HOW TO LOVE YOUR SKIN AND LOOK FABULOUS THIS WINTER

Skincare

December is here !

Yes, our favorite time of year. And the countdown to Christmas has begun.

Whilst we plan our vacations, attend Christmas parties, sip mulled wine or vin chaud in beautifully dimly lit cafes with all our festive feels – lets spare a thought for all Santa’s little elves. Buzzing around, working overtime. And to the postal workers world over recovering from Black Friday – (happy thanksgiving to you!). And, of course, to us. Living our lives, working hard and generally under much more end of year work/school/life related stresses than our Instagram posts would care to reflect. (Except if you’re a ‘studyspo’ ‘grammer. If so, all the best to you. Much respect. And happy procrastinating.)

If you live in the northern hemisphere as I currently do – you may be reading this wrapped up indoors. The winter is a trying time for our skin. And this applies to our acne prone friends too. As a member of this group – let’s just try to take advantage of the popularity of the ‘dewy’ look. As our skin competes with the glimmer of our lovely Christmas party dresses.

In the T-zone, that is. Ughh. (I’m here for you, too – combination skin friends)

As promised, here’s a slightly more detailed version of my last post. SO LETS GO – Good habits, good feels, good skin. And as a side note – here’s what I do with my skin in the winter.

  1. Moisturize

FIRST ONE AGAIN. Because it is really that important.

There is no way around it. The cold weather lends itself to extra dryness in our dry areas, and, oftentimes, to what may look like the sudden appearance of fine lines – creases in your foundation, if you are that way inclined.

All of this can be remedied. Wash your face at night and pay particular attention to making sure you are using a toner. Be sure to use the right serum for you (a discussion for another post.)

Then, be sure to moisturize your skin very well at night. Give your skin the opportunity to be rehydrated at night so that when you are exposed to the elements again, likely in the morning, you have already done the pre-prep and thus avoid having to do so to the same extent in the daytime – and risk looking like a kid who has slathered their face in Vaseline.

 

DRY SKIN:

 

If you have dry skin or combination-dry (most all combinations lean one way or the other) make sure to moisturize heavily at night and during the day. You have more liberty here. Skip the mattifying primer. If you are happy with Hyaluronic acid based products – use an HA product at night too to lend more moisture. Retinols are also your friend. See where the ‘lines’ start to appear and be sure to use your retinol product in these areas. Its not a quick fix – more of a future investment. If you’re new – start with a 0.3 concentration and see how your skin responds. What we are trying to avoid is allowing our skin to become so dehydrated that we cause the appearance of fine lines or even peeling – dear oh dear. Ashy face. Imagine that.

 

OILY SKIN:

 

Isn’t it amazing? It’s THIS cold and our skin still finds the abilty to shine – shine bright like a diamond – except not like a diamond. In that weird ‘stuck on’ dry sheen, unblottable way.

Let your skin start getting used to a basic, water based moisturizer. Particularly at night. Your skin will start to regulate its sebum production. Wash your face at night with something milder than what you use when it is humid or in hot weather. It will do the trick and you will not strip your face entirely. Unless you are incredibly sure – try not to skip moisturizing. I did this for years. And I had to learn better.

 

  1. Wear SPF!!! ❤️

Just because we don’t always see the sun, doesn’t mean it isn’t still there J

Winter is not the time to abandon ALL of our good skincare habits. Just some of them. (Kidding.)

Don’t be afraid to be extra. Wear lip balm, wear hand cream, lather, rinse and repeat.

 

SO WHAT TYPE OF SUNSCREEN:

If you wear a dry, mattifying SPF product, you may want to start mixing this with a moisturizer or use a product that is less dry. This will make sure that your skin is still protected all winter without giving you ‘stiff face’ which in my case, only serves to enhance my RBF and can give you the appearance of brand new smile lines when you finally reveal your beautiful laugh.

If you are acne prone, I highly recommend using non-comedogenic products in general. No matter what your skin type, however, if you are applying make-up, be sure to put moisturizer on your face first. Then go away and make a nice cup of tea. Or something. Give your skin a chance to absorb your moisturizer first. Don’t stop exfoliating occasionally to keep your skin from starting to look dull. Ideally, we will maintain a similar rate of turnover to what your skin is used to, just making sure not to act in a way that will make your skin *appear* not to be producing natural moisture in the best way possible.

On an unrelated note. My hands get so dry its ridiculous. They are literally peeling as I type this. Ugggh.

 

  1. Routine!

 

I have said this waaay too many times. But I can’t stress it enough. It was consistent, relentless routine that brought me out of that dry, ashy, acne riddled place. And it is routine that is the key to success in virtually every area of your skin and life. Routine is like persistence. For your face.

So keep doing all the good stuff. And do it day and night. Don’t beat yourself up for missing a day, or a night. But put in the time. This will help you in the long run.

 

  1. Tap your face.

I talked about this in the original post and I’m almost embarrassed to write this (again). I don’t know how to phrase this so it doesn’t sound utterly ridiculous. I think I started doing this myself and my aesthetician confirmed that this is an excellent technique to use.

Once you have applied your serum/s – wait no longer than a minute and just gently run your fingers across your face in a tapping motion. Forehead, cheeks, chin, nose, around the mouth. What this does is stimulate blood flow to the skin. Not only will your skin appear temporarily more oxygenated, but this stimutes blood flow to the dermis. This is beneficial in many ways – it can also aid in increasing collagen production which could potentially keep fine lines at bay in the long run.

 

  1. Enjoy your face!

 

WINTER IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO WEAR MAKE UP!

At least I feel so, as we don’t become all sweaty etc. In fact, I rarely wear it in the summer. However, as I mentioned before, I personally avoid using a setting powder because I feel that this can just give your skin a dryer, less smooth texture as the day progresses. I only use a setting powder when it is humid or hot.

Enjoy a hot bath from time to time, treat yourself. Wear a moisturizing mask and keep your skin clean and hydrated. I aim to treat my skin once a week in the winter (ambitious – more like twice a month – que sera sera) Let it glow and shine from within. Exposure to the elements is virtually impossible. But these simple additions may help you maintain beautiful skin all through the festive period, its parties and nighttime occasions.

Let me know if you would like to know what products I use and recommend!

Merriest wishes to all!

Christiana

 

HOW I ALTER MY SKINCARE ROUTINE FOR THE WINTER – Glowing skin < 5 degrees centigrade

Skincare

Initial disclaimer: This doesn’t change anything here but I am a very poorly perfused human being. Cold hands, cold nose, cold feet. (Take this as you will) JUST putting itout there!

 

Our (least) favourite time of year is here! This one goes out to all my combo-oily friends. The winter kind of sucks. But its also wonderful. Wonderful, icy Christmas markets, ice skating, dope coats and stellar nighttime views. Our skin, on the other hand may be in a state of shock/panic/midlife crisis (I just might be imposing my internal feelings onto my skin; not so skillfully disguised as a speech device. But let’s just go with it for now.)

If you have been following – you know my basic skincare routine at the moment already. Plan B is still in the works. Winter care has sort of taken precedence – this combined with the fact that I am now spending more time in Geneva than in London. (I know it’s up for debate. Its not a competition of suffering. But Switzerland is seriously cold.) Next week when I’m in London I will make a more specific post about how to have glowing skin for this lovely Christmas period 🌟

So what do I change for the winter time?

 

  1. Moisturise more.

This one is essential. Is there any getting away from this?

NO. There isn’t. Acne-prone or not. Personally, I’ve already had those itty bitty dry patches show up. This is more of a year round habit. By using a good, water based moisturizer, our skin begins to regulate its sebum production. Don’t skip moisturizer just because its winter. Don’t skip moisturizer just because you have acne-prone skin. Just don’t skip moisturizer altogether. I learned this the hard way. I didn’t believe in moisturizing my skin over my 57 pimples. It just seemed counter intuitive. I can’t speak for everyone’s skin. But I wasn’t doing myself any favours.

In the cold weather I make sure to moisturize well at night with the right moisturizer. (My fave has forever been Dermalogica Active Moist) I have no intention of changing this. But I make sure to moisturize more at night so that I can wear a light layer in the daytime and not ‘glimmer’ in the daytime. That ‘dewy’ look. Yeah.

(Okay yes, the real question is why I have don’t have a standardised spelling for ‘moisturise’. “S”? “Z”? International kid problems.)

 

  1. If I wear make-up, I skip the setting powder.

What’s the worst it could do. My make-up isn’t going anywhere. And I feel that powder just mattifies my skin to excess. I also feel that it makes my skin look more textured and altogether less fabulous. My natural moisture is more than enough in the winter without looking greasy as is often the case in the warmer months.

 

  1. Keep exfoliating!

I still exfoliate my skin with a physical exfoliator to avoid a ‘dull’ appearance once or twice w week. I just make sure to moisturize adequately after this so as not to strip my skin of all its wonderful oils. Many people are afraid to exfoliate in the winter. (Stiff face is admittedly miserable). But we’re dealing with cell turnover here.

Don’t fall for the myths. Exfoliating is wonderful year round with appropriate care.

 

  1. Tap your face!

It’s a weird one. I concede. But ‘tapping’ shortly after applying serum stimulates blood flow to the surface of your skin. This has multiple benefits. Including lightly stimulating increased collagen production! I will write about this another time. It’s a weirdy but a goodie. Do it in private. Your future self will thank you!

 

  1. Don’t skip SPF!

Sun damage is real. Even through those London clouds. (Just think of your last ridiculous ski holiday goggle tan) Yes yes. Not an accusation. We all overdo the après-ski de temps en temps – ou toujours. Comme tu veux.

That said, even in the city, SPF is essential. Even in the winter. This is probably the best and kindest, most loving thing you can do for your skin. That little physical barrier (esp. coupled with an antioxidant product) aids in protecting your skin from the sun and ultimately – fine lines sun spots, and areas of hyperpigmentation.

FREE and radical. If you’re picking up what I’m putting down. 😉 SPF is a good thing. And the only thing I change in the winter is I sometimes include a less dry spf product.

 

7. Notable mention: Face masks.

This is a notable mention because I am notoriously bad at keeping up with this. Despite having purchased this awesome headband and brush kit.

A face mask is never a replacement for an adherent skincare routine. But they can serve as a nice pick me up. Like a supplement. Or a stimulant. Coffee is no replacement for sleep – but I’ll be the first to say that it can give you a pretty good kick when you need it.

In the winter I tend to use a moisturizing face mask every week (fortnight tbh). I cant stand moisturizing masks because ACNE. Obvs. But winter is THE TIME. I will write about this in more detail in a future post.

Have a banging Friday!

– Christiana

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids and MEEE(h)

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Reflections, Skincare

So literally one day into my pre-testing of my ‘Plan B’ skincare routine I (once again) turned into a hass avocado.

avocado-close-up-colors-557659

I have had this experience before. I purchased TWO bottles of a much raved about serum from the in-flight duty free catalogue on a flight from Addis to Doha. I was stoked. I finally found it. I couldn’t find it in the UK and quite frankly, I thought that I had hacked the system. My frequent travels were finally paying off!

Until I incorporated this lovely serum into my night-time routine. I developed the literal skin texture of a prickly pear and my combination skin was dry and peeling. I blamed the serum. I blamed the airline. I didn’t realise that my problem was AHAs.

Weeks went by and whilst in London I ordered a collection of otherwise excellent products. (Review on the way. Patience my lovelies. All five of you reading this <3)  I didn’t test out the Alpha-Hydroxy acid serum until I was in Lausanne – after a lovely mask and general attempt at self care. It happened again. Not immediately. It took about a day or a few hours more. But this time I didn’t know what it was. I attended my dermatologist and tried to convince him that I was in the midst of an emergency. He laughed. I love my dermatologist.

He prescribed me a mild hydrocortisone formulation that I didn’t have a chance to pick up in Geneva or back in London. Thus, about a fortnight elapsed before, this morning in Lausanne, skin already restored by the sheer forces of nature, I was able to obtain the formulation. I didn’t need it. What I needed was to hold off the AHAs. I didn’t know my problem was AHAs.

I ACTUALLY THOUGHT MY PROBLEM WAS AGEING !!!! This happened approximately three days before my birthday just as a kind induction to the mid twenties. Cheers and thanks. My dermatologist laughed.

Skincare is a personal thing. And it’s all about learning. Thus, as much as I knew the benefits of the occasional use of an AHA serum, particularly as I am dealing with a new issue of only very slightly enlarged pores, this particular compound is simply not for me.

Many people – like myself – will detail their skincare routines. This includes those with a scientific inclination such as myself, as well as many others who are varied experts in their own rite. Like me, however, each person needs to learn the distinct personality of their own skin. Don’t stick to something if it isn’t serving you. And don’t presume that what works for one will work for another. This is clearly not an informative piece about AHAs. However, due to their growing popularity I might write one soon – either here or on my healthcare blog.

This is more about you. And you knowing you and loving as well as nurturing every part of you appropriately, including your skin, for what it is. Take it all with a pinch of salt. All of us out here on the internet writing about skin are like my many aestheticians. Sometimes we directly contradict one another. Sometimes what we know for certain doesn’t work for you for reasons we don’t know. We may just be a girl behind a computer with a good deal of experience but who simply doesn’t know you, medication you take, the climate you live in, your diet and your genetics.  My skin is recovering – but this, coupled with the changing weather, was an experience for me. And so again, take me, and all of us, with a pinch of salt.

 

“No voice should speak louder than the voice of your own skin.” – Yes I’m quoting myself.

Cheers, peace and love,

Christiana

I Got Bit in the face

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Books, reading and lessons learned, Skincare

There are certain sayings that I have always known and yet always disliked.

“It’ll come back and bite you in the butt’

Well, in my case, at the end of my week (and a bit) of trying to return to my Plan A skincare routine, I left London for a few days – spent some time in the English countryside, then ventured home to Geneva for a few days.

It was then that I got bit. In the face. Twice. By a mosquito. Or two. On a romantic dinner, perhaps. How pleasant a thought.

The charming lumps under my left eye and on my left cheek respectfully, are the evidence of the scene of a crime. But more than that, they are a lesson. Three, in fact.

  1. Your skin is part of you. Your body’s largest organ. It is there to protect you. It is important. But it is not one’s heart, liver or lungs. So as we indulge in caring for our skin, we remember that this aesthetic pleasure is a secondary one. Lest we make the pride and joy of our lives something that is inevitably, temporary.
  2. Anything can happen. Be prepared – and keep calm. One cannot plan for everything in life. (As much as we may wish to)
  3. Remember the lessons of the past. The hyperpigmentation work I had to do after overcoming pretty severe acne will be of use now in this, albeit, very small facial region.

So, so some pointed remedial action will be necessary in ‘Plan B’. The plan I am in the middle of constructing. This time I will bear in mind that change takes time. Ideally I should set aside a few months. But let’s try two weeks shall we?

Peace, love and joy,

Christiana

PLAN A: Returning to my Old Skincare Routine – A (very) comprehensive, step by step review

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Life Essentials, Skincare

How did I ever keep up with this?

My MSc was hard. It was an intense year. Stress is what initiated adult acne for me when I was almost 19. And remained a constant catalyst for MEGA breakouts and skin mishaps. I will share my misadventures in skincare and repair another time. But adherence to this routine kept my skin clear, and pretty much amazing. After a few haphazard months; this is my return to the old routine. A few months have gone by. And my skin is in need of some TLC. For one week, I will try my old tried and tested – to see if it will help return my skin to its former glory.

So here’s the theory. Please note that I have, for reasons I may explain another time, what might be described as combination-oily skin. My skin was always very oily and acne prone. The major part of my skincare journey and the catalyst to my becoming more ‘skincare savvy’ and applying my scientific background to my personal skincare was dealing with very oily skin and SERIOUS acne. Having dealt with that, I now get away with additional moisture that I wouldn’t have before. That said – my skin type still leans towards being oily.

 

Morning:

Duration: 8 minutes

When I constructed this I decided to go light in the mornings to make it as quick as possible. The evenings are when I do the real repair. My morning focus is antioxidants to prevent sun damage and skin radical formation, light moisturization (especially in the spring, autumn and summer) as well as SPF cover.

Step 1: Wash

Garnier Pure Active face wash / Alchimie Forever Purifiying Facial Cleanser

Step 2: Air Dry then Pat Gently with a Thick Disposable Kitchen Towel

This is how I did it. And I explain why later in this article. If you plan to emulate this step, make sure to use and absorbent, thick towel that doesn’t break apart and transfer itty bitty bits of tissue onto your face. (Speaking from experience)

Step 3: SERUM!

I used the Skinceuticals Phloretin cf. THE NUMBER OF TIMES I LITERALLY SPILLED THIS! It isn’t cheap and I have spilled so many bottles of this. It actually once stained my walk in dressing room table. I might do a tour of my itty-bitty-serum-stained-walk-in if anyone is interested.

As for the serum – I can’t tell you what this does for me. Full transparency. Because I don’t know. But I didn’t want to alter any part of my routine. I have used a LOT of Skinceuticals products. I like the products but I hold some reservations here and there.

Step 4: Locking it all in

La Roche-Posay Effaclar duo +. Not sure why. It was recommended to me by an aesthetician a while back. And I like the smell. Voila.

Step 5: THE GOOD STUFF: Moisturizer

Even if you have acne, try not to skip on the moisturizer. It is important to keep your skin hydrated in some form as drying it out constantly (something I TRIED FOR AGES) tends to self-perpetuate a cycle of continuous sebum production. I haven’t read any scientific literature to support this claim – but I experienced it myself. I use Dermalogica Active Moist moist of the time and when I feel like a lighter moisturiser with SPF I use the Alchime Forever Protective Day Cream SPF 23.

Step 6: Sun Protection

Last but not least! Both my dermatologist and aesthetician admonished me to wear SPF. I would sit in the sun for ages without any coverage for years. I travelled around on summer vacations in the blazing sun without any sunscreen on my face or body. I just loved the sun and with my dark skin – thought I was somehow immune to the dangers presented by prolonged sun exposure. Oh, how wrong I was. Minimally from the standpoint of keeping my skin looking and feeling lovely.

Now I use SPF every day. My final morning step was using the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Dry Touch. Forever a fave and a gem for those of us with oily skin who don’t want that “sunscreen sheen”.

 

 

Evening:

Duration: 15 minutes

Bearing in mind that this is my old (successful) skincare routine, without any of the new ‘last minute’ repair measures. Just stable, good and routine.

Step 1: Wash (again)

Washing my face. (Every night!!? YES. I did this every night. Despite almost never wearing make up. And I tell you that this works magic!)

Usually used the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming gel. I find this nice and gentle for the evening.

Step 2: Air dry my face and pat with a kitchen towel (again)

It’s a bit of a repetition game here. But routine is good. Right? I use a kitchen towel because when I had acne, I realised that I didn’t want to transfer the bacteria that might potentially dwell on a facecloth onto my face. This just seemed like the easiest option – outside of purchasing several facecloths and washing them at a frequency that would allow me to use a new one each morning and another new one in the evening. This is the ecological (and reasonable) choice. I was simply too busy/lazy for this. People still wonder why I have a roll of kitchen towel in my bathroom. But they never ask.

Step 3: SERUM TIME!

At a particular point in time I was layering on up to 3-4 serums a night! But in its unadulterated form this is what I did. I will be skipping one of these now as I no longer need it.

1. Skinceuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector – I would use this only on the areas where I was still trying to fade acne scars. (Incidentally – an aesthetician once told me that some of them would never fade – this routine conquered that!)

2. I then used the super gentle Alchimie Forever Pigment Lightening Serum. Fantastic for skin texture. I recommended this to friends, family and professors alike. Everyone fell in love with this and noted an improvement in tactile skin texture if they used it for a while. It also helps with mildly evening out the skin tone. This one is a true gem. Let the serums soak in here. There is no rush.

Step 4: Sealing it all in: Lovely, glorious acids

After this I used the Eneomey Stim Renew 8 – Anti-ageing Radiance Night Cream. This is actually the new version. The original one had the same chemical composition in terms of the proportion of the constituent acids but just different packaging and marketing. So not to worry if you happen to come across the old version. This is a little known product recommended to me by a very well known aesthetician. I started out by using this only over the dark hyperpigmentation spots but moved on to using this everywhere. It is very moisturising too – which is why I didn’t use it everywhere at first. But I later discovered that this night moisture does absolute wonders. Again, let this soak in. Do this whilst listening to an audiobook. I used this as my winding down time.

Step 5: Finally – Moisturiser

Maybe an overkilll. But I would always round this up with the Dermaligica Active moist once again. This is the best, all-rounder, light moisturiser for acne prone skin that I have used. If you have acne, ideally you should err towards a water based moisturiser. In the morning this will also avoid that 12pm noon ‘shine’ in the t-zone.

 

 

Twice weekly:

  1. Physical Exfoliation: Clairsonic Mia 2 or for something more gentle Alchimie Forever Gentle Refining scrub. (LOVE IT). I would replace this with the evening step 1. This is long enough already. I will talk about occasional masks and blah blah some other time.
  2. Acne (+ fine line) Prevention: The final part of my evening Step 3 about four – five times weekly was the Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Corrective Treatment. In Switzerland, 0.3 is the highest concentration one can obtain. In the UK, however, I know that one can obtain retinol up to 1.0 concentration without a prescription. (I appreciate the pump bottle of the 0.3.) I used the lowest concentration as this was sufficient to help me to keep my acne at bay (after it had cleared up). Depending on your skin and skin type this is one to introduce carefully and build up if necessary. If you use a retinoid (at any concentration) by prescription I would strongly advise that you do not use a retinol.

So, here goes! Wish me well!

P.s. I am only starting my week TOMORROW. The reason for this is because I had to reorder one or two of these because I realised they were not all in my arsenal anymore.

*Most of the links are (generally) in pounds. I just assumed this would be easier as I wrote this in London. (Although I am currently posting in Switzerland! Only home for a few days.) I will try to use international shipping sites where possible.

A New Era

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Reflections, Skincare

And so begun my ‘quarter-life crisis’. Or, perhaps, begins.

After five and a half years, two degrees, one business, two blogs, and many memories – here begins my last 5 weeks in London. I have never been a Londoner. In fact, I have never really been fully anything. And my time in London has been spent largely travelling to get away from this wonderfully miserable, awfully magical city.

I ‘return’ to Switzerland. A brand new city – not Geneva, but the charmingly beautiful city of Lausanne. For my new adventure! I came to London at 18. And now, at 24, I am ready to move on. I have learned a lot, grown into an adult, bought my own ‘stuff’ and paid bills.

This, however, is about another journey. My skincare journey. My skincare story has been a long and winding one. So let’s just start here.

After my MSc, jumping straight into 5 months at a crazy, hectic job, almost two hours daily commute on the underground under the armpits of fellow Londoners during rush hour, poor self care, high stress and not nearly enough sleep – my skin is in shambles. Utter shambles and its true! At least I now know I have pores. (Seeing is believing, right?) And, to aid my 2014 nostalgia – the occasional forehead acne blowout party! As if that wasn’t enough – the heatwave, pollution, winter realisations that my oily skin is actually combination….. ? Wait what. As a self-proclaimed skincare connoisseur – the past year has taught me a lot. Serums serums serums. The ‘bloggers fave’ from the in-flight duty free catalogue that gave me a full fortnight appearance of a hass avocado. After only one use! (Talk about results) You know who you are. I bought two of you .And I paid in euros. But I was invoiced in dollars.

But now, I’m free. Two full working days of marvellous unemployment and I’m as anxious as ever. So what will I do with my skin?

PLAN A: Try my old skincare routine with adherence. Lets see what happens after a week, shall we?

Today I will take a photo and in one week, another. I will detail my skincare routine in steps. Let’s see if it works!

Why the Modern, Independent Woman Identifies with Blair Waldorf: Gossip Girl 10-year anniversary!

Books, reading and lessons learned, Fashion, Monday juice, Reflections

I first discovered Gossip Girl in high school. I was a latecomer to the party. And spent most of one Christmas break binge watching the preceding seasons. I couldn’t pull myself away.

I rediscovered the show long after it had ended – and then again this  year. I had missed the last season or two; but I had gathered from social media that “Chuck Bass is dead. No wait, actually he’s not.”

Needless to say, I now know the show very well and have taken a liking to one character in particular: Blair Waldorf.

dff20165b934ad2e48791c591bbb45fb--blair-waldorf-hairstyles-chuck-blair

Hate her or love her, this month marks the 10 year anniversary of the start of the first ever season of Gossip Girl. This piece resonates with me. And I would like to share with you why I feel that Blair is the perfect proxy for the young, ambitious, independent woman (note: not girl).

1.Blair taught us what it can mean to ‘have it all’

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The concept of “Having it all” has taken on a slightly different meaning for millennial women, such as myself. We went from despising the term – we read and still love Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean in’ – to thinking ‘Perhaps this term isn’t so bad – if one defines it right’.

I am of the generation who were at the age to be watching Gossip Girl during those formative high school years. And unbeknownst to me, for whatever reason, something stuck – because many years later I returned to the show – in part – with a brand new set of eyes.

Blair_Serena

Long gone are the days that women had to choose between having a successful career, being taken seriously and financially independent and having a ‘family’ – potentially wealthy husband and a couple of lovely children. Today we know we can have it all – it is largely the norm for women to work regardless of if they have children.

But Blair showed us another level of having it all.

She had the passionate love affair, wealthy boyfriend, and after inheriting her mum’s company worked very hard, independently, to make a success of it. She set the bar very high. She faced people assuming/suggesting that her standards were indeed too high. But she met them. And she achieved inconceivable success.

BEA Yes thank you

Most importantly, despite her young romance and SPOILER ALERT – getting married and settling down very early in life – she had a man who understood her ambition; and had his own. They both knew they had important milestones to achieve before settling down. But their ‘love’ was strong enough to sustain this – and wisdom prevailed. Despite ups and downs, they waited until they were each successful in their own rite before settling down. And that is the next level of ‘having it all’.

5x10-Riding-In-Town-Cars-With-Boys-blair-and-chuck-27475871-1280-720

On that note, Blair was also not afraid to love, and show it. She declared her love with boldness. She followed her heart, but she followed her mind too.

2. Fighting for it

There’s no denying that Blair came from privilege. Nonetheless, unlike Nate Archibald, Blair was not a Vanderblit. Her connections and influence did not have anywhere near the same kind of reach. Unlike her on-off-on-again heartthrob lover, Chuck Bass – she had no Empire to inherit.

In fact, I might go so far as to suggest that compared to many of her on screen comrades, Blair’s financial background was relatively modest. Her conscious or subconscious awareness of this may be why she overcompensated with additional snobbery, the ever-visible presence of Dorota, adamant rejection of Brooklyn, always beautiful, intentional outfits; not to mention her ‘minions’.

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Her mother was a very successful designer, but those connections only went so far; particularly outside of the fashion industry. Case in point: after Blair’s short-lived marriage to Louis, his family’s dowry would have bankrupt her family. But Chuck paid it off in secret. Serena could date or marry whomever she wanted without fear of a change in lifestyle, as her grandmother, Cece’s money would last for “generations”. Blair was in. Blair was the same – particularly in the short term. Money doesn’t buy class – and Blair had class in abundance. But, Blair had to fight, and she knew it.

So, she FOUGHT. Blair knew the woman she wanted to be. And that woman was not ‘good enough’. She was the BEST. She fought for that internship at ‘The W’ – as she did not have any particular advantage in journalism despite boundless persistence. This might partially explain Blair’s ‘scheming’.

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Blair will fight for love, she will fight for success, she will fight for power. She will, unapologetically, fight for whatever she wants.

3. Blair is a real woman

Make no mistake, Blair is, in every way, absolutely gorgeous. She is elegant, regal, has perfect skin, beautiful eyes and knows it, too. But, in some way, she is also accessible. She is not the perfect, tall, blonde, fabulous, effortless and seemingly unattainable, Serena Van Der Woodsen . Somehow, it is easier to see oneself in Blair. It almost feels as though she has yet to come to a place of full awareness of self. And that is something that many of us can relate to.

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Blair wakes up in the morning, puts herself together – often with the help of Dorota – and looks amazing all the time. But she suffers emotions, too. She ‘wears’ a brave face, just like many of us do. She hides if she can, but she she shows up when she knows she MUST. You get the sense that she is still battling her emotional troubles – even when she smiles. And you realise that she is not simply ‘high maintenance’ for the sake of it. She is ‘high maintenance’ because being Blair is hard. It takes effort to get up in the morning, and commit as well as strive to be the best in every aspect of her life. It takes effort to be Blair.

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4. She always has a plan but she is still finding her path

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One gets the impression that most of the time Blair is not ‘living for the moment’. She is sparingly spontaneous. She is aware of the effects of her actions – even when her actions are manifested in a less than savoury type of ‘scheming’. Her intelligence and love of the arts and literature drew her to Dan Humphrey in later seasons. And even she didn’t fully understand why, or how to interpret that friendship. So she hid it, she questioned herself, misinterpreted her own feelings, misinterpreted his feelings and, finally, in one of life’s cyclical turns, found her centre once again.

Although seemingly unexpected, this kind of episode is typical of Blair. Just like her episode with Prince Louis. She might have a good idea as to who she is or what she loves, but he doesn’t yet know what she wants.

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And yes, denial is part of it, but for the most part, Blair just doesn’t know how to feel. And has the tendency to place more importance on the feelings and expectations of others.

We know little of her most private thoughts. But we all know that Blair spends a lot of time thinking about the future. Focussed, fixated. But simultaneously, not entirely sure what it holds. She knows the kind of woman she wants to become, and like many of us, is still forging her path.

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Nonetheless, she does this with the utmost, outward confidence. And somehow, that too, is aspirational. Blair taught us: ‘You don’t need to know what it is yet, but if you can see it, if you can see the faintest glimmer, you can have it. And you should ALWAYS chase your dreams.’

Chuck and Blair decided they wanted to find their individual paths of success independently, first. And this formed the foundation of her relationship – although imperfect – Blair selected a man who is powerful, masculine, loving, liberal and who supports her hopes, dreams and ambitions.

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We all came to love Chuck Bass, whether or not we cared to admit it to ourselves, but we loved him for who he was to Blair.

 

Have an amazing day!

– Chonye 

 

 

 

Image links are available upon request 🙂