Since the two conditions that most effect me are ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disorder that causes the bodies' immune system to mistake healthy digestive tract tissues for invasive bodies and attack them, leaving open, bleeding and painful ulcers, and Factor V & VIII Leiden, genetic blood clotting disorders that have left me with a severe and inoperable blood clot extending throughout my entire left leg, I am often in a great deal of pain, struggle to walk & stand for normal periods of time, and unable to eat enough or keep down food, and what I do is often not processed properly in my body which means I suffer all the pain of digestion without gleaning the necessary nutrients.
This has lead to a feeding tube and several surgeries but day to day, I want to live my life as much as possible and part of that is looking like myself, even if I don't always feel that way. And by the way, you'd be surprised what a boost it can give you when you've been feeling unbelievably sick and in pain, and the face you see in the mirror while you wash your hands is beautiful, youthful, and hopeful.
So heres my weird but extremely practical beauty routine. I feel like it would be great not just for people suffering from illness like me but also for new moms, people who are in a rush in the mornings, or anyone who is trying to prioritize self-care and leave more time for those activities in life that are truly important.
Step 1: Showering & prepping your body at night. From beginning to end this whole process can take 3 minutes or 30, depending on how much time you want to spend caring for your skin and just relaxing before bedtime. Since my leg begins to fill with fluid as soon as I stand up, taking a shower is pretty painful for me and I don't want to start out my day by exhausting my body and causing it pain, showering at night is the best. This works for you too if you're a super busy person in the morning or if you just enjoy sleeping in. The most important part here for me is to make sure I go to bed with nice smelling skin and hair and that I don't sweat a lot during the night so I can wake up looking and feeling fresh. I use three products to achieve this and the first is a relaxing nighttime lotion such as Earth Theraputics Anti-Stress Massage Lotion or Bath & Body Works Stress Relief eucalyptus spearmint lotion. I like to put on one of Nick's softest shirts and give my skin a much deserved end-of day massage to help with circulation and help me relax for sleep since insomnia is a real problem for people with chronic pain or illness. I have recommended this practice before and I stand by it, I end up using so much less medicine for pain and/or sleep when I take some time to massage my body with a therapeutic & relaxing lotion.
Then I quickly swipe some CertainDri nighttime antiperspirant on any places I might sweat during the day or night. The amazing thing about this is that it's not a deodorant at all, it just helps your pores close safely so that you don't sweat as much. I went on a trip to Arizona last month and all my friends kept asking me how I wasn't "glowing" (aka melting in a pool of sweat) like everyone else and I told them about my nighttime antiperpserant. It's a life saver. Side note, I use this only about once or twice a week because it is important to let your body sweat a little as part of it's healthy cool down process and as part of letting bacteria out of your pores so you don't want to overuse this. The nice part about CertainDri and others like it is that I can skip the antiperspirant deodorant part of my morning routine and my underarms just smell nice like my body wash and I never have to worry about deodorant stains. Yay!
I then rub some of Living Proof's Restore targeted repair hair cream into the ends of my towel dried hair and wrap it up into a twisted bun on tip of my head. This helps me keep my long hair long by protecting the most potentially damaged parts as well as making sure that when I let my hair down in the morning, it will come down in smooth waves, instead of crimped, mussy bedhead. Awesome side note, I always get compliments on the heavenly smell of my hair and I know this is why, Nick can't get enough of it and I'm pretty sure it's what Jennifer Anniston smells like so...enjoy!
Step 2: Sleep! Sleep is crazy important and no matter what your routine is, we all know that's useless unless you feel rested in the morning. Sweet dreams!
Step 3: This whole step usually takes about 2-5 minutes. In the morning, I like to make a little "getting ready nest" in front of my bedroom mirror. The mornings are the time when I usually feel the sickest as far as ulcerative colitis and I don't want to waste precious standing minutes for my leg so I take a clean, dry towel and fluff it up on the floor in front of the mirror, grab my makeup bag, and plug in my hair curlers. While those are heating up, I splash my face with water if I can stand or use a face wash towellet like Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes just to prep my skin for the morning. I also like Bath & Body Works Stress Relief & Awaken Tangerine line for my body in the morning. On my face, I use a tinted moisturizer with SPF (skipping three steps is always great, you get moisturizer, sunscreen, and a light foundation in one). After that, I just relax in my towel "nest" and see how far into my makeup routine I want to go depending on how I'm feeling. At minimum I use a fluffy brush to swipe on hi lighter to my cheekbones & eyelids, and a blink or two of mascara and I'm already looking so much brighter, I honestly start smiling right about now because this process makes me look and feel a little more like myself again. And it's only been a minute or two!
Step 4: This part usually takes 3-5 minutes once you know what you're doing, but plan to practice a few times on the weekend before trying this on a morning that you need to be somewhere. I used to spend a lot of time blow drying and curling or straightening my hair and I still never felt like I got that "blow out" look that is so amazing...until I found hot rollers! Now my hair routine takes just a few minutes, I can do everything while sitting down comfortably and because I use hot rollers instead of a curling iron or flat iron, I can walk away as soon as I start and let the tools do all the work for me. (I've even been known to drive to work with these in my hair before I got sick! They make you look hilarious while they're up and amazing when they're down). I've had so many people ask me who does my hair or where I learned to do a blow-out at home and it cracks me up because I just put rollers in and go.
If I get enough comments asking for it, I'd love to create a tutorial on putting in hair rollers but I basically start with the front section of my hair and go backwards in a roller mohawk and then use two rollers facing forward on the sides. I let them sit for as long as possible (hopefully at least 10 minutes, shoot for 20 or more) but since you're not doing anything while they set, this is the perfect time to get dressed or you can feel free to use this time however you like; gather up your stuff for work, answer emails, get your kids ready, eat breakfast, or take funny pictures for your friends which is my personal favorite.
Then just let your hair down slowly, throw the rollers back in their case or in your purse if you've already left the house, and you're set. My morning routine includes putting on a compressing stocking for my left leg and taking medicines and probiotics but yours is yours to enjoy. The whole morning process takes as little or as long as you'd like, you can literally do this all in under 5 minutes (I've proven it!) or you can turn on some of your favorite music, snuggle into your getting ready spot, and enjoy the process.
Caring for yourself is definitely a part of staying healthy so I hope that after today, the person you see in the mirror can smile back at you and say, "Damn I look good!" instead of "Damn, I'm still sick." You know you're still sick, might as well let that pretty face flash you a smile every time you walk into the bathroom or catch your reflection in the doctor's office waiting room. Believe me, if it does't cheer your spirits, you can always go back to the messy bun and gray faced skin. Whatever you love more is the best plan for you.
Side note to healthy people who want to be supportive to survivors, please don't make comments like, "Well you don't look sick." or "Whoa, you look amazing, I thought you were soooo sick." Remember that just because someone doesn't want to look at the face of a sick person every time they pass a mirror, doesn't mean that he or she isn't fighting a terrible battle inside. Respect the fight and put the comments in your pocket, we're all fighting difficult battles, maybe try to get to know more about someone else's.
I'll link most of the products I talked about in this post below. I'm not being compensated for my recommendations today, all opinions are my own and I hope they help you live your healthiest, happiest, and most beautiful life.
Also don't forget, survival can be ugly, let it show when you need to and don't be afraid to let yourself look differently than you did before. Our faces are a map of our battles, wear yours with pride.
Lots of Love,