Jenny: Attention Must Be Paid

So something interesting (to me) has happened this week.  Because I knew I was going to be blogging this site–must support Sister Krissie–I started looking at things as Post Topics.  I do this all the time on Argh, but I try to keep this kind of personal stuff away from there since it turns into a whine.  No whining on Argh.  Well, not any more.   So instead of looking at my bathroom full of stuff and thinking, “I have to do something about this some day” and repressing memories of my mother saying, “Jennifer, you have to pay attention to your appearnce,” I looked at it and thought, “Re-Fab posts” and sorted out all the drawers and boxes, threw out anything that was too old or that I knew I didn’t like, and stacked what was left around the bathroom sink.  Now I’m experimenting with skin care and hair care and make-up, trying to find what makes sense to put up here, not as recommendations–Re-Fabbers are too varied in their needs for that–but more as a shared journey.  This is what I tried, here’s how that worked out, what works for you?  It’s not hassling-hopelessly-with-appearance crap, I’m not wasting my time on my appearance,  I’m doing research.

So this morning I got up and used one of the make-up remover cloths on my face and thought, “I really have to try some of those cleansers.  Dove.  Cetaphil.  Oil of Olay.”  (See, I’m listening.)  Then I put the Roc Day moisturizer on because I need to try it for two weeks so I can report back.  Except I already look better.  I have a feeling that if I’d put Crisco on my face, I’d look better: any moisturizer after 62 years of none would probably be welcomed by my face with open pores.  But still, my skin looks better.  I used the eyecream.  I put on eyeliner and mascara.  I rubbed on some blush.  I used hot rollers on my hair.  The result: I look better but I don’t look like me, and I feel kind of greasy.  There’s too much stuff on my face.  I hate mascara.  (I know, I just haven’t found the right one.  I’m reading the comments, I’m listening.)  And it took entirely too long to put those hot rollers in and take them out.  The dogs don’t care.  Why should I bother?

And then I looked in the mirror and thought of Willie Loman, and those famous lines from his wife Linda after his death:

So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog.

Not that I’d let an old dog fall into a grave.  We take our dogs seriously here.  But I’m thinking maybe it’s time I took myself seriously, that maybe my mother has a point.  I’ll spend hours slaving over a blog post or a graphic or a banana bread recipe to get it just right, but the fifteen minutes it took me to do all that stuff this morning is a waste of time?  I’ll rewrite a single paragraph a dozen times because people are reading it, but I won’t spend ten minutes on my face even though people are looking at it?  Maybe my mom and Linda are right, maybe attention should be paid.

Sometimes I think my antipathy for this stuff is plain-daughter-of-a-beautiful-mother syndrome.  My mother is very beautiful, the kind of beauty that stops people on the streets.  Even now at 87, she’s stunning.  I look like my dad.  His side of the family is Swiss and German: we’re not built for speed or beauty, but don’t fuck with us and don’t think if you wait long enough, you’ll win through attrition because we do not give up.  It’s a good legacy, and if I’d been born a boy, all would have been well, but I was born a girl, named after Jennifer Jones the movie actress because she was so beautiful, and I didn’t measure up.  So sometimes I think that this is just mother-rebellion stuff, the way my daughter became a preppy politician in high school to thwart her art-literature-drama-loving mother. (Rotten kid was president of student council.  But she also won an award for acting.  Basically, my kid is the best.)  So I think it’s more of a “My mother’s beautiful?  Fuck it, I won’t care about that, I’ll be really smart instead.”  At some point, though, you have to grow past that I’m-never-gonna-be-my-mom stuff and start looking at what you really are and what you really need.  And the truth is, my mother was right.  We move through this world as physical beings, not just minds.  Attention should be paid.

So I’m thinking the key here is that happy medium.  I’m not my mother or my grandmother with their beauty rituals that had nothing to do with the beauty they were born with but that sure didn’t hurt.  But this my-face-is-just-the-stuff-that-covers-my-brain approach is not right either.  So I’ll keep trying until I find a moisturizer I like and I’ll stick with it because it makes my skin feel good.  And depending on what my hair looks like tomorrow, if curling it after I wash it takes care of the stringy look the ends get, I can do that a couple of times a week.   I can find a blush that doesn’t make me feel greasy (although I think that’s the moisturizer) and a lipstick that makes my mouth feel good without getting pink all over everything.  This is not difficult, not like rewriting a blog post twenty times.

I’m going to pay attention.

55 thoughts on “Jenny: Attention Must Be Paid

  1. I think the key is doing what matters to you. You have such an appreciation for aesthetics that it makes sense you would pay attention to these things. It’s all part of your beauty.

    What drives me mad is that, no matter how hard you look at yourself, you just never see the incredible beauty that I see there, even with no makeup and your hair undone. I wish you could, because it would knock your socks off. I think all you see is the Jennifer Jones-type beauty you never felt you could be, or the specific kind of beauty your mother had. You have your own beauty, and it’s paired with incredible intelligence and a kindness of spirit you never give yourself credit for. Not to mention an ace sense of humor, which you take for granted, but which matters a great deal.

    Plus, you feel better when you make an effort. I do, but not too much. Makeup every day makes me feel dreary; but makeup on occasion makes me feel really hot on those occasions. But I’m me and you’re you.

    Do what makes you happy. And this is your own personal broken record, signing off…

  2. JulieB says:

    I love this post! We are all one of three parts: spirit, mind, _and_ body. We must take care of all three.

    Because of this site, I have renewed my healthy habits that I tend to let slide for others, husband, kids, parents, students. I am on day 2 of my South Beach plan, and feeling very optimistic. Yesterday, I finished a critique for a writing partner. Today, I walked in the sunshine with a neighbor. And, I moisturized. 😀 Reading the posts and the supportive comments have been inspiring.

    (PS – I think Lou is on to something. I don’t think your moisturizer should feel greasy either. I could be wrong – but I think if it were the right one for you, it would just feel right.)

  3. Maine Betty says:

    Technical note: if your hair is stringy on the ends, maybe your need a trim.

    I am nodding in agreement at my desk with this post. I also have a very attractive mom, and I am not. I am strong, healthy and smart, and not really bad looking. But who’s looking at me, anyway? is what I hear in my head. Which, since every now and then I stand up and sing in front of hundreds of people at a time, is a strange attitude. I understand the glamour requirements of the performer, but the normal person, my Clark Kent, doesn’t take very good care of herself.

    On the other hand, I always moisturized and used sun block. Being a couch potato doesn’t hurt either, in term of skin care.

    To fight the 50-something fade-away that can happen, I recently grew my hair, got a good cut, and colored it for the first time ever. I love it. Mascara is also good, although as you say, you have to find the kind that feels good to you.

    Attention must be paid! I also think of it as showing up for myself.

  4. I think that you are doing too much. Why not just start with moisturizer. Forget about the mascara and liner. Forget about the hot rollers. You didn’t mention body lotion. I am guessing that if you have not used face lotion in 62 years, you also don’t use body lotion. Use body lotion. Work on the basics. Care for your hair and skin so they look healthy and cared for. It is just like your house. Before you slap on a new coat of paint, you make sure the foundation is in good condition. So nuture your hair and skin. Use body and face lotion daily. Get a regular hair cut. Use shampoo and conditioner. After a few weeks, you skin and hair will look great. Don’t forget the water and vitamins. Make sure there is sun block in your moisturizer.

    One day a week, I go without my mascara and liner. Otherwise, I dolled up my eyes every day. But I would forgo all eye make up before I gave up my moisturizer, body lotion, and razor. Yes, I shave my legs every day. Have for over 40 years. I like having silky smooth skin.

  5. Marcia in OK says:

    Go Jenny!

    I’m in my later 40’s and have up until year 47 had greasy hair and oily skin. I have started “treating” the less oily skin – not quite dry, but not an oil slick – with teenager type moisturizers. Oil Free, for sensitive acne potential skin stuff. (I think the brand is Clean and Clear.) I use a regular oil of olay type moisturizer just around my eyes, but only on the chubby cheek eye krinkle area only. My face feels nice.

    My just for me regime(used for weekends and not-work at the office days) includes the moisturizer on my face, eyeliner and mascara (Cover Girl Professional with the curved wand – NOT waterproof) because I wear glasses and my eyes disapper with out it. I also fix my hair, just for me because when I don’t, I feel like a schlubb and only want to watch TV and take naps. The no hair fixed, ball cap or pony tail days are for when I’m sick, depressed, or doing home repairs.

    Attention must be paid. But, we each get to decide what that attention should be for our own selves. It matters that WE SEE and don’t ignore the me.

  6. Keep up the research!

    I went to my first writers’ conferences this year, and one of them was RWA! I knew I would be surrounded by professionals, so I gave a lot of thought to “what does Megan Coakley, Writer” look like? I bought clothes and shoes. I got a manicure and a pedicure (black toenail polish!)and I packed my flat iron. You may be trying to curl your hair, but I’m always fighting the odd wave.

    When all was said and done, I looked like me, only better. Professional. Pretty. I felt good. But when I’m home, I tend to work in black velour yoga pants (without doing the yoga) and t-shirts. And I’ve started thinking it’s okay to go out in the world like that. It’s a bad trend. I need to go back to being “Megan Coakley, Writer.” She used to put on make-up to write sex scenes, and I think it helped!

  7. When it’s school, it’s full warpaint: foundation, blusher, eyeshadow, eyeliner, no mascara because I’ve never found one that didn’t make my contact lenses all smudgy, but regular lippy. I use lippy every day because otherwise my lips are dry and sandpapery (if you have to watch the latest BBC Great Expectations, then Gillian Anderson’s Miss Havisham lips are mine without 3x a day applications of some form of moisturizer).

    When I’m on holiday, no makeup. This is because a) I’m getting enough sleep not to need to cover up the bags under my eyes b) because I’m me and not Official Teacher Me.

    We find the faces we need for any time, and those faces change. One of the funnest things I have done about every 5-7 years is have a facial and a make-up consultancy. I’m about due for another one. It’s all pampering and if your woman is a good beauty therapist (don’t mean to exclude the guys, but I’ve only ever been to female beauticians), she will ask you in detail about your beauty habits (or not) and talk you through all the things like the colors that suit your skin tone and the quality of your skin.

    I don’t think this is superficial or frivolous. It’s part of making me feel better about being me. We all need pampering and yes, attention. And as we get more gracious and wise, we need it more, not to keep the years at bay but to celebrate the way our lives have shaped our faces and bodies.

  8. I’m with Flip. Just start with some moisturizer. Keep trying the ones you have until you find one that feels good.

    If it doesn’t feel good on your face, you don’t have to use it. There are a million products out there. One of them will surely feel good on your face.

    That’s all it has to do. Feel good to you.

  9. That famous line from *that* multinational cosmetics company does say it best: “because you’re worth it.”

    I feel good when I look good. So looking good I’d not just for other people’s special occasions, its for my every day. This pertains to me because there was a time when I would ONLY ever dress up for weddings.

    As for clean-ups, I used to have a mess and only clean up if someone was coming over. And then I realised that I deserve a neat space too.

    If working on the outside makes the inside feel good, then it’s time well spent.

  10. I work at home, freelance editor and writer, so I have a tendency to be lazy about make-up, and now that my hair’s longer, I often shove it up into a clip, which Husband finds sexy for some odd reason. Anyway, I do the face wash/moisturize thing every day and I’m glad I do–it make me feel like I’m trying. Best thing ever? Clinique’s Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector–it is and it does!

    You’re gorgeous, Jenny…believe that.

  11. I’ll join the I have a beautiful mother club. She didn’t start to look her age until she was dying of cancer. Or maybe dying of the cure for cancer is more like it.

    Anyway, here’s the awful part. I always thought of myself as plain at the very best, and most of the time kind of ugly. I looked just like my dad for cripes sake. But now, when I look at pictures of myself when I was younger I looked just like my mom! I was beautiful! I just couldn’t see it in myself.

    So I assume it’s much the same now, it much easier for others to see past the flaws and recognize the beauty. I’m sure the beauty must still be there somewhere, but all I see is that I’m aging. In ten years I’ll look at today’s photos and wonder what I was thinking.

    There’s no pleasing myself in the moment, but I think that’s because there was no pleasing my mom in the moment either. She used to say look at your butt every day to make sure it’s not getting fat. Well now I don’t have to look, I know for a fact it’s fat! But I’m okay with that for now, anyway.

  12. You said: “His side of the family is Swiss and German: we’re not built for speed or beauty, but don’t fuck with us and don’t think if you wait long enough, you’ll win through attrition because we do not give up.”

    Good God, I must have Swiss and German in me, because that is me. (To add into the Scots-Irish-Cajun-Italian, or, as my mother put it, not a quiet bone in my body.)

    I agree with Lani, though.

    I grew up in the Deep South, specifically south Louisiana, which is where we put on make up to go to the corner store. Or the gas station. Anywhere that’s within a five step radius of the back door meant make up.

    For a while, I did it because I cared what other people thought of me, how they defined beauty. And then I hit the toddler/kids-run-me-ragged age, and thought “no one cares, why am I bothering?”… and then I realized, I’m bothering because I’m giving myself seven minutes out of the damned day. Seven minutes. Five, if I’m in a rush.

    I deserve seven effing minutes.

    I’ll never be tall or willowy or any of a hundred other things that I define as beautiful. Luckily, though, there are lots of different things that are beautiful. I have pretty eyes and good skin (luck of the genes), and so I focus on that part and realize the rest isn’t all that important, because no one’s perfect, anyway.

  13. Carol says:

    Lancome mascara Definicils or Hypnose, Bi Facil eye makeup remover – the best, in case you are looking. I’ve seen you up close and you are beautiful.

  14. julianna says:

    Well, everyone has a different idea of what constitutes “a lot of effort.” Personally, I find things like hot rollers and mascara fall into the category of “too much effort for everyday.”

    If you feel you look better with some makeup evening your skin color/tone, I would suggest hunting for a tinted moisturizer (with SPF) that you can use everyday. If you prefer your lips with some color, look for either a tinted lip balm or a sheer (probably moisturizing) lipstick. For eyes, I find eyeliner easier and more goofproof than mascara, and just as good at defining my eyes. Or you could try a sheer eyeshadow — either powder or cream — light enough that you could just sweep it over the eyelid without a lot of fuss.

    Of course, if you want to do more than that (either every day or for special occasions), you should. I’m just saying that it’s possible to make an effort and pay attention without doing an elaborate routine.

    Above all, if makeup or skin care items make your skin feel greasy, then they’re just not the right products for you.

  15. Whaddaya mean, Germans are not built for speed or beauty??? Well, I’ll try to ignore that.

    I’m with the “Because I’m worth it” league. I also work from home and though most days, I wear Jeans and (self-knitted) sweaters instead of the skirts and blazers I had on when I was teaching or working at the office, moisturizer and mascara are the minimum daily effort. Also, I wash my hair daily (it’s very thin and looks awful when I get out of bed) and I blow-dry it so it looks good. Sometimes I even put earrings in – I have a vast collection of costume jewellery (a lot of it self-made, too) which I’ll never be able to wear if I only wait for the few times I go out.

    Even if nobody sees me but my cat – I want to be able to meet myself in the mirror and know I’ve made the effort. (Also, my husband pays attention – after almost 32 years of marriage, I appreciate that.)

  16. Julia says:

    Bare Escentuals mineral powder make-up is the only stuff I can tolerate wearing every day — and by that I mean my skin, and my ability to apply it. It sounds like we have similar skin, and I have a Scots-Irish-Swedish background that makes me bright white, with easily reddened skin. For skincare, I’ve gone very minimal — Dr. Bronner’s for everything. It’s mild castile soap that doesn’t strip my skin. I use almond oil as body moisturizer, and sometimes on my face at night. I have a hard time with how stuff feels – it has to be really light – so I jump around between the Body Shop’s Vitamin E moisturizer, Jason (health food store brand) Vitamin E moisturizer, and one by Lush. I also use the Body Shop’s tea tree face wipes in the summer. If you want to spend some more $$, I’d go for Clarin’s. Thanks for this post — I lost a few pounds recently (big effort!) and bought new jeans today at Kmart and I nearly died at the sight of my frazzled self in the mirror – stained, too-small sweater, baggy, torn jeans, unbelievable hair. I vowed to do better 😉

  17. I use this. (Well, I use the cheaper version, or as Jenny called it once, “dirt” from L’Oereal.) I love it, and my skin never feels greasy or heavy. Never photographs splotchy, either.

  18. Attention must be paid.
    For some weird reason I think of writing as showing up for work and clocking in (could be the nurses training). I’ve been this way since I retired eight years ago. The last job I had was also an at home office, with some sales visits. The boss used to say dress for the day and smile when you pick up the phone. I still do. : )
    I spend about 7-10 minutes on my face in the morning. Wash, treat, moisturize with good sunblock. No make-up on the skin. Mascara, lipstick, blush. Hair is an easy boy cut with longish bangs.
    Whatever you decide on as far as creams go, just know that what you’re doing is good. You’re showing up. Paying attention. The days are not just slipping by.

  19. I’m tough as nails about many things and hand me something difficult, and baby, I can ENDURE. So I’ve always resisted the idea of being hyper-sensitive about anything. But I’ve realized just in the last few years that I have sensitive skin. I’ve always hated wearing makeup, but didn’t realize it’s because I can *feel* it on my skin– most people put it on and forget it’s there, but if you’ve got sensitive skin, you don’t forget, you have to sit on your hands to keep from grabbing a kleenex and wiping it off. Don’t know if that’s what’s going on for you. Aveeno Ultra-Calming daily moisturizer works for me and it has SPF (they have it at Target). Also, instead of wearing makeup, I use smashbox foundation primer when I want to look nice. Unfortunately it’s expensive ($42/ounce), but it’s about the only thing I can stand on my face. It doesn’t provide any coverage, just evens out your skin tone (except don’t get the green one, it doesn’t do anything imho). Also Almay mascara, which is hypo-allergenic (that sensitive thing again), is the only mascara that doesn’t make my eyes tear up. good for you for trying this. I still don’t wear makeup every day but it’s nice to know that I’ve got stuff I like that I can pull out when I feel like it.

  20. I spend copious amounts of time on my hair. It’s thick and wavy and takes 25 minutes to dry with the hair dryer, then another 10 minutes to flat iron. But for me that time is worth it, because with my hair smooth and pretty, I feel like I can face the world. Another 5 minutes on my makeup (eye shadow and foundation) and I’m done. ;c)

  21. Well, I think I’m de-evolving. I’m not wearing makeup every day any more, and I’m skipping long blow drying sessions. However, I do have one good tip for makeup and great skin: exfoliate your face frequently. The makeup will go on smoother, and the face cream will absorb better.

  22. Diane (TT) says:

    This is so interesting, how different people are. My mom is a minimum care person. I started wearing mascara at 13 and, while I never got into the full makeup routine (I haven’t worn foundation since freshman year in college and rarely wear eye shadow), I spend about 2 min every day putting on liner and mascara (without it, my eyes are nearly invisible), eyebrow pencil, powdered blush and loose powder (the latter 2 are Clinique, the eye makeup is L’Oreal). I feel like my face is an undifferentiated blur without eye makeup and I would rather have some focus on my eyes than on a shiny nose (since it is not an elegant shape; I got my grandfather’s nose). I have had about the same routine since college (OK, I used to wear TWO eyeliners, but that got old).

    But I can’t be bothered to spend more than about 2 minutes on my hair, either. I haven’t blown it dry since high school, because that’s noisy and boring. I have, occasionally, tried various curling routines, but it just doesn’t last. Mostly I pull it back into some kind of twist or (if I left myself enough time) a French braid. It used to be long, but now is just shoulder length, but I still prefer to struggle with combs and pins and put it up for work.

    The peppermint fudge thing was fabulous. I may have to experiment with other flavors – this adds some chopped up peppermint patties as well as mint and vanilla extracts. Does anyone have any suggestions for other combinations for a meltingly terrific flourless chocolate cake? Two of my close friends don’t like the mint-chocolate combination, which is hard for me to comprehend.

  23. I complain about doing my face and hair, too, and one day I timed it. Start to finish: 9 minutes. That’s starting with wet hair to curled decently hair.

    Wish I could get the hang of lipstick. No woman over the age of 40 should be going around without lipstick, and I am the daughter of Southern women who taught me better, but I have trouble with lipstick. I want it to look like my lips, just better.

    The other thing I’m working on and this is no joke: dark circles under my eyes. I have deepset eyes and high cheekbones and this is a terrible combination at a certain age. People kept asking me if I was sick or tired and I wasn’t either one, so now I am trying a cream for two weeks. Roc, as it happens.

    This morning I noticed that it actually seems to be doing something. Pretty excited.

  24. Whereas if I’m going slap anything on at all it will be mascara. Just adding mascara makes a world of difference, and I use the good old pink and green Maybelline that models still like.

  25. Jenny, I’m not going to make this comment all about me, but I almost cried when I read your post. My heart ached for the girl who grew up to womanhood and never felt pretty. Then I was pissed off because each of us should grow up feeling both smart and pretty. It is not an either/or situation. I’m going back to walking into your Wonder Woman presentation last summer in NYC. You stood at the front of your room and exuded power in that lovely dress with your long hair, lively eyes and great smile and absolutely rocked the room. You are both beautiful and smart. You don’t need to be beautiful in your mother’s way or Jennifer Jones’ way. You are beautiful in your way and that’s the only thing that matters.

    Someone remind me that I wrote all this six months from now when I’ve lost a ton of weight and still look at myself with fat eyes, okay?

    Now, this does not mean that some attention does not need to be paid. However, you also don’t have to do everything all at once. It might have been fun to go through all of your stuff today, but you sure don’t need to do that every day.

    The most important things you need are a good cleanser, a good hydrator or moisturizer, and a good sunscreen. (Yes, even in Ohio.) These are determined by your skin type, skin needs and, to some extent budget.

    Start there and you can conquer the world, or at least make your skin healthier which will make it and you feel better.

    Then, when you go out to the store or the craft store or Olive Garden, you can add a little under eye concealer, lipstick and (once you find a brand you like) mascara. Your glowing, well-cared for skin doesn’t need lots of stuff on it for casual days.

    Ditto to the person who said the ends of your hair might need a trim, but other than that, it’s glorious. I saw it!

  26. Sensitive skin types can’t exfoliate like others can. Even the most gentle stuff makes my skin look (and feel) raw and peeled. I figure I get enough exfoliation from using the soft, clean washcloth on my face to clean it.

    I haven’t worn mascara in years, due to sensitive eyes and contacts. I had Lasik in 06 (thanks, Mom!) and that removed the need for some requirements, but still my eyelashes are short and light and hard to put stuff on. But I just bought some stuff that my 13-yo niece uses (yes, taking fashion cues from a 13-yo isn’t always the best way to go, but this girl has style) — that faux faux-lash stuff. Haven’t tried it yet; waiting for a moment of energy and time to coincide. Also, going to try some glittery eyeliner that she just started using: it doesn’t flake off. I figure, I’m an eccentric and creative, so I’ll pull it off because I want to. I’m still rockin’ the pink swath across my bangs, but it’s fading and not looking as great. So I might avoid the fun colors unless I do them differently, myself rather than paying someone.

    I wash & condition my hair. Then, when I’ve towel-dried it, I run my fingers thru it to “style” it (i.e., see which direction it’s going today and scrunch the curly parts to make them curlier), then fluff it a bit when it’s totally dry. Skin care takes 5 minutes, unless I’m putting on the Bare E. stuff or the tinted moisturizer, then another 5 minutes for my eyes, if I’m doing them. I need to: they aren’t large and my cheeks are, so attracting attention to my eyes is a big help (it’s also much of why I keep my hair short, so that folks will see my eyes better.)

    Mom and Gram were the “whole make-up” even if they were staying in. When they told me they didn’t think they looked good without makeup, I realized that I felt the same way so I stopped wearing makeup for a long time. Now that I feel as good looking without makeup as with, I’m fine with wearing stuff to enhance certain attributes. Just cuz. It’s not about feeling I’m worth the time; it’s about wanting to be able to see my eyes. 🙂

  27. “At some point, though, you have to grow past that I’m-never-gonna-be-my-mom stuff and start looking at what you really are and what you really need.” AND WHAT YOU REALLY WANT.
    If you want to do those things, do them. If not, you are so beautiful exactly as you are.
    Also, I hate mascara, too. It makes me sad because I used to love it. Now it just makes my eyes itch and my lashes come out. I’ve tried many different kinds.
    Once upon a time I went to see the movie La Femme Nakita. Afterwards I went directly to the drug store and bought lip stick. I still don’t know how to wear it well. I put it on and wipe most of it off. But I love it.

  28. Micki says:

    (-: This so resonates with me. I will do some things for myself just because, but in general, it’s so much easier to do things for someone else — and if it’s going to “amaze the room” that’s even more motivation. (-: I must be very other-based. Or just a genetic ham.

    My routine is very short right now: wash and condition hair almost daily (that Bumble & Bumble stuff really works for me, and I can make one set last six months), wash face twice a day, keep teeth clean twice a day. I have always had problems with adult acne, so I’m very suspicious of putting more stuff on my face; I do believe I’m clearer if I don’t use foundation.

    I’m also very fortunate that I have a 30-minute commute. These days, I put my hair up in clips, and turn the heater fan on my hair; remove clips if necessary, and I’m styled.

    Lipstick can be a lot of fun, but I find that lipliner works best for me. I find a color that’s fun (often just about the same color as my lips), draw the outline, fill it in with lipliner, and then add a little chapstick or vaseline (or olive oil, or whatever I have) to blend and moisturize. It doesn’t run, and I can wipe it off easily and start over if I mis-draw something. And it lasts . . . and a lip-liner is smaller and less likely to cause a mess than lipstick. YMMV.

    BTW, I tried the olive oil cleansing (had no castor oil, so didn’t do that), and . . . (-: it isn’t bad. I think it helped with flakiness, and my face felt just as clean as when I use other products.

  29. Reb says:

    Jenny, you’re pretty. Or anyway, all the photos I’ve seen of you are. So either you’re pretty or you’ve got a very dab hand with photoshop.

  30. Ylva Hedin says:

    I feel the same way about eyeliner as you do about mascara. who ever have put it there I think it looks like something has creweld up there and died… I decided in november that that has to change. And therefore I made my eyes every day… now I kind of like it… And dont use it everyday but often.

    Well if only the dogs where the one who decided what we humans would wear it would be something with alot of pockets to put treats in… 😉

    About your beuty. You are beutiful really! 🙂 I understand where you comming from tho. Im short dark hair and well…round… Sometimes I feel like Frosty The Snowman but expecially when I hear: “oh all the swedish girls are long blond and beutiful.” Well try short and chubby dear! I want to say! 😉

    I know that I sound like a cloumn in some lifestyle magazine but you have to start somewhere and I really think you are on the right track.

  31. Lisa Bailey says:

    This post is exactly why I fell in love with the writing of Jennifer Crusie!

    Pay attention Jennifer! You ARE the best.

  32. stephanie says:

    I do truly believe that we aren’t our mothers – and I love my mother a lot. That said my mother hasn’t left the house without makeup on since long before I was born in 1970. I mean she’s from Texas and still has the same lash curler she got when she was in high school! I, on the other hand, am nearly 42 years old and don’t have any friends who habitually wear makeup. See where I’m going? I think it’s partly generational and I think it’s partly the gravitational pull of our peer groups. I don’t give a rat’s patootie about putting on makeup, and since no one in my ‘group’ talks about it there’s no one to challenge me on it. Thankfully, neither does my mom. She’s always thought I’m beautiful, just the way I am.

  33. Windrose Betty says:

    I seem to have found a routine that works for me. That’s the most important part.

    I had a gorgeous complexion when I was a teen & a 20 something. In my 40s, I have rosacea so my cheeks are blotchy, & my skin has become very sensitive (I tried Oil of Olay — once. It felt like it was burning the skin off my face). I also had Lasik eye surgery some time ago & so my eyes are incredibly sensitive to things (like makeup) close to them.

    I go to a fairly expensive salon for facial waxing, the occasional facial, & make up. It’s not cheap, but the make up lasts quite a while so I don’t have to invest tons of money on a constant basis. I have a lovely moisturizer, not at all greasy. I have a mineral foundation that is light on my face. I have a blush designed for rosacea. I have a couple of shades of eyeshade that bring out the green in my hazel eyes, & I have a couple of lip glosses. Everything works with my sensitive skin & eyes. Everything I’ve got is designed to even out my complexion & impart natural color & light to my face. Years ago, I discovered I can’t wear red & pink lip & cheek color, but plums & mauves are perfect for me.

    I don’t wear mascara because I have yet to find mascara that doesn’t irritate my eyes, even at my salon.

    It takes me, at most, 3 minutes to “put on my face”.

    I look like me, I look nice & fresh & natural, but the color is even & nothing is blotchy. I still have some crow’s feet, but you know, I’m 47. If I didn’t have crow’s feet, I’d look weird. I like the way I look with my makeup. And Sunday is my day to go “au naturel”. Let my face meet the world without anything in between us. I like the way I look then, too.

    I totally do not have the girlie gene for styling my hair. I once sprained my neck blowing my hair dry. And I don’t have a lot of patience for roll brushes & curlers & flat irons & stuff. (I HAVE them, I just don’t have a lot of PATIENCE for them.)

    So I’ve found really good hair stylists, and we talk about my routine and my needs and my preferences. If they don’t listen, I don’t go back. If they listen, and if they are good at their job, I get a really great hair cut & color that are flattering to the shape of my face & don’t require much more than blow drying and brushing.

    Stylists like that are not cheap, but they are worth their weight in gold, because they make me look fabulous in a way that I can maintain in about 5 minutes every morning. When I find one, I stick with her like duct tape or gorilla glue, and I tip GENEROUSLY.

    And while I enjoy being admired by my friends & my husband, I know they loved me just as much when I was a hundred pounds heavier than I am now & when I didn’t wear make-up hardly at all. I do this largely for my personal pleasure & vanity. I like being able to enhance what I have naturally and I like being pretty. I do it because it makes me happy. If it stops making me happy, I’ll quit doing it. ;=)

  34. Dark circles can also worsen with age, which horribly sucketh. It has something to do with our skin getting thinner which lets the darkness show more, etc. etc.

    Mine haven’t reached the point where I need anything other than a decent under eye concealer, thank goodness. I know a lot of it’s genetic, too. I’m hoping that I got the set of genes that went to my mother as opposed to those that went to my aunt. My aunt’s dark circles are much worse.

  35. Carol says:

    Barbara, so you have a Sephora in your town? Best place to go experiment with lipstick, and if you tell the nice gals who work there just what you’re looking for, they will help you find the perfect product. You probably need something like a stain or a tint, that just takes your lips back to the place they were before you hit 40 and all the pigment disappeared.

  36. Kim Cz says:

    Yay Jenny! I totally relate to this. I am at home all day too, no one but my daughter and pets see me. You are so not alone in this, I am trying to get a better morning routine going myself. I think the best thing I have started is getting a better night routine. I started showering and washing my hair at night. I have thick, wavy hair that takes forever to dry naturally and I don’t have the patience to blow dry it. Plus, I like the waves so now, I shower around 9:00 every night and then go sit at my computer and write for a few hours. My hair can dry naturally and I don’t really notice it because I am sitting there anyway.

    So, the morning is easier but I have yet to find a good mascara. Sunblock is the worst though, I have yet to find something that doesn’t feel heavy and greasy.

    I think we are all just working to find what works for us and sticking with it. 🙂

  37. Oh babe, you grew up thinking you were the smart one, not the smart AND pretty one? That explains a lot. Also, pfooie.

    I have seen you quite often up close and without makeup and I’ve always thought you were beautiful, not just of the brain, but of the face and body too. You’ve got cheekbones to die for, plush bosoms, long legs, a graceful way of moving that always looks like you’re about to start dancing, with that rich sense of humor and deep intelligence that make your already pretty eyes downright unforgettable.

    How dare you think you’re not beautiful?

    Jeebus, I sound like I’m describing my heroine. Well, I am, because you are, as well as being one of my role models and one of my Prime Muses. Seriously woman, I’m not making this up, it’s not fictional at all. Clearly attention must be paid, because you are not seeing what’s right there in the mirror.

    I know you’ve got enough defenestrating to do without adding me and my accoutrements to your space, but don’t make me fly out there! You deserve at least the time and attention you take to craft a blog post. You are SO worth it!

  38. laverne zemaitis says:

    This blog is striking a chord for those of us who have become inattentive. For most of my life I wouldn’t go to the mailbox without makeup and my hair done. True, my whole regimen was streamlined…no hours in front of a mirror for me. However, these days I’m going to work with no makeup. The only hair in any kind of order, those hardy ones sprouting on my chin.

    I think it’s my response to aging. At a certain point we become (or at least think we’ve become) invisible…so why bother? Reading the blog reminds me, we pay attention for ourselves not for the observer. And so yesterday found me in the skin care aisle comparing prices and promises.

    To Lani’s comments on Jenny’s beauty…At my post retirement job I sat next to a beautiful guy younger than my son. One day I jokingly compared myself to a good looking fit young woman. My colleague’s response (Bless his 25 year old heart!) was “Yes, but you’ve got her beat where it really counts – a fantastic personality!” One of the best compliments I ever received…I stuck it to myself with velcro.

    There’s the beauty that stops traffic and the beauty than grows exponentially as we learn a person’s heart and mind…the kindness, the humor. It’s that beauty that binds us and the good news is it doesn’t wither with age. Women like Jenny have that in spades.

    That being said, I’m with all of you at paying attention again. I may even wash and moisturize before going to bed tonight.

    Thanks, Jenny, Chrissy and Lani for holding up the mirror.

  39. Tracey says:

    Lani, I’m not sur we ever see us the way others see us. So it’s not just seeing ourselves, which we can’t, it’s paying our friends, roomates and sisters the respect they deserve by listening to them — and believing them — when they tell us the truth.

  40. Tracey says:

    I’v not seen you up close, but I’ve seen your author pics (YES, I know those are professional and probably required professionally applied makeup), but this Irish/Yankee girl would kill for your smile and your cheekbones. So I don’t get the “I’m not attractive” vibe at all.

  41. Jenny,

    If the Olay doesn’t work out, try the Clinique basic 3-step system. Get the liquid soap, not the bar. It’s a bit expensive on the front end, but the stuff lasts for months. I’ve been using it for years and I swear by it. And then a good sun screen for your face. Again, Clinique has great stuff.

    The plain old pink and green mascara is good, but it tends to smudge under my eyes giving me even worse under eye circles. I found a mascara I love, but I’m going to warn you, it ain’t cheap. It’s Dior Icon and it’s $30 bucks. But, totally worth it – if you start wearing mascara on a regular basis, or if you really want to pull the stops out. Otherwise, go with the pink and green. Oh, and the key to under eye cover is eye cream. Apply eye cream first, then the under eye cover. If you want. 🙂

    You know I think you’re beautiful no matter what!

  42. oh, and what Windrose Betty said. A great stylist can give you a haircut that wash dry and go! They really are worth their weight in gold. But, you kind of have to date stylists for a bit to find a good one. 🙂

  43. I have a great stylist. I don’t have $70. So it’s either find a walk-in salon and ask for just a trim or hand Lani a pair of scissors. Why we never trained the children to cut hair is beyond me.

  44. Caroline says:

    It took me years to work this out but if you take about 90% of the mascara gunk off the wand with a tissue before you apply it, it looks so much better. Just a thin layer is all you really need.

    And you are very pretty.

  45. I was the youngest of five. My sister is 6 years older than I am, and was always very pretty. I was the smart one. I knew I would never be pretty, never be charming and graceful, never have a great smile ( they didnt have the money for braces when I came along), so the best thing I could do was be the smartest person I could. It worked out ok. I’ve had an amazing life, met people in person that others dream about, and found my charm in humor, my talent in writing.But I always *wanted* to be pretty.

    Now that I am turning 40 this year, I have been paying attention. Im not so bad. Still have my front gap with crooked teeth, but I have GORGEOUS hair, and eyes that have captivated more than one man. I am sexy because I’m comfortable in my own skin, and I am hell on wheels because I can hold a conversation on just about any subject, snark on ‘stun’ setting.
    I wear moisturizer, a light foundation, mascara ( Falsies..I HATED mascara until I found this. Other black goo always made my eyes feel heavy and tired.) and lipgloss ( beautiful stuff I bought for .99 at Sally’s and will cry when it’s gone)..and I am STUNNING.

    Jenny,everyone has their own kind of beauty. Would Mona Lisa be as lovely, if we all looked like her? You cannot think of your physical self as the glass case on a curious object. You are a work of art -inside and out. Keep yourself polished and shined and be proud of who and what you are: a treasure beyond price.

  46. Exactly! This is why I started practicing yoga, five years ago. I (at the ripe old age of 27) had re-herniated a disc in my lower back for the fifth time and was at my wit’s end. I felt like I was becoming elderly (no hyperbole – I seriously thought that this was the beginning of the end) and came to the realization that ATTENTION MUST BE PAID. It was not enough to be a walking brain anymore. My body was not simply a life support system for my intellect.

    What a realization! I started eating better (discovering, in the process that I am intolerant to wheat – another brilliant, life-changing idea) and started doing 3 hours of ashtanga yoga every week. The result of this shift was that I started to see myself as a real person for a change. I started to accept myself and be proud of myself (and not just intellectually). I can’t really explain it, but I’m much more comfortable with who I am – physically and mentally. I’ve even come to care less about the “shortcomings” in my personality – so what if I’m boisterous and extroverted? Where’s the shame in that? If I shushed every time my mom made that disapproving face at me, I wouldn’t have all the friends I have and I wouldn’t be so comfortable speaking in front of crowds and I wouldn’t be where I am today.

    So there.

  47. Kelly S says:

    I agree with hating mascara & lipgloss instead of lipstick. A tinted version of chapstick. Easy to apply and if nothing else, a gradual step towards lipstick.

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