The High Cost of Looking Low Maintenance

While in Cuba last week, I went down to almost zero maintenance. We stayed in spare conditions, and I survived on travel shampoo, soap and moisturizer, and no makeup except for tinted lip balm. Some may consider these barbaric conditions, but since I’m fairly low maintenance in my regular life, this was not too troublesome. I’m basically a shower-and-go-girl because this leaves me more time to run and do other things that I find more interesting and rewarding…like watch The Bachelorette. Also, I’m 47, so no matter what I do, Beyonce is not walking out of my house. Despite this cavalier attitude, and in the spirit of full disclosure, the truth is there’s a price for my looking low maintenance, a substantial one. Below is the breakdown.

Me in Cuba last week, sans fard, no filter.
Me in Cuba last week, sans fard, no filter.

Skin Products. I do not skimp. I do not buy stuff at CVS. I’m sure it’s fine, but I’m not taking any risks. I go to a boutique store in Santa Monica called The Arcona Studio. You know, it’s one of those minimalist places decorated in pale wood and the sales people wear pseudo-lab coats. I use their entire line, which means seven products. A cleanser, hydrator, protector, exfoliator, scrub, and serums.
Cost: $400 for entire line; $500 per year


Facial. Even though I use high-end products, I still need a specialist to manage my skin. Cindy has been a part of my team since 2008 (I just wanted to be totally obnoxious and say that I have a team). I’m about to turn 48, and yes, part of this is genetics, but look at my skin in the photo above. Cindy changed my life. I didn’t realize that my skin was changing, and I was using the products that a 20-year old with oily skin would when I met her seven years ago. She has been on top of things and kept me foundation free all this time. I see her every five weeks.
Cost*:$55-75 per visit; $600 per year

Lash Lift. As an Asian woman one of my beauty woes is sparse eyelashes that grow straight down. Not cool. Without lash lift, doing my eyes for work would involve using an eyelash curler, putting on two coats of mascara, and they would still look meh. I’ve done extensions, and while those made a huge difference (I looked amazing – like seven years younger), the lash lift is not as dramatic a change. However, this can also be a good thing as it looks more natural. While I knew I looked better with extensions, they were so pronounced that I always looked done, which was fine a lot of the time, but weird when I’d go to the gym. The lash lift is the same idea as a perm but with different rods, and the result is lifted lashes, like an awake look. Unlike extensions, the lashes aren’t fuller since they’re your own, but that also means no lashes are falling out, and thus one does not have to obsess about losing lashes. I hated being so conscious of this. There are no special after-care instructions you have to follow, like making sure not to get water on them when showering or washing your face, not sweating into them (um, good luck during marathon training), as well as making sure to sleep on your back. So given that I want to do a bare minimum beauty routine, lash lift allows me to get away with not wearing any eye make-up for up to eight weeks, and if I add even one coat of mascara, I look super done enough for me. No curling necessary at all.
Cost: $55 per visit; $330 per year

Hair. So yeah, not only am I lazy with my hair, I’m really bad at it too. I can’t do any curling, braiding, bun-ning, nuh-thing. So I get a keratin treatment done every four months. This way I can just wash my hair and blow dry it enough so it’s not sopping wet. If I want to get fancy, I can use a round brush, but if not (not!), my fingers are good enough.
Cost: $180 per visit; $540 per year

My husband would shit if he knew how much I spent looking fresh-faced, but (1) I make my own damn money so it’s none of his business, and (2) he does not like me wearing make-up either, so it’s for the marriage, OK? Besides, it’s not like I spend this way in every part of my life, let alone this one particular area. I don’t do manicures, as this would be a waste of money since I type for a living, don’t spend a lot on make-up – just lip stuff, and don’t do hair extensions. I’m also not doing botox or fillers, which if you don’t live in LA, this may be a “duh” thing, but twenty-something year old secretaries at my firm have regular botox routines…and they’re not exceptions.

My regimen stays true to my preferred au naturel aesthetics, and as I get on in years, prioritzing is in the forefront. Priorities, meaning skin and hair, and screw the rest, but also placing how I look in its proper perspective. I live in LA, and this is a bit of a bizarro world here. One of my favorite bloggers coined the term “LA Face” for the women because we/they all start to look alike, from the impossibly full cheeks to the plump lips to the cement smooth foreheads and slightly Asian eyes (now why would I pay for that?!?). I look good enough considering my age, profession, and the fact that I’m married; to want to look more than that has me playing in a sandbox I want no part of. My routine is a bit of a financial investment on the frontend, but the benefits on the backend are worth it — more time with my husband and hobbies, as well as placing less daily emphasis on my appearance. Now when you put it that way, it’s not too high a price at all.


 *cost for services includes tip

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