Self-contentment is my new motto.
I am not, by nature, a person who makes new year’s resolutions. It seems unfair to set lofty expectations for yourself so soon after making it through the past 12 months. But, as 2020 showed us, pure survival has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds for so long—and still is as a matter of necessity—that I do somewhat relish the opportunity to embrace small victories in the face of all this chaos. So while I may not be signing up to run a 10k (my retired soccer-player knees would surely crumble into dust) or try the much-touted Keto diet (my philosophy is eat food, mostly plants, not too much), I have embraced a few new paths to self-improvement.
Scratch that—let’s call it self-contentment instead. That’s the mindset I’m taking with me in 2021. The small things can bring you joy, but nothing external determines how advanced or fulfilled you are, including these five practices (well, maybe the second one is a must). We’d all do better by giving ourselves a break and remembering that this is an unprecedented time unlike any we’ve experienced before, and we’re doing just fine.
With that, here are the five beauty resolutions I’m sticking to in 2021.
Washing My Makeup Sponges and Brushes
Sure, maybe I wasn’t applying a regular face beat over the last 11 or so months, but I also couldn’t pinpoint when I recently pulled out my preferred makeup tools and gave them a good wash. For someone who refuses to even hold her phone to her ear on a call so the screen won’t touch her skin, this is a huge failure. Chalk it up to 2020’s inherent laziness—wherein I barely swapped out my sleep pajamas to daytime pajamas—but this year I’m committing to a monthly cleanse with this gentle, fragrance-free option from Jenny Patinkin (which is safe for all types of bristles) in order to prevent bacteria buildup. It’s a small, manageable way to keep my skin clear and healthy.
Hear me out on this. I’ll be one of the first to sing water’s praises as one of the best (but not the only) ways to help keep your skin looking and feeling healthy. But for all my H2O glorification, I often fall short of the recommended two to three cups *per hour* for average men and women. My new method is to not only have a glass of water or seltzer near me at all times, but to also trek to the sink, fill up a small tumbler of lukewarm water, and shoot it back like I’m a 21-year-old college student again. It’s fast, it’s effective, and I don’t have to constantly remind myself to sip water throughout the day and evening. Pair that with an afternoon cup of green tea, some citrus snacks, and a low-sodium dinner, and you have a recipe for adequate hydration—just be sure to not overdo it. Too much water isn’t a good thing.
Makeup for Me
As a member of the NYC nine-to-five grind club, I’m accustomed to waking up early and allowing myself ample time to do my post-shower hair and makeup. While my skin-care routine felt like a ritual to be enjoyed, the multiple cosmetics had started to feel like a standard from which I couldn’t deviate. Wouldn’t people think I looked exhausted if I showed up to that 9:00 AM breakfast without a swipe of mascara or dash of blush? Post March lockdown, with nowhere to go except to and from my kitchen-table office, I slowly gave up on any form of makeup save my favorite tinted lip balm. Maybe I needed nearly a year to shake off that feeling of expectation from my drawers of eyeshadow and concealer—now I feel excited to match my mascara and lipstick to my mood. Makeup is more of a treat, a time to play and have fun rather than just another step to check off in my getting-ready routine. I much prefer it this way.
Less Is More
I’m as guilty as the next person who takes a more-is-more approach to their beauty routine, especially when it comes to skin care, and in many ways it is my job to try every new product that crosses my desk. That’s great for fulfilling my role as a beauty editor, but in my personal time, I know enough to understand that a million and one products—although somewhat satisfying to see organized all together—is not the healthiest way to treat your skin. The microbiome is real, and a laundry list of ingredients can wreck it faster than you think. As we’ve discussed, “skinimalism” is more than just a passing trend, and I’m committing to giving my skin a break from all the product mania (in addition to the planet, which is already overrun with plastic). Maybe I won’t see the results I’m expecting and I can go back to a 10+ step routine, but I’m going to try this pared-back approach for a while.
Being Kinder to Myself
This goes for all areas of my life, but beauty especially—it’s OK that my hair color is about five weeks overdue for a refresh, or that my home manicure has chipped. You don’t need to touch up your twice-a-year Botox on schedule. Are these things that I enjoy? Absolutely yes, otherwise I wouldn’t do them. But they are not the end-all, be-all unit of measurement for looking presentable. It varies depending on where you live as to whether it’s even safe to do these things (which prevented many of us from partaking in beauty treatments at all), but I’ve moreover pondered what it means to feel so stressed about not “looking the part” of my job. Do my beauty-editor credentials expire if I haven’t gotten a facial in three months? Certainly not. I’m allowed to step back from these things and not face disdain from anyone. And yes, I know that this benchmark seems woefully vain for some people—this isn’t a reality for everyone. We all have our own approaches to beauty (that’s what makes it so exciting), but for now, I’m learning to let go a little bit and give myself a break on maintaining appearances.
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