What It Costs

Published on June 9, 2018 by   ·   No Comments

Costs 01It starts with a bath.  At home I have a tiny bathtub that isn’t worth the time, so any time I manage to get a room with one of those big tubs, the kind with the jets, then I have to start with a long, relaxing bath.  And Lush has so many wonderful options to choose from that make your bath colorful and fragrant and bubbly, it’s the perfect escape.  A bath bomb will typically cost around $6, but the more complicated ones can go as high as $10 or $12 each.

While I’m in the bath, I like to do a mud mask – something to really sink in and pull out impurities.  I have oily skin and I’m still prone to breakouts; I remember being a teenager and not really obsessing over breakouts and pimples.  I thought, “This is puberty – I’ll get over it!”  That’s something they don’t really tell you: even though your hormones do a pretty good job of regulating themselves as you emerge from adolescence, you’re still probably going to have the same general type of skin – oily, dry, combination, or whatever the hell “normal” is supposed to be that only seems to exist for the popular kids and the people you see on TV, who are just the popular kids writ large.  Queen Helene is my go-to, and it’s the best mask I’ve ever used and you can find it at a variety of places online for less than $10.  If I’m near a Lush, I’ll sometimes mix it up with a Cupcake mask or a jar of Rosy Cheeks; those will run you about $10, though a couple of the “fancier” ones can be $13.

Costs 02While I’m doing the mask, I have a gel eyemask from Daiso that I like to put on in case I have any bags or discoloration.  Even though it’s only $1.50, it’s actually one of the most useful items on the list.  If you aren’t sleeping well or if your eyes have gotten a little red from crying or from drinking a little too much (those poor choices we all end up making at one time or another), just pop this little gem in the freezer for half an hour, and then sink into that cool darkness.

At $20 for the pair, I like to wash my hair with the Winter Blend shampoo and conditioner; it’s a combination of 4 different types of mint from Maple Holistics, and with all of that mint I expected it to be icy cold, like a liquid Altoid foaming through my processed hair, but I’m surprised at how delicate it is.  You would never know from the packaging, from all of the bold sales claims, that such delicateness is waiting inside.

After all of these steps, I’m finally ready to get into the primary routine, and it all starts with a good cleanser.  I love the GlamGlow ThirstyMud Mud-To-Foam Cleanser, which used to run me $39 a bottle but I’m currently working through my last bottle that I got for only $18 after it was discontinued.  I’m still in a little bit of denial, and probably will be until I squeeze the last possible drops of that brown elixir out of the pump; I don’t like change, especially when I’ve taken so long to cultivate a skincare routine that feels familiar, comfortable.  I’ve got a couple of cheap cleansers that I sometimes use while traveling, but nothing that feels special.  I’ve been playing around with some samples of the Tatcha Deep Cleanse, another $39 bank-breaker, but I’m afraid to commit: what if I fall in love with this product, too, only to have it disappear?  I mean, I know that it’s just skincare.  It’s not that big of a deal.  But sometimes, it feel like a big deal.

The next step in my process is toning, and my toner of choice is Burt’s Bee’s Garden Tomato Toner, price varies but usually $10-14.  When I was an Avon Beauty Advisor what feels like a hundred years ago, we learned the “proper” skincare routine: Cleanse, Tone, Treat, Moisturize (capped by SPF if your moisturizer didn’t already provide this benefit).  That was the recipe that they assured us would give us the best results in our constant quest to “keep young and beautiful.”  There wasn’t much thought to why that quest was so important, or what beauty might really mean.  That sort of introspection doesn’t move inventory.

Treatment is the step that sees the most change as I’m always trying new products or jumping on trends or trying out some new sample that came in a recent Sephora order.  Each new product is like a fresh piece of hope, that this product will be the one that gives me the miracle results I’ve been hoping for.  Currently I’ve got two products in this step, both from tarte (a brand whose makeup I’m generally uninterested in, but whose skincare seems to be pretty legit): Mermaid Skin, a hyaluronic acid treatment that rings up at $42, and Drink of H2O, a gel-like moisturizer that I find works best as a hydrator before my main moisturizer.  A moisturizer before your moisturizer?  How many layers of products do we need to feel like we’re taking “proper care” of ourselves, before we feel confident in our own skin.  I’m disassociating here, using a third-person pronoun to help put my own insecurities in soft focus; I’ll further deflect by telling you that this pre-moisturizer moisturizer sets me back another $39.

Costs 03Moisturizers can be a tough find for me because of my oily skin; so many products are formulated for normal or oily skin and they are just too heavy.  Plus, face oils are super hot right now and it’s damn near impossible to swing a dick without knocking over 20 products with argan oil in them.  I know that argan oil is good for the skin, and I’m sure I would see benefits from it.  I also know that every single product I’ve tried with this magical ingredient has left my face feeling like a greasy, slimy oil slick.

I have a couple of go-to products.  Ole Henriksen’s Nurture Me is pretty light, and the smell reminds me of delicious orange creamsicles.  I don’t notice a lot of visible changes, but it’s only $40 and it doesn’t leave me feeling like a grease stain.  My skin looks fine when I’m using it, for as much as I inspect it.  I will take quick glances but I don’t spend a lot of time looking in the mirror.  Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I looked at myself in the mirror – really looked, eye to eye, and encountered the person I was seeing.  I don’t mean staring in the mirror when I’m trying to beat my face for a drag show or trying to wrestle my contacts into my eyes.  I mean really just looked at myself.  I don’t know what I’d be looking for anyway, so I just…don’t.  Instead I take a quick check of how my skin is doing: are my pores looking large? do I have an oily sheen? any breakouts or ingrown hairs from shaving?  The Ole Henriksen is a pretty good maintenance product, but usually I prefer spending the extra $9 and getting GlamGlow’s Volcasmic Matte Moisturizer, especially during the warmer months.

Costs 04After all of that, I’ll usually finish with some sort of luxurious body lotion, and I love a strong fragrance!  My tastes range from sweet to floral to fresh, but I want something that has a real sensual experience to it.  One of my perennial favorites is the Pearl Massage Bar from Lush ($13), a bar of solid lotion that features their signature Rose Jam scent.  The fragrance lingers for a long time, and makes my skin feel so soft to the touch.  I also recently picked up a body butter from The Body Shop in Vineyard Peach, a thick confection that smells like gummy peach rings.  It’s normally $21, so finding it on sale for $10 was a big win for me and it’s the sort of delicious fragrance that makes me feel more confident and desirable when I’m preparing for another rendezvous with my sometimes lover.  I also like expensive perfumes and colognes, but when he’s coming over I never wear them.  He’s not very frou frou and I think he appreciates a more natural smell – as natural as you can be after all those steps.  But he’s never complained.

When he leaves, the scratch of his beard still a ghost on my face and neck, I watch him from the balcony thinking that I could hop over this sturdy metal railing and this glow will just carry me up and up and up, forever, and my last thoughts will be about the fact that for these few moments I am truly, wholly satisfied.  I feel desired, and connected, and full.  Everything adds up.

But it doesn’t last.

As I watch his door close, my feet starting to ache against the almost frozen cement, I realize that I’ve lost the calcualtions.  As I watch him drive away, spilling open with need, I just can’t calculate exactly what it all costs.

Costs 05

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