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6 Beauty Hacks to Brighten Days When You Don't Have a Lot of Energy

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Now when I think about beauty while being chronically ill, some of you reading this may be thinking, “Beauty hacks? With a chronic illness, I have more important things to think about than beauty” and you know what, I completely agree.

Your body is managing something every day and that takes enormous energy, so your main priority is feeling well first.

Yet at the same time, I’ve always felt I would love to have the energy to make more “me time” — whether that’s a pamper, listening to your favorite music or reading a book you’ve had your eye on for ages.

I think these things shouldn’t be a luxury for the well, as ironically you need these little things more than ever when you’re run-down.

I’ve always loved fashion and beauty but it took a back seat when I was first diagnosed as I simply didn’t have excess energy. As I got stronger I realized that actually my appearance has a big impact on my mental health.

So with that in mind, I’ve included a list of “hacks” I’ve learned along the way to make pampering easier and more convenient.

Again, I must stress that these are just things that have cheered me up and it’s completely fair if you feel you want to put your energy to other uses. Some days I can’t spend as much time on this as I’d rather save my energy for bigger plans.

1. Make your comfy clothes also feel pretty.

I’ve never been a person who enjoys lounging and I think that’s actually a detriment to a chronic condition sometimes.

When I was well you would never have seen me in, and I certainly wasn’t comfortable lounging in, PJs. If you are, then I think that’s great since you can be super comfy and snuggled. But for me “lounge” clothes were just something I became used to when I was fatigued and I didn’t feel like me at all.

For me, it was almost like if I was dressing for a day in, I’d accepted I was going to feel bad all day, something I don’t want to accept as I could possibly pick up later and want to go out.

I’ve learned to combine comfort and style strategically when shopping now, so while I may go for more casual options of clothing, I still feel smart enough to go out or stay in depending on how I feel. For example, I buy items like black ribbed culottes with slogan T-shirts, so while I’m still living in the comfiest outfit, I still feel on trend.

2. Buy tried and tested lipsticks that stay put.

For me in the U.K. this is by a drug store cruelty-free brand, whose lipsticks I’ve bought for years that I know won’t bleed or smudge. It means I don’t have to worry about the energy needed to clean myself up after eating or (if you’re as clumsy as me) that you then won’t transfer this onto clean clothes and then have to change. Lipstick for me is a great way of counteracting the “pale Victorian child” look I sometimes like to sport, so even if my skin feels too sensitive to apply foundation, I at least feel like I look tidy and healthier.

3. Buy easy-to-use, lightweight products if make up irritates your skin in a flare-up.

For me this is lightweight mineral makeup that I can just swirl and buff into my skin with very little effort. I also buy eye shadows with various hues in one color so I don’t have to blend or spend more time color selecting. If you have a few shades with various undertones such as gold with a hint of pink, you can use the one to jazz up numerous outfits and still look like you’ve made way more effort than you actually have.

4. Invest in a creamy one-job-does all cleanser or calming makeup wipes for harder days. 

I know that many people use makeup wipes daily as part of their cleansing routine, whether they feel well or not, yet I always feel like when my body feels worse, my skin gets more sensitive, irritated and patchy too. Because of this I find a gentle non-harsh creamy cleanser with a warm flannel does the job, whether I’m wearing makeup or not. Although, if I do feel particularly dizzy with POTS and find the walk to the bathroom a little too much for a while, calming makeup wipes always make me feel fresher.

5. Buy products in bulk on better days and store them away for flare-up days.

I can’t tell you how useful this is in always feeling organized, on top of things, without feeling unkempt when you run out of soap/deodorant or makeup. By having my cupboard of goodies I can bulk buy at times of sale (always love a bargain) and not feel pressured to trek out if I am feeling particularly dizzy/unwell that day.

6. Adopt hairstyles that don’t show grease and invest in dry shampoo.

I think this tip is probably the holy grail for spoonies, one mastered within weeks of onset lethargy, but I felt it needed to be said all the same.

Like many people with POTS, I find showering and washing my hair one of the most tiring things to do. Think of a hot steamy room, when your body can’t regulate its temperature, as all the blood in your body slowly cascades to your feet, as your feeling the strongest ache in your arms upon just trying to slap on the shampoo, inducing palpitations by the second. All fun and games really…

With that in mind, you can see that the idea of then drying your hair afterwards (as pneumonia isn’t fun when you live in England) to be not that appealing. By plaiting or getting someone to plait your hair after its wash, you’ll find it lasts longer in between washes and needs less care. Dry shampoo is also brilliant for giving you an extra day of looking and feeling fresher by banishing oily roots.

Lastly, whether you wear makeup or go bare, you are beautiful. Do whatever makes you feel more comfortable.

Originally published: December 1, 2018
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