Serving: On Beauty

As I write this, my hair is in a weird in-between stage since I cut it all off in June (and again, even shorter, in July) – just starting to curl in some spots, stick-straight in others. It’s definitely time to shave my legs, as the outsides of my ankles are sprouting some wiry, black hairs that are kind of prickly. And looking at this photo, I’m reminded that it’s probably time to tweeze my eyebrows. The makeup I brought – eyeliner and shadow, mascara – has been sitting in my dusty makeup bag since I arrived. I’ve worn lipstick once – red, at an event 3 months ago.

At the same time, I feel more comfortable in my own skin since I can remember. So comfortable, in fact, that I often forget to look at myself in the bathroom mirror before I leave the house, and a full-length mirror is something I just haven’t gotten around to getting yet. This isn’t for a lack of caring; rather, I find that I generally feel confident about my appearance, and experience less frequently the nagging little thoughts about whether everything is done. Being out and about, I’m not focused on whether I look “pretty”. In this environment, with its abundant sunshine and sticky heat, I feel grounded, sexy, beautiful.

It’s the first time that I’ve made such a departure from having a regular, consistent beauty routine. I’ve never really been one to wear a lot of makeup, and have been wearing even less in recent years, but I have stuck faithfully to a skin and hair routine for a long time, so much so that I submitted my morning routine to a green beauty website earlier this year. Before I came to Belize, I had done all kinds of research and tried all kinds of products to create a clean, toxic-free routine, which actually involved using quite a few products, even though it felt like I was streamlining. Since I’m not able to find those products here, and am not willing to commit myself to paying exorbitant shipping fees to order organic, vegan, paraben-free skin products, I’ve made do. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. My approach to self-care is simpler, and I only use about 5 products every day. And the longer I am here, the more great things I find that are made locally, like Bella Dee’s natural soaps with dope essential oils. And this amazing wonder right here:

Coconut oil: the all-purpose elixir
Coconut oil: the all-purpose elixir

Seriously, this stuff is the best, ever. I bought my first bottle within days of being here, and it’s the health and beauty staple I swear by. It is clean and delicious. I use it on my hair, on my skin, for cooking, for cleansing, for everything. I love that it comes cheap in a big-ass liquor bottle, rather than in a tiny plastic jar you can only get for twenty bucks at some hipster health food store. And it’s made from coconuts right here, like, yesterday:

The coconut situation at the market
The coconut situation at the market

This isn’t to say that I don’t sometimes miss being able to browse the newest skin care products, or that I don’t enjoy using them – I had a friend bring me a bottle of my favorite mineral deodorant from the States when she visited, I’ve been using my rhassoul clay powder that I brought sparingly to make it last, and I still keep a mix of homemade oil blends in rotation. The thing I love is that I feel good about myself and how I look without all the stuff I was using. I’m more relaxed about my appearance and don’t feel pressure around having to present myself a certain way. Because there’s less of an emphasis on consuming here (compared to what I experienced in New York), folks don’t try so damn hard. Being in Belize has improved my overall health on every level, and that’s really what makes me feel like a goddess, more than what’s going on with my eyebrows.

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