I always assumed that one day I’d look down upon the shiny bald head of a man as he bowed in submission before me. But I didn’t picture him wielding a bottle of neon pink OPI Strawberry Margarita and applying it sloppily to my toenails. My boyfriend beamed proudly at his work and said, “not bad for my first time, right?” I took my glasses off and examined the blurs below me. “Depends on how you look at it,” I replied.
If, like me, you find yourself stuck at home with the lucky circumstance of having a dutiful, down-for-whatever partner, it’s time to recruit them as your Quarantine Beauty Bitch. Your Manicurist Manservant. Your Toenail Technician. Your Scrub Buddy. (The more of these I think of, the creepier they get.) Here’s how to gently train your significant other in the art of beauty.
Start with the basics: detangling
I handed my guy my comb and he scrunched up his brow and got to work. It takes approximately 30 seconds to comb my hair, but it took him a solid minute, walking around me in circles like a low-battery Roomba. But the hair was indeed combed! And it was cute, being able to tell he was trying not to yank too hard. That’s love.
Level 2: nails
A nail trim! He took my hand in his (romantic!), and gripped my thumb so hard it turned purple, nail shards flying in every direction as he clipped aggressively (not romantic). One flew over his left shoulder, he flinched, and I shouted, “It’s good luck!” (I mean, maybe it is?) “That one’s fucked up,” he said, examining each nail after each snip. We discussed which nails we preferred for nose-picking as he trimmed my favorite, the thumb.
At the end of this activity, my nails were shorter, so I’d say mission accomplished. They were the haphazard, sharp angles of pre-melted glaciers. Dangerous and inviting all the same.
The paint job
Asking someone who’s never painted nails to give it a go for the first time is going to be messy. And it was, which is why nail polish remover exists. He slowly applied the polish, his hand shaky and tense, and gave me two sloppy coats. I cleaned up the Pollock job after. “You’ll give me another chance, right?” he asked genuinely, which pretty much sums up our first six months of courtship.
...Followed by massage
The best part of a mani-pedi is the lotiony massage, is it not? So later that night, he rubbed Aveda Hand Relief into my hands and Burt’s Bees peppermint foot stuff into my toe webs as we watched The Sopranos. This wasn’t outside the norm; I have a biological need for hand/food/head rubs while watching TV and the man OBLIGES. You don’t see Tony Soprano treating women like this!
The next day I handed him the Tweezerman and we stood by a window where I instructed him to pull in the direction of hair growth and clean up my arches. Again, he scrunched his face like a kid in a constipation ad, breathed into my face, and slowly plucked one, two, three hairs. Total. “You’re a trooper!” he said when I didn’t flinch. He scrutinized my brows, satisfied with his work. “You don’t wanna over pluck, ya know?” Oh, I know.
I set up a spa situation on the floor of his parents’ sunroom in Detroit (where we’re quarantining) with a lineup of products and a salad bowl of warm water. I laid upon a chair cushion atop a yoga mat atop cold linoleum. I told him how to massage each product onto my face in slowwww, circular formations, to let it sit, then steam it off with a washcloth, and that it was important to pick good spa music. He put on a playlist of Mac DeMarco, Kurt Vile, and Deerhunter—the Sad Boy Spa playlist—it was very, very good. But when I asked him what he’d call his spa, he immediately replied: “Willy’s.”
We started with Kate Somerville’s Gentle Daily Wash and then followed that up with Kypris’s luxurious Deep Forest Clay Mask, which filled the sunroom with a patchouli perfume that lasted for hours. He set a timer for 15 minutes and walked away. When he came back, he was snacking on a day-old cinnamon-date bun and bent over to give me a bite. Do you get THAT during a $150 facial? NooooOoo. Although, you also don’t get a washcloth that kinda smells like garlic. When he steamed the mask off, he squeezed my nose and said “honk honk” and stuck his pinky in my nostril. This man is 35 years old.
At some point, his mom came home and watched while he leaned over to let one fly before he started in with the toner. (Sidenote to say the amount of flagrant farts flying into my life during isolation has increased 1000-percent. Where were they hiding before??) That, coupled with the maternal gaze, gave me an added blush all for the price of NADA.
After he swiped Antioxidant Dew and massaged in Rose Elixir in quantities higher than I’d ever dare, I checked my face out in the mirror. Mascara smudges ringed my under-eyes, but I was otherwise nice and glowy. Later that night my eyes watered from product dripping into them, or maybe... I was just emotional from all of his wonderful pampering?
The full-body scrub
I wanted to recreate the life-changing Korean body scrub I got at SoJo one glorious time, so the budget version was to stand in the tub while my boyfriend scrubbed me. First I showered in hot water to get things steamy and to apply a hair mask (Herbal Essences, ooh la la). Absolute requirement: Carbon Beauty’s Hammam Glove. He lathered on half a bottle of Necessaire’s Sandalwood body exfoliator (I like the way it smells like wet dirt) and started with my back, which felt amazing. He loved getting to scrub my jiggly butt, and if those jiggles don’t give you happiness, what will? He got my heels and elbows good and took special care with my underboobs. After I rinsed, he rubbed in Herbivore’s delicious coconut oil, which would have been extremely sexy if we weren’t in his parents' bathroom, under the gaze of shower curtain flamingos. This was my favorite spa experience. 10/10 would do again.
Photo via ITG