Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Simplify Life with Migraines & Chronic Illness: Beauty

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Depending on how you feel about yourself and what makes you beautiful, you may or may not struggle with the limitations chronic illness can place on your ability to keep up with our standards of beauty.

In high school I never worried much about makeup. I wore it if I was going to a club or a dance, and that's about it. Grunge really didn't require much in the way of makeup, what with the copious amounts of flannel and denim. Does lip gloss even go with Docs? I'm not sure. But as I started college I began to grow more enthusiastic about styling my hair and doing my makeup. I think it was the effect of living with a bunch of girls in a dorm. It was a ritual to start drinking and do our makeup. You can imagine the hilarious over application of eye shadow that resulted. Good times. I continued to enjoy makeup and shopping for and applying it all the way through college and law school. I was great at throwing on a five minute face when I started my first real job, and I loved looking pulled together in a suit and slingbacks with my hair and makeup looking perfect. It made me feel powerful and, let's face it, sexy.

But with the advancement of my chronic migraines / chronic daily headache, it grew increasingly impossible to meet those standards. Most days I was rolling out of bed feeling like crap a full 15 minutes before I had to get on the road for my commute. I'd ask my husband to find me something to wear, wash my face, brush my teeth and rush out the door. It was humiliating, but I couldn't keep up with making it to work every day, let alone maintain those standards I'd chosen to impose on myself for years.

These days I'm fairly comfortable with my limits. Since I don't show up to a workplace, I don't much mind running errands and going to appointments in my natural state. I try to keep my eye brows groomed and my legs shaved so I'm not horrified by the overgrowth of blond hair no one but me can even see. On a good day I'm able to fix my hair early in the day and do my makeup in the evening in preparation for dinner or shopping with my husband. That always feels good. But it doesn't hurt to have the kind of husband who tells you that you look better without makeup, either.

I've done some research for this article, but a lot of the information I've compiled comes from my own experiences trying to find ways to make a beauty and grooming routine work within my limits. What tips & tricks do you have to add? Please share in the comments.

Keep your routine simple.
  • Skincare: Some companies will lead you to believe you need a grip load of expensive products to have lovely skin. This is simply not true. Experts recommend just four steps to follow to have great skin: (1) Cleanse; (2) Exfoliate; (3) Moisturize; and (4) Sunscreen.  
  • Makeup: It doesn't take much to make you feel a little better about how you look. Mascara, concealer, powder and lip gloss can go a long, long way toward making you feel polished before you step out for your day. Check out this great video to learn how to do the perfect five minute face: Michelle Phan's Simple Fast Makeup.
  • Hair: Keep your hair long enough to pull it back or short enough to accommodate a wash & wear style. Experiment with products that allow you to get the look you desire with little effort. Your hairstylist can help you find the right choices.
Leave yourself plenty of time for special occasions. We know it takes us longer to get ready than the average woman. We have to accept that. I like to shower early in the day and fix my hair, then rest for a few hours and do my makeup right before I get dressed. If I don't have an entire day to get ready I either do my hair or my makeup, but not both.

Consider paying to have your hair and/or makeup done for special events. You'll be able to save your energy to enjoy the party or event.

Only spend a lot of money on products that are worth that investment and hard to buy in drugstores.
  • Mascara, eye shadow, lip gloss and blush all have great drugstore options. There is no need to spend much on these products to get a great result. 
  • It can be hard to buy foundation, concealer and powder in a drugstore, however, because of the need to match your skin tone. I think it's worth seeking out a specialty store for these products if you possibly can.
Loosen up your personal standards. I used to be one of those people who couldn't fathom going to a work event, dinner or party without having makeup on. Now I know I'm doing good to be able to make it at all and appreciate the moment.

Seemingly little things like shaving your legs and maintaining your bikini line can take on a large burden when you have pain and are low on energy. 
  • Try some short cut products: I've found that the newer Nair products are much nicer than they used to be even 10 years ago. The smell is highly tolerable and they work with little effort. 
  • See a professional: Getting a professional wax is another great option.
Put together an arsenal of short cut products & tips. Some of my favorites include:
  • Neutrogena Cleansing Towelettes: I rely heavily on these when I'm knocked flat at the end of the day. I keep them by my bed.
  • Almay Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover Pads: These are a great companion to the Neutrogena wipes. Even when you're completely beat at the end of the day you can go to sleep with a clean, makeup free face.
  • Dry shampoo or baby powder (perfect inexpensive option for blonds). If you use the baby powder, sprinkle it on your hair and brush it in to allow it to absorb the excess oil in your hair on a day when you can't wash your hair. I've never used dry shampoo since my hair is light enough to use baby powder, so you'll want to follow the package directions in case they work differently.
  • Bliss Problem Salved: This little tube can perform at least 20 functions for you, probably more. Use it to prevent or heal blisters, soothe sunburns or insect bites, soften rough heels, fix makeup mistakes or many other purposes. You can buy it at the Bliss website: Problem Salved.
  • Nars the Multiple: You can use this stick on your lips and cheeks, leaving extra room in your makeup kit.
  • Blend your own tinted moisturizer: You don't need to buy a new product to have a foundation suitable for summer. Blend equal parts of foundation and water-resistant sunscreen in the palm of your hand and apply it like moisturizer. As a bonus you've knocked out two steps in one swipe.

Do Your Makeup Faster
Skin Care: The 4 Basic Skin Care Needs
Six Beauty Shortcuts

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.