Beauty is nature's gift, easy to recognize in so many facets and oftentimes painstakingly difficult to maintain. Ah, the blessing/curse of being a woman.
I was never too concerned about fashion when I was younger (as evidenced by the many repeat outfits I have on in childhood photos. RIP beloved purple overalls), but I was very curious about make-up. My mom worked at Macy's (then Jordan Marsh) each Sunday, and I was fascinated by the extra Clinique "free gifts" she would bring home. Moreover, when my grandma from Arizona visited, she would treat my sister and I to "facials" before falling asleep each night. I was wearing Oil of Olay every day by middle school (completely unnecessary, of course) and one of the first of my group of girlfriends to be allowed to wear make-up. I loved getting dolled-up then just as much as I do today.
Now, as I'm *this close* to being a bride, I've paid extra special attention to my beauty routine, allowing for a little pampering and a lot of preparation for our island nuptials.
Twice a day, I wash my face with Cetaphil cleanser (they also have a body wash for the shower), followed by the 3-step Proactiv system ($39.95). I know some people say that Proactiv doesn't work as a long-term solution, but I have had a clear complexion for nearly four years now.
I use my previously mentioned Oil of Olay ($9.99) as a moisturizer (if it ain't broke...), and a fantastic vitamin E eye cream from The Body Shop ($17 Thank you, Kara!).
I will be going to a salon on St. John for both make-up and hair on my wedding day based on reviews I read from brides online. It will be an interesting experiment to see how it turns out!! If you don't have it in your budget to hire a make-up artist for your wedding day, be sure to at least invest in a good set of application brushes, especially for your eyes ($25+ each). I use a combination of Bobbi Brown and Mac make-up for everyday.
Locally, Melissa Vigue, co-owner of Bei Capelli Salon in Scarborough, tends to my locks with highlights every 8 weeks (cut & color $120). I am so looking forward to chopping off some of the length after the wedding!
Beyond those basics, I've been concentrating on a few cosmetic things specifically for the wedding. Last summer, I went to a local dentist and made molds of my teeth for custom whitening trays ($425 for molds, $69 for 4 syringes of the bleach). A few days a week, I have been whitening my teeth with Opalescence gel for two hours. It's a really simple, gentle process that doesn't leave my teeth extra sensitive (I use Sensodyne, just in case). J had an intense one-time three-hour treatment at the dentist's office, leaving him in a lot of pain for a few days. No, thanks!
Every 6-8 weeks I have had both eyebrow and Brazilian waxes, the latter being quite a brave chore. I know what you're thinking- am I insane? Well, no. Waxing definitely isn't the most pleasurable experience, but I do it for the ease of comfort and maintenance after the pain wears off (a few ibuprofen 20 minutes before an appointment helps). Remember, I'm getting married on a beach! If you have an esthetician who knows what she's doing, she'll distract you with idle conversation. Curious? Give it a go with Mareka at Akari Salon & Spa in the Old Port ($20 eyebrow; $60 Brazilian).
I don't, however, wax my lip (I hate the feeling when it grows back in). I use Sally Hansen's facial bleach. It's quick, easy and super cheap (under $5 at your local drugstore).
I make a point to not spend much time in the sun as is, but seeing as we'll be spending a significant amount of time on the beach for our wedding week I decided I should work on a base (lobster skin would not look pretty in my dress). We have a super cute tanning salon around the corner from our house called Local Acapulco. Doesn't that name make you smile? Despite the harmful health repercussions, the 12-minute doses of heat and light have been a welcome respite to this sputtering start to spring in Maine ($49 unlimited visits/month).
I prefer alternating from the booth style to the traditional bed for maximum even coverage. Don't forget to use a lotion. The sales associate can help match you for your skin type and desired level of darkness ($49 for accelerator or bronzing lotion).
After all the hard work of planning, taking some time out to relax is just as important. I have recently enjoyed a body polish (exfoliating scrub) treatment at Akari ($90) which leaves me feeling like mush from the massage but also like I've accomplished something (soft, glowy skin as evidence), a Swedish massage by Lisa at Royal River Massage in Falmouth, one of my former brides! ($65/hour), a facial with Joanne of Joya Beauty ($60), and I look forward to a firming wrap at Akari ($130) next week!
Next week will also include an appointment for a manicure and pedicure at A Perfect 10 Salon in South Portland ($60 mani & pedi). Owner Carolyn operates her "Steel Magnolias"-type shop out of her house, a throwback experience! She's the best nail tech I've been to in the area and many other people think so too as she books weeks in advance. I'm considering orange toes (to match our aqua and orange wedding colors) instead of a traditional wedding French. What do you think? :)
As a birthday gift to myself and a reward for my hard work at the gym lately, I scheduled an appointment with a personal shopper at Nordstrom's to look for some island wear. Perhaps I've been watching too many shows on TLC, but I was very curious what the experience would be like and if my shopper would have any tips to keep in mind while shopping alone. We first walked the store together, remarking on things I liked/disliked so that she could get a better sense of my style. I then retreated to the dressing room where she brought me armloads of outfits to try. I will happily report that I did purchase things I would have overlooked on the racks myself (there was no pressure to buy big ticket items). I would definitely recommend it!
Re-reading this and the exercise post, it's easy for me to sigh and see where my paycheck has been going lately. Although I plan to maintain my exercise routine, I will most certainly cut back on my beauty splurging post-wedding. As J jokingly said (after asking me if we could have pizza again after the wedding), it all goes downhill once we're hitched. Riiiiiiight.
Part 1 (eating)
Part 2 (exercise)
Part 4 (balance) to come!