Saturday, August 8, 2009



I don't wear make-up and I don’t dye my hair. There, having said that, I can back off a little.

You see I’m not an extremist. It’s just that I am very confident in myself without make-up and hair color. I have a simple routine to get ready in the morning. I always have a busy day ahead and don’t like complications. I wash my face with mild soap and apply extra virgin olive oil on my face and hands. I put on a little lip-gloss, the natural beeswax kind, and brush my hair. My hair is shoulder-length and gray. I wear it in a braid or a knot. I don’t wear any nail polish.

My husband says he doesn't care that I don't wear make-up and have gray hair. He says he prefers natural beauty. Well, I can’t say that I’m a natural beauty, but I’m definitely natural. Like what appears to be 99% of U.S. women (older than 14 years of age), I used to dye my hair. I did so from my forties until when I reached 55 years old. At that point, I decided to see what my natural hair color was. I found out that it was gray-streaked and since then, it has been getting grayer every year.

People don’t call me Grandma for being, or looking, 35 years old – that’s just a couple of years older than the age of my older son and his wife. And, I have two wonderful grand daughters. So, I’m a proud grandma and gray. I like to believe that all those gray hairs are merit badges --- evidence of so many years of experience, of caring, and courage.

Still, I don't think there's anything wrong with women wearing a little make-up, as long as it appears to be a light touch and gives a natural effect. What’s more, I sometimes use a tiny bit myself when I’m go out for business reasons. Then, I apply a little coral lipstick and eyebrow pencil. I use the pencil because, as an old lady, I almost don’t have any eyebrows and the few I have, have become faded.

The last time I put on any more make-up than that was for my son’s wedding, four years ago. Even then, I used only what I considered to be a minimum for being dressed up. For that occasion, I did go to a beauty shop to get my nails painted, but I haven’t been back to a beauty shop. Yes, I did go to a place that cut hair a few times after that. But for the past two years, I’ve worn my hair longer and pulled back, and now I cut my own hair whenever I think it's getting too long.

Of course, I do understand that young women like to enhance their appearance, especially that’s so when they are actively seeking a husband or a male partner. Also, there are some justifiable reasons to use make-up, when a woman is scarred or has an unfortunate facial feature that needs to be disguised. Otherwise, it's really unnecessary – so why hide your true self by piling on make-up?

Changing hair color is something else. It’s just a bad idea. The harsh chemicals in hair dye cause scalp problems and tend to dry out even the strongest hair. What’s more, once hair dye is started, it’s a sort of self-inflicted slavery. It's an almost never-ending battle to dye the hair frequently enough to cover new growth and that represents a significant annual cost.

I hope that you are teaching your daughters and nieces by word and example that they should be confident in themselves without using make-up and hair color. Still, I understand that young girls generally lack self-confidence, and it’s that insecurity that makes them unhappy with the way they look. Tell them they look fine, because that's how they naturally are, and being natural is a good thing. Young girls and women, in general, don’t need to be painted.

If you’re looking for more ways to explain to your girls why being natural is good and why too much concern with appearance is wrong, here are a few things you can tell them.

- Our society has placed much too much value on outward appearance. Minor flaws in our appearance should not be given so much attention. What is more important is how we are on the inside – things like honesty, generosity, and helpfulness.

- Make-up and hair dye are expenses and, for the most of us, we have very little (or no) spare cash. It’s like throwing money away. And even if there is some extra money, it should go into savings for when it’s really needed or donated to a good cause where it can actually benefit someone.

- Many people are allergic to make-up and hair color. So, if you have acne problems or other skin or scalp sensitivities, don’t even think about it. If you don't have any of these problems, count your blessings and don't use so many cosmetic products. That way you can keep a healthy skin and scalp.

- Beyond that, over the years, the use of regular commercial skin and hair color products is a risk for cancer. While natural products are available and undoubtedly safer, they tend to be even more expensive.

- Some cosmetic companies use animals for testing. You probably don’t know which ones, and why take a chance of rewarding such practices? At least, do a little research before buying some product to make sure that no animals were experimented or harmed in making something so unnecessary as make-up or hair dye.

- Last, but not least, the real reason that women continue to buy such things, even as we go through an important recession, is related to TV and magazine advertising. There are billions of dollars being made by those companies who convince women that they need to appear differently or younger than they are. So, as far as I'm concerned, it comes down to something pretty basic. Do we want a little money in our pockets at the end of the month or do we want the cosmetic industry to get even richer?


Anonymous said...

My take on cosmetics, hair dye, etc. is that it is just too much trouble. When I was young I didn't need it and now that I'm old, well... makeup just gets caught in the wrinkles. It is dumb to spend all that time and money only to wind up looking worse than you did before the effort.
I do get my toes done. I can't reach my feet.
(personal hygiene and I have to admit, part vanity)

Anonymous said...

Reading your new blog about dying hair, I think you have a good approach about makeup and hair dye, not being a fanatic against them. There's research info about elevated levels of lead and other heavy metals appearing in women's blood and skin as a result of using makeup (metals/chemicals in makeup). I don't have the source but you could probably find it. It's enough to scare people away from makeup. A natural hair dye is henna, which also strengthens the hair, and comes in various colors and uncolored forms. I would probably henna my own hair, maybe with streaks (frosted) except for the roots growing out maintenance problem. Old age doesn't need any more maintenance what with cancer screenings, teeth cleaning, etc. required. Coloring hair as blue, purple, or red is also fun but it's expensive and you got the root problem there, too.