As someone who works very hard to value myself for the person that I am, and not what I look like, the pursuit of beauty has always been a point of internal conflict for me. Perhaps you can relate. This may manifest itself in your life, as it does in mine, in one of the following ways.

Exhibit A: I wake up ready to slay the day, don’t bother to put makeup on, and head out into the world. Once I get to the office, I see myself in bathroom mirror looking tired and blotchy, and decide to put on blush and powder.

Exhibit B: In spite of my efforts to be as unedited and unfiltered as possible about my images on social media, I tend not to post the ones that are particularly unflattering.

Exhibit C: I’m really proud of what my body is capable of, and I take good care of it so that it will (hopefully) thrive as I age. However, without fail, at the beginning of every summer, I catch sight of my the backs of my thighs, I start googling cellulite creams.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that, if you identify as female (and maybe if you don’t), you can probably relate to at least one of these situations. We receive so much conflicting information around beauty these days that it is hard to reconcile how to feel about it. We hear that the beauty industry is making a killing off of women’s insecurities. We’re told that beauty rituals can actually build women’s confidence. If you care about how you look you are vain. If you don’t care about how you look, you are lazy. It all makes me feel like I’m riding a carousel of guilt.



Earlier this year I read Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives, by Autumn Whitefield Madrano. Ms. Whitefield Madrano sifts through the good, the bad, and the ugly of studies, theories, and markets around women and beauty. She takes an incredibly non-judgmental approach, and I have to say, reading her book helped me give myself permission to accept my own relationship with beauty. Emboldened with a newfound acceptance, I’m delighted to share some of the upgrades I’ve made to my beauty routine that make me feel like a million bucks, inside and out.

For years, I waffled between two moisturizers. One that left me too oily, another that left me too dry. I have combination skin that is acne prone, so I’m always nervous to try new things on my face. Frustrated with the lack of happy medium, I finally did a bunch of research and zeroed in on a few moisturizers I wanted to try. Turning my face into a moisturizer laboratory was a little scary, but I’ve landed with a moisturizer that I LOVE. This is what works for me (Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF30 4.2fl.oz. /125ml), but I encourage you to experiment yourself to find out what your skin loves!

Until recently, in spite of seasonal allergies that make my eyes itch for a third of the year, I wore mascara every day. I’ve always felt that I looked tired without it. When my cousin shared photos of her gorgeous lashes after using Rodan and Fields Lash Boost last fall, I knew I wanted in. I started using Lash Boost in November, and I’m pleased to report that I now wake up with long full lashes that make me look AWAKE. I only wear mascara on special occasions anymore, and I never want to go back.

Finally, I’ve conceded that sometimes “fancy makeup” actually is better than drug store makeup. I’m a total cheapskate, so until my late 20s I wouldn’t even entertain the idea of splurging on makeup. Don’t get me wrong, I still buy makeup from the clearance bin, but for the things I use on my skin everday, I’ve upgraded. I use Sephora’s filters and the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to identify products free from gross chemicals. For now, I’ve landed on this blush (Milk Makeup Lip and Cheek Stick Rally – Mauve), and this powder (Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Tinted Pressed Finishing Powder, Fair, 0.39 Ounce) for everyday. My skin is happy and I feel pretty – end of story.

Happy Skin

I know that it’s what is inside that matters, but isn’t it nice when you feel like your outside matches the way you feel inside? I’ve come to the conclusion that my relationship with beauty is going to continue to evolve. It’s wonderful to see different attitudes towards beauty in media and society these days, and I encourage you (and myself), to give credence to your own experience with it. How would you describe your attitude towards beauty? Is there anything in your beauty arsenal that really makes you look/feel fabulous?



About the Author Aubrie Fennecken

Aubrie Fennecken is the Chief Alchemist at Opportunity Kitchen | work + wellness strategist | nonprofit fundraising expert | providing productivity and self-care support for mission-driven humans

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