If you’re reading A Chic Life, you aren’t someone who rolls out of bed and scavenges an outfit from decrepit garments bearing stains of unknown provenance. You take care with your hair and skin, your toilette, your personal hygiene.
But as you’re reading about how to simplify your beauty routine, as opposed to studying in-depth hair and make-up tutorials, you probably also value simplicity, understatement, and an effortless sense of style.
How then do you get the balance right? Can you be chic, stylish, elegant, polished, well-put together – yet also embrace a minimal approach to your grooming and beauty routine? Mais oui, ma chère amie. Living a chic life, being more chic with less effort, that’s what this blog is all about. So let’s turn to how.
What is your beauty philosophy?
No, I don’t mean the ontological implications of exfoliation. The first thing you need to clarify is your overall approach to grooming and beauty.
My philosophy is that I don’t want my going-out self to look so different from my how-I-wake-up self that I get a fright when I look in the mirror in the morning. I’d rather appear less amazing when I’m ‘done up’ and feel happier the rest of the time with me, au naturel.
I’m also a minimalist in most things – I enjoy simplicity, having less, doing less, a sense of order. I recognize how gorgeous some women look with highly styled hair and make-up. But – apart from rare, professional photo shoots for books – that’s not me. Even in TV shows or movies, I’m far more attracted to the pared-back style of European and especially French women than the overly coiffed and made-up look in US productions. Effortless and understated is more my taste. Not only looking effortless, but feeling effortless.
So, what’s your beauty philosophy? Be honest – both about what you like and what you’re prepared to do. If you begrudge the time for a lengthy blow-dry each morning, then you’ll only grow frustrated with a time-consuming coiffure. Conversely, if you adore the glamour of full make-up, don’t deny yourself this joy by trying to force a more natural style on yourself. Be you – it’s the core element for living a chic life.
I don’t want my going-out self to look so different from my how-I-wake-up self that I get a fright when I look in the mirror in the morning. I’d rather appear less amazing when I’m ‘done up’ and feel happier the rest of the time.
Design your beauty routine pyramid
So now we know how much effort we want to invest in beauty and grooming. To simplify your beauty routine, let’s turn to my pyramid concept.
I think of how we allocate our precious resources of attention, time, and effort in life as a pyramid. At the wide bottom are the most fundamental pieces, the areas that matter most to us, the places we get most benefit for our efforts. In the middle are important but less crucial areas. And at the top is the cream, the cherry, the extra bits that add delight and fun and joy.
I use this concept for everything that makes up a chic life – work, relationships, inner peace, closet. I’m always asking myself what the foundation of my life investment should be.
If you begrudge the time for a lengthy blow-dry then you’ll grow frustrated with a time-consuming coiffure. If you adore the glamour of full make-up, don’t deny yourself this joy by trying to force a more natural style on yourself. Be you.
My beauty routine pyramid
Turning specifically to beauty and grooming, here’s what my pyramid looks like.
At the base: My daily / lifestyle beauty routine
At the base of my pyramid, the foundation of my beauty and grooming routine, are elements that make the most difference to how I look and feel. They are inside-out beauty tactics.
Importantly, these are areas that affect how I look naturally, when I wake up in the morning.
This base level includes:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Aiming for 7 or more hours’ sleep nightly
- Staying out of the sun as much as possible
- Applying a sunscreen when outdoors
- Using a simple, high quality cleanser and moisturizer
- Avoiding being around smokers
- Maintaining a pleasant expression on my face
- Being kind and compassionate
- Meditating / doing DIY therapy daily
- Using a rich body lotion after showering
- Exercising 4-6 times a week
- Eating vegetables
- Eating salmon once a week if I can
- Avoiding too much junk / comfort food (ah, my weakness!)
- Drinking in moderation
- Brushing my hair with a scalp massaging brush each night
- Choosing a simple but chic hairstyle (mine is a pixie cut that air dries – the beauty minimalist’s dream!)
- Doing things every day that give me pleasure
- Wearing a dab of fragrance on my pulse points – usually from Chanel or Dior, though I recently bought some older fragrances to evoke a younger sense of myself
- Slicking on lip balm.
In the middle: My weekly / monthly / occasional beauty routine
In the middle of my grooming and beauty pyramid are regular but not everyday actions and habits.
For the sake of simplicity and order, I do these on a recurring schedule. For example, I wash my hair every Monday and Thursday, I do my mani and pedi every Wednesday, I book my next cut and color appointments when paying for the current one. It feels chic and organized to maintain things this way, and it means I never notice with a shock that my fingernails can turn on the espresso machine from across the room.
My middle level includes:
- Doing a weekly DIY manicure and pedicure
- Washing my hair twice weekly with high quality shampoo and conditioner
- Getting an excellent cut every 6 – 8 weeks
- Having my hair colored (my natural color) every 3 – 4 months
- Having an occasional professional manicure with SNS color
- Having a monthly pedicure during warmer weather.
It feels chic and organized to maintain things this way, and it means I never notice with a shock that my fingernails can turn on the espresso machine from across the room.
At the tip: My ‘going-out’ beauty routine
At the tip of my beauty and grooming pyramid are the things I do if I’m going out. Here is where I make least effort, because I invest most of my time, money, and attention into priorities at the base of my beauty routine pyramid.
This has two advantages for simplifying my life. First, I don’t take long to get ready. And second, I have only a few cosmetics and hair styling products, which means I can afford to buy the best. I love having less, but better quality.
When at home I dress in a chic at-home style – relaxed and casual but never frumpy. I don’t ever want to be embarrassed to answer the door! My hair is easily finger-styled and left to air dry. I always add fragrance and lip balm.
But when I’m going out, I kick it up a notch. It’s only a small notch, but still!
- If I’m going somewhere casual, such as a shopping trip, I might apply tinted moisturizer, eyeliner, a sweep of blush on my cheekbones, and a creamy lipstick.
- If I’m going to dinner, I’ll go wild with a few additions: neutral eyeshadow, darker lipstick, and a coat or two of mascara. Depending on the state of my cut, I may add texture balm or hairspray.
- I like to dress well when I’m going out, no matter the occasion, but that’s for another post.
I have only a few cosmetics and hair styling products, which means I can afford to buy the best. I love having less, but better quality.
Use the beauty pyramid to simplify your beauty routine
I love my pyramid concept for creating a simplified and elegant beauty routine. It clarifies where I want to invest most time and money – more at the base where I get the best returns, less at the top, which is icing. It helps me organize my beauty treatments and appointments. It makes it easy to pare back my beauty and grooming routine to the steps that match my philosophy and lifestyle.
Best of all, it allows me to achieve a chic and polished style while also embracing a simple, effortless, and understated aesthetic.
What about you? What does your beauty and grooming pyramid look like? Can you invest more time, money, and effort on the base, on habits and practices that contribute to your inside-out beauty? As a result, can you simplify your beauty routine?