The Practice of Hair Humility

Every two years, around this time, I chop off my hair. I have been doing this since I was in my early twenties. It’s an act against vanity, as well as a reminder to be gracious, giving, and humble.

When I was a really young girl, I was always asked the question, “What do you love most about yourself?” Not socially aware enough to say non-physical traits (I wish I was wise enough to say “my smarts!” or “my courage!”), I always answered with “My hair.” Mostly, it was socially learned. Adults would always croon over my hair, begging to braid it or comb it. They’d exclaim how long, straight, and glossy my hair looked, how well it behaved. No one ever wanted to croon over my smarts.

In middle school during my pre-teen years, I would wake up at 6 a.m. every day and curl my hair with a curling iron. I learned how to curl my hair at 12 years old. It would take me an hour or so, which wasn’t bad considering I had so much of it and I had not-so-nimble child-like hands. My hair is stick straight, so by the time I showered after school, I would have straight hair again and I couldn’t wait to re-curl my hair the next morning. Oh the joy of being young and having so much time on your hands! When I started high school, I always had my hair done up. I would check my hair during every break to make sure it still had volume, and would curse the weather (or the gods) whenever my hair fell short. I took pride in getting haircuts frequently, every month or so, and changing up my hairstyle often.

At some point, in high school, I read the book The Little Women. When I read of Jo sacrificially cutting off her long locks in order to buy medicine for ailing Mr. March, a chord struck. I started noticing advertisements of children with illnesses, adults with cancer, elderly people suffering from alopecia. I felt oddly sickened by my own behavior towards my hair, the way I prize it, revere it almost. In a way, I was made aware of my vanity, and knew that I wanted to live a different way.

So I chopped off my hair. I packaged it neatly and sent it in to Locks of Love. The first time I did this was in my late teens.

In my early twenties, I decided to start making it a habit. I would dutifully grow my hair to a long length, only to cut it again. Typically, it takes me two years, and the yearning to cut it falls somewhere around the New Year. Sometimes, I want to cut it or trim it when it’s in it’s awkward stages, but doing so slows down the re-growing process, so I resist. Sometimes, when it’s short, I want it to stay short, but I don’t allow myself the luxury. And sometimes, when it’s long and I am heading in for a haircut, a small part of me wishes I could keep it long for a while longer. But the urge doesn’t last.

Cutting my hair keeps me grounded, and it keeps me humble. Additionally, it simplifies my life. I generally know when to cut my hair, and when to grow it. When I do cut it, the options are limited. Most times, the minimum required length determines the hairstyle I receive. I usually don’t care too much about it. I try to remember that hair is just hair and it will grow back. The act of cutting my hair reminds me to care more about who I am and how I treat others than about how I look. It’s an extreme form of intentional action. I am grateful for the gift of hair, but am even more grateful that I am able gift it and let it go. It’s all just another part of creating a lifestyle by design.

Minimalist Make Up Routine

If you know me at all, you would know that I am not a make-up person. Flashbacks to nightmarish beauty pageants in the Philippines and getting poked in the eyes with liner pencils at the age of 5 probably shaped my current stance on wearing makeup. That stance being, the less make-up the better. I remember family photo shoots and birthday parties, going to beauty salons to get completely done up. I am talking foundation, eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow, blush, lipstick, the whole nine yards. Eyes burning from the mascara when I momentarily forgot that rubbing my eyes was not smart. Tasting lipstick when I licked my lips in preparation for my birthday cake. It makes you not want to eat cake. In fact, my entire face felt like cake.

Exposure to this type of make-up experience would make any teen happy to live without. I entered the make-up scene late, compared to my peers. I started wearing eye-liner in 11th grade, when I was sixteen years old. And I am talking eye-liner in the most modest sense, a wooden pencil that traced the inside of my lower lid. I wore lip gloss because it was cool, but quickly swapped it for chap stick, which was much more comfortable. I did not start wearing mascara regularly until my third year of college, around when I was 20 years old. Everyday, I wore only eye liner and mascara, with lip balm. Granted, on special occasions, I dabbled in foundation and whatever eye shadow my aunts would gift me (typically going for neutral colors over, well, colors). Please note that I have never in my life bought foundation or eye-shadow, let alone blush or that glimmery stuff that makes you look bronze? I only happen across them as people gifted them to me, probably thinking that I was in need of it. I would occasionally wear lipstick too (a few of which I’ve bought myself), and while I love the look, it usually resulted in chapped lips. By the end of the night, I would have switched back to my trusty lip balm, all thoughts of glamour discarded, put on the shelf for another night out.

On such occasions deemed special, I look at myself in the mirror and and can’t help but feel clownish, at best, and a fraud, at worst. Overall, there’s a level of discomfort associated with putting my face on, as some would do everyday. Luckily for me, I look almost exactly the same with make-up as I do without make-up. My sister has that Belle ability to transform her image whenever she applies makeup. For some people, the effects are dramatic. For myself, minimal, as with all other aspects of my life. My husband literally cannot tell the difference between when I have make-up on or when I don’t. The only time he has been able to note the difference was when I placed so much on that I myself felt like I was part of a circus. He called me alien, which was the most perfect  description I have ever heard for what it feels like to wear make-up. It doesn’t mean I refuse make-up all together. Just that my comfort zone falls between eye-liner, and maybe a dash of mascara. On days off, I feel just as comfortable going bare.

With age comes wisdom, or at least a better understanding as to what I like and what I don’t like. Right on the heels of that thought, there comes the courage to do solely what works for me. On my days off, I’ve made an effort to go without. Some would say it wouldn’t be fair for me to project this on everyone, since we’ve all got different needs, and that’s fine. I’ve had people tell me I could “get away with it” because I was lucky enough to have fairly decent skin and doe eyes and a small face, or whatever. For the record, there was a long time when I felt like it was not okay to go without. To be honest, the way I see myself is completely different from the way others see me. I consider myself having a boyish face with bulldog cheeks and a large forehead. But hearing others compliment me on certain features made me realize that we as a society are way too harsh on our own reflections. Due to societal standards and peer influences, going bare makes one wonder if everyone else sees them as the ugly duckling they think they are. I had my own share of minor freak out moments when I realized I stepped out the door without a drop of make-up on me. It takes a lot to let it go. Even now, there are certain times when I feel uncomfortable going somewhere without at least a dash of eyeliner, work being the most common example, but also get-togethers and parties. We must all remember that this is nothing but a social construct, ingrained in our cultures way back when indigenous people painted themselves with all sorts of berry juice and seed mulch. Once I strengthened my resolve and embraced that fact, I’ve found the courage to step through that door, head held high. I’d like to think that the cliche of a genuine smile is enough to carry me through the day.  I recently went through my make-up collection, mostly consisting of expired goods that I hardly touched, and got rid of everything that I did not use. I came across the following items to purge:

2 foundations, 2 blush, 3 lipsticks, 4 eye-shadow palettes, 2 bronzers, and 2 primers.

While I don’t know how to properly apply half of that stuff, I do know how useless they’ve been sitting in my drawer for an embarrassing number of years, waiting for those just-in-case occasions that never came. The only make up that I kept are:

1 eyebrow pencil, 1 eyeliner, 1 mascara, 1 lipstick, and lip balms Galore, which may or may not count.

Related to my issue with the lack of benefits of make-up products are the cringe-worthy moments when I see that a majority of these make-up products are packaged in plastic. Single-use plastic containers, and always sold in small packaging, which further increases plastic waste. Arguably the make-up industry has a far ways to go to improve their packaging of cosmetic goods. Even after much research, I have found it difficult to find alternative products that I am actually satisfied with. Luckily, with my minimal stash of cosmetics, I am already diminishing my effects on the environment. However, the whole thing still leaves much to be desired.

Here are a few essentials that are environmentally friendly (-er). It would be ideal to have products that are cruelty-free, produced with all natural ingredients, and come in recyclable packaging. These are not perfect, but we try.

What I Already Have

  1. Chanel Crayon Sourcils Sculpting Eye Brow Pencil – Only to be worn when I roll out of bed feeling a bit more sophisticated, or diva. Maybe once every week. I still have the same pencil that I bought two years ago, and there’s enough to last another half a year perhaps. I prefer this over eyebrow pencils in plastic containers. Just a traditional pencil that could be sharpened the good old way. Yes, the bristly end could be improved. In all honesty, it could be discarded all together.
  2. Chanel Le Crayon Kohl Intense Eye Pencil – Eyeliner is the one thing I am picky about because it’s the one thing I wear pretty much on the daily, and not all eye-liners are created equal. Due to minimal use, it can also last me close to a full year, which makes my decisions even more important. Just like the eyebrow pencil, I traded in my favorite eyeliners packaged in plastic tubes for a plain old pencil. It took me a long time to find what I liked, with the first few (cheaper) pencils that I’ve tried feeling similar to sharpened colored pencils that poked at my eyes. This is soft enough to easily apply and does not irritate my lids. It shares a sharpener with its friend, the eyebrow pencil.

What I Want

  1. Meow Meow Tweet Vegan Lip Balm – Lip Balm is a standard item in my purse or pocket. Packaged in a 1oz compostable paper tube instead of plastic cartridges, these address that plastic issue. They are made of pure organic essential oils and comes in three scents, Coconut Cacao, Sweet Orange Tangerine, and my preferred scent, Rosemary Eucalyptus.
  2. Vapour Organic Beauty Siren Lipstick – A natural, non-toxic, cruelty free lipstick that could be used for those rare special occasions. Even rarer for this product is the 100% recyclable outer packaging.

Unfortunately, mascara is the item in my collection that I can’t find a non-plastic solution to. And yes, Chanel has not actually released whether or not they test their products cruelty free, so I feel short of satisfied using their products, but for now, it’s what I’ve got. For those wondering about my beauty clean-up routine at night, bar soap and water is all I use. Zero waste for the win!

Anyone out there want to share their ethical and waste free go-to beauty products? Please do.

For those who have much left to be desired with this post, check out the following for your other make-up routine needs. Unfortunately, I can’t give much advice on how to use them.

+To Create The Foundation

+A Refillable Blush

+A Face Mask

+This Face Oil

+Protection Against the Sun

+Reusable Cosmetic Poufs

+Facial Cleanser

+Facial Cloths

+This  article for more.