Ruts. They come in all shapes and sizes. Fashion ruts, food ruts, activity ruts and the very common beauty rut. It seems we're all pros at pointing the finger at other women who appear to be in a beauty rut. Some are glaringly obvious to spot: the woman you work with sporting a lovely femme-mullet you know she's had since the 80s. The woman at the grocery store wearing blue eyeshadow clear up to her eyebrows. Stevie Wonder could identify these ruts. It's the ruts that (gasp) we...yes MYSELF included, get into that are hard to break because they are hard to pinpoint.
There is nothing wrong with finding what works for you and sticking with it. It's what we call a "signature look" and it's part of what makes us..well, us. But you know what takes skill? Learning how to give your classic look a tweak here and there. It keeps things fresh and forces us to break out of our beauty comfort zones. You never know, you may learn that what you thought was working best for you really isn't the most flattering. Just like our mothers used to say when we were little brats "how will you know unless you TRY?"
Now, before you start getting all clammy and nervous that I'm going to suggest you color your hair indigo, get feathered eyelash extensions and start experimenting with body piercings (don't worry, those won't be on the list) I have broken these up into "threat level categories". You know, a color-coded threat advisory scale, so to speak, that will help you determine exactly what you're in the market to try. We'll start at the bottom and work our way up. Here are our categories so you know what we'll be working with:
Red (Severe): severe risk
Orange (High): high risk
Yellow (Elevated): significant risk
Blue (Guarded): general risk
Green (Low): low risk
I think it's important to point out that what I have listed as "low risk" may be in the "high risk" category to someone else and visa versa. This is the beauty of subjectivity. Everyone has their own opinion and comfort level. Keeping in the spirit of open-mindedness, try to see these ideas as suggestions and don't get too caught up on where they fall on MY scale. Have fun with it and see if you can come up with any more ideas that you might be ready and willing to try out! Maybe some of these will get your creative juices flowing...
- Switch up your part from one side to the other. Not only does this give you just enough of a change to feel refreshed and different, it can give limp and lifeless hair the "oomph" and volume it may be needing.
- Have your stylist style your hair differently at your next appointment. If you're not ready for a completely new cut or color, just ask your hair stylist to style you differently than they normally do. Usually go for sleek and straight? Have them give you beachy waves. Usually curly? Have them give you a sleek blow-out. Worst case scenario? You don't like it and you can go home and fix it. No harm, no foul.
- Try a different makeup formula. If you normally wear a pencil eyeliner, try a liquid or gel. If you only wear lipgloss, try an actual tube lipstick with a cream or satin finish. If you normally wear powder blush, try a cream or stick formula. Tiny tweaks like this can be a fun way to keep your signature "look" but give you a range of options on how to achieve it.
- Switch your "focal point" on your face. If you usually go with a bold lip and a clean and basic eye, try a nude lipstick or sheer gloss and go big with your eyes. Try a dramatic liquid liner and a full set of lashes. Or go visit a cosmetic counter (or Sephora) and ask them to show you how to do a smokey eye. If you normally like to play up your eyes, try switching to a defining mascara and a clean, simple liner and a bold, punchy lip! There are so many fun lip products out there, you'd be insane not to give them a try! Stains, glosses, jumbo crayons, gloss stains, lacquers...the possibilities are endless!
- Have your eyebrows professionally "done". Go visit a brow specialist. I'm not talking about getting your brows waxed at a chop-shop nail salon DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT do this. That is NOT a brow specialist. There are so many places that offer incredible brow services such as Anastasia Beverly Hills brow bars at Nordstrom stores, Benefit Brow Bars at Macy's and select Ulta locations as well as highly skilled estheticians that work in salons and spas in your area. They can help you determine the best shape and arch as well as cleaning up any strays around your face. It makes such a difference and can really make you look so much more pulled together and polished.
- Get bangs or fringe. Having your stylist snip bangs can be a great way to update your look. There are so many options: full, thick straight across bangs, long side-swept bangs, wispy fringe, baby bangs, etc. Hop online ahead of time and grab some of your favorites for reference so you don't have to rely on your memory or verbal skills in case you panic last minute.
- Give your makeup bag a serious makeover. And I mean it. Start with a new bag, sometimes that can be just as exciting as what's inside! Throw out all your junky, broken, old, smelly makeup (make a list of what you tossed so you know what to refresh) and take yourself shopping! Here's your one rule: you are not allowed to buy the same things you tossed out. If you absolutely can't live without your black pencil eyeliner, try a different brand! If you don't think you can breathe without your mauve lipstick, choose the same color, but try a different finish. If you've been using the same pressed powder since high school, see if it comes in a loose powder formula, who knows...you may LOVE it! Branch out! Play around! Makeup isn't permanent so really push yourself to evolve and try new things!
- Visit a cosmetic counter and tell them to do whatever they want on you. Tell them to demonstrate some of the latest trends in beauty products. This can be scary, but remember, it can be removed if you hate it.
- Get your lashes tinted or try eyelash extensions. Make sure you do your research and even ask your friends for suggestions on who they visit if they get them done. This is not a service you want to "wing it" with.
- Get a new hair cut. If you've only ever had trims or have had your stylist do the exact same thing every single time, think about a new do. Not just a new style, but a new CUT. Talk to your stylist about your face shape, lifestyle (how much time you have to style your hair), personal style, etc. and find a new look that will flatter your face!
- Get a new hair color. If you've always wanted to be a redhead, go for it! What's holding you back? If you're tired of the same old blonde foil, think about trying an all-over color or some rich low-lights. If you're feeling bored with your all-over color, ask your stylist about a balayage or some block coloring to add some depth in!
- Have a head-to-toe makeover at a reputable salon. Tell the front desk you want a completely new look including a makeup application. Make sure you communicate with your hair stylist and makeup artist and tell them that you want a complete update, but make sure they hear your concerns and desires as well. Just because you want a new look doesn't give them carte blanche to do whatever they want. However, try to be open minded and trust their skill. Just make sure you are all on the same page BEFORE anyone starts their work so you don't panic halfway through.
- Get a texturizing service for your hair. Notice how we don't use the word "perm" anymore? I think it evokes memories of over-processed, frizzy, spiral, poodle-esque styles we got so used to seeing in the 90s. Texture services these days have improved greatly. You can achieve anything from soft, beachy waves to full, bouncy curls using all sorts of non-conventional tools. Make sure you find a salon/stylist that specializes in texturizing services and ask to see some of their work if you are nervous. Here are a few examples of amazing textured hairstyles that can be achieved through perming services:
I don't really consider anything "severe risk" territory unless it's permanent and can't be reversed. Things like permanent makeup, plastic surgery, veneers, etc. I might also consider shaving your head a severe risk (even though it can be grown back out). Besides what I have listed here, what would you consider a RED LEVEL or "severe risk" change? I'm curious to know what other people consider the scariest level of change!