Five weeks ago, while visiting my husband's family for the holidays, I decided to finally try something I had been thinking about for a long time. It was a chilly morning in Maine, outside the snow was piling up fast and it was awfully quiet. While my husband was showering in the tiny, scrappy, freezing bathroom of the hotel room we were staying in, I let him in on my plans.
“I'm not going to wash my hair today,” I said. He looked at me with a blank face, and told me “ok,” thinking I was talking about that specific day with a temperature of -15C. He knows I hate the cold and was probably not fazed by me not wanting to step out and have icicles on my head.
“No, really, I'm not going to wash my hair anymore. I read that it's better for the health of your hair and scalp, and it seems like this is the time to try it.”
My dog and I on the day I said goodbye to shampoo.
For those of you who don't know how it works, it's like this: it's not that I don't bathe, or that I don't wash my hair at all. Every day I get into the shower, and every other day I wash my hair with water. I rub my hair as if I were using shampoo, and then I apply natural conditioner on the ends only. There are a lot of other ways to do it, like using vinegar and other natural products. The goal is to get your scalp to regulate its oiliness naturally, thus making your hair healthier and stronger.
I admit that the first few days I was super conscious of my hair. I used beanies around the house, and I told my in-laws what I was doing just in case they were thinking “ew, what's up with her hair?” They told me a thousand times that they didn't notice, but in my mind I still got the feeling that surely they thought I was dirty and gross.
We were away from civilization for ten days, which really helped me to get through those first days of my hair adjusting, and by the time I got back to the office I was convinced that this was a good idea. With all the energy of “new year, new life,” I decided to kick start my makeup free days as well, thinking that if I was going to make an emphatic lifestyle change for the better I might as well do it all at once.
I admit that I never used a lot of makeup. I don't have a lot of patience for making even lines on my eyes, I don't understand how contouring works, and I'm a true believer that you can totally tell when someone paints their eyebrows in. My routine was always a little bit of base, concealer, black eyeliner, mascara, blush and lipstick.
Unlike washing my hair, I left makeup behind slowly. First I said goodbye to concealer and base, and I immediately got comments like “you look tired” or “you're so pale; do you feel ok?” It's interesting how people feel free to let you know if you look like shit, or at least not as how they expect you to look. Since when does our personal beauty depend on how well made up we are?
The next thing to go was liquid eyeliner— the one I use wrong every day. Getting rid of it drastically reduced my morning routine. The realization that I had more time to sleep, or read the news, or play with my dogs confirmed that my make-up free life was a great idea.
Today my daily routine consists of putting on moisturizer with SPF — and that's it. If I have some important meeting or event, I put on a little bit of mascara and lipstick to pull together my outfit.
I have to admit I never expected to like this new routine so much. I was expecting to give up on week two after my hair looked like crap and my wrinkles were too visible to make me self conscious. My stubbornness to prove my husband, friends, and coworkers that this was a thing pulled me through the worst days, and to be honest, I think I'm sticking with it forever. My only concern right now is that in a month we will be having our wedding party and I'm sure the hairdresser will insist in washing my hair. Will I succumb? Will it mean I'll be back on square one? I guess I'll find out soon.
And in a more profound way, I'm learning to love the imperfections that I used to work so hard to cover. It's OK to have wrinkles and sun spots, and totally natural to look tired if you were out drinking until 2 a.m. in your mid-thirties. Seeing my imperfect reflection looking back at me every single day has made me focus less on the things I don't like and more on the good — and it has been extremely freeing.
Week four of not using shampoo and makeup. Even so, I did wear lipstick because it's the only thing I love in this world.
Things I learned in this past month and a bit:
- My routine was reduced drastically and I have more time to do what I want.
- People love to talk about your physical appearance.
- Saying out loud that you haven't washed your hair for more than a month will elicit ugly looks, and some people will even physically distance themselves from you.
- When I invite non-believers to smell my hair, they can't believe that… IT DOESN'T SMELL
- I fell better about myself. I'm not saying this is for everybody. Nor is using makeup or spending hours fixing your hair. But I managed to reacquaint myself with my face and its imperfections. I feel more authentic and less vulnerable.
- What we eat directly affects our hair and skin. I realize when I'm eating poorly because my skin and hair get oily almost immediately, unlike when my diet is more balanced.
- I spend less money!
This post was translated from Spanish.