I love all things hair and beauty. Always have and no doubt, always will.
This life-long obsession is definitely nature over nurture as my Mum, Vasoulla, doesn’t and hasn’t ever worn much make-up (but nonetheless feels strongly about the power a red lip can imbue). She likes to recount stories of me determined to plait my own hair from a young age, not allowing her to help me, and my fascination with the few products she did use. Her black mascara, red lipstick and ‘rouge’. Don’t you just love the 80s!
There was that time I cut my own hair too, at 22 months when my mother went to hospital to give birth my brother! I’d overheard her mention to my grandma Annetta who was looking after me, that I needed a hair cut so I hid away with the kitchen scissors (!), thinking I’d give it a go myself.
I’d had long, humongous hair, from birth and my mum was horrified when she saw my shoulder length hair hacked on one side when she brought my baby brother home. ‘Surprise’!
On reflection, hair and beauty stories run through many of my memories growing up. Mostly, the mishaps. Argh, the thick concealer applied to my lips lined with brown eyeliner of all things, that my best friend Carlie and I, along with the rest of the UK seemed to favour in the 90s (what were we thinking?) or the endless glitter on my face, eyes and body during the uni years. That stuff got everywhere.
Or way back, before then and my massive mono brow sprouting aged 10 that my Mum wouldn’t let me pluck until I was 12, as she was determined to preserve my innocence and childhood, only denting it further allowing it to flourish. The puppy fat years were hard enough with that Carpet World style sample on my forehead! I’ve ripped the photos of me ‘rocking’ those brows as they were quite alarming!
Ironically, here I am typing up this post, desperate for my over-plucked brows to grow!!!
Another, more precious memory was when my beautician Auntie Eva painted my nails with clear polish when I visited her salon in Cyprus aged 9. My year was made as I gazed at the shiniest nails I’d ever seen, which shone brightly in the Cypriot heat all week.
My hands felt almost magical and I wish I felt as excited now as I did then, about ANYTHING!
I told you, my love of beauty has been a long affair.
Now, while the love is still there and will not diminish, my feelings have changed somewhat, my outlook. There’s been some unravelling if you like, some un-beautification of late. A move towards more natural products over the years, and a deep respect for keeping things simpler as well as cruelty free and products that are kind to the environment.
That’s not to say I don’t still love a full-face, lashes or playful looks, it’s just a move towards returning back to basics for the most part.
I’ve not had Botox or cosmetic surgery and while I don’t judge those who have and understand how confident-boosting it could be, I know that route is not for me.
I’m lucky to have inherited fairly good skin from both sides of my family (both of my grandmothers escaped wrinkles into old age) and the plant-based life, multivitamins and exercise in the great outdoors, seem to be a decent recipe for well being at 38. A stranger (kindly) guessed my age was 28 last week when I wasn’t wearing make-up, which was incredibly generous and nuts, but kind all the same.
So, what am I doing?
Wearing less make-up, more often and even going barefaced some days too.
I’m opting out of treatments I have historically used, misused and overused with the promise of prettier, stronger nails, skin and hair.
Many of these have only worked temporarily, and in the long-run, did the exact opposite of what was promised on the tin (or tube).
The semi permanent lashes I had professionally applied years ago, felt so heavy and thick, I (wrongly) pulled them out with many of my lashes to boot, and they have never returned to their former glory. They looked nice and for a few days were much-loved until the glue annoyed me and they were no more.
Ditto to the migraine-inducing lash lengthen-er gel I tried a few months back and abandoned after just one day, and a similar brand sampled years ago did what it said it would but then some, with hair growing around my eyes, only vanishing when I stopped use!
Ditto to the many rounds of changing hair colour which unsurprisingly led to weakening my hair, I now find hard to grow. While still long, it’s not as long as it once was or as thick or shiny. If only I hadn’t messed with it so much.
I’m determined to get it back to the mane it was though.
The gel polish manis too have weakened my former strong and long nails. These frankly short-cut, quick-fixes haven’t served me in the long-run. No doubt fine, every so often but any more than that, and I’ve been left with weak and broken nails, hair which is struggling to grow and patchy eyebrows I’ve over-plucked and waxed.
Yes, I take responsibility for becoming over-excited at the promises of polish which lasts for 3 weeks and the rest, but equally we’re all missold these beauty dreams or miracle products, when everything we need is right in front of us. Great nutrition to feed us from the inside out and products you’ll no doubt have in your pantry (what an 80s word that is)!
So I’m doing what the 12 year old me did unknowingly.
I’m letting my body do it’s thing and being more selective in the products I use and how frequently I use them.
I’m only colouring my grey roots where I have to, so my hair gets a break from the bleach and highlights. I’m using olive oil to nourish my skin and hair applying it to my scalp like a leave-in conditioner, washing it out in the morning.
I’m not over-drying my hair either or using appliances as much, leaving it to dry naturally now the weather is hotter, with some Frizz Ease and a little curling mousse to bring out the bounce. I’m limiting my products to 2 or 3 at most and in a short time, am already seeing the benefits.
I’m also growing back my brows, slapping on the Extra Virgin Olive Oil morning and night, as well as applying it to my lashes before bed which encourages growth. In just a few weeks, it’s already working and the annoying gap in my brows I’ve been complaining about on Instagram Stories, is growing back!
I’m also using Bio Oil as a moisturiser on my face and body alternating with olive oil, and I stopped with the endless cycle of gel manicures long ago (you tend to stop, see weak nails so start up but you need to give it a real break to see a difference I’ve been told).
My nails are still weak but I’m having monthly intensive manis and I often leave my nails without any polish or simply a strengthening one from Rimmel or Sally Hansen to help them build back to what they were before all the ‘gel strengthening’.
I’ve learned, finally that when I don’t mess too much with my hair and body, it knows what to do.
Why don’t you try it, too?