Monday, August 15, 2011

The Grownup Gig

a hippie greenmom suddenly has to wear makeup and bling...

So Saturday night I got to play a gig. This was a much cooler, ritzier gig than I usually get, and I get this deep twinkle of satisfaction in being able to say airily, "Oh yes, I was hired to play classical and opera selections for this cocktail party; they wouldn't normally have called me, but their usual pianist is working with Dennis DeYoung this weekend..." It was in a seriously schmantzy hotel, on a lovely instrument that had even been tuned. Lots of women with lots of bling and designer gowns and men who smack each other on the back audibly as though the volume of the back-smack is a measure of one's manhood, getting louder the more cocktails everyone drank...

The catch: for a gig like that, I can't go as a hippie with bare face, natural lips, flat loose hair, and faded organic cotton skirt. And thus far I have not had good enough luck with the mineral makeup to get away with using it. So I....I....went to Walgreens and bought a thing of ordinary not-at-all Almay foundation, blush, and lipstick. And I did it without even checking the EWG skin deep cosmetic safety website.

(I was pleased later to realize that the stuff I bought at least rated only a 4; I had figured it would be much worse.)

I wore it. My face was all smooth and one color, my cheeks had a nice faux-blush, and my lips looked appropriately deep and polished. I even used a little brow pencil (since my brows are sort of shapeless) and eye shadow. I draw the line at mascara; I don't do mascara.

I looked pretty good, I guess, if I do say so. But my face felt all weird, and the inside of my mouth tasted like lipstick, this icky petroleum-y taste that was just gross no matter how many mints I sucked on. My hair was lacquered into place and pulled a little too tight, but it was smooth and professional-looking. Blingy sparkly jewelry. And I wore my slinky synthetic knit indestructo-separates; the one eco-grace there is that at least I bought them secondhand on ebay.

It felt weird. Fun, but weird. Like I was playing dress-up or something. I'm totally not complaining--it was an awesome gig, and I don't think I sucked or anything, so I really hope they may ask me again when anything like this comes up. It just didn't feel like...me.

Best of all, though, was coming home and cleaning the crap off my face with good stuff--I quickly whipped up my own little homemade facial cleanser, out of a little honey, a little yogurt, and some almond meal. (I have used oat flour sometimes for this too. Seriously, try this. Your face will thank you.) Thank you, Crunchy Betty. Cleaned the chemicals off my face remarkably quickly and easily, and left my face all soft and sucking up the lovely goodness. A cup of ginger-mint tea before bed. I washed my face again with the same stuff the next morning. Last night, gave my hair a hot oil treatment with jojoba oil, olive oil, and a sprig of rosemary from my patio plant. And by this morning, I feel vaguely like myself again, and at last the petro-lipstick taste is gone from my mouth.

This is not exactly a substantive post, I'm aware. I feel like like a total green slacker, compared to my superhero colleagues who make kefir and grow shrooms and stuff like that...but as usual, I'm curious. I suspect most of us can do the "ordinary" parts of our lives with a lot less consumption and chemically stuff than we used to before starting our green journeys, but what do we do when we find ourselves in situations where being our casual natural green selves becomes a business liability? Anyone ever find themselves in that kind of situation, especially on a daily basis? How do you handle it?

For myself, I'm honestly not losing any sleep over this. I think Erin's faithful 80-20 rule for going green is an awesome yardstick (try to do the green thing 80% of the time, and don't sweat the other 20%), and stuff like this goes easily into the 20 zone. It's not a guilt trip thing. But it just got me thinking...

So, the two questions: First, anyone really genuinely have any tips for going mainstream-glam without too many chemicals and weird things put onto/into our bodies?

Second, anyone out there who deals with wishing they could be greener but literally can't, because of career (or family or cultural) pressure to the contrary?

Please, hit the comments! I don't think I've heard anyone talk about this much thus far...

--Jenn the Greenmom

7 comments:

Dea-chan said...

Here's a couple of thoughts:

- put your hair up in a way that it stays. a bun is always musician-appropriate
- as a reed player, I get to skip lipstick (which I hate) so I only ever do my eyes
- don't do full foundation -- do concealer where you need it and powder possibly. full foundation will ALWAYS feel like a mask, even when applying with water and all of that
- you can find better performance clothes than your whatever-you-called-it. A nice full-length, full skirt in perhaps satin or silk, and whatever kind of top you feel comfortable with.

When I think of that beautiful billowing skirt, I think of three people: harpists, cellists, and pianists (except for the crazy asian exchange students who wear skinny pants). Just get a NICE one, not some weird acrylic.

[Also, if you must put product in your hair, find something that's not hairspray. I personally use two products from LUSH: R&B is a moisturizing cream and Dirty Styling Cream for some hold, while still being moisturizing. The hair styling cream has a small amount of methylparaben (last ingredient) and R&B has no preservatives.]

And that's my two cents! :-P

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

This is such a good post and I so enjoyed reading it. It sounds like you did great and I bet you looked really pretty! I make my own lipstick using a little beeswax,coconut oil,and then mixing in some of the mineral blush until I get the color I want.

Jenn the Greenmom said...

Alicia--mineral blush powder, I never thought of that...I've made lip balms and stuff, and I like doing those...thanks! The lipstick was the only REALLY icky part.

Dea-chan--actually, my indestructoblacks, as I call them, are fairly nice as synthetics go; they are those Chico's Travelers things, and they are this very very easy-wearing slinky knits. They machine wash and dry, they adapt well to both formal-classy and slightly less schmantzy gigs, and I in fact bought them back when I needed something dressy with PANTS, since I can't play the organ in a dress. So I have them, they work, and they don't get beat up. If more gigs like this do come up, though, that silk skirt sounds GORGEOUS...hmm... :-)

What reed instrument do you play, anyhow? How cool!

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

I dress up only very occasionally. I actually find that if I just wear lipstick, I look like I'm wearing makeup (my sister taught me this trick), so I rarely bother with anything else. I think it's worth investing in a really non-toxic lipstick (since you are eating it). I called the Whole Foods near me to see the brands they carry, then looked them up in EWG, and will buy one next time I am there.

There are lots of store-bought hair products that score low in Skin Deep -- if you shop at Whole Foods, you will at least avoid the 7, 8, 9s (hopefully). I've used Alba and Giovanni Organic leave-in conditioners and they both score a 2 (I think) -- I have unruly curly hair.

I think just one nice outfit bought any which way is plenty green personally. I have a few nice outfits and the only place I wear them is church for a few hours on Sunday. Borrow nice jewelry from a good friend if you can. Borrow the outfit too, if you can (I used to do this for prom in HS so I didn't have to buy a nice dress I would barely ever wear).

Culturally, with my in-laws, I take a lot of crap for my green ways. I don't make a big stink when I'm with them - I just figure it's a small fraction of my family's time/food/etc. and try not to sweat it.

Congrats on your gig!

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Also, I just don't tell my in-laws about most of what I do, and then I don't take crap for it (sort of the opposite about being evangelical about green-ness). And that's how I survive, and I feel fine about it.

becki said...

I laughed when you said you didn't even look it up on the Skin Deep Database. If I bought some makeup without looking it up, I won't look it up so that I don't know the damage!

I think that makeup is the hardest to buy. For my hair I do just fine styling it with Dr. Bronner's leave-in conditioner. I used to be a hairspray junkie, but I now only use it when I go to get my hair cut and forget to tell them I don't use hairspray!

Dea-chan said...

@Jenn the Greenmom - I play oboe. Not professionally at the moment, but I'm in the process of starting a band with friends where I'll play clarinet/oboe/whatever else I get my hands on.

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