7 Unavoidable Island Beauty Disadvantages

For the most part, living on an island has brought out my inner beach babe in all the ways I dreamed it would. The endless sun gives my skin that healthy, year-round glow that friends back home can only attempt with a spray tan. My closet is packed with cute dresses, boyfriend-style shorts, and playful, printed hats. I’m never forced to throw on a frumpy coat or cover myself in down just to stay unfrozen.

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But as with everything in life on a rock, for every positive point there is a concession. While I realize there are many more important things to care about than whining over beauty debacles, I think these tropical trade-offs are still worth mentioning – if only as a means for a little island girl therapy session. So tell me – can you relate to the following?

Here are 7 Unavoidable Island Beauty Disadvantages I’ve come to realize:

1. Endless Summer = Endless Shaving

This is something I truly did not think through properly before moving to Curaçao: living on an island = shaving every single day. Year-round summer weather means I literally have to be ready to potentially be in a swimsuit 365 days a year. Back in the Netherlands (my home country), I could easily not shave my legs for weeks (ok fine, even months) during the winter. Even my underarms and “downstairs” could be skipped for days at a time, especially during my boyfriend-free stretches. But on the island, it’s almost impossible NOT to shave. During weekdays, I sometimes try to smuggle in a few shave-free days by wearing long pants and a blouse in the air-conditioning at the office. However, on the evenings and weekends, it’s unavoidable if you want to enjoy the pleasures of tropical living like impromptu beach days, pool parties, sailing trips, and hot summer nights without looking like a hairy monster.

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2. Bikini Body Always on the Brain

I used to be so lazy in the winter, skipping the gym and hiding extra kilos under big sweaters and oversized pants. Now? What happened to my winter hibernation months? They’re gone. Wearing all these short shorts, sundresses, and bikinis means I’m confronted with my bad food choices, cellulite, and stretch marks every damn day. It’s not so easy to get lazy around here, which may be a good thing for my health, but definitely a loss for my inner lazy girl who just wants to lay around and eat pizza for a few months.

3. Entanglement in the Wind

On Curaçao, surrounded as we are by ocean in every direction, the wind blows heavily almost every day of the year. While the high winds definitely make this hot desert rock more bearable to live on, they do make it near impossible to maintain any kind of polished hair style. The wild, out-of-bed look works well for the beach, not quite for the office. Whipping strands of hair wreak havoc on the eyeballs and I must say I spend a ridiculous amount of time pulling hair out of my lipgloss (not sure why I even bother with it in the first place!). Experienced island girls therefore know exactly which seat to take during a dinner outside. So, no guys – we are not cheeky because we always pick our seat first, we just want to be able to look at your handsome face instead spending our meal fighting back our mane.

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4. Blonde Hair, Like it or Not

One day, I decided to walk over to the brownies camp. I wanted a more grown-up look, which I thought could be achieved by coloring my light blond hair to a darker blondish brown. Out of the salon, I couldn’t have been more pleased with my transformation. Unfortunately, it only lasted a couple weeks. Due to the overwhelming amount of sunshine I spend my time in every day, my hair bleached itself back at a rapid pace. Before I knew it, I had been kicked back into the blonde camp. The island made its point – I’m stuck with my “girls just wanna have fun” look for now.

5. Yellow is the New White

On this sweaty, dusty rock, the color white doesn’t exist; it has been replaced by yellow. Things that once were bright white – from tank tops, t-shirts, bikinis, to the pillows on the couch – have all been yellowed here in the tropics. The combination of perspiration, sunblock, skin flakes, dust, and happy hour spills are so persistent, that even the washing machine is no longer effective.

6. Unsightly Soles on Display

Perfectly pedicured feet are what one wants to see in flip flops – generally what the tourists possess, fresh out of the pre-vacation trip to the nail salon. The feet of an island girl are much less pampered… quite the opposite, actually, and yet still out for all to see all the time. Dry, rough skin, callused cracks, and fungal nails are all the unfortunate side effects of all this barefoot beach walking.

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7. The Raccoon-Woman Look

Waterproof mascara tends to be thick, sticky, and unnatural – not to mention, terrible for your eyelashes when used frequently. So I prefer natural mascara, when I wear any at all. However, even if I stay out of the sea, all this humidity and sweating means I risk (and by risk, I mean, it’s a sure thing) having raccoon eyes by the end of every day.

–   –   –

Despite these beauty disadvantages though, there’s still nothing like coming home after a long day’s work, taking a seat at the pool and popping my ugly feet and hair-free legs in the water, pulling my sunglasses ever-so-carefully out of my tangled mass of very blonde hair, and soaking up the sunset with my raccoon eyes. Being in a place that’s warm where people care so much less about all of the above is freeing.

In the end, feeling happy and at peace inside makes me feel my prettiest on the outside. I’d still prefer to shave less – a lot less – though.

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Patty Varekamp

About Patty Varekamp

Patty (30 summers young) describes her rock as, a little weird... but fabulous. What was meant to be a temporary flee from her home country (as a thrill junkie, Patty needs a regular dose of adrenaline, otherwise she gets bored - with all its consequences) - ended up as a full blown relocation to a place she has been calling her home for over six years now.

When she first arrived on Curaçao, she immediately fell in love with her chosen rock. Island time was exactly what she needed after a particularly stressful period back in the Netherlands. The Caribbean lifestyle, "poco poco" mindset, sweet weather, tropical environment, and friendly, open-minded islanders blew new life into the rusted life of the ambitious and adventurous "Dutchie". Within a short time, she also found the love of her life, her soulmate, and married her loving husband in August 2015. The two tropical "love-parrots" sealed their love with a fairytale-like dream wedding and one kickass party (it wouldn't be surprising if the island sank a few inches that night from all the dancing!).

As a young, European (ie. blonde and slim) female entrepreneur with a lack of Caribbean curves but a wealth of Western impatience and an extremely driven personality, Patty experiences a lot of hilarious moments on her rock - from the unpleasant, to the strange, to the downright shocking. She loves to share them all through her biggest passion, writing. Her ultimate dream is to become a well-known writer while living the island lifestyle.

For all Dutch readers who'd like to get to know Patty better, you can check out her website www.pattyvarekamp.com.

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13 thoughts on “7 Unavoidable Island Beauty Disadvantages

  1. You don’t need racoon-eyes. I have permanent eye-liner (tattoo – lasts for years) and go and have my eye-lashes tinted once in a while.

  2. Hey Patty, have you tried the new laser hair removal? NO MORE SHAVING…EVER! I love it! Part of my “getting ready to live on a rock” list of things to do. Enjoyed your blog, thank you.

  3. Hi Patty!
    I’ve been living on Curaçao for half a year now, and I totally get it! The time I have to spend on my “beauty” here sometimes still seems ridiculous to me, but I’m slowly getting used to the constant shaving, hair untangling and — not to forget — fingernail cutting (they do grow faster here, don’t they).
    But hey, what’s that compared to the advantages of living here? I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else…

  4. #5 is so true! You want to wear white and light colors to stay cool in the sun, but everything looks grimy within a couple of weeks. Here in Guam, we also have this reddish clay dirt that permeates our socks and shoes, especially when hiking. Totally worth it though!

  5. No, in most points I can’t agree. I never shave, never used to, never will, just as the same as I am happy not to use any make-up. I am really glad about this climate – my former acne just vanished into thin air and I enjoy being finally free of make-up.
    I love the natural reddish glow my hair gets from the sun and the sea. I even try to embrace the white ones. Then my hair is never a problem, it is always beautiful dreadlocks, no treatment needed, no bad hair days ever 😀 But that is the same that it was also before I moved. What I agree on are that the clothes suffer with the cold water washing, it is not very effective and the salty air causes them to wear out quickly. Also my feet suffered a lot. But as long as I don’t have pains that doesn’t disturb me much. I am happy with this natural living and even feel much better about myself. The island women, at least the mature ones, are also not slim and I feel welcome and accepted for who I am. Way more than back home.

    • Wow, great to read you feel so awesome on your rock! I do as well by the way 🙂 It takes guts and courage to not care about some beauty disadvantages and to embrace the power of natural living… you go girl!

  6. Better than shaving cause the hair comes back so much sparser and thin and soft is sugaring. Same cost as waxing but lasts longer and much cheaper than laser.

  7. Question! I am always trying to find the best all natural mascara. Do you have one that you prefer? Thanks!

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