Vickie.

vickie
Vickie does not have any selfies. She is pictured with friends, second in from the right. 

How old are you?              

30.                             

What do you do?

I work at a university.

Describe your beauty routine.  

My beauty routine… Um. I don’t feel like I’ve ever really figured out products — especially hair products. My biggest pieces of my beauty routine I think would be moisturizer in the morning and washing my face at night. Those are the two biggest things for me. And then I make up the rest in between. (Laughs.) As you know, I’ve started introducing the gym into my day, so I’m trying to figure out which products are best for that kind of thing. I use Yes to Tomatoes moisturizer, which I love.

Whoa! I’ve never heard of that! Where do you get it? Where did you hear about it? 

I think it’s become a lot more popular because now you can buy it at Target, but I first bought it because the Yes To website was having a sale and almost every product of theirs was like, two dollars. It’s a little thicker than my other one, so it’s good for that dry winter skin. Out of everything I tried, I loved that moisturizer. I tried a Yes to Carrots shampoo that smelled horrendous. But I super loved the Tomatoes one, and I use it all the time. Sometimes I still check the website for sales, because I love finding things that are on sale. At the gym though, I use the Mary Kay Timewise moisturizer. I really like the Timewise line, like that foundation I gave you? That was a Timewise product.

I LOVE that foundation! Truly the best one I think I’ve ever used. I’ve been recommending it to people. 

If only I were still a consultant. (Sighs and laughs.)

 What is your favorite product? 

Burt’s Bees chapstick. I also really like — I think it’s a CC or BB cream —it’s called SuperGoop. I found it when I was getting Birchbox. I love it because it has light coverage and SPF and also moisturizes.

I love BB and CC creams, and I feel like because I was an esthetician, I should know the difference between them, but I don’t. Yet.  

I want to say it was a Korean thing originally, but I don’t know if it’s because I have a bias for Korean things.

You are Korean, so that would make sense.  Korean Skin Care is major, though! It has been getting lots of press in recent years here, but really the beauty industry in Korea has been a huge thing for a long time.  

I tried snail cream once. Because my friend found it, and we ordered it. And it came in a jar shaped like a snail. It was great.

What was great about it? And, you won’t believe me, but this is the SECOND TIME TODAY that I’ve heard about snail excrement skincare products.

Well, it was great, because it smelled really good, which you would not expect. But it made your skin feel super soft.

I am sold.  

Where else were you talking about snail excrement?

Oh, just with a girl at work. 

What is your desert island product? 

Like if I was stranded on a desert island and could only use one product? Conditioner, definitely. I don’t think I could survive with my hair in a rat’s nest. I really love Ogx —they have a coconut milk shampoo and conditioner, and it smells amazing and makes my hair really soft.

What is beauty, to you? 

(Pauses.) I think it’s about confidence. Things that make you feel good about yourself. Feeling like you’re bringing your A-game.

Do you think of yourself as beautiful? 

Sometimes.

Earliest beauty memory: 

I think I have two. My mom used to keep her makeup in a bathroom drawer, and when my sister was a toddler, she went into the bathroom for a really long time, and got really quiet, which was not a good sign. When she came out, she had used my mom’s mascara like eyeshadow and painted her face with it. She couldn’t get it off, because it was mascara, and it stuck to her. So I think that was my introduction to makeup.

Wow. Sounds not so positive. 

It was really funny. Then when I was in 7th grade, I had a best friend who was way cooler than me, and she was really into makeup and hair, and was really good at it. She introduced me to eyeliner in particular. It became the one thing I wouldn’t leave the house without. I associate my teen years with angst and eyeliner.

When do you feel most beautiful? What does that look like?

I think even when you asked me to find a picture of me, I realized I didn’t have any pictures of just me, so I think it’s when I’m with my friends. I’m definitely an introvert, and I like having alone time, but I think I’m most myself — and that would hopefully mean most beautiful — when I’m with my friends (and my husband, too). I think being around people that make me feel that I can be me is when I feel most beautiful. And I think sometimes that’s challenging because I’m filled with sarcasm and cynicism, which makes looking at myself as ‘beautiful’ hard, because I don’t necessarily think those things are that. But that is me.

Don’t you think you can be those things and still be beautiful? Beautiful does not mean optimistic and pleased and bubbly all the time. You know? Authenticity is beautiful. Being true to oneself. 

In general, I think when you see the women’s magazines always portraying happy smiling people, and also happy topics, there’s this expectation that to be beautiful, you need to be ‘perfect’. I feel like women’s magazines have become the epitome of beauty these days, and they don’t dig into the real stuff.

That is true. Social media too, much of the time. Shoot. 

I think you’re right. Genuine people are beautiful. I mean, you can be an asshole and if that is really who you are, that’s beautiful. I can be an asshole. (Laughs.)

Jenna.

Jenna, feeling beautiful.
Jenna, feeling beautiful.

How old are you?

24.

What do you do?

I’m a hair stylist.

Describe your beauty routine.  

For the most part, I like to keep things simple. I have pretty sensitive skin, so I try to keep my makeup light but complementing. I swear by all Bare Minerals foundations/concealers, and I recently started using Laura Mercier’s tinted moisturizer for the summer. I only feel complete when I put on blush and some type of lip. Kat Von D is the queen of lipstick that stays, with ranges of colors to choose from. As for eyes, unless it’s a special occasion or I’m really feeling it, I usually only wear mascara. I have yet to find a mascara I love, but I do feel like bolding my brows helps distract from my lack of liner and shadow.

As for my hair, again, I keep it simple. I work at a beautiful salon in Shadyside called MCN and we carry Kerastase and, my personal obsession, Bumble and Bumble. I try to keep less than 3 products in my hair for the sake of being able to add more as the days go by. I typically only wash my hair every 3-4 days, so dry shampoo is a necessity. Towards the summer months, I use any Bumble Surf products (the new Spray foam is the best of all worlds) to create the perfect beach hair. My hair usually has some type of kick or wave to it, so even when its “straight” by most people’s definition, it’s not. However, for softness and shine as I’m blowing it dry I love to use Bb. Hairdressers Invisible Oil. I like to relate it to Moroccan oil, without all the weight. The 6 featherlight oils melt into your hair, and it doubles as a heat and UV protectant.

 What is your favorite product? 

Lately I’ve been obsessed with Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion. It works wonders for your blemishes overnight. Literally.

What is your desert island product? 

Hypothetically, if I was on a desert island my hair would feel like it’s in its natural habitat. Gritty, salty hair for days! I would have to follow my very wise mother’s advice to always wear sunscreen, so probably some type of SPF moisturizer.

What is beauty, to you? 

Love this question. As I type this, I’m staring over my laptop to blue sky & sunshine, and I see beauty clear as day. I like to see the beauty in absolutely everything. I definitely have my moments when life catches up and the vision gets cloudy.. but thankfully, I always come back to the beauty of it, whatever it is. In general, I think beauty is self-expression. It could be in the way you greet a loved one, or the way you dance when you hear your favorite song. Everything from the inflection of your voice when you get excited or upset. It’s all beauty to me. I love to think that I am, in fact, in the business of beauty. My day to day usually ends with me covered in hair, but a truly successful appointment ends with a connection between me and another human being. The best day I had recently, I ended with 3 different clients getting out of my chair saying “I’m so happy, I could cry.” That’s beautiful to me.

Do you think of yourself as beautiful? 

All the time? Absolutely not. I’m my own worst critic & disciplinarian — so it can be tough sometimes. However, I have the absolute most amazing people surrounding me on a daily basis to remind me that I am, even when I don’t think it. To be a healthy, happy human being, it’s so important to surround yourself with those kinds of people.

Earliest beauty memory: 

Well, when people ask me when i started doing hair, my usual response is “When i realized I had hands.” I was always cutting my own hair, my Barbies & baby dolls hair, anyone who would let me, really. I do, however, remember the sights (and smells) of my mom getting her hair permed in my kitchen when I was really young. Little did she know, she had 18 years of yelling at me to STOP doing hair in the kitchen ahead of her. (LOL sorry mom!)

When do you feel most beautiful? What does that look like?

I feel the most beautiful when I’m working. I’m in my element, completely. I should be a bit more specific and say I feel the most beautiful when I start work because it’s a little tough to feel beautiful after you worked 9 hours in heels. But in all reality, that actually makes me feel even MORE beautiful sometimes. I love to challenge myself like I said, I’m my own best disciplinarian… But, when I can look in the mirror after a long day and be proud of what I’ve accomplished, that s when I feel the most beautiful.

 

At her most beautiful.

Hi Friends,

I took a lengthy hiatus from this blog in late May, when my mother passed away. Her death was unexpected and hit me hard, and I found myself feeling utterly depleted of creative energy. A few of my friends (and my therapist!) asked about the blog, and how it was going. I explained that I’d stopped writing after mom died, and they understood. However, I am gradually learning how writing— for me— is a self-affirming and healing act. How it gently uncovers truths that were lying in wait. And so here I am.

My mother was beautiful, no question. Auburn curls, almond-shaped brown eyes, willowy limbs, and a smile that dazzled. I could write an entire post on her bone structure alone— those cheekbones! A mile high. On the outside, she’d been blessed.

But the inside was a different story. When I was 12, Mom had a psychotic break, and was later diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder. She was also an alcoholic and addict. I think, as is often the case, she used substances to try and deal with her mental illness.

I spent a whole lot of time being angry at her for ruining her life. When she died, my anger melted away, and I found some compassion for her struggle. I only wish I could have helped her, but that’s another blog post (for another blog). For now, I’ll simply make a list of beautiful things I remember about her:

Her generosity, her huge heart, her silk shirts and dress pants, her gold and amber jewelry, her Coco scent as she kissed me goodbye on her way out the door, her Woolite scented, scratchy turtleneck sweaters, her unique, contagious laughter, her french cooking, her love of Jane Austen and classical music, her passion for beauty.

These are the sensory cues that happen when I think of her, and I believe she’d want it that way. To remember her before her illness, as the vibrant, intensely loving being she was, is to honor her memory in the most beautiful way possible. My mother, for all her demons, passed on to me an appreciation for the things that make life more beautiful: art, music, fashion, and a joie de vivre that I’ll never forget.