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Beauty Detox: Caring for Neglected Hair & Skin

By Amalah

Dear Amalah,

I’m currently studying abroad in Latin America, and while it’s been a great experience, the conditions are somewhat…rustic…and not exactly conducive to standard US beauty procedures. My house doesn’t have hot water, or even lukewarm water, and we’re in the mountains so it´s cold, and I pretty much just try to get my shower over with as quickly as possible in the morning using a combination shampoo conditioner, and even that doesn’t really wash out all the way from my hair because the water pressure isn’t strong enough, and the same goes for body wash. I ran out of facewash and was unable to find ANY in the stores here, so I’ve been using a Dove body wash because it was the gentlest thing I could find. There again, though, I try to wash my face as quickly as possible because of the cockroaches in the bathroom that tend to come out of the holes around the sink OMG OMG ewww…etc.

So, I’ve pretty much given up on looking my best while I’m here, but I´m going home in a few weeks, and I’m writing to ask for advice on what can I do the minute I get back to make my skin and my hair not hate me forever and look kind of similar to what they were before I left (in the US I’m pretty low maintenance and my hair and skin generally were okay with that…washing my face just once a day I wouldn’t really get breakouts, and my hair was fine with drugstore shampoos). I also haven’t gotten a haircut in the three months I’ve been here since I don´t trust my language skills enough to communicate to a stylist what I want, so that’s definitely in order once I return, but any hair or skin suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much!

You definitely sound way overdue for some pampering, and my first order of business upon returning to the US would be to hightail it to a spa. Manicure, pedicure (just cuz I’m like that) and a facial for sure. I doubt you’ve done any permanent, long-term damage to your skin — unless you’ve gotten a lot of sunburns. Sun damage is forever, less-than-stellar skincare routines are easy to correct. (And you did good with the Dove. If you’ve got highly limited drugstore options, Dove is pretty much always your best bet.)

But a nice facial is still in order, I think. Some spas even offer “detox facials” that deep clean and purge your skin of environmental crap and bacteria. It’s a great way to get your skin back to neutral before a new skincare routine too. (I got one recently after that blasted Dr. Brandt line completely screwed up my skin — the esthetician clucked and fussed and scolded while I tried to convince her that yes, I really DO know how to care for my skin and all I needed was to get back on the Philosophy train and everything would be fine again.)

Once you’re back to your old products and routine, your skin might bounce right back with no further interference needed. Or you might notice some lingering problems — it’s hard to say. Our skin always needs some time to adjust to new temperatures, water types — even changing time zones and sleep schedules can eff with the balance. If you notice a lot of dead skin (a dull, uneven complexion with dry patches), try exfoliating once or twice a week with Philosophy’s Microdelivery Wash or Peel. If you notice more breakouts, change your face wash or wash twice a day instead of once. Beyond that, just remember to moisturize every day with whatever you like, wear sunscreen and go easy on your skin. Get a facial and then…take your time. No need to go all crazy in the other extreme of 100! New! Products! And! Deep! Treatments! Three! Times! A day!

As for your hair? A haircut will probably solve sooooo many of your complaints. It’s crazy what ragged dead ends will do to an otherwise healthy head of hair. Cut them off and ta-da! Who knew you could look so good? Depending on your hair type, some kind of deep treatment might be in order. Frizzy sun-bleached dried-out blond? VO5 hot oil, baby. Thick and dry with lots of breakage? Infusium 23, or a hair mask of mashed avocado.

Speaking of avocado, if you WOULD like to put a stop to some of the in-progress damage BEFORE you return to the States, consider some homemade beauty treatments. Honey, eggs, yogurt, avocados, bananas, oatmeal, tea bags, coffee grounds…these can ALL get put to good use on your hair and skin.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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