Monday, February 15, 2010

Necessities: Personal grooming

What were once deemed necessities are no more.

The changes described below originally occurred because my finances forced them. The original adjustment to cutting back on modern grooming and hygiene techniques, together with their associated over-hyped products, was painful. However, having finally adapted I doubt I'd return to my previous habits, even if money did come my way... At least... I think so... There is that issue of changing values I've mentioned before, a phenomenon that can be essential to personal survival.

Professional hair cut: Last time I went to a hair salon was in 2001. Ever since, I've cut my own hair - evidence of which you can see here. At first, it was a difficult adjustment - I'd bought into the notion of professional hair cutting as a basic need -, but one does get used to it. I just grab chunks of hair in my fingers, usually with a twist; then cut. I go by the principle that as long as there's enough hair to grab, it's too long. (My hair IS very forgiving.)

I apply the same technique to the back of my head: simply grab chunks of hair and cut. I don't bother trying to see what I'm doing back there. I'd need three hands; one to hold the mirror, one to grab, the other to do the cutting. My cutting implements are the scissors I formerly used to cut fabric to make dance costumes. (I'd be thrilled to have proper hair scissors!)

It also helps in the adjustment that I no longer care what I look like - part of the new lesson being the not caring itself. There have been times this has been a most needful thing. Like those occasions when I've given myself a lopsided haircut and, in trying to fix it, have ended up shorn to within half an inch of my scalp.

I adore the feeling of someone washing and massaging my scalp. Alas, I can't afford it and am on my own here in this wee abode. 

Shaving: No more razors, no more shaving cream, no wax or other goop. And no visits to a beauty salon to have the hair removal done for me.

The adjustment was difficult, particularly exposing my hairy legs during the warm months. I like to wear summer dresses (unfortunately, I've only one). My legs do appear to be less hairy than before I stopped shaving, or perhaps the hair has turned grey, like it has almost everywhere else. The hair is also less coarse, therefore again perhaps less visible for that reason.

Hairy armpits was an easier adjustment, especially since I no longer wear anything sleeveless. Again, the hair is more fine since I stopped shaving it.

Oral hygiene: I brush my teeth at least twice a day.

Long ago, I had one of those electric toothbrushes. Forget the brand, but the instructions for the device advised not to use toothpaste, that the brushing and one's own saliva were all that are needed for proper cleaning.

Still, it's nice to have toothpaste, so I do try to have it around. I use it very sparingly, though, a tiny bead on my toothbrush. When my supply gets low, there's no room in the budget to buy more and no free samples are handy, I've gone without toothpaste.

Toothbrushes I buy only when on sale.

I do floss - and rinse and reuse the floss over and over again. (We use our toothbrushes for ages. Why not floss?)

I have a strong, store brand, antibacterial mouthwash on standby. It's not for daily use or to freshen my breath. Every few applications I will dip my floss into it, but its primary purpose is for when I suspect there's something starting to go wrong in my mouth, like a burgeoning abscess or other sores. Then I swish that burning stuff around my mouth for 30 seconds every two hours. I do this at the first sign of trouble. The mouthwash trick does the job every time.

Washing: I spot clean - face, underarms, feet and nether regions - everyday at the bathroom sink and shower every third day.

I use soap only for underarms and - more sparingly - for my feet. The skin on my feet is very dry, hence why I use less soap on them. For some unaccountable reason, I've LOADS of soap. Can't imagine having to buy it ever again.

I've a skin condition that affects only my face. To avoid painful red spots appearing, I wash it using SpectroJel or the equivalent store brand and must apply, sparingly, a medicated cream. I also use the SpectroJel for my nether regions because I find soap to be too harsh.

In the shower, I use a scrubber for my entire body. And I do one heck of a job, too, scrubbing over and over again. Rather than coating my skin with a soapy film, the scrubbing removes dead skin cells and leaves my skin feeling soft and smooth as a baby's bottom.

I wash my hair every third day, when I shower. I use shampoo sparingly and never buy conditioner or other hair treatments. However, if I've conditioner on hand - say, a sample - I'll use a wee bit maybe once a month.

Lotions & Potions: No lotions. For dry skin I use what was recommended to a friend by her dermatologist: petroleum jelly. Either the Vaseline or store brand will do. (Not the lotion Vaseline Intensive Care; it's totally ineffective.) For extra stubborn areas, such as elbows or feet, apply the jelly liberally before bedtime, cover with something - like a tensor bandage or socks. In the morning you'll notice a substantial difference.

I use unscented deodorant, but sparingly.

No perfume.

No scented or unscented bath oils, beads or foam.

I miss those the most. My senses are keener than those of the average person and my mood is very responsive to colour, texture, scent and sound. My yearning for varied and exotic tastes I've learned to ignore. But I still pine to have candlelit baths in water softened and scented with natural oils, and for this place to be coloured 'me'.


Melissa said...

i too cut my own hair, i just grab it like putting it up in a pony tail, twist it and cut off the end about an inch or so when my split ends get horible. i think paying $30 for a haircut is upsurd and it never looks as good as it did right after.

Chrystal Ocean said...


Almost every time I went to the hairdresser and whenever I heard of someone else just having gone, I - and they - would declare myself/themselves unhappy with the result; and it would take days for the hair to settle down to a style that was somewhat tolerable.

So when I decided to start cutting my own, that was part of my deliberations. If I was going to be unhappy with the result anyway, why not do it myself and be done with the cost?