If you are an expert in something at work, there’s no guarantee that you’ll act on that expertise at home. You actually might want to do the opposite. After all, you want to relax at home, not do more of that thing you were doing all day in the office. Chefs for example—terrific in a commercial kitchen, notoriously not so terrific at channeling that energy every day at home (and who can blame them?). If you are an accountant, you probably aren’t chomping at the bit to do even more accounting at home, and the same likely goes for...a lot of professions. Work is work, and there’s no better place to leave work than at work.
Of course there are exceptions—for everyone, for every profession—and beauty-related professions are some of the easiest to bring home. The plus side is that you love what you do, and you want to do it ALL THE TIME. The downside is that this can get a little complicated if you’re introducing this part of yourself to someone you’re just starting to date. Maybe they don’t get that your hairstyle requires a two-hour bathroom takeover. Maybe they are confused by the potency of Babyfoot. Maybe they don’t understand the power of P50 and just focus on the...smell. There’s only one thing to do in those scenarios: dump them.
Just kidding. But now that you’re really listening, ITG thought it would be fun to assemble a group of self-proclaimed beauty diehards to talk about what it’s like to introduce their elaborate routines (and hefty product stockpiles) to a person they’re just starting to date. Makeup artist Nam Vo, beauty writers Arabelle Sicardi and Or Gotham, as well as Ashley Weatherford and Utibe Mbagwu from team ITG team all weighed in. Below, their conversation.
Ashley Weatherford: Hi, I’m Ashley. I’m the senior beauty editor here at Into The Gloss. Like a lot of people who work in this industry, my home is overrun with beauty products. Bags and bags of them. My soon-to-be husband has accepted this, and actually relinquished rights to a spare closet so that one day, maybe all of those products will be organized.
Utibe Mbagwu: I’m Utibe, handling all things social media at Into The Gloss! I currently have a girlfriend who has gradually acclimated to my life-encompassing relationship to beauty stuff.
Or Gotham: I’m a writer and general beauty consumer. You can’t spit in my apartment without having it land on some sort of skincare. I do not have a significant other. Let the record reflect that this is a conscious decision.
Nam Vo: Dewy dumpling over here :) I am super high maintenance when it comes to my beauty routine—I grew up with Asian women who taught me the importance of skincare. The man in my life is also glowier because of me, and I remind him every day of how I helped his glow-up, LOL.
Arabelle Sicardi: Hey y’all. I’m a beauty writer/editor and have been working in editorial since high school. I don’t think I’ve had to buy shampoo since I was 16! You love to see it. Anyway, I do have a partner, and she has absolutely no clue what mascara even is.
Ashley: I probably own more makeup products than anything, followed by skincare, and then hair. But on a day-to-day basis, skincare takes up more of my time and energy than anything else by far. My routine changes all the time, so much so that by the time this thing publishes it will probably be different, but right now, in the mornings I cleanse, tone/exfoliate, use a hyaluronic acid serum that requires that I mist my face first (LOL), pat on an essence and then an eye cream, and then finish with a moisturizer with SPF. My nighttime routine is pretty similar. If I’m wearing makeup that day, I’ll double cleanse with an oil cleanser first, and I switch to an eye cream that has retinol in it.
The thing that takes the longest is my hair. I don’t do it every day, but it still takes forever. If I’m wearing it curly, I have to pre-poo, poo, condition, moisturize, dry it with a microfiber towel, and then set it with a little bit of gel. Sometimes I diffuse it if I really have time. So, basically never. If I’m wearing it straight, I’ve got to block out at least an hour and a half. Usually closer to two. I wash, condition, blow-dry, flat iron, and then curl. And since my bathroom gets so hot, I usually have to do this entirely naked, or I’ll get hot and sweat and need to do the whole thing all over again.
Arabelle: I have an actual beauty closet, with compartmentalized drawers and everything. I would not say I’m low maintenance—I definitely had a two-hour skincare routine for years, and my Instagram Live history is mostly me drunk getting un-ready and doing reviews in my pajamas. But I pretty much live out of a single travel beauty bag since I’m away from home quite often, so my arsenal is pretty tightly curated. I also know what works for me, so I use those products until they run out. I carry around sunscreen, face mist, lip balm, and perfume rollers everywhere I go, and I get a facial every few months. But I don’t spend an hour getting ready in the morning. I can be ready in 10 minutes or less at this point.
Or: I would say I’m “challengingly invested” in beauty. I’ve worked a long time to have skin I am proud of and it requires constant upkeep. No one has ever considered me to be low maintenance.
Utibe: I started dating my girlfriend right before I started interning at Glossier, so she’s seen my beauty routine change from basically nothing to a whole slew of stuff. And at times, she’s been confused and protested! Every time I bring something to my apartment, a new serum or some candles, she tries to make me add something to the “donation pile.”
Nam: OMG, who does not like a good donation pile?
Utibe: It’s helpful! Otherwise I would have 10 serums, 17 chemical exfoliators, and 25 conditioners that do the same thing at any given time. She checks me. She’s always like, “Do you really need this?”
Nam: When I open my beauty closet and see my 12,000 serums it warms my heart. And it also warms my heart when I am able to give it away. All the Fedex, UPS, and DHL people are my new BFFs because I put them all on a skincare routine and gift them products.
Utibe: I’ve seen your closet Nam! There’s no turning back from that.
Nam: The good news is my man does not need to spend money to spoil me with skincare; I spoil him!
Arabelle: My partner knew I was a beauty writer, but we studiously know very little about each other’s line of work, so she didn’t actually know what that meant and still doesn’t. She was appalled at the fact I have a cabinet filled with products, which is not surprising considering she lives on travel-sized L’Occitane from hotels. And I get really mad at her lack of care for her skin sometimes, because I want her to live forever and live up to the Asian Don't Raisin expectations of our ancestors. She quickly gave in to me being in charge of all self-care and bathroom related objects and just lets me boss her around in there, which is really speaking my Capricorn love language.
Utibe: Aww, how cute! What’s her sign?
Arabelle: Taurus. Two earth signs.
Ashley: I think the last time a guy was kind of surprised by the intensity of my routine was back in college, when I didn’t make it a point to shout from the rooftops that I am a skincare fiend. To this day I remember my college boyfriend saying that I have to be “the most moisturized person on the planet.” Post-college, I think everyone else had a clear picture of what they signed up for.
Or: It’s sort of an inevitable discovery. Historically, when a relationship has gotten serious I begin to purchase doubles of my routine so I can begin building a skincare reserve at their house. Also, once people realize I don’t like my hair to be touched for aesthetic reasons, my investment becomes fairly clear.
Ashley: Oh I am very much #TeamSkincareReserve. You've got to have your own beauty stuff at your partner's. If not I'd be washing my face with hand soap.
Utibe: Wait...Or. You don’t like your hair to be touched? Even by a lover?
Or: I hate it. Guys with hair of no importance never realize that when you mess with curls it’s a whole endeavor to get them back in place!
Utibe: But what if it’s a guy of importance? Then there’s a conversation about the hair?
Or: Maybe on the weekends, then.
Ashley: When Ben and I first started dating, he hardly washed his face. Now he’s got a morning and evening routine. He’s on Paula’s Choice BHA, retinol, hair masks. He’s actually better about his routine than I am sometimes.
Arabelle: One, I love that PC retinol; I use it too. Two, my girlfriend just sits on the toilet and closes her eyes and lets me do her entire routine and then we make out. So she didn’t create a new routine—I just hijacked hers! It’s a big change from dating women who were intimidated by how much I know about products and would like, lock me out of the bathroom because they didn’t want me to know what they used. I get all anime sparkly-eyed with curiosity so I get how it can be a lot, but it’s nice to be with someone who doesn’t deny me something I’m enthusiastic about.
Utibe: My girlfriend asks me to put this Renee Rouleau Drying Lotion on her face when she’s breaking out! I swear she thinks I’m her personal aesthetician sometimes.
Or: My ex covertly read my Curology story and subscribed without telling me! If he would have just asked me like a normal person, I would have recommended something different for his needs. People get self conscious when they realize they’re dating a beauty person. I don’t impose the same standards on others as I do to myself. Both parties in a relationship don’t need to be equally groomed. The idea of that actually is sort of scary? I don’t want a guy to be as pretty as I am!
Utibe: I will say, sometimes educating them is a burden. Like, I don’t mind if you do your own research and then get back to me! I do beauty all day, every day, so I look foward to taking a back seat to explaining everything. However, I will admit that I totally revamped my girlfriend’s routine and now she has better skin than me. I’m jelly!
Nam: Don’t worry, you have good skin karma :)
Utibe: Getting that printed on a T-shirt!
Nam: The thing about men is when you try to glow them up, they all like to pretend they are too manly to care about their skin… Oh please, after one sheet mask and a light peel they all convert and love the way they look. Come on men, it's OK to take care of your skin. I ran into my ex on the street and he said “look my skin is dull now.” I said you must really miss me and that free La Mer I gave you!
Utibe: Once La Mer leaves your life, you notice.
Nam: Dear ex-boyfriend, go find another Nam Vo Glow and pay $300 for your La Mer cream. I wish you luck, may the glow gods bless you because I can no longer DEW IT [Laughs].
Or: My ex always used to comment on the extremes I went to sanitize my Clarisonic head—like boiling the brush head in vinegar if it smelled weird or something.
Nam: Omg, do I need to boil my Clarisonic?
Or: No! I think it was just because I didn’t realize you could buy replacement heads...
Utibe: This is kind of specific, but as a Black girl I get braid extensions all the time. And in the spring for the first time ever, I took them out in front of my girlfriend...and I was so nervous about it? Because you go from having a lot of hair to just your own natural hair (which is also cute!). That’s probably the most vulnerable I’ve been doing a beauty thing.
Ashley: I’m pretty shameless. A couple of months ago, when my feet were submerged in those plastic Babyfoot socks, I said, “I hope you switch out the dark sheets to the lighter ones, unless you want to see my foot flakes on the sheets for the next few days...”
Or: Jesus be a vacuum.
Ashley: Just being honest!
Arabelle: I have zero shame about doing hardcore beauty rituals in my girlfriend's presence.
Arabelle: For example, we do multiple masks in a row together and it's not a big deal. We do hide from each other when we're like, clipping our toenails though [laughs].
Utibe: I apply my nighttime routine in front of my girlfriend all the time and it’s completely fine. Once someone gets you, they’re cool with basically anything you do, within reason.
Or: I prefer things to be separate. My skincare routine falls under my personal time which I like to have private. As Whoopi Goldberg once said on the subject of marriage, “I don’t want somebody in my house!”
Nam: Not only do I do my skincare routine in front of my man, I encourage (demand) that he joins in. It’s like a bonding thing.
Utibe: What does he do when he joins in? Does he have a routine?
Nam: Not really, he just repeats what I do. Which usually leads up to seven steps on a normal night; when I am feeling extra, 11 steps. When I have a shoot and I know I have to be on camera, then 11 steps and a bunch of tools including rolling the disco dick on his face too [laughs].
Arabelle: We usually do them together—like I said earlier, I am a control freak but also like the act of intimacy! I like giving her face massages. We get ready in the morning separately (I wear more makeup), but we wash our faces together at night and I decide what serums et cetera we use at night on a revolving basis. We sound so gross, I'm sorry!
Utibe: Not gross at all!
Ashley: A small price to pay for a lifetime of decadent beauty.
Photo via ITG.