I've been wanting to write this post for some time, considering how much my beauty regime has changed this year, but to be truthful I wasn't sure if it was of any interest to you. I've had to learn and deal with a lot of changes in my appearance over the past few months and of course that's had a knock-on effect to my confidence. So I decided any pro-self-esteem post was worth writing if it helps anyone else out there. For a little background and to hopefully clear up those "the shoe girl diaries illness" or "what illness does pink haired princess have" searches that are leading to my blog, I have M.E. I know I still haven't finished my (When Life Sucks) posts about my illness and how it came about, but it's not forgotten I promise. I've been ill for over 12 years now and finally got to a point where I was able to get dressed up and 'look' ok, even when I wasn't feeling that great. This year though, my iron dipped to really low levels (i.e. pretty much non existent) and it took a while to diagnose and treat, during which my health nosedived and I've still not recovered. I've been unable to get dressed, do my hair, wear any makeup and have only left the house (since mid-January) for hospital/doctor appointments. Obviously that in itself is a massive blow mentally, socially and physically (and that's putting it lightly) and in comparison a "beauty routine" seems rather trivial, but self esteem and confidence can affect your mood and that in turn can lead to even more issues, so it's something that shouldn't be ignored.
So what's changed? Well, I wear pyjamas every day! I'm pretty sure I've put on weight from no walking or activity and clothes feel tight and restrictive, so I'm comfier in my pj's (plus getting dressed is actually too physical for me). I try and shower as little as possible because it's too tiring. My nails (toes too) have never gone unpainted for so long in the 20+ years I've been wearing polish. My hair has not been coloured since last November. I look like crap. I know I do and of course I do, I'm ill (which I often don't acknowledge or go easy on myself for). The things I've learnt beauty-wise these past few months are my natural hair colour is waaay darker than I remember (photo above left, where I held back the pinky bits) and looks most unnatural on me. It's almost black-I used to be 'mousy' or thought I was (clearly so many years as a blonde has clouded my memory)! I have a grey streak, like a big section of silver at the front. Sh!t! It behaves exactly like my normal hair (not wormy) but is pure silver, can I pass this off as natural platinum?! My nails are crap, discoloured, break a lot and actually nail polish strengthens them. Yes their condition is probably down to illness, but it sucks. My skin still suffers breakouts, even without makeup. So ha, in your face to that myth that wearing makeup all the time is 'bad' for your skin. Again it's probably not helped by poor health, hey ho.
It's really hard to feel good about yourself when you don't like what you see in the mirror. If I'm honest, I avoid looking in it most days. I mean if ever there were an advert for taking your iron, it's the photo above! One of the last photos of me in a healthy-ish state in January, then the other taken yesterday before I got into the shower, with my hair straight out of a bun! Ok so it's not a concise before/after because one is taken with my fancy camera and the other my mobile and the light wasn't as good (but trust me the photo on the right is actually one of the more flattering and glamorous angles right now), it could almost pass for two different people. There's no "damn my eyeliner is looking fierce today" or "my hair is so perfect, I wish it looked like this every day", none of that, not even close. I've realised I'm my own worst critic and any self esteem or self confidence is exactly that, "self". I always thought some part of me dressed and looked the way I did, so that others would comment on it, but no, it's definitely all for myself and compliments every day for the rest of my life would mean nothing unless it came out of my own mouth (I was actually bordering on embarrassed when the nurses were fussing over my shoes the other month, because I'd rather they hadn't looked at me at all). It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just that much harder when you have to love your whole self, when you're far from looking or feeling your best. I'm kinda taking this off on a tangent here and please don't think I'm miserable and feeling ugly every day, because on the whole I don't give it a second thought, but my point is I miss that side of things. The way I look plays a big part in making me feel good about myself, like most people. Imagine if you had a bad hair day, bad skin day and all the rest every single day, it just never got better. Well that's what it's like. So basically I need all the help I can in making myself feel 'pretty', but my routine has had to adapt to my limited capabilities and therefore I'm turning to reliable and easy to use products. So starting with hair...
I've had this L'Oreal Ever Riche Oil Precieux* since last year and I apologise that it's taken me an age to review it, but legitimate excuses above! I've definitely missed my bright hair colour during this time, though it's been kinda nice to just leave it and not worry about root growth etc. Once you get over that initial 'eek terrible roots' stage, it looks like it's intentional two-tone hair. It's given my hair a break from bleaching and I decided to take the time to have a restyle, so when I do come back, it's completely different from before. I learnt pretty early on, it wasn't worth curling (pin curls) my hair any longer because nobody would see it and it just made my arms ache. So now I wear it straight. I decided to grow my fringe out (though slightly regretting it from the image above) and grow the rest of my hair. Growing your fringe out in public is never easy and rarely pretty, so I was thankful I got to do most of mine behind closed doors. I pretty much lived in braids during this time. I used to pleat a small section at the front on either side to scoop up all the straggly bits, then incorporate them into two bigger pleats and pin those up onto my head like Heidi. My hair is pretty short and I don't have much of it, so it wasn't easy at first. I'd do this when wet and it would last me all week, was comfortable to sleep in and kept it all off my face. It did it's job, but wasn't all that flattering on me (I like and need volume). Now, I've grown my hair long enough for a top bun. I'm ecstatic! Some bits still fall down at the back, so I pin them up, but my fringe is long enough now to go into it and again it's fuss free, keeps it all out of the way and actually suits me. So the only product (other than shampoo and conditioner) I've used over these months is this L'Oreal oil. I spritz it onto wet hair after washing and it smells so yummy! It says it's 'oriental jasmine' but for some reason it reminds me of exotic, beachy holidays, it's just lovely. I'm usually wrecked after a shower, so spray this on and lie on my bed for a few minutes relaxing, breathing in that lovely aroma and building up the motivation to get dried! I kinda wish the spray was more of a mist than a spurt, but other than that it's brill, it's not at all sticky and doesn't make my hair greasy (just don't make the mistake I did first time and get spritzy happy because you can apply too much. I tend to stick to one up/one down, right, left and centre-so 6 sprays in all). My hair routine before was relatively low maintenance anyway (I've never been one for hairdryers, straighteners etc), but this spray is something that anyone can do. My hair is definitely feeling healthier for it.
The biggest change to my routine has been makeup. I wear none at all. A couple of times I've applied concealer or something similar when leaving the house, but otherwise have been naked. I'm not going to lie, it's scary going bare-faced when you usually put lipstick on just to answer the phone! Most people don't know me without makeup, but for the most part, I've been of the opinion that I don't care that I look ill because I am ill. I've got bigger problems than someone seeing me without eyeliner on! My lips have been terribly dry during this time, so I've come to depend on lip balm crayons. I can't believe it, but I actually finished my Clarins Lip Balm Crayon that I just bought recently (immensely satisfied at that). So now I'm using Clinique Chubby Stick in 09 Heaping Hazelnut (a slightly more beige version of my natural lip colour). It's actually not very moisturising and I even find it quite drying at times, so I don't think I'd buy it again, but the Clarins one is great. It doesn't excite me like lipstick does, but it'll do for the time being.
I've made an effort to wear perfume almost every day. Obviously it's low energy, you just need to spritz and it's unbelievable how much of a difference it can make. You just feel that bit perkier when you smell good. My favourites during this time have been Lancome La Vie est Belle, Vivienne Westwood Flirty Alice and Yves Saint Laurent Manifesto.
As I'm not wearing makeup, I've not had to bother removing it, which has been a big time and energy saver. I still can't let go of the cleanse, tone and moisturise routine though. I've drummed it into myself since I was a teenager and for me, it was important I still kept it up even when I was lacking energy. You just feel better once you've cleaned your face and it's moisturised. I have to say I've mostly stuck to doing it at night and often missed it out during the day, but I figure once is better than never. I'd been using Dior Instant Gentle Cleansing Oil and Lancome Tonique Douceur with either Hydra Zen (daytime) or Genifique (night) both by Lancome.
Sometimes you need something more than a simple routine and like I said earlier, my skin hasn't exactly been behaving itself. So I've religiously used Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil at night after cleanser and toner/before moisturiser. It feels like a mini facial and takes very little effort. It smells like a spa too! Once a week I've been applying a mask too. I've been using Clarins Pure & Radiant Mask and applying it before I get into the shower. That way you don't have to wait around for it to dry and can easily wash it off in the shower and it saves a lot of faffing about. I've also included Clarins Beauty Flash Balm in this photo as it can be used as a mask or daily treatment so could work instead of the oil or mask or both. It revives dull and tired skin and puts a little bit of 'life' back into the complexion.
I have a love/hate relationship with showers. I hate the thought of having one, it tires me out during and after, I hate getting dried and I hate when it's cold and you have to take all your clothes off to get in (well you have to take your clothes off regardless but you know what I mean)! Once you're in there though, it's a bit like a cup of tea, it just makes you feel so much better doesn't it? I've got a pretty basic shower routine and when you don't leave the house, you don't have to bother shaving your legs, result! I use an exfoliator, current face one is Soap & Glory The Greatest Scrub Of All, I'm not mad about it but it's alright. My body one, I've not pictured because I'm not that keen on it, it's Clarins. I pretty much just concentrate on my dry elbows because anything else is hard work! Other than that, shower gel. A nice scent can invigorate and help that 'feel better' feeling, so I've been using Palmolive Thermal Spa*. The blue Mineral Massage one has dead sea salt in it to purify, so the little particles (pretty gentle) can double up as a scrub, which saves that separate step! I prefer the smell of the green Ocean Vitality one though, which is very fresh and wakens me up (falling asleep in the shower is almost another problem of mine).
Like I said earlier, my nails have been completely neglected. Painting (and removing it) is far too taxing for me just now, so the only care they've seen is cream. I apply Soap & Glory Hand Food every night without fail and rarely suffer from dry skin or other issues. I'm not quite as regular with the Heel Genius foot lotion (probably because it requires a little more energy), but it's very soothing when I do take the time to apply it. I desperately want pretty coloured nails again : (
Finally, Clarins Energizing Emulsion. I've always found body lotion a bit of a faff, though do apply it after every shower, but I can't say I enjoy doing it (hence why I didn't include it here). However I make an exception for this leg lotion. It's slightly tingly and soothes tired legs. What I love is it's quick drying, so it's really easy to apply. If I've skipped the foot lotion, I take this down onto my feet as well because it sinks in much quicker than the S&G one. I'm on my third bottle in a year and wouldn't be without it. So I hope you've picked something up from this, other than a fright looking at me without makeup (!), let me know in the comments below and what your low energy routine is.
Post contains affiliate links.