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looking and feeling presentable with minimal effort

I’ve had to put any major boat work aside the last several months and have focused on self care. I’m going to sound like a total Princess, but I do not care. It is not a crime to take care of yourself! It is not a crime to want to look good! Doing a face mask once or twice a week is one thing, but buying better quality products and switching up your routine to resolve years long issues is making me feel pretty good, and I want to share what I’ve learned. It probably won’t be applicable to anyone else, but the overall message is there is likely an easy at home or over the counter solution for whatever issues you consistently struggle with.

Buying more expensive products of better quality not only last longer, but save money in the long run. Target, Ulta, CVS, and Madewell carry pretty much everything I’ve needed to get my appearance in order. The moral of the story is this: why use products to try to make yourself look a certain way, when you could just get to the root cause of the issue and solve the problem permanently? For example, why put foundation on to cover up uneven skin tone, when you can probably easily fix the uneven skin tone? Why take medications for high blood pressure, when you can change your diet and forget the medications and side effects that go along with it? I understand this is a difficult transition, but honestly it’s the cheapest and healthiest route. I’ll be going over changes I’ve made to my hair care, skin care, wardrobe, and diet.

 

Hair

Problem
Frizzy and dry, along with itchy scalp when I try to skip washing my hair.

Solution
The Curly Hair subreddit (on Reddit.com) has helped me a ton, along with following curly haired Instagrammers. I’m a visual person and I need to see the consistent results and difference between product uses and techniques. I’d tried not washing or conditioning my hair (that was bad), I’d tried only using conditioner (also bad), but I’ve finally nailed down a handful of products and techniques that seem to be working!

I bought a brush at Sprouts that helps “distribute oil” and I brush my hair before showering. Start at the ends, and work your way up to the roots. Brush to the left, to the right, upside down, etc. This helps spread your natural oils down to the ends of the hair, and I feel like it helps my scalp as well.

I have had luck with Shea Moisture Apple Cider Jamaican Castor Oil Shampoo and Conditioner. I do use a hair mask or deep conditioner once a week before applying conditioner.

For styling, I use a detangler, leave in conditioner, and then a product. The biggest issue I have with product is hold because of the wind I typically encounter outside. I really liked CatWalk by TIGI as it had great hold, but it has all kinds of ingredients that aren’t good for curly hair sucking away moisture leaving hair dry and brittle.

Finding a product with the same hold properties is tough, especially because gel takes a while to dry and you can’t touch your hair while it’s drying. Ouidad by far is the best gel I’ve found, and I went five days before washing my hair and it still looked great! You don’t need a lot of product, either. I used the “shake and rake” method and it seemed to evenly distribute through out the hair. Once it is for sure dry, you scrunch the crunch away and voila, you’ve got a great and light hold! I’ve started a journal for every time I wash my hair to note what products I used and will keep track of what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been told to try different combinations, so finding the perfect fit it will be a work in progress.

Protecting my hair at night made a big difference, as well. Sleeping on a silk pillowcase helped a little, but wrapping my hair up in a silk scarf made the biggest difference! I have a big head, so silk caps didn’t fit comfortably on my head.

I was given a protein oil by a hairdresser to add to my hair on the 2nd day, as it is always a long time for me in between haircuts and this oil keeps the ends of my hair happy. I generally massage my scalp every morning with Moroccan oil before wetting my hair a little and seeing if I need to reapply any products. So far all these steps have worked really well to keep my hair frizz free in a windy environment, which feels like completing a years long marathon! I now understand how other curly haired women keep their locks looking nice and scalp not an itchy greasy mess while only washing once a week! This might change of course with snorkeling and whatnot, but still… this is a huge accomplishment and really adds to me not feeling so frumpy.

 

Skin

Problem
Skin is oily, a bit red, and I had patchy skin left over from acne that had been gone for a decade.

Solution
I had been able to get rid of the discoloration left from scarring by using Mederma for several months after my skin finally cleared up.

I wasn’t ever able to get rid of the patchy skin until I started using Stridex pads every night. The skin in that area flaked a little bit, and after a couple of weeks this new layer of skin emerged that was so beautiful! Not perfect, but much better than it was before.

The redness vanished after a couple of weeks by adding Vitamin C serum back into my routine (am and pm).

The oiliness was reduced once I started using Differin every other night. I also started using a better quality moisturizer that did not leave my skin oily. It is so thick and creamy, the tiny bottle will last me 6 months or more. This means less provisions!

I use Vanicream SPF 50 on my face and ears every morning. My skin is so clear I generally do not put on powder unless my face is shiny. For this I use Mac powder with SPF. It is by far the best powder I’ve ever used, and lasts forever (especially because I hardly use it!). The powder inside the container has broken on me before, so definitely don’t throw it in your purse or backpack to take out with you.

 

Wardrobe

Problem
I couldn’t ever figure out how some people look so “together” and “mature” yet the feedback I was mostly getting was if I was assuming I was “homeless” and “here studying”. I was always flashing too much skin when bending down (jeans and v-neck too low cut). I’d try wearing baggy flannels over this to resolve the problem, but I think this is what made me look super frumpy.

Solution
I’ve decided to cut the crap with shopping as I’ve never really enjoyed it. I bought a few t-shirts and a nicer pair of jeans from Madewell. I still have workout or boat work clothes, but I no longer walk around in those off the boat.

As I’ve already mentioned, I stalked Reddit for this as well. Female Fashion Advice is an okay sub, I say that because it’s the only sub I’ve mentioned that you can’t post a photo and ask for feedback. They do have a daily thread where you can ask questions, and people are pretty responsive and have given great advice.

I’d already learned that Madewell had great t-shirts for a good price, and the cut of them is classy and simple. I got some high waisted jeans and not only are they really comfortable, the muffin top is gone and I haven’t flashed too much skin at all when boarding the boat or leashing the dogs. This alone feels really nice. So what if my four shirts are either grey, grey, black, or white…. My jackets are bright, and so is my hair. I feel this wardrobe goes along perfectly with my minimalistic style anyways, and takes out the guessing as to what am I going to wear (and will it look good with the only pair of clean pants that I have?).

 

Diet

Problem
My stomach suddenly hates food, leaving me bloated and a total grumpalump. Having Delhi Belly for nearly a year is really difficult. I am already fairly lazy when it comes to dressing myself, styling my hair, and preparing meals so I’ve really needed to spend more time taking care of myself to not feel like such a useless hot mess.

Solution
Bloodwork, checking for parasites multiple times, upper and lower endoscopies, more bloodwork, elimination diet, and intermittent fasting.

While I am thankful I don’t have any chronic condition or auto immune disease, I still don’t know what’s wrong and there is a high probability my stomach will get upset after a meal if it has anything crazy like squash, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, celery, etc. The elimination diet was necessary, and I am SO thankful I have a friend on speed dial who is a nutritionist. Any time my stomach gets upset she is able to pinpoint what it probably was, and I add that to the “do not eat” list.

However, cutting out sugars, carbs, and everything else was really difficult. Upon some YouTube research, learning about Intermittent Fasting seemed like a good way to “reset” my stomach and metabolism. Basically, only eat for a certain period of time during the day and allow your body to burn fat the rest of the hours. If you eat from 7 am to 11 pm with meals and snacks in between, you’re not giving your body enough time to digest anything. I’ve gotten over cravings, have lost 10 lbs in a month with zero exercise, and a lot of random aches and pains that had suddenly come out of nowhere are gone.

Intermittent fasting may not seem necessary if you aren’t having any GI issues, however many of the bad food decisions I’d made was simply because I was traveling and hungry. I’d often eat whatever junk was in front of me thinking it was better than nothing. However, when you train your body not to “need” food, you can skip meals a lot easier or get by with just a Cliff bar. I can see this coming in very handy as a solo sailorette, because even when I have to go on long bus rides to provision I am able to say no to everything at the snack stand full of chips and cookies.

To our health!

We owe it to ourselves to take care of our bodies, minds, and spirits.

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Those who are nomadic know finding a spot to take a nice hot shower can sometimes be a scavenger hunt. The bathrooms at marinas are typically similar to or slightly above campground bathrooms. Cement walls, cold toilets, bugs galore. It’s not fancy, but hopefully the hot water is a plenty. Some bathrooms nicer than others, which is always a treat.

The biggest hiccup when heading to shore to shower for me was forgetting something back on the boat. Shower caddies are the easiest way to shower and ensure you have everything you need, but finding the right one was a bit tricky. I tried several different styles early on in my liveaboard days, the fabric ones with three compartments with a coat hanger are fairly popular but my least favorite. My gripe about most of them is they have too much fabric that was going to get wet from putting your shower stuff back in there. Or it barely had any storage, so you have to put everything in travel sized containers and refill them all the time. The other popular style is all open and barely any compartments, so anyone could see “Hey, Rachel’s going to go take a shower!” with a black hole of shower stuff. Fishing around for the right bottle all the time is also really annoying and got old pretty quick.

I found one I love dearly several years ago now at Target (now available on Amazon). I love it so much I bought a backup, because I ruined the first one after putting it in the dryer. It’s meant to be a college dorm shower caddy. You can wash it, I’ve certainly had a container open on me before. I would let it dry on it’s own, though. 

Things I love about it:

  • The mesh at the bottom of the compartments allows water to drain 
  • You can bring it into the shower with you, via the opening strap for the shower curtain rod or suction cups on the back
  • It can get wet and it will not soak your backpack or bag you put it in
  • The fabric will not mold or hold water
  • The shower caddy closes, so nothing can fall out in transit, nor does it reveal my top secret plans to get clean
  • There are four compartments, easily grouping things together
  • The zipper is heavy duty and never gets stuck, as is common with zippers on boats
  • I can fit full product bottles that last months, no more refilling every week!
  • I can hang it up in the boat and use it at night without unpacking / repacking it every time

So there it is. An ode to my shower caddy! This baby lets me shower anywhere with ease, and I am forever grateful to the creators of this masterpiece.