For as long as I can remember, Mondays have been my mom’s “days of beauty and health.” Instead of viewing it as the painful start of a working week, she prefers to think of Monday as a day when she carves out some time for herself. A day of beauty instantly conjures up visions of spas and expensive procedures, but nothing of the sort is part of my mom’s routine. She simply does a few face treatments at home, makes sure to leave time for a proper breakfast–green tea, oatmeal with berries and yogurt, instead of her usual coffee and croissant, and in the evening, she takes a bath with scented oils or salts.
When the most expensive cosmetics she could afford were Polish face cream or Yugoslavian mascara, she made face masks at home. Strawberries, apricots, honey, sour cream, and oat bran feature prominently in her recipes. “It’s too early for you to use masks, wait till you get older,” she’d say, as I watched her apply thick creamy concoctions and relax with Georges Simenon’s novels. I couldn’t wait to grow into that marvelous old age when I too could plaster my face with fruit and tell others, “I need 15 minutes of peace and quiet.” My mom must have been 27 at the time.
These days my mom continues her Monday traditions, while I’m much less organized and simply fit in my favorite beauty rituals whenever I find it convenient. On most mornings I do a 3 minute mask by applying a thick layer of moisturizing toner and a damp cotton cloth on top. A pack of 100 plain gauze masks goes for less than $6 on Ebay, and I keep a steady supply on hand. To add a dose of aromatherapy, I spray the mask with rosewater. Damp fabric sticks well to skin, and while I brush my teeth and get ready, the mask works its magic. By the time I’m dressed, my skin is soft and glowing.
Perfume is such a natural part of my routine that I don’t think of it as a separate step. On the other hand, there is a group of scents that feel especially uplifting on these early spring days, when the weather alternates between sunshine and rain. My perfume shelf explodes with blooms, interspersed with leafy greens and citrus fruits. I crave the soft violets of Guerlain Après L’Ondée, the hyacinths of Jacomo Silences, the lilacs of Frédéric Malle En Passant, and the orange blossoms of Bottega Veneta Knot. These fragrances have different characters, but they share a bright, effervescent aura that fits the springtime mood.
If not petals, then leaves. Some of my favorite perfumes with a wholesome, clean presence are colognes, especially the modern variations on this classical genre. Hermès Brin de Réglisse mixes lavender with licorice and brown sugar for a fresh but intriguing effect. The Different Company White Zagora recasts a zesty orange flower as velvety and musky. Tocca Colette takes a gin & tonic idea and spices it up with amber. If you shy away from big perfumes during daytime, such light, second skin like fragrances might be ideal. I usually keep a couple of samples or decants of my favorite statement perfumes in my purse, but they don’t come out until later in the day.
Among other things you might find in my purse on any given day are facial mists and a small bar of chocolate. A spritz with orange blossom mist whenever my eyes get dry from staring too much into the computer screen does wonders; an instant spa treatment, if you will. Even if all you can get is a beverage resembling coffee from the office cafeteria, a square of dark chocolate makes it all better. I firmly believe that chocolate is an indispensable part of a healthy diet.
If you like the idea of changing perfume later in the day, then the collection of samples in your purse will come in handy. Working with fragrances leaves me smelling like a Macy’s perfume department by the end of the afternoon, so if I want to wear a scent for pleasure, I wait till I get home and take a shower. On the other hand, there are days when I want nothing less than a statement, a bold perfume that will make me forget about the daily grind. Out come such bombshells as Guerlain Nahéma, Chopard Casmir, Yves Saint Laurent Opium, and Serge Lutens Une Voix Noire. Sometimes, a pale orange flower just won’t do.
The best part of the day to indulge in beauty treatments is the evening. That’s when I can finally wind down–draw a bath with vetiver salts, try a new facial treatment or just brew a pot of linden tisane and lose myself in a book. If nothing else, I do an oil massage. Makeup artist Lisa Eldridge, explains the process on her blog, and what I do is similar. I usually use DHC Cleansing Oil, almond or camellia nut oil, but even olive oil will do. I follow the massage with my regular cleanser, La Roche-Posay Toleriane, and a final spray of rosewater. Something this enjoyable is too good to be confined to one day a week.
Do you have your favorite beauty rituals? What is your favorite skincare product or treatment?
Photography by Bois de Jasmin