I have a confession. I haven’t had my hair cut or colored in over nine months. Even before the pandemic hit, I was overdue, and now, even though salons in my area have finally reopened, I still haven’t made an appointment with my stylist.
Instead, I’ve taken to wearing my now nearly waist length hair (a dubious look at best for a 64-year-old woman) in a messy grey bun, every single day.
And another thing. Makeup. What’s that? Every so often, I open a drawer in my bathroom that I once opened daily but now almost never do. It’s littered with an unsettling array of fossilized mascara wands, crumbling eyebrow pencils, and dried tubes of lipstick.
If this scene were preserved forever, it could surely tell a story to future archeologists studying the Covid Age.
Let’s not forget attire. I told myself weeks ago the stretch pants and sweatshirt combo I wear most days is attractive, despite my daughter’s firm “no, it’s not cute, Mom” ruling.
I don’t even care that the grocery checkers at Trader Joe’s recognize me on sight because I’m always wearing the same baggy “yoga outfit” when I shop. By the way, my trips to Trader Joe’s are the social highlight of my week, so you’d think I’d consider dressing up a little for the occasion. But I don’t.
I had pretty much convinced myself I was enjoying my newfound liberation from all things grooming-related until I started to notice something.
While I definitely appreciated all the money I was saving and the free time I was gaining now that I was no longer running to the salon or the beauty supply on a regular basis, what I hadn’t taken into account was the contribution all the little joys associated with neatly styled hair and an occasional pedicure made to my overall well-being.
So, I tried an experiment. I gave myself a makeover. I had no place to go and nothing to do except pretend it was 2019.
I started with the hair. I was not about to attempt a cut (science will simply have to wait on that), but I did wash it (twice) and applied a deep-conditioning mousse while luxuriating in a lavender-scented bath.
Then I spent two hours on a DIY manicure and pedicure, complete with an exfoliating heel scrub and two coats of creamy coral polish.
After rummaging through that crusty cosmetics drawer, I found and applied a still-reasonably fluid selection of face, eye, and lip potions, then carefully dried and styled my hair.
Though it was still far too long and far too grey for my liking, the before and after difference was stark. I looked like someone who cared again.
Next, I put on my “good jeans” and a crisp white shirt. I even dipped into my jewelry box and snapped on my favorite earrings and an exotically stamped gold bracelet, a treasure from a long-ago adventure to India.
A pair of black leather flats that had never been worn, purchased just before lockdown, were lifted from their dusty shoebox and slipped on my feet. Cinderella could not have had a better fit.
When I looked in the mirror, I saw myself as I used to be, before the pandemic forced us all indoors and on the couch, slowly but surely chipping away at our spirits until many of us no longer have the energy to care.
I felt so good I decided to walk the dogs around the block. Then I took a drive. To nowhere in particular – just out and about. After an hour or so I returned home and, with one last look in the mirror, began the process of dismantling it all.
I removed the jewelry and the clothes, scrubbed my face, and put my hair up in the now too-familiar messy bun. But something had changed with this makeover. I remembered how simple rituals of self-care can lift one’s mood and set us up to face another day.
After the big experiment, I vowed to do a better job of taking care of myself. While I don’t doll up every day, I do remember to take a little extra time to file my nails and rub some fancy skin cream into my elbows at night. No one notices but it doesn’t matter – I do it for me. And that feels good.
How are you managing self-care during the pandemic? Have you found any rituals to be particularly helpful? Did you do a makeover just for fun? Please join the conversation and let’s have a chat!