Ode to My Last Eyelash

A big part of my idea of wellness begins with self-care routines, which can be defined in many ways. Part of that definition sometimes is the time and money invested in yourself in the form of professional services offered at salons of vary types. Before I moved out of Toronto, I had what I felt was a really good, and relatively balanced, mind you expensive, self-care routine. This routine got a little up-ended when I moved, and I needed to re-settle into my old habits, but I eventually caught up to myself and was able to get back into all my old routines before the lock down started.

I get my hair professionally done, so I’m at the salon every two to three months, with a hair dresser I have followed across three salons, and I’d follow him to the end of the earth if I had to. He’s been doing my hair for over a decade now, and knows it so well, I don’t even bother telling him what I want done anymore, he just does things. Thankfully, due to some heavy colour damage, right before lock down started, I had gone back to a more natural hue. I’m probably one of the few people on the planet right now not dying to get my hair done (though I’m dying to see my artist, he’s basically family at this point in my life).

I get my nails done, and while I understand this might seem like a vanity point – I’m a vicious nail biter. Keeping up with a shellac manicure every two to three weeks, while absolutely lovely, was incredibly imperative to a polished and professional look in my line of work. My nails need to be well groomed, un-chipped, and I really shouldn’t have bleeding cuticles and hang nails. During this lock down I haven’t completely chewed them down, but without someone managing all the parts that don’t involve polish, I have been picking like crazy. They are a mess right now, and need some professional love.

The final, and probably the least practical and most vain, but somehow oh so important thing to me in my routine is my eyelash extensions. A friend of mine runs her own beauty studio in Toronto, and what started as initially just trying them out for a work event I needed to attend in New York City a few years ago, turned into a regular fill habit. Getting in a regular lash nap became one of my favourite routines, and watching my friend go from sharing a small space in a PATH salon, to opening her own studio, and watching her flourish has been so wonderful.

I started struggling to get them filled before I moved from Toronto. My days were so busy, I couldn’t have my eyes shut for forty five minutes for a fill, because of the calls or emails I would miss. Despite her studio being open outside of ‘business hours’, I had vendors who expected immediate responses despite not sharing time zones, who would blow up my phone, and it seemed like I was always ‘missing’ something important. My other half was living and working in another city when spring started, so weekends became impossible to book with her, as I was usually spending them out of Toronto with him. It wasn’t until I moved out of Toronto, and my job situation changed that I was finally able to get back into the chair for a lash nap.

Before lock down set in, I was able to get a couple sets of lashes in with a new artist at the studio, who was training. I was ecstatic to sit for her, she’s an incredibly accomplished artist, developing a new skill set for herself, and she’s incredibly passionate about the work she does.

It was still tough, trying to cut out some time in my days in Toronto to visit the studio and have the work done, but once I started getting them again, I remembered why I had loved them so much. My daily routine doesn’t involve make-up – I mean, it barely involved washing my face. When I have an event to go to that I should maybe wear make-up for, I typically need to purchase new products, because what I have has expired. Getting my lashes done helps me not just for the events where I’d like to wear make-up, but again, like my nails, gives me an overall polished look on a daily basis, with minimal effort. Arguably, there’s more benefit to the routine than ever before, because when I do have meetings for work, I need to make a two and half hour commute – and if I don’t need to get up and put on a face of make-up, it makes getting ready for the commute so much easier.

But alas, here we are, serving a term in a lock down that feels a little endless at this point. Yes, things are slowly starting to re-open, which I’m glad for, and while I want with all my heart for my beauty salons to re-open so I can be re-united with some people I’ve grown to love, and routines that I enjoy so much, I’m still cautious and hesitant.

While, in many ways I’m like others who are dying for a haircut, or want their nails done, I’m also frustrated and dumbfounded by the protests against the closures. The men and women who perform these services do not deserve to be our guinea pigs or sacrifices as we begin to re-open the public. Yes, the services they provide greatly enhance my life, and if I can be dramatic, I’d say I’m suffering greatly without them, but I would suffer more if I lost one of them permanently.

The re-opening is not going to be sunshine and rainbows, and grand reunions. It’s going to be a lot of quiet spaces, conversation muffled by masks, and people take the long way around. Please, keep in mind a few things for your artists as the re-open announcement starts to draw near;
– As places begin to re-open, make sure you’re assessing spaces and threat levels appropriately. Get in touch with your artists, make sure they feel safe and supported in their workspace. Ask them how they would like you to arrive – with masks, gloves, other PPE or your own sanitizer.
– Be honest with yourself if you’re not feeling well in any capacity – you’re not the only client your artist is going to be in incredibly close proximity with, and you could put someone else in the salon at risk. Listen to the precautions and advice, don’t fight or argue, because they deserve to be safe, and to feel protected.
– Be patient and kind if you’re asked to wait outside. Spring is trying it’s hardest to arrive here in southern Ontario, so prepare for the weather with a light jacket, umbrella, sun screen or otherwise.
– Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask them if they’d rather you book a little further in the future, while they figure out their new status quo, and offer to buy a gift certificate, as a promise that you will see them soon. When the ‘open again’ announcement comes, smaller businesses will be forced to open because their government assistance will be ending, and they might not be ready. They might need more time to secure enough PPE for their staff, or to learn new sensitization procedures.

Keep yourself and your artists safe, They miss you to. They miss hearing about your family, seeing pictures of your pets. They can’t wait to hear about what ridiculous thing Karen from accounting said when they re-opened the office, or which of your co-workers you accidentally saw naked on Zoom. They have missed hearing about your love and your losses, and want to know that you’re doing okay.

For now though, I will protect and cherish my last remaining eyelash extension. It’s been holding on for dear life, on the far corner of my right eye. As the lash it’s attached to keeps growing, it’s sticking out pretty far, and while I could easily remove it myself, I’m leaving it, as a reminder of better days past, and better days to come. I cannot wait to see my artists, but I can wait, much longer if I need to, to make sure they feel safe.

Until next!

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