The Cost of Looking Natural: Beauty Edition
Where Leandra’s “natural” is all about effortless dressing, mine is more about the face
People always ask me if my hair color is natural. It’s a bit of a loaded question to which I inevitably provide a loaded answer but in all fairness, who’s really to say?
My hair colorist, if sworn to oath before the court, will tell you that she mixes one part F42 with two parts FTZ* to give me this reddish hue. She may divulge the fact that once a year she paints bleach onto the ends of my hair in a technique called “Balayage,” which essentially makes it look like I spend so much time surfing that the bottoms of my hair are lighter from the sun and — wouldn’t you know it — so too are the pieces framing my face.
See…my hair grows in much darker but it lightens and reddens on its own. I prefer the lighter color, so I’ve started making it my year-round thing. Usually I evade the question by pointing to my grays and saying that I “just have them covered them up.” Other times I glare at the person who asked me until they walk away. Maybe the color is not technically natural, but it’s kind of natural and it looks natural. It also costs about 200 very natural dollars, so sue me.
In considering that which is — sorry to say it again — natural, Leandra pointed out earlier today that perhaps what I’m really looking for is to appear effortless. So how about these effortless eyebrows of mine that appear in a thick, curated arch? It costs me $50 once a year to essentially wax my entire forehead, because I don’t know if you know this about me but I’m related to Groucho Marx. For the rest of the year I do the plucking myself, but time is money so I’d estimate I spend upward of $200 of my own life’s hours staring into a magnifying mirror and ripping errant hairs from my brow.
We’re at $450 if you’re keeping count.
Next let’s talk makeup. There’s tinted moisturizer to pretend my skin is better than its naked reality, primer to fake radiance despite winter doldrums, mascara which I won’t shut up about, and now that I’m on my new “invisible eyeliner” kick that adds another twenty something to the mix. That’s approximately $115 for “natural looking” makeup alone. Crap. I forgot cheek and lip stain which makes it look like I just happen to be perfectly flushed and pouty. Another $30.
(Sometimes I get my eyelashes dyed so that I look like I’m wearing mascara even when I’m not, but we’re up to $595 so let’s leave that fun fact out.)
The final expense and most frequently purchased in all of my routine beauty circuit are nails. Nails are the silent killer. It costs me $35 for a gel manicure, which is cheap in Manhattan but beyond ridiculous when considering I get my fingernails painted the color of…fingernails.
So $630 total to look natural. Don’t check my math.
Admittedly, no one is putting a fork to my head and saying I won’t be pretty without the makeup and whatnot. I’m perfectly fine running around sans “face” no matter how much of an earwig I resemble without mascara on — I really don’t care. But getting my nails done, hair colored, eyelashes dyed — these are my “treat yoself” moments.
Where the dichotomy lies is in the response of others; nothing makes me angrier when I come out of a hair appointment feeling like a damn Pantene Pro V commercial model and no one seems to notice that anything is different about me. But isn’t that the point? That you’re just supposed to assume I’m born with it?
Fine. I am.
And yes, by the way — to answer your question, this is my natural hair color.