Maura.

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How old are you?

35.

What do you do?

I work in Human Resources.

Describe your beauty routine.  

I don’t do much right now. But I wash my face with Neutrogena Naturals facewash. I use a face lotion from Korea. It smells like peaches. Really nice. And then I use mineral undereye cream. I use that Tom’s all natural Calendula deodorant.

–Oh, I love that stuff. I use the lavender one. And it’s been surprisingly working.

I use an herbal mask by Natural Republic— it’s called an ‘herb pack’. I think it refreshes my skin. It doesn’t look as dull after I use the mask.

–Herb pack.

Yeah.

(Laughs.)

I also in the winter, I’ll use Aveeno Oatmeal body lotion but I like my skin to breathe in the summer. I just developed an essential oil practice, where I use mainly essential oils that correlate to biomarkers that I’m lacking in. It was this test I did once with someone. And for me, the primary essential oils are frankincense, geranium and sandalwood. But I use other ones, too. I play around with them.

What is your favorite product?

Wow, that’s such a good question. I don’t know where I would be without Lavender or Eucalyptus Epsom salts to take baths in. They are so low maintenance but they drain all the toxins out of the body. And they’re relaxing.

What is your ‘desert island’ product? 

I would need some form of chapstick, absolutely.

What is beauty, to you? 

Feeling comfortable. Giving and receiving trust.Feeling gentle and safe. Being at home in my body. Feeling connected.

Do you think of yourself as beautiful? 

Sometimes.

Earliest beauty memory: 

When I was little, I had this thing for ants. We lived in a place where the sidewalks were crooked and didn’t connect, and so ants used to live in the cracks. I used to bend down and inspect them, and their movements were synchronistic and harmonious…. And beautiful. They were beautiful creatures. At that level.

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

After I journal early in the morning when I’ve released baggage from the day before, and I feel light and fresh and ready.

Kimm.

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How old are you? 

29.

What do you do? 

I work at a University.

Describe your beauty routine.

I go to the gym. I shower. I don’t know. I don’t like, do exfoliants and stuff.

What is your favorite product? 

Facewash. Axe makes this cleanser with exfoliating beads.

What is beauty, to you?

Having a sense of humor. Kindness. The kind of person who is nice to the waiter even when their order is wrong. Someone who is confident but can also laugh at themselves.  Self-awareness.

Do you think of yourself as beautiful? 

Sometimes.

What is your earliest beauty memory? 

When I was in first grade I somehow convinced my mom to get a short haircut and it turned out like a bowl cut. It didn’t look so good. But then in middle school I had one friend who made fun of the cut, so once it was long enough to wear in a ponytail, that’s what I did. I’ve never changed it since.

When do you feel most beautiful? 

I think I usually feel most beautiful after the gym. Because I feel like I’ve accomplished something that’s healthy for me. Or when I’ve learned something new about myself.

 

Lou.

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How old are you? 

36.

What do you do? 

I work as a specialty food consultant. I’m also a mom.

Describe your beauty routine. 

In the morning, I wash my face with warm water. About 3 times a week, I use Epicuren Himalayan Superfruit Enzyme Polish with a light washcloth on my face in the shower. The polish tingles and removes old skin cells. Immediately after the shower, I apply a generous amount of Cetaphil Daily Face Moisturizer with SPF 15. In the summer I try to make it SPF 30. As a kid, I used absolutely zero sunscreen so I feel like I need to make up for that. I use Lubriderm Advanced Therapy for Dry Skin on my hands which are always dry from hand washing. I don’t wear makeup every day but when I do it’s usually just a thin coat of black mascara, Bobbi Brown concealer under my eyes, Bobbi Brown powder and some shiny lip gloss or tinted chapstick. At night, if I’m wearing makeup, I remove it with Neutrogena Naturals Makeup Remover Towelettes and rinse with warm water.

What’s your favorite product? 

The Epicuren Polish. Or maybe just a washcloth. I rely on that!

What is the one “desert island” product you’d never be without?

Any thick moisturizing hand lotion. I hate dry hands.

What is beauty, to you? 

Feeling good in your own skin.

Do you think of yourself as beautiful? 

Yes, after a really good night’s sleep!

What is your earliest beauty memory? 

Looking like a moron with crimped hair and a turtleneck at a “beauty parlor” birthday party in fourth grade.

When do you feel most beautiful? 

It doesn’t look the same every time. But I will say that it’s rarely after I’ve used a bunch of beauty products. It’s more likely to happen when I’m out doing something like getting messy with my kid, cooking something really good in the kitchen, or after I’ve had a productive day. Also, sleep has a lot to do with it!

 

Me.

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I remember being thirteen, and buying my first tube of lipstick. It was from Origins. A muddy brownish red, it was called Adobe. I went home, put it on, and stared at myself for a long, long time in a hand mirror, flipping my hair back and forth and making faces. From that point on, I was obsessed with the idea of ‘being beautiful’. I have nurtured this obsession for many years, and continue to. I buy products ad infinitum, hoping they will deliver on their promise to make me more beautiful.

As a former esthetician, I am heavily into doing whatever it takes to have and maintain ‘good skin’, but honestly, I am just as fascinated by makeup and hair products as well. What is it about the lure of these tubes and vials, sticks and potions? Why are we continually led to achieve a certain look?

Two months ago, I chopped off my hair. Two weeks ago, I purged my closet of all but a few key pieces. This process of elimination has been an attempt to get closer to the real ‘me’. Pre-pixie, pre-purge, I’d gob self-tanner on my pale, freckled skin. I’d bleach and straighten my dark, curly hair, eat only vegetables and broth in an attempt to stay at a certain weight, and do anything I could to change what I had been born with.

Now, my ideals are slowly shifting. I wear minimal makeup, and slather sunscreen on in the mornings. I eat sensibly, and for pleasure. I exercise so that I can grow strong.

Beauty means different things to different people.

For some, it means adhering to a physical standard that our society has created. For others, it means inner strength and wisdom. For me, it means cultivating, accepting and ultimately celebrating what I already have. It means many things to most of us. But all of us, myself included, have a desire to look and feel our best. Just how we do that is what this project is all about.

Each week, I will post a new discussion with a woman. These women are all ages, from all walks of life, each with her own beauty rituals, routines and stories. Every single one of these women have a beauty philosophy. In gathering these oral histories, it is my goal to widen our collective definition of beauty itself.