoliation once in a while.

I tried many different lotions, from the mundane to the pricey (yay for free samples!), and finally found one that worked exceptionally well: plain old ordinary Aveeno daily moisturizing lotion. A couple weeks with that and my arms cleared right up. As for “chemical exfoliation,” there’s no need to purchase expensive skin products. You can find generic AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) lotion in your drugstore for a few bucks.

There’s still plenty of short-sleeve weather time left in the summer, so go ahead and exercise your right to bare arms. (No way could I finish this post without making that joke!)

Dance Naked in the Sunshine

I won the book Granny’s Recipes, Remedies, and Helpful Hints from one of Becca’s Saturday book give-aways. The book contains all kinds of old-timey advice, remedies, recipes, and how-to’s. There’s even a section on beauty, or, as the author calls it, “Cosmetiques.” I thought it might be fun to excerpt a little of Granny’s advice here on my blog.

Value of a sun bath
A sun bath is of more worth than much warming by the fire.

Ladies who have ample leisure and who lead methodical lives, take a plunge or sponge bath three times a week, and a vapor or sun bath every day. To facilitate this very beneficial practice, a south or east apartment is desirable. The lady denudes herself, takes a seat near the window, and takes in the warm rays of the sun. The effect is both beneficial and delightful.

If, however, she be of a restless disposition, she may dance, instead of basking, in the sunlight. Or, if she be not fond of dancing, she may improve the shining hours by taking down her hair and brushing it, using sulphur water, pulverized borax dissolved in alcohol, or some similar dressing.

I suppose it goes without saying that you may want to be careful which window you choose to sunbathe in, depending on how friendly you are with the neighbors.

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