7 Beauty Routines That Have Changed My Life (With Pictures!)

Now, before you start running in here with your Megaphone of Female Respectability, telling me all about how sad it is that anything as simple as how I curl my hair could be “life-changing,” I highly recommend going to get a life of your own. Beauty is fun, it’s harmless, and is so heavily and directly rewarded by society as to render it a necessity. Let’s enjoy makeup and nails and skin without worrying about it making us shallow, because a world in which aesthetics and substance are mutually exclusive is a world I don’t want to live in.

1. The Clarisonic.

My skin is, and always has been, my struggle. A few years ago, a disgruntled commenter even told me on Twitter that I “needed to use moisturizer.” As someone who has always fluctuated between skin that is bone-dry, shiny, and smattered with acne and rosacea, it stung. But six or so precious months ago, I discovered the item that has improved my skin-life to such a degree that pictures like this — which unflinchingly reveal my still-dry struggle — were my profile picture.

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Though I still battle with my complexion on a daily basis, I now have a new weapon which allows me to not fear the onset of winter with the intensity of Ned Stark. After a good once-over with the Clarisonic, moisturizer takes to my pores with an efficacy I’ve never before experienced, and hi-def cameras are no longer my sworn enemy. My dermatologist will still be able to pay for his second beach house with my visits, but some of the load has been taken off of him, and the future is as bright as my post-exfoliating glow.

2. BB Cream, of nearly all varieties.

I used to hand-mix my foundation and moisturizer so that I neither looked like an Oompa Loompa above the line of demarcation, nor sucked the life entirely from my face with the caked-on liquid. Now, I know that all it takes to hit the sensitive-skin friendly balance is a good BB cream. I tend to prefer the brands that are more of an investment, only because they don’t incite the wrath of my adult acne, but I’ve heard a lot of the drug store brands are just as good, and I believe it.

3. One straight iron to rule them all.


Let’s first and foremost take a look at the top two pictures and give a big shout out to Instagram, eliminating shiny redness and making you look like a sexy ghost since late 2010. I look nothing like my Instagram photos in real life, and it’s the greatest thing ever. (I have also, it should be said, never dyed my hair — the difference in color comes from completely reckless use of filters.)

But I digress.

I chose these four photos to demonstrate the difference in styles, straightness, and curl level that can be achieved using a simple straight iron. I never use blow dryers, never use curling irons, never set my hair in rollers. I simply run that straightener down relatively small locks of hair and twist at varying angles depending on the level of bounciness/tightness I want in the curl. If I want straight, I don’t twist. If I want a little flip out at the end, I curl in at the very bottom. If I want Goldilocks-esque curl, I wrap the hair around the (one-inch) straightener as I go down. There is no need for any other styling tool, except for maybe a hairbrush. (And that is the other thing — once you’ve got your curls, they should never feel the harsh touch of a brush or a comb, only the gentle floofing of your fingers. Can’t break that curl integrity.)

4. Toilet seat covers as blotters.

If you look down your nose on this last-minute solution simply because it contains the word “toilet,” you are fucking up your whole life. These little lifesavers are the boon of anyone who has found themselves confronted with the the all-knowing light of a bathroom mirror and realized there is a racing stripe of bright white going down the middle of their forehead. Do not think that you are too good to blot with the toilet papers, because you are not.

5. All baby powder everything.

Dry shampoo is hit or miss, but baby powder is forever. A light dusting of the good stuff is guaranteed to ease up any of your greasy-banged concerns whilst leaving your less-moisturized ends completely untouched. Keep a little bottle of it in your purse, and use it liberally. But always use discretion when it comes to quantity and blending, lest you end up like this photo of Chelsea circa Christmas 2009, where you look like a porcelain collectible doll someone unearthed from their grandmother’s untouched-in-20-years attic storage:

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(To clarify, I was at a holiday party and therefore dressed up as Mrs. Claus. There were white feathers on the cuff and hem of that dress. It made sense in context, I don’t usually dress like that.)

6. Shellac.


I don’t know how many of you have been confronted with the very real problem of “I like having pretty nails, but can’t live my life for more than 45 minutes without chipping them into oblivion,” but I imagine it’s a lot of you. Whether through salon manicure or my own handiwork, any coat of polish was not long for this world with me, and I really don’t think I was doing anything especially demanding with them.

If you are like me, shellac is your new boyfriend. It is polish that cannot — CANNOT — be chipped, and is only removed at the two-week mark when you go to have a new coat put on. As you can see with the above photos, I have gone a bit insane with the freedom that having a manicure that will last gives you. Yes, it costs a bit more than regular polish, but given the improvement in quality of life, you can’t afford not to get it. I’m going in for my new coat in two days, and I am dizzy at the possibilities.

7. Filling in eyebrows (and properly plucking them in the first place).

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I’m gonna get really, really real here for a second and reveal to you all the above picture which shows, in gory detail, the state of my eyebrows at the age of 18. Not only had I never seen the business end of a pair of tweezers, I somehow thought that the overall bushy factor counteracted the fact that I have several large expanses of empty space in between the inconsistent reddish-brown hairs. Once I learned that plucking and filling in — seemingly contradictory endeavors — served to make you look like a human being and not a migratory path for a couple of furry caterpillars to crawl across, my whole life upgraded. I now get complimented on my brows from time to time. It’s a whole new world, and I won’t dare close my eyes. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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