Island Lazy

I used to take pride in my appearance and go to great lengths to always look “presentable”. My nails were manicured, my hair was well-trimmed and blow-dried, and my footwear consisted of more than just Havaianas. I was a slave to high heels and would have no problem walking to work in two-inch pumps. Though nowadays – it’s time to confess – I more often than not can be seen sporting chipped nail polish, wavy air-dried hair that has not been coloured or trimmed in almost two years, and over-worn flips flops. I had heard of the term “Island Casual” but didn’t expect that I would succumb so easily. Oh, how the mighty have fallen… I have brought Island Casual to a whole new level, one that is, in all honesty, more lazy than casual.

There are many factors I could blame on the fall of my grooming standards from diva proportions, to minimalist, to now just plain old apathetic.

On one hand, one of the reasons I love living on Tortola most is the lack of vanity and materialism. Everyone I meet is warm and friendly and tends to care more about personality than if your handbag is on trend (which is particularly lucky for me, as most of my handbags are now covered in mold thanks to the humidity!). I have met people of all ages from all walks of life and have gained wonderful memories with new friends that will last a lifetime – none of whom care about my primping standards in the slightest.

Then there’s the sultry climate. The average “autumnal” temperature in Tortola is 81°F (27°C), so I don’t see much of a point in putting myself through the pains of using a hairdryer or wearing makeup. After five minutes in the heat, my hair frizzes up and the sweat causes little kinks to form in my freshly straightened hair. As for makeup, especially foundation, it literally melts and drips off my face. The tropical weather makes for a great day at the beach, but does not bode well when getting ready for a special occasion or when trying to look semi-professional in the workplace.

Though recent events have led to a renewed desire to revamp my primping process.  It took one particular incident to give me a wake-up call and force me to get with the grooming programme – this clearly has gone too far: This month, I ran out of shampoo and used Joy dishwashing liquid as a substitute in my hair for almost a week. Yes, I could have quite easily stopped by the shop and picked up shampoo – I’m in town every single day. But no, this was the no-muss, no-fuss version of me who was just too lazy.

*click for image credit

I made the mistake of sharing this with my pre-Tortola friends. My indolence was met with a torrent of horrified questions:

Doesn’t your hair feel like sandpaper?

Are you sure you’re not going to go bald?

Does Joy help with greasy hair? Is this intentional?

Do you want to borrow my shampoo?

Are you depressed or something?

Not only were they shocked that I even embraced Island Casual, but more concerning was the fact that I now deemed shampoo a non-necessity. This, from the girl who once spent $150 on a hair cut and highlights every two months, $15 a bottle on shampoo and conditioner, and $50 on a monthly hair masque. My hair dryer and straightener both cost around $200 and I once bought countless hair serums that cost a small fortune. I was a slave to my hair and would NEVER have even considered such a move before.

While I don’t miss the price tag of vanity, I actually do miss caring (at least a little) about my appearance. The old me would definitely whip out the tweezers, razor, and makeup case and call for an immediate aesthetic intervention. That still sounds a bit overwhelming for this Caribbean girl and while I’m not quite ready to re-subscribe to Vogue, I think it’s time for baby steps back in that direction. Perhaps to start, I’ll save the flip flops for the beach and not the boardroom…

*click for image credit

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Maura McBride

About Maura McBride

Maura came to the British Virgin Islands on vacation last year and never left. A self-proclaimed sun worshipper, she dreads the day when the “real world” will beckon and she will have to migrate North once again. Island life is still a novelty and Maura gets alarmingly excited when she bumps into a friend unexpectedly – an occurrence that happens at least 5 times a day when you’re living on a 12-mile island. In a former life, high heels were a second skin and makeup was a staple of daily living. Nowadays, if she tries to wear anything other than flip flops, her feet will swell up and erupt into a thousand blisters. The wandering PR pro and freelance writer was born in New York and spent the last 15 years in Ireland so she is very excited to be warming her bones in the BVI after a lifetime of being cold.

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15 thoughts on “Island Lazy

  1. As someone who vacations in the BVI – I can so relate to this at least for a few weeks every year. Only I have straight hair, fine but lots of it. I would kill for some ‘frizz’. I see women there all the time with clouds of waves or curls, meanwhile, what little body I may have managed to coax into my hair in the morning is gone within an hour and it is stuck flat to my skull, separated, looking stringy and greasy. I despair of EVER looking well put together in the BVI. On my last trip, I tried dry shampoo as a tip I read said it would add texture and body. Right. It extended the body I coaxed into it from 40 minutes to MAYBE two hours. Almost every picture I have of me in the Caribbean (I tried Grenada this past year – same issue) I look HIDEOUS. I’d kill for that frizz.

  2. Hahaha. This is TOTALLY me!! Although, I HATED having to do my hair everyday. AND I WAS A HAIRSTYLIST!!!!! I couldn’t WAIT to live somewhere that didn’t care about hair and makeup. And boy did I find it! Foundation: nope!!! Not unless you want beaded up dots of sweat on your mustache! Fun and very relate-able article.

  3. Believe it or not, most people are not judging you. They are worrying about what YOU think of THEM.
    And if you don’t like frizz, cut your hair short – REALLY short. A barber will do it for you. Problem solved.

  4. I hear ya..just got a new haircut that requires nothing! Am embracing the island curl..still not sure how I feel about it..but easy is nice. OH..and I do put on a bra when leaving the house!! YES I do plan on wearing flip flops the rest of my life!! I must add I do enjoy a pedi that my toes are exposed all the time! This Jersey Girl gave up the snow shovel 10 years ago!

  5. I feel your pain. I too used to have perfectly groomed hair, roots taken care of every 5 weeks, sleek and straight locks. Not anymore and I really don’t care. I gave up on makeup years ago, now the only thing I use is waterproof mascara and some Burt’s Bees lip gloss. That’s dressing to the 9’s for me!

  6. I love this blog- every day I read something that’s EXACTLY what I do- I used to be Malibu babe who went to Beverly Hills and thought nothing of spending up to 500 at the celebrity hairdresser, now I do my roots in my bathroom and occasionally brush bleach through my ends- total cost per month: 20 bucks. A BIG deal day is when I blow dry the hair. I think that happens every two months, and lasts on average about 20 minutes before some incitement to jump in the pool after three glasses rose . I live on St barths , and it’s a funny mix here : we “locaux” as I guess I can call myself now, live here year round and pretty much do (wear) what we damn well feel comfortable in for much of the year- when high season starts up , you know it from all the Russians and New Yorkers teetering down main street in Gustavia on ridiculous heels , pools of perfume sweating down their backs and the general comportment of aliens visiting a Disneyland they think was built for them that very week. I used to get a mani pedi every WEEK , sometimes twice , at the nail bars in LA and NYC. If I want one here, it will cost upwards of 100 and the French girls take two hours and do a horrible job, so I do it myself, again, when I bloody well feel like it 🙂 . I haven’t fallen for the dishwashing soap -shampoo yet, but I did have a short spate with Dr bronner’s soap I was using for the clothes washing one week;-))

  7. I’m living back in the “real world” over a year now and my grooming standards have remained pretty minimal! While I have not succumbed to washing up liquid I’ve still managed to say no to foundation and high heels!

  8. So related to this! I used to do at least my feet since they’re exposed all the time. I’d exfoliate and lotion my feet, then paint my toenails to match my outfit. Thought that was SO cute and island-y. I don’t even do that anymore! I can’t believe how lax I’ve become with my grooming. And like the author, I just don’t care! Which is kind of nice! Beach hair-don’t care!

  9. Hahaha! For the first few years I had the frizziest hair ever! With the salted air, sea water and the motorbike rides my hair was naturally starting to become dreadlocks!
    That’s until I moved to a new house with so little water pressure that I could not wash my hair! That’s when I found out that a shampoo/head massage and blow dry at the beautician is the equivalent of 5$ in Thailand! That was a revelation! My hair as never been so beautiful!
    I don’t know what product Alicia (beautician) puts in my hair but it stays nice and smooth for days!
    Like a good mother Alicia takes so much pride in my appearance that she insists on cutting my nails and fixing my nail polish even when I only go see her for a shampoo!
    God I love Thailand! :o)

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