With Tavia being concerned about where to get her hair done, and me being the vainest creature on two legs, this is a genuine concern for me. And people look strangely at you when you admit that, when you tell them that among the normal concerns about post-apocalyptic living you are also worried about how to keep your skin from shrinking in on itself like a moldy apple.
So I’ve put a lot of thought into this- usually while lounging in a hot bath and applying one of a dozen quirkily named expensive products to myself. And I have decided that after initial concerns have passed that the first thing I’m going to do is raid the beauty section of the department store.
But what about when that stuff’s gone? What will I do? I will make my own cosmetics, with readily available ingredients.
First things first, soap. You can’t be a post-apocalyptic beauty if you stink. Soap is ANCIENT. Really old. The celts washed with soap made from animal fat and ash and the odd bit of plant matter. It sounds gross, but it works. When you slaughter the animals you keep in your long term shelter boil off some of the fat to mix with ash from the fire to make soap. Being clean will make you feel better, and will also make you more attractive. If you’ve found it possible to grow therapeutic herbs cut some off the older growth and add it to your soap mix for a pleasanter scent than animal fat and ash.
Second, hair care. One of the most effective things you can do for you hair is to mix eggs and oil together and use it as a hair mask. However, funnily enough your supplies of eggs and oil may be limited and required for actually feeding people. So what are you to do? Other than cut your hair (long hair is impractical post-apocalypse) the best thing to do is wash it infrequently. I know, it goes against my previous advice, but people used to rarely wash their hair, instead putting it into styles that required natural hair oils to keep them in place. Hair oils are the best conditioner for your hair, so let your hair get really greasy. After the first three weeks it’ll start to look excellent. Wash it through with your animal fat soap once every few months just to keep it from being full of parasites and you’re good to go.
Skin care will be a little more tricky. Moisturisers are a luxury even in our modern world and suncream requires complex chemicals we can’t synthesise without laboratorys. Once rebuilding has started this will be easier- certain plants and oils will become available that won’t have existed readily before that point. But what about before then? Well, you know that animal fat we mentioned? That’s right, cover your face with Lard. No, don’t go away. Lard is actually one of the most effective lubricants out there, meaning that a small amount mixed with water and applied to your face at night could be the best thing possible for your skin post-apocalypse. After all, what else have you got?
To keep your teeth shiny and white you’ll have to do what they did prior to the invention of the toothbrush- take some charcoal, or salt, add it to a damp cloth, and scrub it over your teeth. It’s better than nothing.
Makeup- yeah, you can forget that for about 10 generations. But if you absolutely must, charcoal mixed with wax (yes, like candlewax or beeswax) can make a sort of OK eyeliner and certain flowers when crushed can be borderline for lipstick. But as everyone else will be wandering around with exhausted, natural faces you might as well stop caring. There’s a certain amount of freedom in knowing you won’t have to make an effort any more.
And as for your weight, I can tell you obesity certainly won’t be a problem any more.
So, here you go. None of these things would make you beautiful by modern standards, but as we’re talking post-apocalyptic you’ll be considered a stunner if you have both eyes and all your fingers. Add these simple tips and you’ll be reeling them in (at which point you start trading services for food and weapons).
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