Why I’m Abandoning Minimalism in My Beauty And Style Routines

A few years ago, a friend introduced me to Cuyana’s Lean Closet Movement. The idea of buying “fewer, better” items really intrigued me. Minimalism started in my closet, but quickly spread to every area of my life. I decluttered my home, my bathroom cabinets, my car, my workspace, my commitments. I even let go of some college friends who just weren’t serving me in my life anymore.

It was transformative. I discovered values I didn’t know I had, the friendships I held on to deepened, and I felt happier than I had in years.

Upon unearthing my values buried in mountains of stuff, I realized my physical appearance wasn’t all that high on the list. I’ve never been one to spend time in the morning putting on makeup, doing my hair, and putting together an outfit. That’s not to say it’s not worthwhile to do all those things; it’s just not really who I am. Over the last few years, I’ve prided myself on majorly paring down my beauty routine. I don’t use shampoo or conditioner (to be fair, I’ve had a buzzcut for a year so I truly didn’t need it), I tossed all my makeup, and I only have face wash, lotion, and sunscreen on my counter. I never bought face masks or eye creams or miracle products. I can’t remember the last time I put on foundation.

I ruthlessly went through my wardrobe, keeping only the things that I both liked and realistically would wear. I was left with a very small, mix-and-match wardrobe that suited me well, most days. I struggled a bit for fancier events, but hey, those come around for me once in a blue moon, so it’s fine to wear the same dress to every wedding until it no longer fits, right?

It worked. It all worked for me. It was fine.

But that’s all it was. Fine.

I thought fine was, well, fine for a long time. For several years I didn’t put much thought into my appearance at all. I rolled out of bed, grabbed my black trousers and a t-shirt, and threw on a cardigan. I splashed my face with water, put on some lotion, and brushed my teeth. Done. Out the door. But a few weeks ago, something weird happened…

I felt like I wanted to look nice.

I never looked bad, I want to clarify that. My clothes are decently quality- I wasn’t wearing ratty shirts with holes and stains to work- and I certainly still kept up the socially acceptable level of personal hygiene. But I suddenly wanted more. I wanted to feel like I used to feel as a little girl. I’d only wear a dress if it swirled right; my mom called it the Swirl Test. It had to flow out and away from my body when I spun around, so I’d feel like a princess. Suddenly, I wanted that magical, princess-y, feminine feeling again, after years of telling myself it was frivolous to spend money on myself in that way.

It isn’t frivolous.

I had taken a minimalism misstep. When I realized that my appearance was decently far down the list of important things in my life, I decided it wasn’t worth any of my attention. But just because appearance isn’t at the top of my list doesn’t mean it isn’t worth at least some of my attention.

I’ve followed my gut and taken a few tentative steps outside the world of minimalism these last few weeks. Because I’m wanting to grow my hair out from its current buzz, I bought shampoo and conditioner. I decided I wanted to take better care of my skin, so I did my research and purchased a few products. I bought a few new dresses, and I can’t wait to throw them on as soon as spring gets here.

I won’t lie, making these purchases has triggered a bit of guilt in me. I’m doing my best to fight off these spurts of doubt as soon as they hit. I’m not being careless with my money and I’m making these purchases intentionally. I’m really enjoying my new slightly-less-minimal routine, but old habits die hard, and I know that it’ll take a while before I don’t have to fight the buyer’s remorse every time I make a purchase.

I’ll still never be the girl with a 12 step skincare routine. I’ll never have a closet overflowing with clothes and I’ll never create unique outfits. It’s just not who I am. But it feels so, so good to loosen up a little bit and remember that I am worth it.

Because I am. I’m worth every penny I decide to spend.

Overflowing with love,

Cate

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