I wasn't conscious that I think so much about beauty. I'm pretty low maintenance - for instance, my hair is wash and go and I never wear any more makeup than eyeliner and mascara. I resent the time that it takes to get dressed in the morning. At night, I want to be quick to get on my pajamas and jump into bed. I have clothes in my closet that I've been wearing ever since high school and I prefer to buy second hand.
And yet, when I look at where and how I spend my time, I am forced to admit something. I believe style and beauty give us meaning and energy. I think this is a central tenet to my way of life. I don't think I'm alone. Here are my steps for your best beauty routine.
Do you feel a sense of calm when you stare across the horizon of the ocean to absorb a gorgeous sunset? Are you filled with energy when you watch waves crash onto the beach? How do you feel when you walk through the forest? See? Beauty is meaningful. How about when you look in the mirror each morning? How do you treat your own reflection?
I bet your feelings are much more complicated than those you feel while you're looking up at a really old tree that has weathered a multitude of seasons. Mine, too. And how do you feel when you see a photo someone recently snapped of you? Still complicated? Maybe the feelings are so negative that it's not even complicated?
But how do you feel when you see an old photo from 20 years ago? 10 years ago? 5 years ago? Do you take it in and wish that your younger self could see the beauty that you see now? That she or he could see how gorgeous you were on that day, in that year, that your photo was taken? What would happen if you looked looked at yourself now, your perspective shaped by the same compassion and clear eyes?
Fifteen Years Ago!
I heard recently, that if promoted, a company is more likely to sell a new skincare product to a woman in the two month time period leading up to her birthday. I just celebrated another birthday this week, so it's no wonder this is on my mind.
As I've admitted that beauty matters to me. And that it matters more to me than I care to admit, I also have to confess that I want to feel positive, I want to be pleased, I want to send that reflection love and appreciation when I look in the mirror. I want to feel pretty. I do know one woman who never looks in the mirror (and she always looks great, even though she doesn't really care), but that isn't most of us. I'm pretty confident that you look and that you yearn to like what you see.
And that although makeup application CAN be an amazing form of self expression, I imagine that you don't want to be applying a mask that hides who you are - that you use to hide who you are because you don't think you're pretty enough to leave the house without an extra layer of cover up.
I bet you'd love to believe in your own beauty.
And I'm aging, too. And I want to appreciate my beauty now. I want to be beautiful now. I don't want to wait ten years and say: “Oh, I was beautiful…wish I still looked that good now!”
For awhile, I've been thinking about how to look good. About what makes someone look good. And it's become very clear to me that the answer to what creates beauty is health.
Yes, when we were young, it was all about the shape and colour of your eyes, the width of your nose, the particular curves of your body, how thick your hair was. But as we age, it seems like all those particulars cease to matter. That's no longer what it's about. As we age, that kind of beauty fades. Those standards of beauty no longer exist. And I think that's pretty liberating.
Beauty is all about how healthy you are. How you glow and how you shine. And what's exciting about that is for the most part, that's in your hands. That's not determined by genetics or the fashion standards of the day.
Health has long been something I'm passionately interested in. I have a background in midwifery and healthcare. Since my early twenties I've been playing around with herbal medicine. I'm a regular researcher on Dr. Google, looking into the best research I can find, for the benefit of myself, and of my friends, too.
All of this interest came about because I wanted to feel great. Because I'm really into plants. The looking great incentive is a far more recent addition.
To be healthy, we have to take care of our physical bodies, to treat them like a temple as the saying goes. But it really doesn't stop there. Of course we all know that we need to care for our minds and hearts, as well, and, I would add, our passionate natures. It has become my habit to consider each and every one of these, each and every day. Respecting the necessity of all of these elements, this is what keeps me personally healthy. Thrive, not survive, is what will make you your most beautiful. Truly beautiful. Naturally beautiful.
More and more, research is telling us that sleep is a necessary component of great health. I guard my sleep. I get to bed early, if I need some herbal assistance for that sleep, I take it, but mostly I make sure my room is dark, that I'm protected from jarring noises, and that I move enough during the day to guarantee my body a deep sleep at night. I also have restless leg syndrome - so I didn't stop searching until I found a solution that worked for me. I couldn't give up. My sleep is precious.
Movement. Movement is essential. I'm not going to call it exercise because for me that implies something separate, and external to just living my life. When I go for a walk, I make it a brisk one. I take the stairs two at a time, and choose to take three trips where two might suffice. When I garden, I make sure to always do some heavy lifting and squatting (I don't always choose the tool that will make the task easiest and most efficient!) It's much easier to push a loaded wheelbarrow through my yard, with a purpose in mind, than it is for me to bench press in a gym. I want to get that load of soil all the way to its target bed, but I will hit snooze and skip the gym. Being active relaxes you, causing you to hold less tension in your face, and being active signals your mind to put you into a deeper sleep for increased nightly regeneration. Good for the mind and good for the body.
I consider the food pantry to influence the way you look more than any beauty counter can. I start the day with fruit and oatmeal (skipping the brown sugar) because it tones both my heart and my nerves at the same time. The rest of my day includes whole grains only (even in the treats I bake), veggies and healthy fats such as nuts and organic whole milk yogurt and cheese. Garlic is a mainstay and I take a cranberry pill every morning to keep down the inflammation. 10,000 IU a week of vitamin D is a must. I include herbal tinctures, such as wild rose and yarrow daily. I often add a splash of flower infused cider vinegar into my glasses of water, too. Eating whole foods, cooked at home, and keeping my insulin load low, are my guiding principals.
Decreasing the stress hormones that come from our busy lives, is also a necessity. Stress hormones increase cortisol and insulin levels and this results in extra weight, chronic health problems and the visually apparent effects of this kind of wear and tear. Maybe like me, you're not in a position to decrease the external stressors in your life? I'm not a a point that I can cut back on anything. But I can transform my reactions. I breathe, I look at flowers and plants scattered through my house year round. When something bad happens, I create a scenario in my imagination of how much worse it could be and then I experience gratitude instead of dismay. I take extreme pleasure from small moments and blessings. I tell my family and friends that I love them. This is how I lessen my stressors.
And passion! Is there anything that gives a greater glow than living out your passions?! Whatever it is, commit to setting some time aside for that every day. No matter what. Like your life depended on it. Because…your life DOES depend on this. Protect your passion moment every single day. It's as important as sweeping the floor or that phone call you need to make.
And, of course, what we put on our skin does matter. Your skin meets the world. And it takes a beating. I do have a skin care regimen. I do notice, if I take even a night off, that there's a difference. What I don't put on my skin is as important as what I do apply. Nothing carcinogenic or harmful for me! If you use a conventional beauty product, this is a fantastic tool to see what your product is hiding. Then you can make an informed decision to use it or toss it.
My routine is simple. It doesn't take a lot of time. That makes it sustainable when I'm feeling lazy. Every morning I wash my face with a salt bar. I dry off and immediately, before I lose too much moisture to the air, apply floral blend skin balm. If my eyes are puffy or my sinuses are congested, I add a layer of anti-inflammatory + antioxidant blend or winter blend skin balm. Next, between spring and fall equinox, I put on my favourite sun screen. That's it until bedtime! So simple and those skin balms feel fantastic.
Bedtime arrives. I take off any eye makeup with a bit of Vitamin E oil. I do or don't wash my face (with a salt bar, if I choose to wash). I put on Regenerating Night Cream. I go to bed and let the skin balm do its regenerative magic while I sleep. That's it.
Yes, health comes first. Then beauty results. Nothing to hide. Just your best and most beautiful self. Wishing you a loving relationship with your reflection! Because style and beauty give us meaning.
All my best, Chwynyn Sign up for my Newsletter