Friday, April 27, 2012

Minimal Beauty to the Max: No Makeup, No Shampoo

I am lazy. Sure, there are plenty of reasons not to buy into the beauty industry. I'd be accepting society's impositions on women. I'd be running a rat race by clogging up my skin in an effort to rejuvenate it. I'd spend loads of money (apparently cosmetics are like food--they have an expiration date). The real reason I don't use makeup though, is that I'm too low maintenance. It takes too much time and effort.

The biased but interesting Penelope Trunk has a post about how as an unhappy maximalist she knows the difference between $20 and $70 eyebrows. She also says that minimalism is lifestyle porn, which is true on some level. I am not a maximalist like her, so I don't think I'll have a problem with minimalism. I can do the 100 things challenge (if I ever get around to cataloguing how many things I have), but sometimes minimalism arises by accident. My make-up collection consists of three items: a chapstick and two orange lipsticks that I got for free at a club promotion (one of them was my roommates', but she left it at the apartment). I have no problem getting rid of two of these things (it's not a good color for me). Let's review the horrible things I could be doing to my face, and then I'll talk about my hair.


Liquid eyeliner is not my friend, unlike what some websites say. My eyeliner disappears when I open my eyes. Ditto mascara. Actually, you can still see my lower eyeliner, but . . . I just don't like how it makes me look different. I don't look bad necessarily--I just don't look like me. I suspect it may make my eyes look smaller.

Geisha Asobi's fake fake eyelashes
Beauty appliance or surgical tool?
Speaking of eyelashes, which apparently even white girls curl with what looks like a torture device, there are two weird things that Asian women tend to do to their eyes. One is to apply fake eyelashes. That's like wearing a wig, and it's deceptive. Also, I don't want to look like a doll or spend money on it. Mostly though, I don't want to stick something to my eyelids. That's invasive.

The other thing is to cement or get eye surgery to get double eyelids. I only have double eyelids when my eyes are super puffy from crying or allergies. I do think they look pretty, but . . . why spend the 10 minutes required to pin and stick your eyes into a shape they are not? As for surgery to permanently change how you naturally look when you are not deformed . . . I'm not into it.

Lastly, I suppose I should talk about eyeshadow. I'm actually okay with eyeshadow, if I ever apply makeup at all. It's not trying to lie. It's deliberately performative. No one has green or blue or pink or silver eyelids. No one even has slightly darker beige eyelids. Eyeshadow is honestly decorative.


Plucking? Plucking. Maybe. I have to confess that I read recently in its entirety an inane article in the New York Times about how bushy, unkempt eyebrows are back. I was like, great, so I don't have to do anything. I mentioned this to one of my friends, and she was like, "Why do you care, either way?" It was true. I didn't care, because I wouldn't change my behavior either way. It's just in one instance I would be unintentionally trendy. In the meantime, people will be going out of their way to make their eyebrows bushier and intentionally unintentionally unkempt.

Sometimes I feel like I should pluck my stray eyebrow hairs though. Sometimes.

Nose and Cheekbones (shading)

I don't really like my nose. I think it's my worst feature. When I was younger I used to compare it to a pig's, but Penelope's cute, right? When I talk to my boyfriend about the insipidness of makeup, he says that Asian women don't need makeup anyway because they have high cheekbones and small noses. I was like, really? Maybe you do have yellow fever, because most of the time it seems like Asian women are being told to look white. So I'm not sure. I don't peruse enough fashion magazines, and even when I do I don't look at the pictures or advertisements.


Some women bleach these.


I am trying to use more chapstick. After all, chapped lips are gross, and they feel gross. When I go out I apply a lipstick or gloss, look at how unnatural my lips look, and then go out. And then I worry about carrying my lipstick and reapplying it after eating.

Armpit hair

I pluck this. It's the one thing I consider unbecoming. I mean, a little bit of hair is okay. It doesn't have to be spotless, but I have long black hairs coming out of there. I try to pluck out the thicker ones. I used to wax, but then I ran out of good wax and couldn't find any more. Maybe I'll go out and look again.

Pubic hair

I'm very biased against trimming this because of the scene "Hair" from the Vagina Monologues. I have to admit though, when I was first growing it out, I didn't like how thick it was and trimmed it with a pair of nail clippers. Then it grew back and I gave up. I sometimes consider waxing it for the experience. I consider keeping it trimmed so my boyfriend can go down on me without fear of getting hair in his mouth. But he would go down on me anyway.


I'm Asian, and my mom's legs are hairless. I didn't realize white women had legs as hairy as white men. So I guess it makes sense that they wax and shave. I'm lucky in that my long black hairs are sparse enough and thin enough that they're not too noticeable. Thank goodness, because that would be a huge upkeep.

Head Hair

Other people persist in the no poo saga
I once embarked on a journey to not use shampoo, mostly because I was bored. I did it for several months, got my combs gross, hated the general greasy feeling, and so went back to shampoo. The experience changed my hair though. My hair dries out much easier when I wash it now, so I can get away with washing my hair less. My hair also seems to be a bit wavier. Wash your hair, girls. I don't know. You can try the no poo thing, but it didn't work for me.

I don't dye, bleach, or curl my hair. I love the idea of long, straight, black Asian hair. It makes me unique (or as unique as an Asian girl with long, straight, black hair can be). Asians actually are genetically blessed with this hair, so why change it? Actually, my hair trends toward wavy, but I'm so in love with the straight look that I considered getting a permastraight. Ultimately I didn't because it was too expensive for my tastes, and more importantly, it was hazardous to my health.

I'm glad my hair isn't processed. That allows me to donate to Locks of Love every time I grow my hair out.


This is probably the most important item. Good skin makes you look young. This is why women shouldn't wear makeup, or at least foundation, because it clogs up your pores. I have a pimple. I'm going to conceal it with junk so it will get more clogged up. Yeah. Great.

I particularly have a beef with these whitening creams that are used by Asian and African women. I never thought they were safe, so I googled them one day and found that most of them are not. You have to pay attention to the ingredients. I am considering getting some of the "safe" ones since they protect against UV damage and even out blemishes, but the number one skin product people can apply to their skin is sunscreen. It prevents wrinkles and discoloration, and keeps your skin healthy too. The number one skin product people can ingest is water. Okay, maybe that's not true, maybe you need to drink vitamin water, but it's still a good idea to stay hydrated.

I also apply lotion, because my skin is sometimes dry. Cetaphil is a good, cheap drugstore brand. I don't use toner because it's too harsh. I stopped using soap around the time I stopped using shampoo, and did not suffer any ill effects (I still use it to wash my hands).


When I was playing around with makeup before, and frustrated by the lack of representation of Asian models in fashion magazines educating girls about how to apply make-up, I ordered a book called Makeup for Asian Women. It showed you how to apply make-up according to your face type, etc., which appealed to me the same way dressing for your body type or coloration did--it gives you more limited, tailored choices. It also had a section for glamour, casual, and quick 10-minute work makeup. That's when I realized I would never apply makeup regularly.

In ten minutes, I could sleep for 10 extra minutes. I could check my email. I could eat breakfast. I don't need to waste 10 minutes of my time on expensive, coercive, damaging make-up.

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