When it comes to making risky, life-altering decisions, I am very decisive. I have quit jobs because of shitty environments with nothing lined up—hell, I left a lucrative (albeit soulless) career to chase an impractical dream of being a writer—and, though I wish it didn’t come to this, I took a gamble on my future when I broke off an engagement to my partner of five years in my 20s. So it often surprises people to learn that I am ready to rip my brain out of my head when facing smaller quotidian decisions like picking out a shampoo and conditioner, shopping for a new set of dishware, or buying a new pair of shoes. I can spend hours online window shopping, in which I’ll survey every website I can think of and compare prices and styles, in the end amassing 52 products in my cart on five sites but purchasing zero. I do this with clothes, furniture, bedding, beauty products, electronics, kitchenware, art supplies, gym clothes, everything. The really crazy part is that in the end, I will have spent a dozen hours and bought fewer than four things.
The existentialist in me has decided that it makes no real difference whether I buy the glossy new organic Argan-oil infused conditioner or the one-dollar Suave one—except, perhaps, for the hole it leaves in my pocket, or the microscopic change in sheen that I’ll never be able to detect. I’m not saying this is a smart approach—in fact, it really is not. It is deeply neurotic. But it’s the one that, I guess, saves me money. I say all of this to explain why I tend to avoid buying beauty products, rely mostly on recommendations, and when I settle on one I like, I rarely stray.
I’m a few weeks into a new routine in which I try my best to wake up around 7 a.m. and then work out or run three to five miles before I get online at 8:30. I ran cross country in high school in college, and now I’m discovering that building a routine around my physical health is one of the best ways to stabilize myself and feel secure in a world that I largely cannot control.
The first thing I do is wash my face with Spectro Jel Cleanser for Blemish Prone Skin, a drugstore-brand facewash that’s available in Canada, but not the U.S., recommended to me by a former dermatologist. I then brush my teeth with my electric Oral-B toothbrush and Sensodyne toothpaste, because I did not take care of my apparently very sensitive teeth for most of my life.
After my workout, which takes about an hour to an hour and a half, I’ll take a quick shower. Actually, no, I will take a long shower. My shower is one of my favorite things in my life; I am greeted by a symphony of jets in what is essentially a marble-tiled room. It feels amazing. I will likely never have a shower this nice again, so I plan on indulging while I can.
Depending on how grimy my hair is, I will either wash it, or just give it a quick spray with dry shampoo. I was using DryBar’s because I love the smell, but I ran out and then I got a free bottle of Garnier Fructis’s Pure Clean dry shampoo at a gala a few weeks ago that I’ve been using. When it runs out, I’ll probably go back to DryBar.
I’ve never developed an affinity for any particular brand of shampoo and conditioner, but right now I’m using Sebastian Drench moisture shampoo and conditioner because my 21-year-old cousin has it and he has tried, like, all the products so I figured I would try it, too. So far, it’s fine. I also use Head & Shoulders shampoo once a week. Exciting, I know. If I am keeping my hair curly, which I’ve been doing more lately, I’ll barely dry it and run a clump of Sebastian Potion 9 (a great recommendation from my aunt) into my hair, set it with Living Proof Instant Texture Spray (another great recommendation from a former hair stylist), and let it air dry. Otherwise, I blow dry my hair and then lightly curl it by twirling it with a hair straightener, which is an overly complicated process considering my hair is naturally curly. But this eliminates frizz and tames the wave a bit, making my hair look longer. I tend to do this once a week, and if so, usually I will wash my hair the night before or earlier in the morning. I also might shave, a routine I will share with you because I get ingrown hairs easily and this is the only routine I’ve found that has almost entirely eliminated them: First, I trim with a Panasonic bikini trimmer (you can use it anywhere, not just for the bikini area!). Then I exfoliate with Handmade Herbal 100% Raw Goat Milk Coffee Scrub Soap that I buy from Amazon. After I rinse it off, I use baby oil and shave with my Schick Hydro Silk razor for sensitive skin.
For my face, I’m mostly counting on my melanin to continue to do its thing and keep me looking young forever (if that’s not how melanin works, please don’t tell me), and trying to do whatever I can to keep my skin clear. As I get easily overwhelmed by options and products, I have outsourced my skincare routine to my dermatologist (recommended to me by Jezebel colleague Rich Juzwiak). I don’t put any sort of toner, serum, or cream on my skin unless he recommends it. At some point, I may tweeze any unwanted facial hair, which sadly I have a LOT of, with the aid of an overpriced Simple Human mirror that an ex-boyfriend bought me. I would never, ever have purchased this for myself, but I’m very pleased to have it.
After my shower, I’ll apply some Cetaphil moisturizer to my face and neck, and then use my Tretinoin 0.5% prescription cream, a retinoid that I have fallen in love with and, as far as I am concerned, is the fountain of youth in a bottle. It sloughs off dead skin cells so I’m visibly brighter, and clears whiteheads so my skin is smooth. After a few weeks on this stuff, my skin has been glowing and my hyperpigmentation scars have been fading. I cover that with Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 (yeah, I don’t fuck around) sunscreen, which leaves my face a bit greasy, but I don’t care because greasiness is a small price to pay for clear skin.
It’s now around 8:30 a.m., and time to sign online from home. At some point in the morning, I’ll make some tea with an electric kettle, have a protein shake, and then eat some yogurt with peanut butter, berries, almonds, and cinnamon for breakfast while at my desk in the living room. Like almost everyone else on staff, I’ll head into the office midday, anywhere between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
There was a time where I would not have left the house without makeup. However, in the last year, I have become a lot more accepting that I will, from time to time, be mistaken for a teen. I would like to say I feel more confident without makeup, and if I’m comparing myself to 16-year-old Prachi, I definitely am, but the sans makeup days are usually a result of lack of time or laziness more than anything else. On most days, my makeup routine is as follows: Using my fingers, I first dab some Bobbi Brown Corrector in Dark Peach under my eyes. I fill in my eyebrows, patchy from 15 years of trying to have white girl eyebrows until white women discovered Cara Delevingne, with Nyx’s Micro brow liner in black. I prefer not to wear foundation now that my skin is finally clearing up, so I tend to skip this next part on most days: To tame the greasiness, I may brush Benefit’s Get Even face powder in No. 03 all over my face, and might add Sephora’s Matte Perfection Power Foundation in Warm Toffee under my cheekbones. This is my effort to contour, but I suspect it does nothing. I might add some Pacifica Coconut Blush to my cheeks, eyelids, nose and chin with a fan brush. I chose this blush because I received a sample of it, and will likely dig up another sample to replace it once its done. For lips, I usually wear Kat Von D’s liquid matte lipstick in Lolita.
Most of my makeup focuses on my eyes, which are, in my opinion, my best feature. I’ll admit that I go a little heavy on the liner, and I will not apologize for it. I line my bottom inner eyelid with Make Up For Ever’s Waterproof Creme Eyeshadow in aqua black and Nyx Epic Ink eyeliner in black on my upper lid. I dab some Benefit’s Watt’s Up highlighter in my inner eyes and use Tarte smolderEYES Amazonian clay eyeliner in an olive green shade that I can’t seem to find online right now. For my lashes, I wear Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara, which I also use to set my brows. If I’m going to an event, I’ll prime them first, which makes them look fake. Nice. This has more or less been my standard eye beauty routine since 2008, and I don’t plan on changing it up any time soon.
Lately, I’ve been TRYING to do some meal prep, so I’ll pack some brown rice and a protein—homemade daal or tofu stir fry—with a cucumber, tomato, and onion salad and bring it in my bento box from Amazon, a recent investment made at the suggestion of my boyfriend. I leave the office around 6:30. If I’m going to an event and need to re-apply makeup, I’ll usually just check my eyeliner and lipstick situation.
The second I return home, whether it’s 7 p.m. or 11 p.m., I am immediately in my pajamas. Like, I throw my pants to the bedroom floor and pull out the sweats. If I have makeup on, I remove it with Bioderma Sensibio H2O makeup remover, which is made specifically for sensitive skin and melts the makeup off my face without drying it out.
Just before bed, I brush my teeth, toss out my daily disposable contacts, and do my morning face routine again, swapping the retinoid for another prescription, Clindamycin Posphate and Benzoyl Peroxide Gel. It smells faintly bad, like the clothes sitting at the bottom of my laundry, but my boyfriend has never seemed to notice this. However, it zaps deep pimples before they can appear on my face, so I will use it forever.
I get my glasses, then bed by 10:30 or 11 p.m. I’ll read for a bit (lately I’m reading investing books, so hit me up with your all your deep financial knowledge, please), or, more often, I’ll scan Instagram and look at social media stars and then feel very bad about myself. When I am sufficiently disgusted by myself, I will try to fall asleep. Then I’m up, or half-up, at 7 and attempt to do it all again.