Here at xoVain, we talk beauty all day, every day. I mean, that’s why you visit us, right? You gotta get your fix of lipstick, contouring, strobing, and curling irons. I love all of that stuff – you should see my cupboards – but sometimes an entire day devoted to doing my “glam” routine doesn’t actually make me feel all that beautiful. Sometimes, it’s just a specific moment or a feeling that gives me that radiant, glowing blast of beauty.
I asked some of the XO crew to tell me when they feel their most beautiful, and their answers surprised and delighted me.
"After I do my nighttime skincare routine. My skin is ironically the most glowy and stuff. It's very frustrating because all I'm doing is going to bed."
"I think it's when I've been getting enough sleep and my house is clean, and I'm getting ready to go out and I'm not in any rush or anything and I'm wearing, like, a silk robe or something while I do my makeup and hair."
"I’m actually having a hard time with this because I feel like there are a lot of *wrong ways* to answer this, like it shouldn’t depend on a product or validation from others. But honestly? I love it when my best friends compliment me. There are a lot of guys who don’t like guys in makeup, but I hang out with guys who think it’s really cool, so it’s great to feel seen and appreciated for the way that I do my thing, which isn’t exactly all about the way I look, but it does make me feel beautiful."
"I feel my best when I have a night of fun with my girlfriends ahead of me, in those moments leading up to it when I'm getting ready. I put on my favourite music, take a bath, do a face mask, make a drink, and really take my time getting ready to feel my most glamorous and feminine — not to impress anyone or pick anyone up, but to make myself feel good. Wearing all my best lotions and potions and perfumes, pulling together a fun outfit and knowing the night is full of open opportunities always makes me feel fantastic."
"When I would in my pre-teens complain about my appearance, my mother would counter with some variation of 'But you have elegant bones,' and she'd gather my hair up in her hands and comment on my pretty neck, or remark that my thighs were long and strong, or my wrists delicate. At the time, I'm sure she was trying to distract me from my body's awkward rebellion, to focus on its budding potential, to keep me from comparing my frame, or skin, or nose to others'. These days I carry 'elegant bones' with me as a token of the amazing things women's bodies can do, no matter the size, complexion, or physical ability. I feel most beautiful — my elegant bones — after a long run on a humid night, when I feel satisfied and exhausted, and my skin is shining with sweat. Or when I first get out of the shower, before I apply my makeup, when I am sleek and clean and full of potential."
"I'd have to say I feel my most beautiful at the beach. Yeah, maybe I'm not in the shape I was in my 20s, but I couldn't care less. It's more about what it does to my mind. My freckles pop out, my hair is all curly, wild, and beachy. My hazel-green eyes pop in the summer sun. It's like you can tell that's my happy place."
Like Lisa, I feel most beautiful after a day in the sun. I know I shouldn’t be baking away, but I feel so much prettier with a little tan across my nose and shoulders and messy hair. I also feel my most beautiful with my lash extensions, but I don’t have them right now, and I feel just fine as my normal, short-lashed self, too.
"I feel most beautiful when I’m comfortable. By that, I mean when I’m not wearing polyester shirts or flaky lipsticks and my mental health isn’t acting up. Spending time on my makeup helps sometimes because it relaxes me, but I can feel beautiful when I’m not wearing any makeup and I’m in sweatpants. I think it’s mostly a state of mind, but a good hair day can help, too."
"When I felt the most confident, it was when I surrounded myself with friends that empowered me and made me feel like I could pull anything off. A friend of mine really made me realize the things I am so self-conscious about are no big deal. I think having friends who compliment you and make you feel accepted are a huge part of what makes me feel beautiful. Sometimes, when you spend too much time in your own head, you can get really critical of yourself and just focus on negatives, but having healthy relationships and friendships with people who build you up and compliment you is a hugely important thing for someone like me. I know you aren't supposed to rely on other people's opinions, but sometimes when you have people you love and trust to remind you that you're beautiful, it can get you out of that negative zone you might be in."
"I felt most beautiful when I shaved my head! I'm not 100% sure why that is, but I think it was partly seeing my face all on its own and realizing that I actually liked it (rather than hating it as I feared)."
"I feel most beautiful when I'm spending more time reading my Bible and praying. I know that may seem weird, but for me there is a freedom from having to be perfect because of my relationship with God, and reading and prayer strengthen that relationship. Not feeling like I have to be a certain way physically makes me feel beautiful just as I am."
"Ironically, I feel most beautiful when I'm singing. It's ironic because I know for a fact that I don't look particularly cute when I'm doing it — flared nostrils, the occasional pained-looking expression, etc. — but it doesn't matter. Not only is it my favorite feeling in the world, it's something I can just know I'm good at; when self-esteem isn't always easy to come by, we need things like that to remind us we deserve to feel confident. Plus, it's something I can do with friends — whether it's karaoke, choir, or singing backup in a band — and that bonding experience makes me feel even more like I'm all glowy and shit."
"When I'm strapping on my combat boots, because that's only when I'm 100% primped and my jewels are piled on. Sometimes it's in a silky robe or a leather dress, but I try to let myself feel beautiful at least once a day or tell myself that, even if I don't believe it every day."
"Every morning, I have the same ritual — skincare, makeup, hair, get dressed — but my outcome is different every time: a red lip, a glittery blue smoky eye, natural glam, or gothic grunge. Taking the time to sit down and focus on a creative activity not only centers me for the day to come, but it also forces me to appreciate my own attributes. The world can be tossing and turning around me, I can feel seasick and nauseous, yet the whole day I'll remember how full and luscious my glossy lips look or how framed my bone structure is. The confidence my makeup instills in me also allows me to see, appreciate, and compliment the beauty in others. My cat eye gives me the confidence to compliment a stranger's."
"I feel the most beautiful when I look at pictures of my mom. There are a few of my facial features that I was never super-pleased with, like my asymmetrical jaw and hooded eyes, but I think my mom is so pretty, and seeing pieces of my face in hers makes me like those features more."
How about you? When do you feel most beautiful and why? What helps you connect your inner and outer beauty?