After discovering the ShamPHree method on Offbeat Home, I was super-excited to find ways to tweak and improve my beauty routine. I wanted to make it more simple, more home-made, and more vegan. Having been a goth in my youth and graduating to a pin-up chic look in my young adulthood, I had a pretty complicated beauty routine and I used a lot of products. But as much as I love me some Sephora goodies, did I really need all of them?
Before I started washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar, I had already started making my own toner. I found a recipe online that suggests ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar and ½ cup of green tea, which I sometimes substituted with rosewater. And then I realized buying rosewater is actually kind of pricey…
So I decided to make my own rosewater. It’s a pretty simple process:
- Take the petals off of a rose (Editor’s note: Use only homegrown roses to avoid pesticides.)
- Place them in a stock pot
- Cover the tops of the rose petals with water (don’t use too much, or the rosewater will be diluted)
- And simmer gently until the rose petals lose their color.
To make it last longer, I put the rosewater in an ice cube tray (use an older one, because red and pink rose petals make a highly pigmented rosewater which can stain), popped them out of the tray, and placed them in a labeled freezer bag in the fridge.
The second thing I switched out of my beauty routine was a standard face scrub. Instead I use fine sea salt, which I keep in an old Manic Panic container in the shower. It gently exfoliates and also helps with acne.
Unfortunately, because I use salt for a face scrub, when I started the ShamPHree method, my fiancée noted that I got out of the shower smelling like salt and vinegar chips — not super pleasant. I decided to try mixing the apple cider vinegar conditioner solution with rosewater instead of tap water, and voila — now my hair smells like roses when I get out of the shower, and it’s pretty magical.
The next item I switched out of my beauty routine came out of monetary necessity, much like the rosewater. I was going to order my facial moisturizer online when I realized… that shit is $17. I could use that $17 on something else. So I decided to try my body moisturizer, which conveniently has an SPF of 15, on my face. And you know what? Nothing terrible happened. It turns out I didn’t actually need separate lotions for my face and body, despite what the beauty industry may tell you.
And when I decided my facial cleanser was also a bit pricey, I started looking into making my own out of castor oil and olive oil. But then I thought, “Self, don’t you use Dr. Bronner’s for your body wash? And isn’t that mostly oil anyway?”
And, just like with the lotion, it didn’t kill me to use my body wash on my face.
I had become trapped in societal expectations about my beauty routine. And these expectations aren’t just damaging with their interpretations of my femininity — they were damaging with their interpretations of my age. I hate that we live in such an ageist society where women like Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep are tokens, while their male counterparts are in abundance. This beauty routine I had developed wasn’t because I enjoyed the pampering and the process (and if you do enjoy the pampering and the process, then go you!) — it was because I listened to “beauty authorities” tell me that I needed to be afraid of growing old and afraid of being seen as less feminine.
I think my biggest sin when it comes to my old beauty routine was telling one of my trans friends that “women are supposed to do x/y/z when it comes to their skincare process,” because that’s what I honestly believed at the time. If you’re a femme, girly girl, or a goth princess, or a Rockabilly pin-up queen, or a guy who wants to pamper his skin, and you honestly enjoy all those products, then by all means, continue with your process and rock that shit. And if using the same soap and lotion all over your body works for you — as I have just recently learned it does for me — then go ahead and use that same soap and lotion all over your body.
The things you do to take care of your skin are not direct reflections of your gender identity or gender presentation — they’re just the things you do to take care of your skin. And as long as you’re comfortable in that skin of yours, that’s what counts.