thinking about: maintenance

tassel sandals, OPI Big Apple Red

ah, a fresh pedicure and some kicky sandals…all’s right with the world!

“Are you high-maintenance or low-maintenance?”

I remember being asked this once, and not being sure how to respond. It’s a fraught concept for women and one that leads to harsh judgements; we’re often ridiculed for the effort we put into our physical appearance, but castigated if we “let ourselves go.” (Again, that concept of sprezzatura or “effortless” style/chic/hair/whatever comes into play; we’re supposed to look “good” without having expended any effort to achieve it.)

I think of some of the guys I’ve known who spend all of their free time at the gym to achieve a certain physique, or hours each weekend detailing their cars, or who must have their shirts pressed just so by the laundry service. I’ve rarely heard men described as high-maintenance even when they spend a lot of time on various aspects of their appearances. As far as we’ve come, I think some subtle sexism is still at work here. Our culture to a degree still expects women to be other-focused, and aside from actors/musicians/celebrities, whose appearance is deemed an essential part of their job (and again, much more so for women than men, though this seems to be shifting) is suspicious of women who seem to spend “too much” time, effort, and/or money on themselves.

Women over a certain age certainly aren’t exempt from this scrutiny. At the same time we’re* gushing over this one who “looks great at [insert age here]” we’re harrumphing over another who’s “had a lot of work done” or “doesn’t look like herself anymore.” And though many of those “natural agers” in the public eye have had cosmetic procedures, they often feel the need to deny or downplay those efforts. According to Brian my Hair Guru, some of the “naturally” grey hair images we see on Pinterest still may require some chemical intervention to achieve that look, like lowlights for depth or periodic toning down of yellowness or keratin to smooth texture and add shine. And there’s nothing wrong with that, just as there’s nothing wrong with letting nature take its course.

I’m not lobbying for one path or the other here, and I’m not saying that we have to think every intervention looks good. I’m advocating doing whatever level of maintenance feels right without guilt and without judging others who choose differently.

My own level of maintenance? I think it would depend on who you ask. 😉 On a day-to-day basis I don’t have a lot of time to spend putting myself together. So I invest chunks of time periodically to reduce the daily effort, and I certainly enjoy the results much more than the process. (I get fidgety just waiting for nail polish to dry.)

  • Hair cut and color: approximately 2 hours every 5 weeks. I’ve opted for a very low-maintenance cut, and I only spend 2-5 minutes daily on my hair.
  • IPL Laser to manage pigmented lesions, those large brown spots on my face (what Grandma used to call “liver spots” 😉 ) approximately 2 hours once per year. Because of this I can get by without heavy makeup or concealer. My daily makeup routine is pretty minimal, 10 minutes usually.
  • Manicure/pedicure every 3 weeks or so. (Every 2 weeks during warmer seasons when I can manage it.)

One area where I want become more high-maintenance is health and fitness. It seems the older we get, the more important it is to take care or our health from the inside out. I’ve spent almost four decades working full-time at desk jobs, and while my eating habits aren’t terrible, there are far too many grab-and-go meals eaten at my desk or while I work. Preparing meals from fresh foods, getting enough fresh air and exercise, doing workouts that help maintain strength and flexibility…these are often difficult to do on a daily basis when work and family responsibilities can be so demanding of our time. We live in an era and a culture that values (and demands) ever more work and productivity, but tells us we “should” slow down, eat organic, maintain our weight, do yoga or meditate to relieve stress, and on and on. Just trying to be healthier can add to the stress!

Where do you focus your “maintenance” efforts? Do you ever feel guilty about the time, money and effort you spend on maintenance?

sandals: Stuart Weitzman | nail polish: OPI Big Apple Red 

* “We” here is used as shorthand for our culture and media.

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62 Comments

  1. April 12, 2016 / 3:18 am

    I do highlights, but they are subtle, so I don’t need to retouch them often. And a simple cut that lasts a long time. I do my own mani/pedis. I spend most of my time on exercise–Pilates twice a week, walking/running other days.
    My mom had the same high-maintenance hairdo her whole adult life. Cut and perms every other month (maybe every month?) and pinning it up in curlers every other night. It was exhausting for her, but she refused to change to an easier look. (But I’m so glad that the last time I saw her before she died, I took her for a cut and perm, then pinned up her hair for her.) I am keeping it simple so that later I won’t find myself in a look I can’t keep up with, physically or financially.
    Actually, the exercise also is an investment for later–to ward off aches and pains (though a good Pilates workout generates plenty of aches!), to keep good posture and avoid injury.

  2. rukshanaafia
    April 12, 2016 / 3:21 am

    I agree very much about the contradictory stresses loaded on women and yes they are sexist . However we (women of a certain age) are also part of the culture and just as we could stop the negative judgments we could think about our standard compliments . It seems routine even on style blogs for our demographic for compliments to take the form of praise for looking young &/or thin . What about just looking good ?

  3. Nancy
    April 12, 2016 / 3:53 am

    Very good! The Wall Street Journal, I think, had an article that asked, basically, how much did you spend on your maintenance for a year. So interesting. Of course not in my realm but still interesting. Food, which we need, and exercise does not have to be the most expensive part of maintenance … Time might be the most expensive!

  4. rukshanaafia
    April 12, 2016 / 3:57 am

    And as to maintenance ! I get the impression that getting older needs MORE time and effort (or expense) just as you want to be less bothered with it . Eg I now have my eyebrows and eyelashes dyed regularly so that I can continue not using mascara & not pencilling brows . I always liked hair colour but now have to be more disciplined about using it every 4 weeks otherwise roots will show – even with henna or a semi-permanent . I gave up nail varnish years ago luckily because claywork is incompatible with it – or long nails generally ! It’s swimming , yoga etc that I spend most time/money on and always have . I justify it as an investment but really I just love it and worry about being able to keep going as long as possible……..

  5. April 12, 2016 / 4:15 am

    Great post Susan! Thank you for shining a light.

  6. barbara hart
    April 12, 2016 / 4:29 am

    I’m letting my salt and pepper hair grow long, very long. I had layers cut in last year and it has been a royal pain. Long gray hair that I can put up in a bun or pony. Minimal makeup daily but ramp it up for “occasions” (which are few and far between now. Pedis but no manicures. I’m an artist and they just don’t last the day. Clothes include Comfy USA, Sympli, Clara Sun Woo……basically shapes. But I’m at the gym every morning around 5:30, walk, hike, and kayak. That is more important to me now than the glamour girl I was in the past. I’ve had really short hair, really long hair, and everything in between. I’m sick of all the products it takes to maintain these “looks.” I’m down with laser and getting those pesky “liver spots” out of the way, however. That is just good health. Just my thoughts.

  7. April 12, 2016 / 4:37 am

    I have a mani-pedi every two weeks, my hair blown out twice a week and color & cut every four weeks. I have standing appointments and am booked at least 6 months in advance. I work full time and wake up at 5 a.m. ..I don’t have the time or patience to style my hair. This may sound high maintenance but I am ready to go anywhere at the drop of a hat. And, since my niece is my hair stylist, I know she has my best interest at heart! Now…..if I could just find the time for the gym…..lol…I guess we all have our own priorities!

  8. April 12, 2016 / 4:49 am

    I’m absurdly low maintenance, because I get easily bored when I have to spend more than 5 minutes on something on myself! If I didn’t love the woman who trims my hair, I’d probably not even get haircuts… but I am maniacal about wearing sunscreen, and working out almost every day. Makeup? Maybe lipstick, maybe… It’s so nice that everyone’s preferences are so different; it makes the world much more fun!
    hugs,
    Janice

  9. April 12, 2016 / 5:21 am

    Definitely low maintenance. My curly hair dries naturally and I visit the stylist every two months for a trim. I walk most days for 40 minutes and try to eat well. Last year, I gave up waxing, tinting and polishing. Pedicures in the sandal season and I do my own fingernails. I have been retired 5 years and in the last year, I have considerably cut my personal maintenance budget.

    • passagedesperles@gmail.com
      April 13, 2016 / 9:49 am

      My routine is like Joanne’s. I like those nail buffer pads like Revlon Crazy Nails, for a finished look on hands. My major maintenance concerns keeping off a significant weight loss, and dadgummit, that’s something you can’t book with somebody. OMG am I glad ot be free of hair colour, which I needed every 3 weeks or there was a white rim around my face.

  10. Jan
    April 12, 2016 / 5:37 am

    I’m retired and I switch between very low upkeep and trying to do more on a daily basis. I have top skin care and make up products but tend to only use them if I’m going somewhere other than the gym, grocery, post office, library etc. Hence…I don’t look my best during most of my outings. I’m never without sunscreen though. I do have a great low maintenance hair cut that is trimmed every 5 weeks , and regular color also every 5 weeks, mani every 3 weeks, pedi every 3-6 weeks depending on the season, brows and lip get waxed every 6-8 weeks, and massages every month or two months and that’s about it. When I lived in a more affordable part of the country I got glycolic facials once a month and, if I could, I’d continue some sort of treatment like that. Besides being a great treatment, It seemed to spur me on to do more at home…i.e. “if I’m spending the money, I need to do the homework?” I do exercise of some sort 5 days a week or more…walking outside or at the Y where I do spinning, Pilates, Yoga and strength training and have switched to a mostly plant based diet. I feel good and have a lot of energy….I just need to take better care of my 76 year old face!

  11. April 12, 2016 / 5:40 am

    I don’t call it maintenance. I simply call it just getting ready or “my routine”. But–now that you mention it…..The maintenance is so subjective. When my hair was in a bob–it was high maintenance because my hair is naturally curly/wavy. And to make it straight took a ton of work. Now my hair is long and more conducive to my royal laziness. I can just put a hair tie or clip in my hair to make a messy bun or pull it back. Bad-a-bang! I do my roots myself because I don’t have to be bothered leaving the house–i.e. getting dressed, putting my makeup on….another royal laziness task. I love me my mani/pedis because Bonaparte has a “thing” about hands and I have a “thing” about feet (BTW, your feet are beautiful). I try to go every three weeks because I can’t stand the length of time spent, but if I did it at home, the nails would be a mess.
    I would say that applying my makeup is the longest “task” and that’s simply because it’s “ME” time. I love and adore the entire process–I find it akin to ironing clothing. Very Zen!

  12. Jill
    April 12, 2016 / 5:45 am

    Do tell about the lasers for those pesky brown spots. Within this last year, they are showing up on my face, here and there……I’m an outdoor girl, and hesitate to go the laser route, but would love some feed back from you on what your thoughts are regarding this treatment. Thanks,and as always, I look forward to your blog!

  13. Linda Boardman Kerr
    April 12, 2016 / 5:47 am

    You didn’t say anything about your daily skin-care routine. That is probably where I spend most of my beauty time, as my everyday make-up is minimal. I have very dry curly hair, which I wash twice a week and condition like crazy. I exercise for two hours, 3X a week and walk a lot.So I figure if I have healthy hair, cared-for skin, and a good body, I’m way ahead of the game as far as being ready for anything. But, as I said, skin care is a priority (Clarisonic, masks, etc.)

    • Susan B
      April 12, 2016 / 6:43 am

      Hi Linda, I’ll cover skincare in a separate post, thought it deserved its own. 🙂

  14. stephanie
    April 12, 2016 / 6:17 am

    My shower/make-up/hair routine is one hour a day. I also walk/run 5.5 a day which takes an hour. Seems like quite a lot of time invested in myself and I still feel that Im letting myself go. Me versus aging is a tough battle! I buy Purology hair products and Chanel make-up and have a hair appt ($150 bucks) and pedicure ($50) every 8 weeks.I feel very, very fortunate that I am able to do this.

  15. sandypatti
    April 12, 2016 / 6:37 am

    I think I am low-maintenance – I air-dry my hair and wear little make-up. I have a fairly small wardrobe. OTOH, I use Retin A on my face and hands, get pedicures all summer, do a workout most days, and need my occasional nap : > And I agree the term itself is sexist. xox

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

  16. Laura
    April 12, 2016 / 6:43 am

    Excellent post. And so very true. Thank you.

  17. Vildy
    April 12, 2016 / 6:46 am

    Wow. Your thoughts are the only ones I’ve ever come across that finally make sense of all the fuss about “effortlessness.” And I’m 67.

  18. Tabitha
    April 12, 2016 / 7:00 am

    Great post, for me, over the least 19 years it has been working out, I’m a real couch potato, I don’t walk anywhere if I can help it. I do my hair once a week or for the day I’m going somewhere because I have thin but frizzy hair that takes 25 minutes to look like real hair.

  19. Tabitha
    April 12, 2016 / 7:02 am

    Oh and no mani/pedis/ no facials, I don’t like strangers fawning over me!

  20. Shannon
    April 12, 2016 / 7:07 am

    Thanks for an interesting post as it did make me think about it. I tend to spend an average amount of time but maybe an above average amount of money. I support whatever “maintenance” a woman does to feel good about herself, high-maintenance or not. And I’m a fan of the IPL Laser for those spots. I’ve had my face, arms and chest done with good results. It really evens out my skin tone. Unfortunately menopause brought me skin and fragrance allergies that I never had in the past so I have to be careful about nail polishes and fragrances in skin care/makeup or pay the price with weeks of irritated skin. One last thing – Great pedicure!

  21. Karen Winch
    April 12, 2016 / 7:11 am

    It is all about focus to me …if you spend to much time focused on how you look it is simply boring at any age..do what maintenance you feel you want or need and get on with the more important aspects of life..stop having unrealistic goals like looking much younger than you are or always looking perfect.. life is very short and to spend what time we have constantly fretting about how you look is a waste

  22. Susan Butler
    April 12, 2016 / 7:25 am

    Susan I love your posts. I would consider myself low maintenance now. When I was younger I used makeup and my hair had to be perfect but now I just am! I do enjoy my infrequent pedicures and the once a year shellac on my nails for Christmas/New Years. I consider IPL medical and a necessary as my rosacea is painful when it flares up. I too have recently cut my hair short so it takes no time to get ready in the morning. Now if I could just get to the gym and work on core muscles for balance all would be well in my world.

    Susan

    P.S. I am going to Paris for the first time in one month from today. So excited.

    • April 12, 2016 / 8:26 am

      I just saw your comment. OMG! Have a great time in Paris! I can remember my first time and it was magical. And in over a dozen trips to that city, there’s still a ton of stuff I haven’t done. Have the best trip ever!

    • Duchesse
      April 16, 2016 / 5:53 am

      @ Susan: To work on core strength, you might benefit from some of the Pilates or yoga videos on You Tube. I use them when the weather is too nasty to walk to the gym. They are not the equal of a good class, but do the job.

  23. April 12, 2016 / 9:25 am

    Great post Susan! Thank you. I am saddened to hear women criticize other women’s choice to have plastic surgery, or not. Go gray or not. I’m quite low maintenance. I do my own pedicures, rarely get facials and don’t go to the gym…but I should do that. What I do pay a lot of attention to is the quality of food I put in my body. I make time to meditate and try to walk my dog daily since I discovered i have osteopenia.

  24. April 12, 2016 / 9:57 am

    I think I am probably quite low maintenance. My hair is luckily quite easy, trim every 8 weeks and colour touchup 4 times a year. I do however try to not miss my pilates classes twice a week. It really has helped my posture and my sciatica. I would love to have a mani/pedi more often. I do always put my make-up on every morning.

  25. Mary Casady
    April 12, 2016 / 10:34 am

    I also am interested in laser treatments…Am I high maintenance? Seems like it. Everything seems to take longer and longer even though I have a simple (?) beauty routine. I have never spent much time on my hair (dark brown and curly), just a cut about every six weeks. I do my own pedicure. I pay a great deal of attention to what I eat and do what I call a “big cook” every month or so to stock my freezer and then augment with farmers market fresh produce. Some days I stay home with just moisturizer, blush and lipstick, but rarely go out in less than full dress regalia. I would like to spend more time exercising and walking.

  26. April 12, 2016 / 11:50 am

    Good post- it got me thinking! I have been an avid pilates lover for 10 years- I go twice a week to a small class, on the reformer. It just works for me! Also, the hubby and I, do three to five, 2-mile walks a week, to get a little sweaty and enjoy the outdoors. I’d like to do more “treatments” and just have to strategically find the TIME… it is a goal of mine for 2016. I better get on it!!

  27. April 12, 2016 / 12:27 pm

    I recently saw a performance of CASA VALENTINA at the Pasadena Playhouse. The play is based on a true story that happened in the late fifties/early sixties about a group of men who enjoyed spending time dressing up as women at an establishment in the Catskills. After the performance the actors, who on stage had dressed as woman with wigs and make-up and wearing high heels but were now in their normal male gear, were asked questions by the audience. Some comments were, “I just couldn’t be a woman. All that time and money spent on hair, make-up, nails, buying clothes, etc. and to have to keep repeating it, day in day out, month in month out, would drive me crazy”. “Wearing make-up is like wearing a mask that comes off at night. It can be a little scary”. ” I feel like there are two women in my life. The natural one and the one who spends a lot of time daily changing herself into someone else”. ‘Why ever would anyone want to wear high heels and ruin their feet?” And so on. Why, in fact, do we do it? Do we do it to feel better about ourselves? If so, aren’t we secure enough in ourselves without all the beautifying? Is it peer pressure, or the pressure from the advertising agencies and the companies that sell the products? Or do we do it for men? Perhaps something to think about.

  28. April 12, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    Excellent article! You are spot on. We need to give ourselves a break and treat ourselves to the pampering we need, regardless of whether we are called high maintenance or not. And, oh yes, let’s give each other the very same break.

  29. April 12, 2016 / 3:47 pm

    Thank you, Susan for this great opportunity to come clean!
    I must be low upkeep. Hair’s easy – 2-3 months between trims. Stopped colouring on retirement, turns out it’s skunky – I’m OK with that. Mostly no conditioner. Never have facials, never exfoliate, no fancy serums or creams. No manicures but have one or two pedicure treats in summer. I don’t feel under any pressure to do those things. I forget hand cream. Missing brows now covered by a fringe! Leg hair growth now slowed down to the occasional summer shave. I sound a bit of a mess really! But I do use cleansers, foundation and mascara that I love and have used for years. Other make-up and moisturiser is whatever’s going at the chemist. Oh and I walk some days and play a little golf.

  30. Martina
    April 12, 2016 / 5:15 pm

    I have my hair colored every four weeks…I was 90% gray at 40 (now 55) and I’m just not ready for gray hair. Makeup 10 minutes a day, 10 minutes on my hair. I *should* be spending more time on exercise, but I’m having trouble figuring out what to do since being banned from ant stress on my knees by the orthopedist. Working on losing weight, which is the most important thing I should do. Do my own manicures and pedicures, because I enjoy that (I have a very steady hand 🙂 ).

  31. Karen
    April 12, 2016 / 5:16 pm

    I personally love maintenance and pampering, and wish I had more time & money for both. I get haircuts every 6-8 weeks; every other cut, I add in highlights. I do my own mani/pedi, although I spring for a couple pedis during the summer months. I love playing with skincare & makeup products, but as I’ve gotten older I do this more for enjoyment and less for feeling like it’s “required” to look a certain way. I walk 5-6 X a week for about 45 minutes and do yoga twice a week. I’d love to do yoga more often and also add Pilates, but budget and work schedule don’t allow for either right now. Recently added morning meditation, which seems to make a big difference in my mood. The big change I need to make is eating better…I still tend to eat like I’m in college, which is not good for my health or disposition. Thanks for the thought-provoking post, and those gorgeous sandals!

  32. Karen
    April 12, 2016 / 5:17 pm

    Oh and I’d love to hear more about IPL too!

  33. April 12, 2016 / 5:34 pm

    For the person asking about brown spots on hands: I use Skin Ceuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector. Recommended by my skin guru and it really has made a difference. I used the strongest RetinA for years (still do on my face) but I think this is even better. Combined with sun screen, especially when driving, it seems good.
    I DO spend many hours on exercise: I’m 68, and either work out or walk every day. I’m so used to it: just roll out of bed and go!

  34. Sookee
    April 12, 2016 / 5:36 pm

    I am high maintenance and make no apology for it. It makes me happy and I feel good in my own skin. I don’t judge others and tire of the snarky remarks I receive regularly from my peers that go something like this; “must be nice”, “at our age, who cares?”, “waste of time and money”, and so it goes. I love my hair stylist, I’ve been with her over 25+ years, I see her every 5-6 weeks to touch up my roots and adjust my highlights/lowlights. I have naturally curly/wavy hair that I can and do air dry most days, but I do jazz it up when I go out and about. Jazz it up means I rough up my roots and separate my curls to add lots of volume…for this effort, I do receive many compliments. I practice yoga 2-3 times per week at a studio and I weight train 2 times per week. I get regular facials (every 4 weeks), dermabrasion, chemical peels and occasionally IPL treatment for my brown spots and other discolorations. My mani/pedi is every three weeks since I started using gelish like shellac…yes, I know I’ve read about the health risk and concerns, but I like the results and I enjoy being pampered at the salon where I get time to catch up on me only time. I use high quality products on my skin, hair, and throughout my home. My makeup routine is natural/nude, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps involved to include a good serum, a mineral tinted sunscreen, concealer, mineral powder, eyebrows, mascara, and a superb nude lip color. My clothing choices have become those of a good capsule wardrobe that I can travel with no matter the season and it’s casual, yet it defines my eclectic style beautifully. And finally, I’m a total shoe and purse addict and I absolutely make no apology for that, I’ve earned every single boot and handbag I own. By the way, I adore you, Susan, I love following you and love your style!

    • Judy
      April 12, 2016 / 6:33 pm

      I love you!

  35. yvrjanice
    April 12, 2016 / 5:41 pm

    I like to consider myself low maintenance but I am expensive maintenance! I get IPL treatments 4 times a year with a little bit of fillers once or twice a year and botox every 4 months. This way, I try to get by on my “natural” looks. I am by no means overdone looking, just fresh. I often run errands to the grocery store or bank makeup free and I feel totally comfortable doing so. I really believe in letting my skin whenever I get the chance. But sunscreen is a must! Years of tanning when I was young took a toll on my skin and that’s why I started with the IPL. As for hair colouring, I’m lucky – my mom is 88 with just a few grey strands in her jet black hair and I could still count my grey hairs on 2 hands – at 53. My body is another story. I am predisposed to being larger, like my mom, et al, and I work hard at keeping those pounds at bay. I work out hard 4 times a week but always have 15 – 20 lbs to lose. It could be worse. Everything functions, so there’s nothing much to complain about!

  36. Nicole
    April 12, 2016 / 6:36 pm

    I love seeing women praise each other for how we -are- without qualifying it. It’s nice to have one’s efforts acknowledged, yet nothing beats a warm hug when we may not have primped much that day. I guess for women we value acceptance and yet we can be so judgmental of each other – quite the paradox. I do my own roots and am not ready to go gray-all-the-way yet, and who knows if ever, as I don’t think it will look very good with my pale complexion. My current goal is to get the overall lightening hair darker at the roots to give it depth (as I write my roots are a tad orange after my latest attempt at my new science project. I don’t sweat it; it’ll wash out). I enjoy getting a facial a few times a year and my ideal would be on a regular basis but the times I do helps clear out congestion that builds up. As for products, I am an avid label reader (organics are my favorite). I give myself pedi’s – my luck with good salon ones was hit or miss. I bought a foot bath/massager at an after-Xmas sale that I love (a spa for my feet!). I’d like to respectfully disqualify most men from the discussion. I think it’s we who make this decision solely for ourselves, as I feel that they notice and it’s automatic that they scan and decide, with a babe/plain Jane meter. And I know that when I’m out in yoga pants and no make-up I barely get an acknowledgement. Plus, they don’t have a clue! I love the reference to Dustin Hoffman. Ok, so perhaps one guy gets it. I’d like to invest more time in health & fitness and that doesn’t necessarily involve a lot of money (more walking would be an improvement). I’m with you, Susan, better eating is my big goal, ever more important now. And no guilt! That’s a spirit-drainer. 🙂 “You’re Worth It.” TM

  37. Jill Ann
    April 12, 2016 / 6:37 pm

    I’m “medium-maintenance”, I think! Not ready to admit to my grey, so cut & color every 6 weeks or so. I’ve had IPL in the past, and it’s about time to do another round. Am considering more skin treatments such as Thermage or Ultherapy for my sags & bags, but am not convinced they actually would work. I could not be bothered to go somewhere for a mani/pedi, besides which my fingernails would chip before I got out to my car. I do my own toes, because I live in a warm climate and wear sandals a lot…and the pedi lasts for 3 weeks!

    Where I spend my big bucks, besides my hair appointments, is on my Pilates trainer. I go twice a week for a private session. It costs a fortune but I think it’s an absolutely worthwhile investment in my health. In fact, my husband has just started going, following back surgery! He’s only been for a few sessions, but loves it.

    Oh, and although I don’t wear makeup every day, I did just splurge on custom mascara while in NYC last week. Probably no better than Maybelline, but it was fun!

  38. Faux Fuchsia
    April 12, 2016 / 10:10 pm

    I am so low maintenance it is ridiculous. I have not been to the hairdresser since early March 2011. I colour my own hair and Mr FF cuts it with the kitchen scissors.

    I do my own manis and pedis. Chipped nail polish revolts me so I often change my colour daily but can do it really fast.

    I wash my face with soap and never moisturise my face (only my body).

    I exercise a lot but I walk (free) and do weights at home and use my stationary bike so I do not have to pay anyone for it.

    I’ve never had botox or fillers but I don’t rule that out. Maybe one day.

    I am however VERY serious about good grooming and I like my hair to be pretty much perfect (blow dried or an updo) and wear makeup every day (most of it cheap as cannot be bothered spending a lot on it).

    I used to spend a lot on clothes and accessories but I buy less these days and use what I have. Like the reader up thread I Love my clothes and bags and really look after them.

    I think I look high maintenance because I am so specific about hair makeup nails and good grooming.

    I eat the best quality food I can source and am too old to drink rubbish wine.

    I do not mind aging. I traded off my looks so much in my 20s and early 30s that I did feel a bit scared about my 40s but getting older is such a privilege.

    I am loving the comments on this thread sick.

    I agree with Sookee (up thread comment wise) that the whole “waste of time and money ” comments can be boring. When I look good I feel better. Plus, I am probably the oldest mother in my 5 year old son’s class, so I am conscious of not wanting to look older for his sake, if that makes sense.

    Thanks for such a great post. x

  39. Vicki
    April 13, 2016 / 5:04 am

    I love how your posts can elicit such a wealth of comments!

    My husband tells me I’m ‘high maintenance’ because I have my regrowth attended to every 5 weeks. I have been going grey since I was 17, I’m going on 61 this year.
    In the summer months, I may have a few foils put in for a change to lighten my hair colour.
    I can’t remember when I last had a mani/pedi or, a facial.
    In summer I may use a fake tan product on my lower legs only as I mainly wear pants summer & winter.

    A couple of years ago I developed a skin cancer on my forehead near my hairline (result of a youth spent sun baking in Australian sun) that was surgically removed & which left a ‘dent’ in my forehead. A few hundred dollars later the dent was sort of fixed with ‘fillers’.

    I’ve just spent a few thousand on my teeth to see me through the next few years.
    In truth, I’d rather spend that money on a holiday.

  40. Melissa
    April 13, 2016 / 6:44 am

    Hi Susan,

    Yet again another great post. I read through almost every single comment.
    I have always had to shave my legs from top to bottom daily. I tried everything else, it doesn’t work, and shaving less doesn’t make hair grow less that is a crock, cause I tried that also. Anyway, I wish I didn’t have to but I have dark thick hair and while the thick hair is lovely on my scalp it isn’t on the legs…..Drives me nutso, damn itchy.

    So my routine is quicker than when I was young, but isn’t ever 5 seconds…
    My hair is now wash and go, I wear a bit of makeup if I go out, trim every 2 months, capsule wardrobe, up at 5:30 shave (not allowed to at the gym) then to the gym, quick rinse in the shower after makeup and get to work, work full time, come home and eat very healthy all day.
    I am a bit of a shopaholic, oh well, I ain’t got no one else to answer to, I make my own money, my hubby and I live in my home which I pay for and I don’t apologize anymore, unless I am late for an appointment cause of my “piddling.”

    Pedicures in the summer, mani with 60 sec dry nail polish in natural light seashell pink. I spend on healthy food, I have a cheap gym membership and work on myself daily. (meaning mentally emotionally physically to have the best quality of life I can have) I buy good quality expensive skin care and makeup, I like pretty colors and packaging. I was doing something cheaper in skin care but noticed after 2 years my skin just was too reddish. Now back to using Clarins, yep ain’t cheap, but lasts long and is working.

    It is disgusting when we as humans insult each other and not lift each other up. I have had a hard life, lots of pain and disappointment, made mistakes, but I work hard for everything I have and I still consider myself lucky for the life I have. I am thankful daily and is how I keep myself grounded.

    I have been reading Susan Street’s blog for a week now and it is wonderful. I love, love her style, is very similar to mine, minus such gorgeous heels can’t do them anymore:(

    Her advice on that book Eat to Live made me remember my father mentioning it and adding to my e reader a while back. I looked it up again and started reading. While I am not diabetic and that part of the book can become a bit dry, I am hoping soon to get to the part about what to eat, anyway it was that last bit of motivation I needed.

    I was already exercising eating pretty healthy, but her blog and how lovely she looks and how her life changed was the last push to say OK Melissa, time to do the last bit you know you have been needing to do.
    I used to be a vegetarian, and while I am not vegan or a fanatic, I am, as of this past weekend, gone to a more plant based diet again. for good. OK yes I still love fish and that ain’t going no where, cheese is a weakness of mine…., but cutting out the other stuff and almost no white sugar and way more veg beans is what I am doing for me.
    Her advice on enjoying a bit and splitting dessert is so spot on. She doesn’t deny herself and she feels better, and that is the truth. I feel crappy when I eat crap.

    Hubby will never go vegetarian, I won’t push that on anyone, but he said cook what you want I will throw a piece of meat on the grill to add to it.

    By the way my father at 77 years old still can build anything and is fitter than a man more than half his age. He beat prostate cancer once then was tested for diabetes, the doctor said if the numbers go a bit higher he will be on insulin. He said I will damned if I am gonna live with a daily shot. This is a man that has worked hard his whole life never over weight no issues other than allergies and he got prostate cancer and almost had diabetes. He started reading like crazy after the prostate issue decided vegetarian was the way to go, long story short his diet has prevented a recurrence of cancer and prevented him having insulin for diabetes. His health is diet and exercise controlled.

    It was all the motivation I needed to get healthy now while I am youngish. He loved his meat but really is proof that stopping it prevented all kinds of health issues. I ain’t preaching, it isn’t for everyone, but it worked for him and it may motivate anyone who may be thinking about trying something else for their health, if they have “tried it all.”

    I really have no one that will care of me in old age, so I take care of myself mostly cause I am scared to death of having strangers do it for me and God only knows what strangers will do… Trying to avoid it as long as I can.

    Yes pamper yourself, pamer others, please don’t criticize others that do pamper themselves, and for goodness sake give someone a compliment today, you feel good they feel good is just nice:) It is my advice.

  41. Kris
    April 13, 2016 / 8:24 am

    High maintenance I read the WSJ article and put together a rough estimate of what I spend a month on monthly bar method for fitness, hair, facials, mani pedis, skin, hair are and cosmetics. I spend $600 a month on average
    I get microcurrent facials to keep face and neck lifted, get blonde highlights, wear my hair long, use Kate sommerville skin care. Am retired age 59. Am lucky

  42. April 13, 2016 / 10:32 am

    I want to have more time to spend on maintenance and therefore be high maintenance… 😉 😉 xv

  43. April 13, 2016 / 2:20 pm

    I guess I am finally high maintenance…and happy to be. Since I forgot about myself for so long. I am about to leave for a blogging conference and before I go I colored my hair, got a facial, got a manicure, and got a pedicure…and it feels great!

  44. Sue
    April 13, 2016 / 5:15 pm

    I have loved reading these comments.

    I am low maintenance – I’ve let my hair go grey and I really like it, although sadly with age it is now much thinner. I go to the hairdresser about every three months or so. I love having facials but seldom get around to it. I do too much gardening to have manicures, but I do have pedicures every so often. I am careful about sun protection and wear hats a lot. I also love cooking and make all my meals from scratch – very unusual to eat fast food although love eating out with friends.

  45. JC
    April 13, 2016 / 5:33 pm

    I come from a long line of proud, high maintenance Italian women. I like to look nice when my husband and I go out. Even my adult children comment that I look younger than most of my peers but that isn’t the point-I want to look good for me/my age. I remind my husband he knew I was high maintenance when he married me 43 years ago and I am not going to change now :). I have a card of a pampered poodle that says, “People say high maintenance like it is a bad thing . . . until they look in the mirror” :).

  46. Laura Franzman-Botha
    April 14, 2016 / 3:14 am

    I don’t think I’m high maintenance, but I do have expensive taste. I always say I want to look like a footballers wife – in the sense of hair/make-up and nails must always be perfect – but I have curly hair which I airdry (only go to salon for cut every couple 4 months or a blowdry for special occasions) the nails chip in less than 24 hours (even gel) and the makeup just melts of my face… so definelty low maintenance, with expensive taste 😉

    • Duchesse
      April 16, 2016 / 5:57 am

      You have magnificent opportunity re fragrance 😉

      • Laura Franzman-Botha
        April 18, 2016 / 12:29 am

        Hi Duchesse – I have a signature scent 😉

  47. bellsonme
    April 14, 2016 / 6:11 am

    This post and all of these comments are so informative. I’ve gone out of my way to not feel pressured to look any particular way. My only rule is that I don’t want to look “pathetic,” i.e. like I’m trying to blend in with the college women I’m surrounded by every day.

    I’m low-maintenance and lucky with some genes — I’ve got wild curly hair that I keep shortish and only have to shake around to style. It went from reddish brown to a yukky iron gray when I was in my 30s, so I have lowlights/highlights put in every three months or so to make me happier about it. I’ve got good skin, have never used all-over makeup, and don’t look even close to the 57 years old I’ll be turning this summer. That said, I need to get moving, limber up, and lose this desk job weight so I can wear more of the classy clothes I see on this blog!!

  48. Sandra
    April 14, 2016 / 9:33 am

    I fall somewhere between high and low: hair coloring every 6 weeks, manicure every 3 weeks and pedi every 8 weeks. I recently started using Retin-A (.025%) and it has done wonders for my skin and does away with the need to exfoliate. Looking forward to your post on skin care.

    I recently lost 30 lbs by eating less and becoming best friends with the elliptical machine.

    Walking 5-7 miles/day now in rainy Paris without craving the patisserie. Seeing women here who, like home in the States, run the gamut from no maintenance to high! A chaqu’un son gout as the French say.

  49. Janet Nucci
    April 14, 2016 / 3:16 pm

    Biggest challenge is weight. I have never had one and now trying to get rid of the belly is a pain. I do work out; color my hair; mani/pedis and try to eat well. Have wine daily…not giving that up!! I am 66 and don’t look my age and enjoy my life. I accept my wrinkles yet i hydrate my face and body like crazy…so dry!! I could not live in Arizona…I would be a prune! Ah, growing old gracefully is a true gift and I hope I can do that. Sandra…ah, Paris! What a gorgeous place! I love it. Love this blog and learning from all of you!! Thanks!

  50. Linda
    April 15, 2016 / 7:59 am

    I am admittedly high maintenance when it comes to my body. I work our by running, swimming, or walking everyday. Sometimes I do two activities in a day. I also try to get in some yoga as well. Last winter I was hospitalized and had emergency back surgery and realized that I recovered quickly because I was in very good shape. I actually love moving and am pretty careful with my body. I’m at my ideal weight and have been for several years. I cook most of our meals from healthy ingredients and drink plenty of water. When it comes to manicures and pedicures, I probably should be better, but I get about two a year. Since I am so active, my hair has to be low maintenance on a daily basis. I get highlights every three months and a cut from my hairdresser of 20 years!

  51. suburbohemian
    April 15, 2016 / 2:13 pm

    The most time saving part of my routine is to not pretend I’m low maintenance. I just accept that. Lots of skincare and lots of makeup. Home hair color every two weeks to cover the grey. Doing my own mani-pedi these days to save money, but would prefer to have then done professionally every two weeks. Have had pulsed red laser treatment several years back to deal with broken blood vessels on my face! Hope to do it again some day as needed. See a pro for a haircut every 2-3 months. Would love to have a Fraxel laser treatment at some point. In a better world these beauty treatments would count towards a deductible on our healthcare. A good professional pedicure w/ expert foot massage can save lives!

  52. April 19, 2016 / 9:10 am

    The two of us have very different maintenance routines. Anne H here – haircut once every 6 weeks, monthly facial and that is really about it. Holidays promote the need for a bit of waxing and pedicure. Anne C has always invested in regular manicures and hair colouring. Both of us are Slimming World-ites but not quite as zealous as we might be.

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