It’s fall. The air is crisp. Pumpkins are overtaking the seasonal display section of your local grocery store. The wind smells of burning leaves and misanthropy—acrid but not entirely unpleasant. Deep in the primeval forest, the ominous crunch of dead leaves signals Baba Yaga’s arrival.
Now that we know for certain that Baba Yaga is the beauty industry’s next great muse, we thought it’d be great to get ahead of the curve. Flush your box dye down the toilet, cultivate those chin hairs and let’s get into it.
As a crone who lives in the woods and travels via mortar and pestle, the Baba Yaga beauty look is really about letting your skin breathe. All you need is a nice SPF—wrinkles are fine, but skin cancer is not!—and a moisturizer for the cooler months, to soothe wind-chapped cheeks. Add a full body sunscreen to your routine if you’d like, but your various wool ponchos, capes, cloaks and tattered rags should cover most of your extremities.
As for the wrinkles, warts and other facial accoutrements that come with being a witch who lives in the forest and eats intruders, the goal here is to enhance! Wrinkles get a hit of contour—mud, guano, and a dash of yesterday’s tea. If you can’t bear the thought of throwing out your Touche Éclat, use it to draw a ring around your imperfections and blend it out with an ersatz Beauty Blender made of human hair, a dish sponge saved from your former life and the down of the rabbits you caught trespassing last week. For more of an evening glam, make a highlighter out of the rendered fat of your last victim mixed with a little mica and pop that on top of the wart. Paint your face for the children in the village fifteen miles away from your forest lair and you’ll be good to go!
No moisturizing, no masks, no conditioner, not that you’ll find any products that will let your do that deep in the forest. Your hair needs to breathtakingly dry, so brittle that bits of leaves and mouse carcasses get caught up in your tresses for so long that you forget they’re there. So rather than just go no-poo, go no-anything, and let your hair mat and snarl to your heart’s desire. If it gets totally unbearable you can comb it through with the arms of a fallen tree branch or the bristles of your broom.
As for the color, you’ll want to let your imperfections shine through. But not literally shine, as your hair will be the consistency of a tangled cobweb. Rather you’ll want to ditch any hair dye and touch-up routines and let your gray hairs through. Let it grow to your knees in long, long layers and run some fine dirt or sand through your roots when you want some volume. And when it comes to accessories, a musty old hankerchief or kitchen rag that you’ve stolen from a nearby home is a great way to bundle up your hair. This will help for keeping it our of your face when you’re rummaging for scraps and consuming the flesh of unwanted visitors to your hut.
To get the Baba Yaga style you should be deeply committed to layering, and we’re not talking J.Crew catalogue layering. One apron is not enough; instead go with three, tied in different levels around your waist, to give the appearance that there’s a large vat of chicken broth you should be tending to somewhere.
Try a high-necked flannel nightgown, but tear off the bottom hem in a jagged line to give the outfit a boho vibe. Over that, in the colder months, drape a quilted moving blanket around yourself like a serape and belt it with an extension cord you found lying in someone’s backyard. Really strap it to you, because you don’t want it flying off when you’re cruising through the night sky on your broom. And for jewelry, the motto is: the more bones the better! Chicken bones, bird bones, wolves’ teeth—string it all on a piece of twine and wear them like pendants around your neck.
That’s it! You’re Baba Yaga now. Though you wont be able to tell what you look like because mirrors are a thing of your past, the screams of the children you happen upon on your monthly forages will assure you of this truth—you’re absolutely stunning.