My absolute beauty essentials

March 19, 2013

I am known for my friends to be quite the beauty junkie; my bedroom and bathroom look like a slightly-smaller version of Sephora, and this was even worse during my final year of high school, when I worked as a beauty adviser at a hair salon, and thus brought home tons of products (thank you, employee discounts!), my excuse being that I needed to try the products to be able to honestly and properly advise customers about them. I did learn a lot that year, I can't deny it. 
 There has been many products I have tried out of pure curiosity, after hearing people rave about them, and that I found myself wondering where they've been my whole life. I also change what I use very often; during my first two years of high school, I used to wear tons of black eyeliner (... why?). Then I began wearing contact lenses (BEST decision ever!) in junior year, and I learned very fast that unless I wanted to be frequently crawling on all fours in class because eye shadow got in my eye and I lost my lens, I needed to tone down on the eye make-up, especially the irritating type. Also I was more at peace with myself, and felt less the need to hide behind piles and piles of make-up. About two years ago, I started my Accutane treatment, which made my skin extremely dry; I had to adapt, yet again, and create a beauty routine that locked in moisture.A while ago, I was talking with a friend about our absolute essentials, as in, what would come with me in a desert island scenario (which I'm definitely not likely to survive, but I digress). In any case, here's the list I came up with:

1) Ponds Cold Cream: Ponds is quite the iconic beauty product that has been around for almost two centuries. I remember its distinctive. delicious smell from my childhood, when my grandmother used it constantly. When my skin became very dry, I had to stop cleansing with water; instead, I apply a medium-thickness coat of cold cream and let it rest for two minutes or until it becomes transparent. I then lightly massage it in circles on my skin to dissolve make-up (it works wonders on waterproof mascara, and doesn't sting the eyes), then remove it with cotton pads or tissues. I've been using it for a year, and it made wonders on my skin; helping with my imperfections, evening it out, and countering extreme dryness. In a cinch, I also use it as a moisturizer. 

2) Lavender essential oil: I love love love love lavender essential oil; and I have a whole variety of uses for it. I bought my first bottle years ago to use it in bubble baths and as a mist on my pillow to help me sleep; I now use it to even out my skin (5 drops, dabbed all over the face and on imperfections* right after cleansing with Ponds), as a fragrance, in hair and skin oil treatments, bubble baths, in tea, to reduce my migraines, in various recipes**... It's definitely a staple of mine. 

3) Red nail polish: I've professed my love for red countless times (and I'm not done yet!); I cannot tell you how many times I went to the nail salon with the intention of trying a new colour, only to end up asking the manicurist to apply one of my favourite OPI red shades: Vodka and Caviar, An Affair in Red Square or Big Apple Red. 

4) Tweezers: For years, I was made fun of, in person and online, because I had huge, bushy eyebrows. I resented them, but my mother forbade me from plucking. I would say my Best Beauty Decision (#2) was to disobey that and let the hair stylist at the salon where I worked give me my very first eyebrow wax. I felt like I was reborn into a beautiful, sexy woman, at peace with my femininity and with myself, though I still cringe occasionally when I stumble upon an old photo and wish I had taken this ballsy decision earlier. I've been complimented countless times on my eyes and lashes (my favourite assets), and I cannot explain what a relief it is for them not to be overpowered by huge black caterpillars. So I get an eyebrow wax once a month, and every day, I maintain it by meticulously look for stray hairs to pluck in the mirror. My favourite shape is a soft, slightly round angle, not unlike 1930s and 1940s movie stars.  

5) Mascara: Though I said above that I had a lighter hand on eye make-up once I began wearing contacts, mascara is something I wouldn't give up for anything; I've been blessed with naturally long eyelashes, so naturally I'd want to enhance them with black, thickening mascara, just for the pleasure of telling people that no, they're not fake (I never, ever, wore fake eyelashes!). Now, the brand and type of mascara varies quite often (I told you I'm a beauty junkie!), but I am quite fond (at the moment) of L'Oréal Volume Million Lashes. 

6) Coconut oil: I credit this beauty discovery to my Beautiful Love; I began using coconut oil a few months ago and love its versatility; it is an amazing body moisturizer, works wonderfully in some types of pastry as a replacement for butter, can make a great massage oil (heated in the microwave with a few drops of essential oils of whatever you want), face and body scrub (mixed with sugar or baking soda). I'm quite the klutz and more than often end up nicking my legs while shaving, and I also tend to bleed heavily, which transforms my bathroom into a horror movie scene; coconut oil potentially helps reduce the bleeding so I can enjoy my fuzz-free legs. I also use it occasionally as a face moisturizer, when I'm dealing with extreme dryness, but only, as the last thing I want is clogged pores. Last but not least, I've discovered that taking two tablespoons a day is addictive helps me control my appetite, make my skin glow, my hair stronger, and boost my immune system.

7) Earl Grey tea: This is yet another discovery I have made thanks to my beloved; it isn't exactly a beauty product (though the day I create an Earl Grey face mask or something like that, you'll be the first to know), but I've been drinking it every day for months in lieu of my usual sodas and caffeinated drinks, and I must say, I feel healthier on the inside and the outside; more vigourous, more energetic, less sluggy (to a certain degree, let's not exaggerate). And also... it's positively delicious!

*Caution: using undiluted essential oil on your skin can lead to allergic reactions. Use with caution and always do a skin patch test.
**Same: do not consume large amounts of undiluted essential oil, and always use food-grade oil. 

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