I’ll never (again) start a romance with a man who has more toiletries in his bathroom than I do. I’m talking about creams, cleansing agents and bath products, and that’s just the start. When I was 25 and living in Austin, Texas, I dated a guy seven years older than me whose bathroom was incredible. He owned a weighty designer razor that stood on its own carrier. Skin products by Jurlique were arranged around his sink basin. He had “blue oil” in his medicine cabinet, to rub on his temples when stressed.
Once I took a shower at his place and asked if I could use his seemingly expensive shampoo—a brand I can’t recall, but that was housed in a beautiful green bottle and smelled like roses. “Use as much as you like,” he said. It was the most decadent shampoo I’ve ever treated my hair to. It made me feel insecure. Maybe I should invest in some Kiehl’s, I thought. Would he freak out if he saw that all I had in my shower was a value-sized bottle of Head & Shoulders and a generic bar of soap? (If he ever did, he never said anything.) Was the employee at his favorite apothecary being facetious when she told me he was a “real Renaissance man”? Was my boyfriend high-maintenance, or was I just some slob who didn’t take care of myself?
During our four months of dating, I put increasingly more effort into my personal grooming, including blow-drying my hair, getting manicures and exfoliating my skin weekly. He never told me to do any of these things; I did them mostly to feel more feminine around him. It was only after I moved to Costa Rica (thus ending our relationship), a country that has a tenth of the selection of products we have in the U.S., that I realized none of that stuff mattered. I could be spending my money on better things, like traveling, and using my time more wisely. Better yet, I feel more beautiful using fewer beauty products, and I’d rather date a guy who feels the same way.—Clarisa, 29/female/straight/single/Logan Square