nature culture garance dore illustration Nature


Author Garance Doré

Let’s say I’m about to go on vacation to a place where I’ll have better things to do than take care of myself, like Big Sur in California in hippie camping mode in a Volkswagen wagon. Let’s say I don’t plan to dry my hair, do my nails or even, let’s be very honest, wear makeup.

The only thing I plan to do in terms of beauty care is bathe, stay hydrated, protect myself from the sun, and occasionally shave my legs. Okay, maybe on a big night, I might put on a little mascara.

And let’s say this trip will last for about ten days…here’s a question: What am I going to look like, exactly, when I go back to my natural state?

Well I can tell you right away: I won’t look like much.

Even so, I’ve got wagons (VW wagons, haha) full of fantasies about natural beauty on vacation. It’s not my fault, it’s all the magazines (I love blaming magazines for everything) who always put out stunning summer beauty pages (even the sweat on the models is beautiful, dewy, translucent, sublime, sexy – I’d love for them to come walk around in my t-shirt next time I’m on a hike) and make us believe it’s perfectly normal to have that natural glow while sitting under the palm trees.

Fantasies of soft hands, shiny nails. Fantasies of flowing, salty waves and a tan so perfect you (I mean, the girl in the photo) don’t even need an ounce of makeup to make you look like an Instagram siren.

Well, the truth is their makeup took three hours and even their toes are covered in foundation and bronzing powder and moisturizer and photoshopizer.


Because me, kids, I live in reality (most of the time).

And I’ve just removed my own nail polish (a thing a New Yorker rarely does, and it’s probably for the good and simple reason that no New Yorker wants to see the natural state of her nails – and manicurists are careful not to show them to us) and I can tell you one thing: don’t trust the shiny nails you see running around the streets of the city.

Underneath, our poor nails are weak, dry, ruined. They probably need a vacation too, the poor things.

That’s the case for mine, anyway. And I’m in a predicament because we all know nail polish lasts three days, then after that it starts chipping. So what are you supposed to do when you leave for ten days in roots rock reggae mode? You go natural, keep them hydrated and leave your nails in peace.

Except mine. Seriously, seeing what bad shape they’re in, I can’t.

Same for my hair. It’s grown out, which is good because when I go back to nature, one thing is clear: anything is better than short hair that turns into a frizzy ball on top of my head every time I get in the water – painful memory from Costa Rica. ANYTHING. So now that I can pull it back, I could just say: Fuck it!!! Hair back for ten days!!!

But it’s the opposite of my fantasy magazine vision of hippie VW camping. I want to be able to finally enjoy my curls, let them dry in the sun with my hair in the wind, salt water in my waves like Ari Westphal and her 70s spirit…

Except a fantasy is a fantasy. The truth is, my hair in its natural state is more like a long-haired poodle. It’s either too curly, or as dry as straw, or (if I try to control it by putting any type of product in it) oily. Also, I’ve always dreamed of learning to braid, but it’s the most complicated thing in the world, my fingers get all mixed up, I can’t do it!!! Who is good at braids other than Pinterest girls? Who are the Pinterest girls???

So with braids too – I don’t know. I can’t do it.

And finally, makeup. Yeah, I know. We all just want to be clothed in a simple glow, like Gisèle running on the beach in the Chanel N°5 ad (4 hours of makeup)(+Baz Luhrmann behind the camera)(+Gisèle, obviously)(Okay, we all agree, right, I still wonder: who would put on N°5 to go surfing?)(hmm, I guess the perfume carries so far into the distance, it might be a good plan for attracting hot surfers?)(Or sharks?) But then you get used to your face with makeup, well at least your eyes, which look so much deeper with a little eye shadow, and our eyebrows which would be nonexistent without a little touch of brow pencil, and your lips, which would disappear without a hint of gloss…

Because of all this romanticizing about being natural, we think we can look amazing without doing anything to our faces, without doing anything to our nails, without doing anything at all, basically, then suddenly you look at yourself in the rear view mirror of our vacation and find yourself face to face with an unidentified creature, sighing in despair.

Is feeling connected to nature really worth this aesthetic shipwreck?

Nature or culture? Which one do you choose? Huh?

Well I think I’m going to answer this question as follows, by making some compromises with the truth—French style…A few hidden beauty tricks that make it look like I didn’t do anything (Oh, me? In the summer? I don’t do anything, just a little touch of N°5 before going to the beach!) Compromises like:

1. Put one coat of polish on my toes and pray it lasts most of ten days (no, don’t insist, I won’t do gels, I care about what nails I have left) and promise myself after that I’ll wear nail polish parsimoniously, because whatever you do, whatever you say, getting pedicures all the time does ruin your nails.

2. As for my hands, keep my nails short and natural, no polish – it chips too fast and then you end up picking at it the rest of the vacation.

3. For my hair, go see Clyde and get a little keratin treatment so I can let my hair down and shake it out and make sexy duck face without a bird coming to nest in it.

4. Put together a tiny makeup bag with only the essential essentials and stick to it every day in an attempt to elegantly hold on to my self-esteem.

5. And in the future, consider getting my eyebrows tattooed. I know, it seems completely crazy but I have a friend who did it, and it’s gorgeous, they look like Kylie Jenner’s (=4 hours of makeup + two hours of photo touch-ups) that’s how perfect they are, selfie-ready, lovely.

Yeah, it depresses me a little, but the completely natural state doesn’t really work for me, and like Oprah would say, acceptance is the way (???). Well, I’m sure she might say something like that, anyway.

What about you? What do you do to feel beautiful when you go back to nature?

Translated by Andrea Perdue