Though I grew up as a West Coaster, spending the first 18 years of my life in Seattle, it was on the East Coast that I experienced my formative beauty years. Moving across the country for college, East Coast beauty came at me fast. I made my first acquaintance with contouring (during a pre-Kardashian era), thanks to a classmate in a freshman seminar. Joining the cheerleading team whipped my makeup game into shape—I acquired my first bold red lipstick and finally graduated from drugstore makeup. Come December, I quickly learned that moisturizer is a girl's best friend during the unbearable three months that is winter in the northeast.
By the time I settled down in New York for my first job out of grad school, I felt like a bona fide East Coaster. I quickly cemented my beauty routine in the concrete jungle, learning how to get things done—including my makeup—in a New York manner and becoming a pro at masking constant realities like a lack of sleep. When I moved to L.A., I had no idea what to expect. My limited knowledge of L.A. came from the movies and the Netflix series Love, but beyond envisioning more Instagram shots of palm trees and better weather, I didn't know just how much my life would change.
In the City That Never Sleeps, caffeine is non-negotiable. I was never a coffee drinker before moving to New York, but by the time I left, I rarely experienced a morning where I'd forgo my morning cup of joe, and if I did, I always regretted it. But after months of periodically suffering from caffeine-induced headaches and restless nights, this past summer, I decided to give up coffee shortly before moving to L.A.
Six months in, I've reduced my intake significantly from drinking coffee every day. Even though my desk is now situated right next to the office kitchen, with the coffee machine right in my peripheral vision, I still only allow myself a cup once or twice a week when I really need it. Now I begin every morning with hot water and lemon, and once I've showered and felt fully awake, I make myself a green smoothie. I blend together baby spinach, kale, açaí, almond milk, and a changing concoction of Moon Juice dusts, depending on my mood that day.
In line with the go-go-go lifestyle that defined my New York existence, my exercise routine always hit the ground running—literally. When I could make the time, I'd get in three to six miles at the gym, followed up by a few rotations on machines, if not just to prove to myself I could still muster a lat pulldown. My fitness regimen was unfocused and sporadic—much like a lot of my off-work hours in New York—but I did what I could and went enough to justify my monthly membership and reduce my guilt.
By the time I moved to L.A., it had been several months since I had stepped foot inside a gym. Though fitness had always been a part of my life before, I had let it drop off big time while freelancing and figuring out my next move. I kept making plans to join something to get back in the game, but I kept putting it off. Eventually, I bit the bullet and signed up for a trial at a yoga studio just a few blocks from my apartment. While in New York I occasionally met up with a friend for a class at Yoga to the People, I was by no means a yogi (and only truly comfortable in child's pose). After just a month of classes, I began craving yoga and needing it for more than its strength-building and stretching. I extended my membership to a year and have since experienced the benefits of breathwork, reiki, and participated in a full moon meditation.
In New York, I always felt as if I were in the recovery process. Recovering from workweek stress, recovering from the weather, recovering from my most recent subway ride. Everything I engaged in beauty-wise was corrective—intense moisturizers to correct my dry winter skin, caffeinated under-eye lotions to compensate for my lack of sleep, expensive shine sprays to give life back to my frazzled locks. Most things I did in the beauty realm were meant to pamper after the damage was done.
Moving to L.A., my beauty routine became preventive. I began wearing a strong SPF daily (thanks partly due to the weather), and something in my perception about self-care began to shift. If I wanted smoother skin, I knew I'd have to hydrate from the inside, not just lather up in lotions. If I wanted a more even skin tone and a healthy body, I'd have to watch what I eat and make quality sleep a priority.
Just like I was always correcting the damage that had already been done, in New York, I was always covering up. The majority of my beauty purchases were makeup—silky foundations for a poreless finish, bronzers to bring out a nonexistent inner-glow, pens, creams, and gels to fake light.
While I haven't abandoned my makeup collection, I now pay more attention to the canvas I'm working with first. Never before have I paid so much attention to my skin and its health. I consider my diet, my sleep, and my self-care practices when it comes to how beautiful I feel. If my skin seems to be going through a hard patch, instead of piling on more foundation, I might take a break from makeup entirely and refresh with natural cleansers, face masks, and sheet masks, and I pay extra attention to the foods I'm eating.
To decompress from fast-paced New York life, I found myself topping off the day with a pour of red or my favorite whiskey. Regularly. Oftentimes the first thing I craved when I got home from work was to crack open a cold beer and unwind for the day—but then the gym, personal betterment, and self-care were immediately out the window.
Since moving to L.A., I've given up on the idea of using a glass of red as a nightcap. I've experienced enough sluggish mornings (and written enough stories on the subject) at this point that I know there are much better ways to fall asleep. Now on my nightstand, instead of a wine glass, I have a collection of sleep-inducing essential oils, an essential oil diffuser, and a lavender pillow spray. Before tucking myself in, I have a nightly routine that gets my mind and body into sleep mode while I make use of my natural cures to catch more z's.