Beauty Guide: Beauty Basics in the Field
It seems kind of odd that I would write a beauty guide for military women. What does "beauty" have to necessarily do with being in the military? It's not the image we normally conjure up when we think about the military because, well, we expect military women to be rough and tough and crawling through mud!
Truth is - it's not quite like the movies. We all like to believe we're G.I. Jane but the fact is, we do office work and go to meetings just like corporate America. Then we get to go play in the field and do cool stuff.
In case you didn't know, I am a service member myself. I joined back in 2004, straight out of college on an epic adventure, seeing a lot of austere environments I wouldn't quite call vacation spots and lived in a lot of different environments throughout my 14 year career. It's taken me approximately 10 years to really figure out that I don't always have to look like I'm about to assault the trenches and low-crawl through mud. Seriously...
This year, I'm spending time in lovely Afghanistan after joining the Reserves back in 2016. When I left active duty in 2016 I dived head long into the beauty industry, just loving everything about cosmetics and skin care. I soaked up as much as I could from my fellow makeup artist and photographer community and learned to really love myself in the process. When you're in the military, sometimes you try to not bring attention to yourself by looking like everyone else. Granted, we can't be very flamboyant and a lot of our makeup application must look very natural. But... that doesn't mean we need to look like the walking dead.
So let's dive into this a little bit...
1. Taking care of your skin starts with what you put in your body.
Let's face it - we are what we eat. Genetics aside, we are literally what we eat and drink. Sometimes I read what runway and fashion models are eating and thinking that it's just this "diet" that these women take on to be in the industry. While that is true to a point, pay attention to what these women are talking and writing about in magazines or on blogs. Eating and drinking properly is the FIRST step to having great skin on the outside. Make sure you hydrate throughout the day, even when you're not thirsty. Your body is made up of water and thus, throughout our day we are moving to meetings, running in formation, working out at the gym, assaulting an obstacle course, observing maintenance in the motor pool or even sometimes just staring at a computer screen. So make sure you hydrate throughout the day and replenish the moisture you lose, even if you're not in a combat zone or austere environment in 110 degree heat.
Also, contrary to what we want to hear, go easy on the alcohol before heading out to an austere environment. Alcohol does dry your skin out and the wear and tear will show up quickly when you consume alcoholic drinks without proper hydration and self-care being in balance. While I love having a good gin and tonic myself, not having alcohol has actually benefited my skin here in Afghanistan. At home, a drink or two in moderation throughout the week is essential to maintaining a healthy glow to your skin.
2. Figure out the products that work for your skin.
I think this is a really hard step for many women. Most of us are not visiting Nordstrom beauty counters for a sit down discussion of products because let's face it, it's exhausting and expensive. There are a million different opinions and just as many products to try. I can honestly say I've tried nearly 75% of the brands sold in Sephora (cause I'm a Sephora addict, but that's a different story...) and I still honestly never found "my" perfect skincare regimen until I sat down at the Bobbi Brown Cosmetics counter. To me, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics fits the lifestyle I admire - simple beauty by enhancing your already beautiful features. I connect with this brand and have even bought the book that Bobbi Brown herself wrote. But what I love even more is how my skin takes to the products that Bobbi Brown creates.
So, the long story is... it's a journey to finding the products that work for your skin. It took me 10 years because I didn't put enough emphasis on taking care of myself! Everything I tried always left my skin feeling not 100% comfortable to be in. So I encourage you to go to Sephora or Ulta and get samples of all the products you are interested in. Take it home and test how it feels on your skin. Rub it in and see how your skin reacts to it. You want a product that is balanced for your skin type. Of course price plays a big factor in your choices so be sure to ask your beauty consultant what alternate options that are similar to your favorite product is if the price is a bit too high.
We talk sun protection all the time but did you know, you can now have your makeup products with built in sunscreen protection? Being in an austere environment can mean a variety of things. Here in Afghanistan we experience 120 days of wind so my skin dries out a bit and sand finds its way into everything. The summer heat is near 100 degrees and the humidity is a bit much. So what I found to be incredibly important is, after letting my moisturizer soak into my skin, I apply a primer with sunscreen up to SPF 50. It's like another layer of moisturizer to seal your skin from the effects of the weather. Coola and Bobbi Brown Cosmetics both have a primer with sunscreen that work phenomenal and set my face up for an even application of makeup.
4. Don't forget eyes and lips.
Let's face it, if we're out in the field or deployed somewhere, or heck, even at home station just working, the days are long. You're up at 5am for morning physical training and getting home possibly at 5pm or later. Our job is our way of life for the most part and sometimes it's very long days. What a lot of women forget to do is to take care of the delicate skin surrounding your eyes. This may take a different moisturizer, it's your choice, however, to avoid sagging eyes and the delicate skin around your eyes from showing signs of wear, you'll need to apply a thin layer of moisturizer to keep hydrated. Your eyes will thank you years from now.
The same care goes for your lips. Find a great moisturizer that you can swipe on throughout the day to protect against the sun and wind damage if you're out in an austere environment. My favorite brand is Smith's Rosebud Salve or Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Lip Balm.
These are just my opinions on keeping up with your skin in the office, field/austere environments, or even just at home. We don’t take care of ourselves enough and it’s probably an inconvenience or feels awkward to be worrying about it so much while in uniform. However, you’re going to thank yourself later on when you take the uniform off.