As a perennial single person who fears cohabitation with any living thing that requires more effort than keeping my fat, grumpy housecat from suicidal hunger strikes, I have always had a love/hate relationship with substantial amounts of alone time. But, I recently moved to NYC where I am rediscovering the joy of roommates. I am swapping smelly Indian takeout and solo Lady Gaga dance parties for wine nights, borrowing clothes, shared online shopping carts, and someone to sign for packages.
However, there is a whole world of activities that I can only do when I’m flying solo, and not all of them require blocked websites and battery operated toys. There are weird foods to be eaten (don’t tell me you don’t know the joy of standing pantsless in your kitchen at midnight on a Tuesday, alternating handfuls of salt and vinegar potato chips with pretzels dipped in chocolate frosting. #BLISS), terrible television to be watched, and elaborate self-care routines to be conducted. If you do elect to pet the kitty afterwards because you are feeling so damn fine and fresh, I’m not here to judge you.
When the coast is clear and I have the place to myself, I immediately replace whatever socially acceptable ensemble I’m wearing with a white tee and sweats. I highly recommend Victoria’s Secret Supermodel Essentials Boyfriend Pants. Make sure you have wine on hand before the aforementioned pants removal. Wine makes everything better, from cutting your own bangs (I do NOT recommend you do this while buzzed and home alone, but I DO have a foolproof method for chopping blunt bangs chez vous to be shared another day) to online shopping.
If you have 24 hours plus, take this time to let your hair get really dirty. I’m serious. Grab that boar bristle brush and give your hair the Marcia Brady approved 100 strokes to redistribute any oil along the length of your hair. If you’re feeling frisky, rub a tablespoon or two of oil (olive, coconut, sweet almond) into dry ends. Stretching the amount of time you go between washes encourages your scalp to produce less oil. During the week, I wash my super fine hair every other day to look like a respectable person. Being a dirty bird on the weekends actually helps keep your scalp happy, especially if you can skip heat styling. Twirl hair up in a bun and let the natural oils do their thing while you enjoy a marathon of your favorite show.
Next, apply a goofy facial mask. My favorite is Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque. This is the only product I have literally been completely loyal to since the seventh grade, and you can find it at any drugstore for less than $5. This dirt cheap green clay mask looks like something you would see on Joan Crawford in the 1950s, which makes it super fun and horrifying to be wearing if there’s a knock at the door. It’s satisfyingly tingly without being too harsh and dries down to an oh-lord-I-can’t-move-my face hardness. If you’re really gross, you can see polka dots of oil in the clay. It’s even vegan and cruelty free!
If acne isn’t your thing, try an enzyme mask for a nice refresher and light chemical exfoliation. Ole Henriksen Blue/Black Berry Enzyme Mask has lovely packaging and is a gentle pick me up for the days your skin is free of major problems but could still use a boost.
I would like to say that I always indulge in a princess bath when I’m alone. But on hardcore beauty recovery missions, I vote shower all the way.
Since I’ve spent the previous day sans shower for the sake of my strands, I feel free to indulge in an environment killing extra- long shower sesh. Start off with exfoliating head to toe. I am a creature of habit and stick with my LUSH Ocean Salt. For bonus scrubbing power, apply the scrub to dry heels and elbows before you start the water running. Applying your scrubs to dry skin intensifies the exfoliation, great if you have a product that isn’t getting the job done on its own.
For my face, I like to use the St. Ives Green Tea Scrub. Facial exfoliants can wreak havoc on your skin with overuse, but nothing feels better to me on a lazy, hungover, Saturday morning then a good buffing.
After washing, clarify your hair. In a plastic tumbler, mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 12-16 oz of warm water. After shampooing and conditioning, pour over your hair. Massage in with the tips of your fingers and let it soak for one minute before rinsing. The smell should fade almost immediately, but I don’t generally like anyone to be my big spoon after a vinegar rinse.
For fun, you can also swap the ACV for a bottle of dark beer. Beer boosts volume, ACV removes buildup and adds shine. Pick your pleasure.
Post-shower is epilator time. An epilator, like this one from Emjoi is essentially a monstrous automated tweezer system. It looks like an electric razor, but instead of blades, there are rows of tweezers that rotate and rip out hair at the root. Sound painful? It is! But, epilating thins hair over time and is fantastic for removing coarse hair from armpits and bikini lines. An epilator will not achieve the same smoothness as a triple blade razor, but it’s the perfect tool for areas like arms where you desire smoothness that looks natural and stubble free, or if you’re prone to ingrown hairs from shaving. Plus, even half-assedly epilating your legs or pits every month can drastically cut down on the need to shave. I recommend for solo use because they do sound a bit like a belt sander, and will leave your skin a little pink. If you buy into hair removal, it’s a great product to own.
The last step is one I hate to even recommend. You should never mess with your face. Never, never, not ever. Stiletto nails have almost cured me of this habit for good. BUT. If you do decide to get a little more friendly with that mirror and manually unclog your pores, do it after a nice pore opening shower and get yourself a scientific implement to at least minimize the damage to your skin. Yep, we are talking about blackheads. This comedone extractor from Avon will only set you back $5 and is easily sterilized with rubbing alcohol before and after each use. Be gentle, stay far away from magnifying mirrors, and never admit to its use. Seriously, if you can’t see it in a regular mirror, it’s not something you should try to fix. I like to follow up with an astringent.
Apres bath is also the best time to pluck your brows. Bust out the Tweezerman and fine tune those arches.
I am all for cuddling, but the worst part about sharing a bed with a loved one is their judgment of my nightly moisturizing routine. I use three products to moisturize my precious face on an average night. When I’m alone, I like to go hardcore Cleopatra and use a luxury face oil to massage my skin. Let an Enya song play in your head as you apply Caudalie Divine Oil with the pads of your fingers. Work in upward strokes in the opposite way that wrinkles form (so, bring your fingertips up on your forehead and move them inward around the eyes). I follow up with an eye cream and a slathering of EOS lip balm.
And lastly, I like to use alone time to catch up on YouTube beauty gurus. It’s not much of a secret at this point, but I have a deep and embarrassing love for haul videos, hair tutorials, and “monthly favorite” round-ups by at least five twenty-something YouTubers. Binge watching beauty is a dish best served alone while your face is covered in kaolin clay.
What are your beauty rituals? If you don’t have a list of guilty pleasures and weirdo self care demands, I highly suggest you get some. Just don’t let anyone see you.