So we’re clear, before I begin: No one is paying me for any of these shout-outs. This is purely because the last few weeks in Denver have been QUITE the time, and my self-care regimen has grown exponentially since I arrived and the hills are alive again with the sound of music now that my skin’s bouncing back.
A few facts: Denver is called the mile-high city because it’s exactly one mile (5,280 feet) above sea level. This presents some interesting conundrums for those of us from lower elevations and/or more humid climates. For instance, I grew up in a very dry town in the desert, but it’s the desert: at 1,631 feet above sea level, it’s around 3,600 feet lower than Denver, and the air is brown and thick.
New York, on the other hand, is a precious 33 feet above sea-level and has an average humidity level in the summer of disgusting. Putting lotion on my white-ass skin in July is an insane idea, unless I want my legs to get slimy the minute I start to sweat outside.
Meanwhile, it’s so dry here in Denver that within three days of not having access to my usual moisturizer, my skin looked like it did in 1999, The Year I Discovered Lotion. I’m still too embarrassed to describe in depth exactly what my legs were like, so let’s just say that even white people can reach Larry levels of ashy.
My scalp, and my allergies, have been driving me fucking batty. Everything has been itchy. My skin, my scalp, my eyes, everything. So I picked up some Allegra and looked up some recipes for natural, homemade masques.
The only things in the refrigerator or cabinets that matched any of the recipes online were avocado and banana. ONLY avocado and banana. No extra oils, no egg, nothing. Some recipes called for blending, others for mashing. I don’t know if we have a blender, so I went with the mashing. I took two whole, browning bananas and one avocado, mashed that mess together (and added the pit), stuck it all into a sealable jar, and let it sit in the fridge for a day.
When it was time to masque, I layered it on and massaged it into my scalp. I have pretty thick hair for a white lady, so I made sure to take a comb and separate my hair into sections to get it all in there. It smelled nice, and after a few minutes my scalp was tingly, which I saw as a good sign. Have you ever used a tea tree shampoo? That tingles the scalp and feels AMAZING. Leave the masque for 20 minutes, and then rinse the food out of your hair and wash with shampoo. It’s possible you’re not supposed to wash your scalp right after that, but there are already rumors about white people not knowing how to bathe themselves properly, and smelling funny, and I don’t want to make those rumors true.
As I’m rinsing my hair, I’m extra careful to get all the little chunks of banana out. And I get out of the shower and towel-dry my hair, and there are still little chunks of banana in my hair. I look in the mirror and there are flecks, and bits. I panic. Who needs banana in their hair?! All I can think about is that it’s going to rot and my head will smell like rotten bananas. Five minutes of fine-tooth coming my hair like I’m looking for fucking nits, and no more sign of banana. Jesus.
Going forward, I’ll be using this J Beverly Hills Masque, as suggested by the woman who cut my hair this week, because I don’t need the stress of rotten banana hair in my life.
Now, after the bait-and-switch apartment situation, my first priority was a good scrub. I try not to use soap and body products with glycerin as a main ingredient, so SheaMoisture’s Olive & Green Tea Hand and Body Scrub is what I picked up. If it has “oil” in the title, my eyes perk up. So far, this scrub has been wonders and miracles on my skin. I used it a few times in one week initially, and I’ve tapered it off to once every two weeks since. Legs look more like legs, less like snakes.
While it’s not always avoidable, I seek soaps not glycerin-based, because those are the dementors of cleanser and tend to leave my skin feeling tight. I also enjoy buying local. If someone’s made a goat milk soap and it smells like lilacs and they’re selling it at the farmer’s market, I’m THERE. Love me a goat milk soap. Anyway, there isn’t one in current rotation, but Dr. Bronner’s almond bar soap is as fucking magic as they say it is, and it smells diviiiiiiiiiiine.
For post-scrub lotion, I’m kind of easy and also maybe an infant. J&J’s Bedtime Baby Lotion is my go-to. It’s just heavy enough, not greasy, and the sweet scent of powdery lavender as represented by “fragrance” on the list of ingredients brings me back to happy times, when my brother B. was tiny and amenable enough to fit in the kitchen sink.
Staying hydrated is obviously crucial to keeping your skin, hair and scalp happy, too. Especially after dealing with altitude sickness in Colorado Springs earlier this year, I’ve been diligent about drinking water. Even still, the woman who cut my hair the other day said to expect six months of adjustment.
SIX. MONTHS. I’ve got about three more weeks until I should be reasonably acclimated to the elevation for running, and four-and-a-half months until everything stops itching.