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Lost cause - where to start ?

(95 Posts)
Marasme Sun 31-Dec-17 15:47:24

I need help for 2018, because I look like a walking paradox. I have a fairly high profile job, with a lot of public speaking, and I also sometimes do some TV work - so technically, I'd love to look polished, but fail miserably. I am challenged in a number of areas:

- my hormones have gone crazy. My face is like pizza at least half of my cycle, and super greasy too - this is a new thing that really started 5 years ago. I am unable to stick to any complicated routine - all I do at the mo is use the garnier micellar water on cotton in the evenings (and sometimes mornings) to wipe my face an neck. I don't wear face creams (I've never found one that actually "helped"). I also have spots on my neck, shoulders, back and decolletage. This is gross, and at its worst (when I am super stressed) my good friend has asked me if I had chicken-fucking-pox. I am not on the pill either (terrible mood swing effects that made me even less pleasant than I usually am).

- I look fairly "young" - but I am 37. The young look is because I never graduated from student garb. And the pizza face, of course, which confuses whoever I speak to and distracts them from my wrinkles (only a few, TBF). Looking like a student is not good in my job. It kind of takes away half of the credibility. But I don't want to look like an old woman either, I still feel like a student in my head (ah ah).

- make-up: there is so little to say about this. I wear NONE. I own some, but do not know how to use it, and when I try, I look like coco the clown. I have a Clinique tinted lip balm that I use when I need to look a little bit more interesting (for a better word) - but this fades within 1hour and I would never think of touching it up, ever. I pluck my eyebrows when I remember - which is never. I'd love to know what to do, but I don't. I've tried to look at youtube channels - it's like a foreign language to me. The rare times I've gone to the salon, I felt very awkward there.

- my hair is thinning - I had to chop it dramatically to a chin-length bob to remediate the rat tails (and have grown out my fringe), and have started to look into scarves and headbands. Little problem: I have no idea how to not look like a hobo with scarves, and I have a "big head" - all Alice bands are too short and dig behind my ears :/

- I think I have some OK clothes (loads), but I cannot put them together in an interesting way, and I horde these clothes when they are past their best (a consequence of poorer times when I could not afford any). My go-to outfit is: black skinny jeans, black ankle boots (or converse in the summer), a random T-shirt, and a random jumper on top. I never take time to get ready (I usually wake up late) and cannot accessorize effectively. When I do, I find it mostly impractical / in the way.

I've probably forgotten other pertinent details. I'd love to be able to look more "put together" but cannot get a handle on the overall style thing (and I think I lack the level of interest required to "invest" time and effort in it). What seemed to work 10 years ago just looks like a joke now. I will take any sensible workable advice on how to get out of this bad groove!

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 31-Dec-17 18:21:39

I would see your GP, thinning hair & acne aren't normal at your age at all.

The ordinary nicanamide stops my oily nose & I'm cursed with very oily skin too.

Try a make up artist for a make up lesson, it's better to be shown how to do make up properly one to one. They can teach you a simple quick look.

Then a personal shopper session at John Lewis.

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 31-Dec-17 18:24:37

Try cleansing properly too. It makes a huge difference.

SpongeBobJudgeyPants Sun 31-Dec-17 18:28:21

Facials as regularly as you can fit in/afford. Get a really good haircut, on recommendation. Use mascara, and a tinted foundation/concealer, and a light naturalish lipstick as a starter. Do you do your eyebrows? Consider getting them done professionally, at least for the first time, if not. Maybe have a session with a personal shopper in Debenhams or similar to find a style that suits. You don't have to buy.

Pavonia Sun 31-Dec-17 18:43:58

It does seem at a GP visit wold be a good idea, otherwise Lar Roche Posay Effaclar Duo might be worth a try.

HundredMilesAnHour Sun 31-Dec-17 18:55:14

There are some really simple steps you can start with and slowly build yourself up to bigger steps.

Such as choose your clothes for the next day the evening before (since you say you have no time when you get up). I always have an idea before I go to bed what I intend to wear the next day (if only so I can make sure things are laundered and dried in time, and so I'm reasonably well presented for work even if I've just rolled out of bed).

I know you say you don't/won't but start reapplying your Clinique lip balm. Baby steps to begin with smile

Get a good haircut and drink LOTS of water (this will help your skin). With the exception of the haircut, none of this costs money and you can start right now.

StillWorkingOnACleverNN Sun 31-Dec-17 19:02:34

I agree with fluffycloud about the GP.

If you can afford it, laser treatment may help clear your discoloration/spots.

Get a uniform wardrobe that is fitted. A couple of pairs of nice pants, black and grey. Two skirts. Jewel colored solid tops. Two nice blazers. Once you wear that most days you'll start to vary it a bit.

For makeup, can you start with lipstick, mascara and blush? Then add foundation (it might feel too heavy at first) and more on the eyes.

Pixie cut? Do you have the facial bones for that?

And do a French trick - buy and wear silky, sexy underwear so you feel good underneath.

wishihadacat Sun 31-Dec-17 19:13:36

Two things I can suggest:

(a) What worked for my great-niece - go to the doctor and get some steroid-type tablets. I mean, you cant just tell a doctor what to give you, but go through their process of medical things to try. She did that and ended up at steroids - but they have worked like a charm.
(b) What works for me - don't put soap on your face and especially don't get hair conditioner on your face. Just water. And then every so often, exfoliate with a handful of oatmeal and rinse it off. It has taken me a lifetime of spots to find this out. My skin does not like soap. If I get some soap on it I rinse it off as fast as I can, but the day after I will get one or two small spots. I treat these by - rinsing them with water and they settle down faster than any creams etc.

But that's me. Maybe you too - or maybe not.

Loonoonow Sun 31-Dec-17 19:35:12

Definitely see the doctor just in case there is a medical reason for this.

Try a hair and nail supplement. I can't guarantee it will improve things but it won't do any harm.

If your hair is thinning a shorter, blunter cut will eliminate rats tails and highlights can add gloss and texture.

See a dermatologist about your skin. My DD had shocking skin from age 8 to her 20s. A couple of (private) consultations with a dermatologist using the drugs and lotions they gave her and she was transformed.

Book make up lessons at Bobbi Brown and MAC counters. Be honest about how much time you are prepared to spend doing your make up each day. Don't buy on the spot (unless you really, really love a product). Sleep on it and commit gradually.

Book a personal shopper session at a John Lewis. These are free and you don't have to buy anything. I do this every year or so and they are brilliant at breaking me out of a clothing rut and making me look fresher and more chic.

WipsGlitter Sun 31-Dec-17 20:14:59

See a doctor re the spots / hair
Personal shopper session at John Lewis
Dump the hoarded clothes

Looking better does take effort. Are you prepared to try?

I look like crap today but looked good going out last night. You can do it in chunks.

NerdyBird Sun 31-Dec-17 21:14:04

I feel a bit like you OP, not really got a style and wear a lot of jeans and tshirts! But I don't feel very comfortable in dresses or skirts and haven't got ages to spend on hair or makeup. My skin is also really bad (hormones).

I've started using Dermalex Acne which I think might be helping. I've bought a few nicer tops recently too, even though they are still casual it's better quality.
Maybe a capsule style wardrobe would suit you, with things to mix and match. Perhaps also more 'work' clothes so there's a bit of a marker between work and home?
I tend to use mineral powder makeup as it's quite easy to put on. I like LilyLolo as they do small samples for you to find the right shade. I really only wear that with concealer and mascara. You might like lipstains if you want a bit of lip colour that you don't have to worry too much about reapplying.

Softkitty2 Sun 31-Dec-17 21:22:18

If you have the money get bloods done and see a reputable dermatologist to start a skin regimen.

See a stylist for a capsule wardrobe that would help you with outfits that suit your body type etc.

Goodgirl7 Sun 31-Dec-17 21:25:36

Right, first things first, you need to actually put in some effort! Nobody looks polished without actually taking some time to actually do said polishing. All these women you see that look effortlessly polished put a lot of time into it.

Let’s start with skincare:
- double cleanse at night using a balm or oil based cleanser. Double cleanse means cleansing twice. Oil won’t worsen you acne.

- follow up with a spritzing toner (Liz Earle is nice, may lindstrom is pure luxury)
- now an acid toner. Pixi glow tonic is good.
- now eye cream - Bobbi brown extra eye repair please.
- now Acne treatment: la Roche posay effaclar duo.
Finally moisturise with body shop vitamin e

Don’t use anything with mineral oil in. It blocks your skin and isn’t moisturising at all.

Drink 2 litres of water per day.

Take viviscal for your hair thinning (see a GP first)

Clothes: the trick is to only have nice things, that way you always look nice. Shops are Reiss, Karen Millen, Jaeger, sometimes Zara, and if feeling flush Sandro.

Jewellery - get a pair of pearl studs and wear them to death. If you have a nice watch wear it!

And finally, always have polished nails. No polish is better than chipped polish.

CountFosco Mon 01-Jan-18 00:38:05

You don't have to be interested in your appearance if you don't want to be. Plenty of men don't bother and seem to get senior roles nevertheless.

Clothes wise if you are not interested then get a uniform. All black or all navy is probably easiest, get multiples of something simple and classic, e.g. brogues, straight legged trousers and some fine knit jumpers and cotton or silk blouses. Look at UNIQLO and COS for minimalist options in natural materials.

I think it is sensible to see a GP about your skin and hair. I wouldn't spend a fortune on a ton of products though and don't feel like you have to wear makeup if you don't want to. But regular haircuts with a great hairdresser are worthwhile to keep you looking current, I think that's where you get the most bang for your buck.

Goodgirl7 Mon 01-Jan-18 10:30:01

**Plenty of men don't bother and seem to get senior roles nevertheless.

I wish it were the case that women could do the same but unfortunately we do get judged on appearance a lot at work and in everyday life.

Marasme Mon 01-Jan-18 14:35:23

WoW - loads of good advice here! I have made notes and a list.

I would love not to bother, and I actually could pull off wearing crap clothes when I was younger, with good hair and better skin. Alas, this time is no more! As Goodgirl7 says, in my industry, I need to try to look the part not like a student both for appraisals and progress. It's wrong, but it is true.

I am genuinely interested and keen to make an effort, but I just get lost - when it comes to pulling together an outfit that looks good, my brain gets overtaken by "comfort priority" - I think about what will be most practical/comfy/warm first, at the expense of style. I would always pick a wool jumper over anything sharper/colder - my office is freezing (new style building with centrally controlled temp, so no option there). I always pick comfy shoes too, despite the fact that I know I look much better (and taller, could do with extra inches) in heels.

GP I went a few time last month - the GPs I've seen at my practice are all keen to put me on the pill or the mirena - I am not keen on either, as hormones turn me in a total psycho. GP denies this would happen, I am not prepared to take the risk based on past experience... in the meantime, they ran loads of tests, and the only thing that came back as needing sorted is iron deficiency - am now on the tablets. I also take a multivitamin and viviscal, and have focused on improving my diet to increase calories, proteins, and fruit/veg/nuts.

hairdresser I went last month and chopped my long hair (halfway down my back) to a chin-length bob which looks ok, if not super creative. I used to have a super short pixie 15 years ago - loved it, and I definitely have the chin bones, but I was also a heavy smoker at the time and about 10 kilos lighter / without spots (cigarette + the pill was great for that). I would feel the need to be more "feminine" through clothes and makeup, so maybe one to consider once I have managed a bit of a style reconversion in the new year - I am thinking 1960s style either twiggy's for a longer style, or Jean Seberg A bout de Souffle (which is the one I used to have). My hairdresser was not sure if a pixie was such a good idea considering my hair loss - I have not idea either.

makeup counter I need to try this, but I am scared of it - I know nothing - totally useless. Some of you kindly advise on concealer - I have no idea how to apply it. Or when to apply it. So I need to fess' up to the counter ladies and watch their disbelief - what I'd love to achieve is doing a nice eye with eyeliner without looking like a picasso. I am happy with my tinted lip balm otherwise for lips. Foundation and creams (BB, CC?) are a big mystery.

skin routine should I go to a counter for this, or not? I went to the Clinique counter a few years ago. They sold me one of their set after a demo, and I still have it in my cupboard (a soap, a serum, a cream) - I've never managed to use it to good effect - took ages, and I just did not like the feel at the end. I am reading into the double cleanse today (I feel like I am 16 again :/ )

Jewellery I don't have my ear pierced, and I am not keen on bracelets - practically, they cling clang when I am on the computer at work. But I like Oliver Bonas style necklaces, and would love to be capable of pulling together interesting outfits with one accessory piece. Similarly, I love scarves - however, I never look right when I use one (I look like my gran going to the market).

clothes I have booked a JL personal shopper session for later on this week, including a bra fitting! I will also go and do a big cull of all that has lost its shape or is bobbled and ugly. I need to rethink how I organise the clothes so that it's easier to pick in the morning.

phhhhewwww - I need a cup of tea smile

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 01-Jan-18 14:53:21

I've got the implant so the same hormone as the mini pill/mirena. Dh says my pmt has stopped completely.

Did you look at Caroline hirons blog I linked to? She gives very sensible advice.

Goodgirl7 Mon 01-Jan-18 14:57:34

Good luck with this - definitely chat with the personal shopper about how to keep warm and comfortable without compromising on style. Let us know how it goes! X

Marasme Mon 01-Jan-18 15:22:47

Yep fluffy - reading her cheat sheets just now. Loads of products listed - I need to check what I already have and what I need to get / try.

Will report when I come back from JL!

Marasme Mon 01-Jan-18 15:40:47

@Fluffycloudland77 quick question: is there a reason why it's best to buy different products and not, say, the LRP effaclar kit with cleanser+toner+cream?

vitaminC Mon 01-Jan-18 16:04:12

Sounds like you may have oestrogen dominance, which is an imbalance between the amounts of oestrogen and progesterone your body is producing, which is fairly common in perimenopause.
The treatment for this is progesterone supplementation, to redress the balance. The most common way to do this is to prescribe a progesterone-only pill or mirena IUD, so your doctor's advice does make sense.

I would however ask about an ultrasound scan first, to rule out PCOS or late-onset CAH, as 32 is pretty young for perimenopause.

grandolddukeofyork Mon 01-Jan-18 17:21:03

Good luck with it all and please do report back after your session with JL - would love to know more about their approach x

IncaAztec Mon 01-Jan-18 17:27:33

Hi, just a message of support from the also lost. I have improved things by:
Seeing GP, who prescribed Duac which got rid of the spots
Found a mobile hairdresser to sort my hair every 12 weeks

As for the clothes, hope John Lewis personal shopper can help us both!

Marasme Mon 01-Jan-18 17:48:49

Thanks grandold - I am feeling like just before an exam :/ exciting!
Have also booked a bra fitting which is scary...

vitaminC I read a lot about oestrogen dominance, which seems to be more of a US focus - my understanding was that the pills etc contained progestin (synthetic progesterone) which explained some of the alternative effects - I cannot find the actual blog, despite trawling through my history.

I also found botemp starter sheets from the snail threads - mind blown!

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 01-Jan-18 17:51:05

The kits don't suit everyone. It's cheaper to mix & match.

Cleanser = grape seed oil, organic cold pressed with Vit e to preserve it
Acid toner = superdrug naturally radiant Glycolic
Moisturiser = la Roche posay effaclar.

I don't rate the la Roche posay cleanser, I want something that's going to work well & melt off my sunblock.

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