Style

My Beauty Uniform: Michelle Peterson

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

Michelle Peterson is an eighth grade humanities teacher, who lives in San Francisco with her husband, Mike, and their 11-year-old son, Mika. She loves riding bikes with her family (she and her husband co-own the bicycle brand MASH) and creating naturally dyed textiles and beauty products to give to friends. Her D.I.Y. take on beauty is so inspiring, it makes us want to roll up our sleeves and make our own cheek tints. Ahead, she talks about her former punk self, her puffy-eye savior and the part of her body she has grown to love…

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

When did you first get into beauty?
My background is Korean-Immigrant-American. The reason I include “immigrant” is because it has shaped me. I moved from Korea to Northern California with my single mom and her extended family when I was three years old. My first beauty memory is my grandmother powdering my neck with Coty’s Loose Powder. We both loved the sweet smell. I also remember not feeling beautiful at a young age. We lived in a predominately white neighborhood, so when I was younger, I thought that beauty meant you had to have blonde hair and blue eyes. That was what I saw on TV and around me. It wasn’t until I got into high school and fell into a more diverse group of friends, who were mostly mixed race, that I began to feel beautiful. They all had their own style, so it gave me license and freedom to explore the way I looked. That’s when I finally accepted who I was.

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

What was your style like in high school?
I am a product of the late ’80s and early ’90s, and my style was based on the music I was listening to at that time. I was really into The Smiths and Siouxsie and the Banshees, so it was pretty mod punk. We gave each other piercings and did all sorts of crazy things to our hair — we shaved half our heads, we’d bleach our hair and then dye it with red Kool-Aid. One time, I decided I wanted silver hair so I used peroxide over and over again until half my head was translucent. I thought it looked cool, but it actually looked like a mop of fishing line. It was definitely an exploration of extremes, but I found a lot of beauty in that. Being on the fringe and rebelling against what was considered beautiful was beautiful to me.

What did your mom think?
My mom did not like it. But I was really good at school and got a full academic scholarship to college, so she accepted that I was not the cheerleader type.

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

Do you still hold onto anything from this time in your life?
Now I try not to use anything with chemicals, since I had my fair share of them when I was younger. But the way that we live as a family — most of our friends are professional skaters, they’re in hard-core bands — our son is surrounded by a lot of people who do what they want and never try to fit into a mold. I have tattoos, I still hold onto all my old band tees, but I definitely don’t do anything with my hair anymore. I’m over that.


beauty uniform: michelle peterson

Tell us about your tattoos.
I have two. My first is kind of embarrassing: When I was 16, my friend’s older brother was learning how to tattoo and said, “Come in, I’ll tattoo you guys.” The caveat was that he could only do a dove with a rose in its mouth or a circle with dolphins. So I got the dolphins on my lower back. It’s the one thing that I’m self-conscious about, so I try to not wear bathing suits that are super low-cut in the back. I love my second tattoo, though. When my son was two, he drew a picture of a bird and wrote my name on it. He said, “Mama, I want you to get this tattooed.” So I said, “Let’s go.” I’m going to get another one when we visit our friend in Kansas City this Christmas. I’m going to do either a crocodile or a dragon that my son drew.

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

What’s your daily skincare routine?
Every morning I splash warm water on my face, then apply a mixture of argan oil and baking soda gently in small circles, then rinse it off. This cleanses and gives my skin a gentle exfoliation. Then I moisturize with a few drops of argan oil and condition the tips of my hair with whatever oil that’s left on my fingertips. Finally, I put on Clinique sunscreen. At night, I cleanse with Boscia black cleanser — it warms with friction, so when you rub it in your hands, it gets pretty hot. The ingredients are all natural and gently remove dirt from the day without drying out my skin. Then I moisturize with argan oil again.

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

What is your makeup routine?
I don’t wear makeup everyday, mainly because of time and not wanting to feel like I have a mask on. I used to, though. The other day, I found some old makeup, so I decided to try it on. I put on eyeliner, filled my brows in, and put on red lipstick. I didn’t recognize myself and felt so uncomfortable. My eyebrows made me look mean! Going makeup free is almost like a reminder to be yourself each day.

But if I have five spare minutes in the morning, I will curl my eyelashes and put a dab of HAN Skincare Golden Glow over my lower lid. It’s like a little fairy dust. Then I’ll put on a dab of my homemade lip and cheek stain. I make a lip balm with coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, and peppermint essential oil, but then I’ll add powdered beet root, cochineal or alkanet to turn it into a dewy lip and cheek stain.

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

Do you do any treatments?
A couple nights a week I’ll do a mask. I mix together about a tablespoon of the cheapest organic yogurt I can get and a teaspoon of honey, put a thin layer on my face until it dries (about fifteen to twenty minutes), then rinse it off with warm water. The lactic acid in the yogurt helps eat away dead skin cells and the honey is antibacterial, so it’s great for pimples. It’s basically the cheapest mask you can do and makes my skin feel incredible — and if you get some in your mouth, it’s delicious!

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

What is the most game-changing skincare product you’ve discovered?
Using oil as moisturizer. Since I started, my skin has never felt more even. I used to have dark spots from old pimples and they have started to fade. I don’t have many wrinkles; I feel like it’s keeping me younger. I also think it’s super empowering — knowing I can do this on my own. I don’t have to depend on anyone else, or any business or corporation to feel healthy and good about myself. A great online option is Olie Biologique. I also swear by shea butter. I carry it with me all the time and have some in the kitchen and the living room. I use it in my hair, on my hands, I put it everywhere I can — my ankles, my knees, my heels. It’s great for not getting ashy or cracked feet.

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

When did you decide to start using natural beauty products?
About two years ago, I got vertigo and it triggered a bunch of anxiety. Until this time I thought I was taking care of myself, but I was so stressed. There’s a lot of pressure to be the best mom, the best partner, to exercise, to have a career, to have hobbies. It’s intense. All that combined with not ever really giving myself the time to deal with the transition to motherhood came to a head. I went into self-cure mode. I started going to therapy and eating better. I stopped drinking coffee and alcohol. I decided that I was going to get rid of everything that I have that has more than three ingredients and that I was going to try to make things myself. In the past year, I’ve felt the healthiest I’ve ever felt in my entire life.

How did you learn to make these products?
My younger sister Christine is super into health food and products, so we would see things and ask, “What is it made out of?” We’d realize “Oh my god, we can make this.” So we read a lot and started making things together. I love giving them away as gifts to friends and family, and I encourage others to make their own concoctions.

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

How do you find the time for all your projects?
Ha! Yes, time is the most precious and limited resource. I love dyeing textiles, and my son and I will do it together — he makes his own dyeing projects with crushed flowers, turmeric and alkanet. I’ve also taught my students how to dye silk and eggs using ingredients from our school garden, which allows me to incorporate my passions all in one day.

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

What products do you actually buy?
Recently I splurged on Murad Professional Eyelift Firming Cream. It’s like having a face mask, but just for your eyes. If you have puffy or tired eyes, using this once a week totally helps. Neutrogena’s Sesame body lotion is one of my favorite lotions. It has a subtle scent of toasted sesame.

michelle-hairbraiding-2

How do you take care of your hair?
I use Alba Coconut shampoo and conditioner. I never blow dry my hair and love how unpredictable it can be based on the weather. I also love to let my hair air dry when I am riding my bike; it dries with windswept volume after just a couple of miles. Sometimes I’ll ask a few of the elementary kids at school to braid my hair during recess that I’ll later unravel for an evening wavy look. They’ll often line up to do it!

Do you have any more biking tips?  
Yes! Always wear a good sunscreen and be sure to cover the back of your neck. Clinique’s City Block does wonders without feeling greasy. Wearing sunglasses will protect your eyes from watering and possibly messing with eye makeup. I also never wear anything super glossy on my lips since it can be a natural magnet for bugs, dirt and loose hair while cruising.

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

Is there any feature you weren’t into when you were growing up that you’ve grown to like?
I used to be really self-conscience about having big cheeks. I would always try to hide them with my hair. When I got pregnant I gained 50 pounds and my cheeks got even rounder. People kept saying they were so cute, so I was like, I’m just going to embrace this. But after I had my son, I had some postpartum depression. I was 27 when I had Mika, which felt young by city standards. I didn’t know anyone with a baby, none of my friends had kids, I had no idea how to adjust. So I would just walk for miles through Golden Gate park on my own — to the point where we had to replace the stroller wheels after two months because they had gotten so dull. I lost so much weight, and it showed in my face. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking I didn’t look like myself anymore. I realized I loved my big cheeks and was so happy when I gained the weight back.

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

Are there any rituals that make you feel good?
When I was going through that rough time a few years ago, I knew I had to try everything I could to get better. My friend who is a psychiatrist suggested meditation, but it was hard because I felt like I couldn’t find the time or space to focus. But then I discovered the Chopra Center site, which has guided meditations that use pranayama (breathing techniques). I got hooked. Now I do it in the morning and afternoon for 15 minutes, and at night I’ll do a body scan in bed. I used to only be able to do it in a quiet place, but now I can meditate in a meeting, waiting in line at the grocery store, or at my office desk. My favorite spot is in the garden of my school where I’m surrounded by the sounds of children and honeybees.

I’ll also do it with my students — I open and close my classes with breathing exercises. I tell them that when things feel out of control, you can always go back to your breath as an anchor. It’s really simple: Inhale very slowly for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, exhale for four seconds. That’s an amazing power we all have. Breathing reminds you to take care of yourself, and that you have the key to do it. It’s pretty cool.

beauty uniform: michelle peterson

Last but not least, do you have an overall beauty philosophy? 
The more we are connected to the universe, the more beautiful we are. Also, you should be able to eat what you put on your face.

Thank you, Michelle!

P.S. More woman share their beauty uniforms and the lipstick beauty editors swear by.

(Photos courtesy of Michelle. Interview by Megan Cahn.)

  1. Jenny says...

    I love each and every one of these, but this has been my all time favorite!! ❤️ Thank you for the gift of your words, insights, and perspective!

  2. Jo says...

    I’m late to the party, but I loved this post! Thank you Michelle! I particularly loved the bit about letting your hair dry naturally and seeing how it turned out…my hair is just somewhere between beach waves and curly with lots of awkward kinks – sometimes it turns out great, but never on days when I need it to behave!

    Also, I live in Edinburgh, fantastic to see pictures of my beautiful city – hope you enjoyed your visit!

  3. Natalie says...

    Very relatable & refreshing beauty uniform post! When I started a new job, I was found it hard to put on a full face of make-up and get out the door by 6:30 am. So I stopped wearing make-up out of convenience, and ended up focusing more on skincare. Now when I put on make-up, I have to do a double take in the mirror!

    I also love the idea that you should be able to eat what ever is on your face! I just started using organic argan oil too. I’m into Josie Maran’s pure argan oil. It’s SO healing. My skin has never looked better.

  4. It’s always so nice to see beauty uniform posts featuring women who are confident, natural and healthy. I love the variety – women whose routines and beauty philosophies ressemble mine, and those that don’t !

  5. jamie says...

    Wow! Amazing post! Last month I was totally wanting one of these with an all natural woman and here it is! Awesome Awesome Awesome! So much respect for this beautiful woman!

  6. Anne-Marie says...

    I think my favorite post from the series. Great perspective. Thank you.

  7. Amy says...

    I think this is my favourite of this series. Just lovely throughout the whole interview and inspiring. Thank you.

  8. I really like hearing about features that women once didn’t like and now love and/or embrace. I was always embarrassed of the way my ears stick out but now my baby daughter’s ears stick out and I think it’s so cute, so I figure it must be kinda cute on me, too! ;)

  9. Callie says...

    Loved this post and this series! I personally need to hear from women like Michelle and know that there are more healthful ways to take care of ourselves. I just moved to SF last year and really love that natural beauty, balance and a sense of ease is a part of the culture here. So many beautiful and inspiring women like Michelle, and I want to be one of them!

  10. Sarah says...

    I love your philosophy. Just wish it included wearing a helmet when biking!

    • LM says...

      I agree! As an avid cyclist in San Francisco, it’s so important to be safe. Wish the biking tips here were a better example for women- there has to be a way to balance beauty with safety rather than just focusing on how much cycling messes with your makeup. Otherwise this was such a wonderful post!

    • Alix says...

      I wholeheartedly agree about the need for a helmet, particularly since she and her husband own a bike shop!

    • Hugh Gerection says...

      please REFOCUS on the overall article and not on the “biking tips” that you seemed to think we’re here. for god sakes…just enjoy the article for what it is. there was never a mention of sacrificing safety for beauty. your scrutinization of an article about beauty is just lame and sad. critics…just leave it out already

  11. SC says...

    I love this post. I feel that Michelle is who I think of when I think of the Cup of Jo reader and a woman I’d love to have a cup of jo with. Her sense of identity and confidence comes through the pictures and it was so relatable. Her style was not a laundry list of designer clothing, out of reach skin care products, or a Herculean routine for beauty. It was comforting to see a mom wear sneakers and in some cases the same pair in the pictures. I hope she inspires others to take on a simpler, more elegant way of approaching life and beauty.

  12. Rebbecca says...

    What a beautiful woman. So inspiring.

  13. Taylor says...

    In agreement with so many of the comments; Michelle has such an accessible, admirable approach to beauty.
    I’ve always wanted to try moisturizing with oils but am terrified I’ll break out terribly! Any tips? Also, did giving up coffee help with your skin as well?

    • michelle peterson says...

      Hi Taylor,

      Yes, quitting coffee has drastically improved my skin, although it was hard on it the first week (withdrawal!!!). It’s more hydrated, I don’t have stress frown/wrinkles, and I don’t get tired around 3, which is when I would have reached for the second cup.
      Argan and jojoba oils are relatively light, and a few drops go a long way, so maybe start small and increase as you see fit. Some nights, I can’t get enough :)

      Best,
      Michelle

  14. Alexis says...

    Beautiful post!! Would you be willing to share your cheek stain ratios?? Thank you!!

    • michelle peterson says...

      Hi Alexis!

      The cheek/lip stain is pretty simple: 1 to 1 except the beet root powder (add as much as you desire but with more, you may need to strain with fine gauze/cheesecloth – a little goes a long way).

      So, about a tsp. of shea, almost a tsp. of coconut oil, and a tsp. of beeswax. When adding peppermint or other essential oils, be very conservative. A couple of drops goes a long way.

      If you find the stain to be too oily or too waxy, just remelt and adjust.

      Have fun!
      -michelle

    • Alexis says...

      Thank you so much! I’m going to give it a try!

    • Azlin says...

      Lovely! Thanks Michelle, you’ve really inspired me to make my own cheek stain. Love your natural and relaxed attitude. Though I haven’t reached that stage yet. Still need my foundation and concealer.

  15. Ann says...

    I loved this post. Thank you.

  16. Tried the yogurt/honey mask last night. Bliss. And so cheap. Thanks for the tip.

  17. Jess says...

    Brilliant! Best beauty uniform yet…..so inspiring! I can’t wait to make that mask.

  18. Manuela says...

    By far my favorite beauty uniform post. I want to print and post up so many of her empowering, inspiring quotes. Keep more of these women coming!

  19. Cindy says...

    Lovely post, so inspiring. I especially love when women are courageous enough to share personal details that end up resonating the most: i.e., instead of “I didn’t know what to do with my new baby, ” this beautiful vignette: “I walked for hours in the park until the wheels on my stroller became dull.” So beautiful.

    Michelle, or maybe Cup of Jo team, or maybe both, I would like to hear more from women who decided not to drink alcohol and/or coffee and how that decision has shaken out in social situations. I eliminated alcohol this summer and feel good about my decision, but I have been surprised at how often I feel a bit at odds when everyone around me is drinking. I imagine eliminating coffee feels similar. Coffee and alcohol are common elements of the social scene, and eliminating that subtly unifying element — like I said, I’ve been surprised at how off it feels sometimes. Thoughts?

    • Rachel says...

      I’ve run into some awkwardness from not drinking alcohol or coffee. But I found (for me) that as long as I can order a fancy virgin drink or order tea at a coffee house, it cuts the awkwardness. Particularly when out and about, I get a lot less grief from others if I’m holding what could be an alcoholic drink (I’m a big fan of a seltzer with a lemon “on the rocks”!). Annoying that anyone even thinks twice about it, but hey, I’ve discovered a lot of great alternative drinks in the process. :)

    • michelle peterson says...

      Hi Cindy,

      I definitely get what you mean about the social situations changing, I experienced them myself. I also realized that I was more fun without drinks and could outlast most of my pals, especially when karaoking!

      It’s also another opportunity to share your self-care with others, who may be seeking the same opportunity.

      I’ve been drinking coffee since I was 16, and that was harder than alcohol. I find that most people are into tea now, so that hasn’t been a big issue.

      All the Best!
      Michelle

    • Elizabeth says...

      I recently gave up coffee because of some rough anxiety and it does kind of feel like being on the outside of a cool club. But then you find people who are just as excited about trying new tea (rooibos herbal tea is amazing and tastes like a black tea and is amazing as a latte) and it’s not so bad. It’s always encouraging when you find people on the same path as you.

  20. megan says...

    Most inspired I’ve felt reading one of these beauty uniforms. Thank you Michelle! <3

  21. Heather says...

    Yep, I think this is one of the best beauty uniform posts yet! I love how she makes her own beauty concoctions and how grounded and real she is. Empowering.

  22. Rachael says...

    Everything about this is positively lovely! Michelle is clearly comfortable in her own skin (literally!), and this gives her such a radiant and magnetic quality. So, so inspiring. I bet she is super fun to be around :)

  23. yael steren says...

    What a great post! I totally sympathize with the tattoo. I got one back in college and I’m actually looking into having it removed. I also love her energy. It seems crazy to be able to glean that over a post but she seems so relaxed and positive!! Thanks for sharing! xx yael

    http://www.yaelsteren.com/blog/

  24. BDubs says...

    Ahhh. Sometimes there is nothing more encouraging than someone admitting “Hey, I struggled. But I got through it. I’m still standing. It’s not all my story will ever be.”
    Thank you

  25. Lucy says...

    Thank you very much for this post. Your passages about transitioning into motherhood and self-care I found so moving and really down-to-earth. Beautiful textiles, tender photos. Thank you.

  26. Gwen says...

    Michelle, I don’t think I’ve ever commented on Cup of Jo before, but you’ve inspired me to. You just seem to radiate goodness and light. Thank you for giving us a little glimpse into who you are – you’ve inspired me to try to live my life a little more like you :)

    • michelle peterson says...

      Gwen,

      You just made my day. Sending you a good intentions in my meditation today.

      All the Best,
      Michelle

  27. Hannah says...

    Sweet interview. Thanks for sharing!

  28. Adrienne says...

    Can Michelle share the name of the tattoo artist in Kansas City? I’d love to know! Thank you – wonderful post.

  29. My favorite one yet! I love her honesty, and her punk rock streak.

  30. Kirsten says...

    Such a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing, Michelle!

    That mask is the best: I do the same thing, but with 1TB ground up oatmeal and 1tsp each yogurt and honey. The combo of the yogurt and oatmeal makes your skin feel SO soft. It’s especially nice in the winter.

    • I’ll be trying that one ASAP! Until now I’ve only used honey mixed with coconut oil, but I’m sure the oatmeal must feel amazing on the skin!

    • michelle peterson says...

      Yay! I’m going to try the oatmeal too. Breakfast complete!

      -michelle

  31. Thank you Michelle for sharing your natural beauty secrets with us! Your skin is glowing in every frame! I am definitely trying the yogurt mask.

  32. What a lovely interview. I love the way she views beauty and yes I want to use face oils exclusively now lol.

  33. elizabeth says...

    Love her take on her cheeks and how she wanted them back :)
    Also love her overall philosophy!

  34. Julie says...

    Thank you so much for sharing Michelle. You are a true inspiration and your beauty within certainly shines through your natural and holistic approach to looking after yourself. Gorgeous.

  35. Kate says...

    Has noone else noticed that they are Mike, Michelle and Mika? Its adorable I love it :)

  36. Liz says...

    Michelle seems like an amazing person – the kind you wish you could be friends with!! – and a wonderful mum. And her skin is AMAZING! She’s convinced me to try argan oil for my face… It’s also interesting to read that someone who seems so beautifully serene and at ease with herself has suffered from depression and anxiety in her past, it reminds you that everyone has tough times and difficult periods to work through in life. No one is exempt from that.

    • I was thinking exactly that, Liz. Michelle seems like such an inspiration and a friend I’d love to have!

    • michelle peterson says...

      Let’s be friends!

      -michelle

  37. Malia says...

    Michelle, I’d love to know what the bike seat is that your son is sitting on! I’ve been dreaming of something like that.

    • michelle peterson says...

      Hi Malia!
      It’s kind of a makeshift thing that the guys in our bike shop made work. It’s basically a rack with a cushion on it :) and some pegs slapped on. It was perfect for the streets of Berlin and for Mika’s size when taking him from skatespot to skatespot.

      I bet if you brought in this pic to your local bikeshop, they can emulate it for you!

      Best,
      Michelle

  38. Mary McDaniel says...

    This might be my favorite beauty uniform yet! I love making body concoctions and resonate with Michelle’s approach to beauty. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story with us, Michelle (and Jo)!

  39. Robin says...

    Love. Especially that mask! What a great idea. And it sounds delicious :)

  40. I love her! xo

    • Janice says...

      Ditto that! xoxo

  41. MK says...

    Definitely my fave in the Cup of Jo series! This one in particular was lovely- I got so emotional reading it actually, maybe it’s our similar “Korean-Immigrant-American” backgrounds. Thank you Michelle for sharing! I’m not yet a mother but found your beautiful candor so refreshing and intimate.

    • Paula says...

      Thanks for sharing! I love these so much! This one, I resonate with so much! I love her honesty about trying to be best mom, partner, working out- it is all so anxiety inducing!! Also, as a tall Eastern European, I too suffered when we immigrated here during middle-school; when you look different (and I don’t look THAT different but different enough) you just feel awkward, so I get it! I also love that you embraced your cheeks! You have such a gorgeous face! hmm, off to try and learn to embrace my giant head :)

    • michelle peterson says...

      MK,

      Yes! The connection is so real. It’s definitely a way of seeing the world and our selves, and one I never want to change. Makes us stronger, right?!

      -Michelle

  42. lindsay says...

    I was living in the city as a new mom at that time and I wish I had met her at a park and gotten to know her :)

  43. Alyssa says...

    This is the best post! Thank you soooooo much for sharing it.

  44. Karen T. says...

    I love this post so much! Meditation has never seemed doable to me (how to sit still when there is so much to be done??) but I’m going to check the Chopra center website out. So inspired by this post in so many ways! Thank you for sharing!

  45. Eleanor says...

    I love this post – and the green jacket Michelle is wearing in the bike pic. Can you share who makes it?

    • michelle peterson says...

      Hi Eleanor,

      It’s just a Uniqlo puffer, the best for biking in SF!

      -Michelle

  46. Such a good beauty uniform! I remember when I was 14 my girlfriend convinced me to shave her head with her dad’s electric razor in the bathroom of her parent’s house the day after we went to our first punk show. Her hair was past her shoulders and I have never seen a more shocked face than her mother when she saw what we had done. That poor mama. 😂

  47. “Going makeup free is almost like a reminder to be yourself each day.” I love this.

  48. Michelle says...

    Love hearing about Michelle’s lifestyle. I have to remark on one thing – baking soda is not good for skin!! Our skin has a pH of 4.5-5, which is slightly acidic, and it’s very sensitive to pH imbalances. By applying baking soda or other alkaline substances to our skin, the skin barrier is disrupted at the least and damaged/infected at worst, and it becomes more favorable to breeding bacteria. The only case in which it’s ok to apply baking soda to our skin is following an chemical peel or in combination with acids (to neutralize the acid, and even then, we have to be super careful about diluting it with water).

    Also, while we’re on the subject of pH and skin: a similar thing also applies for concentrated and/or strong acids – lemon juice and white vinegar are not good for skin either because they may cause chemical burns. Apple cider vinegar is more neutral than white vinegar, so it’s a bit better but still a potential irritant.

    I know a bunch of sites say that baking soda and lemon juice are miracle workers – I admit that they may show initial results, but they are not good in the long run!! I personally used to apply citrus fruits to my face but then stopped after reading into the science behind skincare through scientific journals, not through aestheticians or unqualified doctors/brands.

    • Thanks for this! I was going to leave the same comment. Skin barrier is so important, and so many mainstream skin products, as well as such things as baking soda, have pHs that disrupt it! This is so little known but so fundamental to skin health. It seems a lot of skin problems and acne are due to disrupted skin barrier and irritated skin.

    • michelle peterson says...

      Thank you, Michelle. I’ll definitely take this into consideration! I love learning from others.

    • Brooke says...

      Yes yes yes to all this! Great comment.

    • WLH says...

      What about making a cleanser and exfoliator with sugar and argon oil instead of baking soda?

    • msd says...

      Sugar isn’t good either, not because it’s high alkaline but because it’s sharp-edged and abrasive and can cause micro-tears in the skin. The classic, still good, yoghurt-oatmeal-honey mask can double up as a exfoliant if you gently massage it onto the skin before rinsing off (admittedly, it’s messy). Rice bran is an okay option but it should be the finely milled kind. And to the person who mentioned aspirin – be very very careful with this, it’s drying so you will need to moisturise a lot and in some cases can cause skin burns. I personally find that a non-physical exfoliant such as a gentle AHA used 2 or 3 times a week is much better for my skin than any kind of scrub. Also, just because something is natural doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful – the worst toxins and poisons in the world are natural. And, there is no such thing as chemical-free, that’s a nonsense term. The only thing that’s chemical-free is a vacuum. But now I’m going on, I just don’t like bad science … some natural ingredients are great, some are bad; some synthetic ingredients are great, some are bad. Ditto when it comes to cheap v expensive products.

  49. Gina says...

    One of my favorite post ever!!
    Michelle, like you I suffered from vertigo and had a good deal of anxiety daily. I learned to take care of myself and practiced the breathing techniques you mentioned. They have helped tremendously. Most of all I found the most amazing doctor that performed a procedure and I have been free of vertigo for a few years. I am absolutely grateful for finding him, he has saved my life. I live in KC and saw you were visiting at Christmas which is such a fun time to visit the city. You are inspiring.

  50. My new favorite Beauty Uniform! I love that she often doesn’t wear makeup. I think she is the most like me :)

  51. Julianna says...

    I love this series and this post, I use argon oil as a moisturizer and only curl my eyelashes too! But one question – was your son really only two when he drew the bird and wrote your name?? My son is two and a half and we can only understand half of what he says, and his drawings consist of variations of scribbles – mom alarm going off, what am I doing wrong??

    • Robin says...

      Ha! I had the same thought :). My son is three and couldn’t draw a recognizable bird much less write my name to save his life. You’re not alone, mama. I’m pretty sure Mika’s just ultra ahead of the curve on that front!

    • michelle peterson says...

      Hi Julianna,

      The picture of the word and his name are pretty rudimentary, so I wouldn’t compare at all. By the way, scribbles are the best. Keep encouraging your son to scribble; adults take a lifetime to unlearn how to draw to create unfiltered art! Worrying means that you’re actually doing it right :)

      Best,
      Michelle

    • Rachel says...

      You’re doing nothing wrong. That is “advanced.” Each kid does and excels at their own things

  52. Thank you so much for doing a beauty uniform with someone who doesn’t use much makeup (or products with a lot of junk in them)! I can so relate to her. That breathing technique is my favorite. My mom (also my health coach) texts me to remember to breath when she knows I am feeling anxious. Also, a little surprised with a couple of those products that are filled with lots of glycerin and such, but loved all the other recs!

    • michelle peterson says...

      Hi Sydni,

      I try to be all natural most of the time, but like all of us, I don’t beat myself up if I don’t. Thank you!!!

      -Michelle

  53. Jeannie says...

    Hands down, my favorite Beauty Uniform. Lovely, all of it! <3

  54. belinda says...

    Love this piece, i wish i had the energy to follow your beauty routine, i just use hot water on my face and that’s it! Also appreciate your openness about PPD and anxiety.
    I love the top you are wearing in the second photo, with the white jacket, where did you get it?
    Thanks a cup of jo!

    • michelle peterson says...

      Hi Belinda!

      That top was a thrift store find and the label is ripped out :(

      Thank you of your sweet words!
      Michelle

  55. Samantha says...

    I love argan oil, too! I use it on my face at night, and on my hair. Sometimes I use coconut oil, sometimes argan, and sometimes I mix both and apply it to my hair midlenght down. Also, I like to apply rosemary oil on the roots and scalp. I’m getting used to applying masks on my face. I use honey when I have some at home, and mix it with lemon, cinnamon and oatmeal, or just honey and baking soda for gentle exfoliation. When I don’t feel like bothering I use Origins facial masks. I buy the sample sizes from Sephora, which are only $4(!!!) and you can get so many uses out of one little sample. I rotate between the charcoal mask. the rose clay mask, and the Out of trouble mask.

    • msd says...

      Argan oil is great, honey is great, oatmeal is great (as is avocado, jojoba oil, rosehip oil and many other cheap, natural ingredients) but please, please stop using baking soda and lemon juice on your face. The former is highly alkaline and screws up your skin’s moisture barrier increasing trans-epidermal water loss while the latter can be phototoxic (citrus oils are even worse) increasing UV damage.

  56. Jules says...

    I love reading about more natural skincare. Have you ever done a post about pregnancy skincare? I feel like pregnant women are a blind spot to most companies when it comes to marketing skincare or makeup.

    • Robin says...

      Yes! I’m 34 weeks pregnant and have been reduced to putting random baby lotion on my face because I have no idea what to use!

    • jen says...

      Jojoba oil was a life saver during my pregnancy. I switched completely to cleansing and moisturizing with it and have never looked back!

  57. Orla says...

    I really enjoyed this post. Michelle seems like a really special person. I loved her natural beauty tips and I’m definitely going to try the yoghurt and honey face mask!

  58. Katie says...

    I love how non-judgey these posts are. They are just women sharing what they love, but nothing preachy about how you have to love the products they love. It’s very much ‘you do you but here is what works for me.’ I also really love how how we care for ourselves is so reflective of our personal narrative–both the good times and the bad.

    …Also obviously I love the products too and always spend way too much money buying whatever is linked to here. :)

    • Katie C says...

      I agree to all of this!!

    • Lauren E. says...

      Yes to this! Totally agree. And as a collection of articles, I can cherry pick what I want to try and create my own regimen. I’ve discovered an endless array of products and methods from this series.

  59. Gabrielle says...

    My eyes always light up when I see a new beauty uniform posted – this was my favorite yet :). Michelle seems so geniune and her views on self care (and encouraging her students at a young age to engage in self care!) are so spot on and a fantastic reminder. Feeling inspired to try dyeing fabrics :).

    Would you be willing to share your ratios for the lip/cheek stain?

    Thank you for sharing, Michelle! You seem so lovely.

  60. Like so many, I love and look forward to the posts in this series. Michelle seems so lovely, and her story was so personal, I have to confess to having tears prick my eyes as I read hers. It’s amazing how vulnerable and open so many of these gracious women allow themselves. Michelle taught me/us so much – thank you thank you thank you!

  61. Julia says...

    As a new mom, and the first of my close friends to have a baby (at 28yo), her comments about the challenge of transitioning to parenthood really spoke to me. I also rarely wear makeup and love the idea of diy natural remedies. I didn’t feel like she was trying to sell a product or lifestyle. Rather she was emphasizing self care, which is the best beauty product. Great post!

  62. michelle peterson says...

    Hello All,
    I’m new to this, and honestly, all of your comments have brought tears to my eyes. It felt like I was having a conversation with friends. I am so grateful for your supportive words and strong points to consider going forward. As a pretty shy person, this was a stretch for me; and of course with all things in life, “stretching” allows for possibilities. Always be good to yourself!
    xoxo Michelle

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Thanks so much for sharing, Michelle! I loved chatting with you! Am definitely doing that mask this week. xo

    • Danielle says...

      Yes! Thank you so much. Such a genuine post. I enjoyed it so much and I love knowing that you are right here in SF! I also recognized the “Goodtime III” from your photo- I’m originally from Cleveland :)

    • KSullivan says...

      Oh man! I so loved hearing about your natural, laid-back, low-key approach not only cuz it’s awesome, but also because it seems like it fits my budget! I’m an 8th grade teacher, too! Huzzah!

      I also was struck by what a powerful and positive model this sets for all the young people you work with everyday. They’re lucky to have an adult so gracefully modeling self-acceptance :)

    • You shared your story so beautifully! I also have an embarrassing lower back tattoo (a red star. Was I flirting with communism? Did I really love Heineken? Who knows 🙄). But I love that it reminds me of that silly 18 year old girl who just couldn’t wait to get through the doors of that tattoo shop. But it’s me, it’s a part of who I am and I love it.

    • Andrea says...

      Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences, Michelle.
      I’m currently in my first trimester, due to have my first baby at 27. While the pregnancy was intentional and I was elated at first, I’ve started to feel really young and doubtful and have been experiencing some prenatal depression. This post felt uplifting and promising to me. You are an inspirational human. I hope to try the mask soon. And love that you discussed meditation and even incorporate that with your students. I took a few meditation classes a few years ago and it made a huge difference on my life (I wasn’t even going through anything hard at the time) but it wasn’t until recently that I’ve gotten into it again, using Expectful, a meditation site for pregnant women. I highly recommend to anyone who is pregnant.

      I’m grateful you contributed to this series; this post was definitely a bright spot in my day! 💛

  63. megan says...

    My Beauty Uniform are my favorites!!! Loved reading this one too.

  64. eleanor says...

    My beloved grandmother, who passed away nearly 2 decades ago, also used Coty powder—its light fragrance still reminds me of her and always makes me smile.

    • Jackie says...

      My grandma did too! :)

  65. I think this is the best one! Thank you for this Joanna, and I’m sending best regards for Michelle!

  66. Amanda says...

    Loved this interview, but shocked that Neutrogena’s Sesame Lotion is one of her favorites considering it contains parabens. Is there a new formula out?

    • michelle peterson says...

      Hi Amanda,

      Neutrogena’s sesame lotion was one of those drug store finds that my family had around growing up. Yes, has parabens, and I don’t use it regularly. I usually use a dab at my mom’s to take me back to childhood. It’s just easier to use real sesame oil and shea butter for your own.

      Let me know if you come across a better version. I love learning about them!
      -Michelle

  67. Sasha says...

    I love your beauty philosophies! And I’m so grateful for the guided meditation link, trying one tonight. Thank you!

  68. Fantastic post! I love her philosophy about limiting products with more than three ingredients, and how she has incorporated meditation into her daily routine. She’s glowing in all of her pics!

  69. Tricia says...

    I really like this one! It’s nice to see a non-make-up wearer represented, and I like her ethos behind things.

  70. Sarah says...

    She rocks!

  71. Jaclyn says...

    Love the beauty uniforms.

    Michelle – thank you for talking about Post Partum Depression and how you are facing all the pressures thrown at women in such a healthy way. I recently had a sweet little girl and am battling PPD and adjusting to my new life and identity – I have had a fabulous support network and am learning how to be good to myself. I am trying to share about PPD with people when they ask about me/motherhood to help reduce the stigma – so thank you for being so open!

    • michelle peterson says...

      Jaclyn,

      I am so happy that this connects with you, and am happy to share with you at any time. It does get better if you put yourself first, which means prioritizing one special thing for you a day, and letting go of any guilt for not being the “best” mom.

      much love to you,
      michelle

    • Julianna says...

      My PDD manifested mostly as extreme debilitating anxiety, the only thing that helped was breathing and coming back to the present moment and not letting myself think beyond my new little precious babe. I remember watching the Lego movie with my husband and he was laughing hysterically, and I was fake smiling trying to hide what was happening inside. I’m so grateful to Joanna and others for being so open about their experiences with PDD, to just know that it’s actually so normal and it will eventually ease up and pass.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      agreed!

  72. Jess says...

    How can you own a bicycle company and not wear a helmet? For someone so concerned with self-care, preventing traumatic brain injuries seems like it should be high on the list. Also a good example to set for middle school students and son.

    • Erica says...

      Michelle’s post feels so centered and encouraging, and sane! I love her outlook, and her self-acceptance is striking. Thank you!

    • Laura says...

      Totally agree Jess!

      A friend of mine once pointed out that if something were to happen while you + kid(s) were cycling together, and you’re not wearing a helmet, leaving the kid with no parent(s) is decidedly awful. So parents with kids, please prioritize your own head too – your kids need you to live a long and healthy life!

    • Alycia says...

      Did you know there are real studies showing that cars are more likely to give you more room if you are not wearing a helmet? Look it up.
      Also, you are more likely to suffer a head injury while driving or walking. Do you do that?
      I thought it was refreshing that she didn’t mention wearing a helmet. As an adult, it’s a choice. She knows what she is doing.

    • michelle peterson says...

      Hi Jess,
      Great point, and I usually do wear a helmet in the city if I’m going on lots of city streets. A good number of the bike photos were taken abroad on clear bike roads where everyone was going at a slow pace.

      But definitely, helmets are lifesavers. Thank you for the reminder!
      Best,
      Michelle

    • Danielle says...

      Yes, I was just going to say the same thing! My husband was in an accident–while he was in a bike lane on a street without a ton of traffic in NYC–and his helmet absolutely saved his life, according to the ER nurse who sees lots of injured cyclists.

      Also, it’s important to provide adequate context when citing “real studies,” particularly if you’re using said studies to encourage people to engage in potentially dangerous behaviors. The helmet study referenced was performed in Bath, England (hardly comparable to San Fran in terms of population, infrastructure, and traffic) and has not been replicated in a large city. The researcher/subject was given over four feet of clearance in both conditions, so the 3.35 inches of extra space drivers gave him when he wasn’t wearing a helmet is relatively small.

      Remember, the difference between being passed with 3.35 inches more room and without that room is not nearly as great as the difference between your likelihood of sustaining TBI if you are hit with vs. without a helmet. According to a 1989 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, riders wearing helmets had an 85% reduction in risk of head injury and 88% reduction in risk of brain injury.

      Also, of course you’re more likely to suffer a head injury when you’re driving or walking–on average, people spend more time driving or walking than cycling, so there’s more opportunity for injury. This is a classic case of looking at incidence as a proportion of the total population instead of as a proportion of time spent doing something.

      Please be careful when citing research (and when riding bikes)!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Great points, Danielle! Thank you so much. Personally, I want to thank you for the encouragement to wear a helmet — I’m not always the best at bringing one along, especially for short rides (which are still risky, of course)!

  73. Jessica says...

    One of my favorite beauty uniforms ever!! Love her openness about difficult times and yay for the meditation plug. (I’m a psychiatrist and believe in breath and therapy and being able to eat what you put on your face ;)

  74. These keep getting better and better! I love the integration of mental health with physical beauty that Michelle talks about. And brava to the COJ staff for always bringing out these points in their interviews.

    I also am trying to gear toward natural beauty products. For me it was about seeing recommendations for pregnant women. I realized that that I don’t need to wait until I am pregnant to take better care of my body. Now I check the Skin Deep database for their rating before I buy something new, and I do my best to avoid artificial dyes and fragrances, phtalates, parabens, and sulfates (why are we putting Red Lake 40 in our toothpaste??!). It’s a start!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “For me it was about seeing recommendations for pregnant women. I realized that that I don’t need to wait until I am pregnant to take better care of my body.” = great point.

  75. I always enjoy this series so much! I am very interested in the idea of making your own beauty products, I’ve never tried! It seems so easy, I use coconut oil for everything with you kids skin, so why not my own! I also appreciate the sunscreen recommendation. I use NARS tinted moisturizer on my face with has an SPF 30, but my husband asked me to find him a non-greasy face SPF, i’ll try the Clinique brand she uses!

    xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

  76. This is great! I love how she doesn’t wear makeup! Just like me!

  77. Cait says...

    I love this beauty uniform. She has such a lovely outlook and I admire her comfort without make up (she looks gorgeous). Also, finally beauty products I can relate to! I’m the most crazy person I know about only putting on my body what I could basically eat. So important.

  78. Alyssa Leister says...

    Really enjoyed reading this (and wishing I knew someone who would make me natural products). The most interesting thing to me with this though was her note that having a baby at 27 felt young by city standards. As someone who lives in a conservative part of PA, most of the people I know in this area are married and having kids by 24/25. As a 26 year old, unmarried woman, I feel like I’m so behind. It’s SO good to hear that it’s not the case for other places.

    • Angeleno says...

      You are so not behind! Here in LA, I know many people having their first kid in their late 30’s. In fact, when I hear people have kids in their 20’s I think “Wow, that’s so young!”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I gave birth to Toby when I was 31, and I was the first of all my friends!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      And yes, I agree with @angeleno, a ton of women I know are having their first child in their mid to late 30s. No rush, you’re totally on track! :)

    • Karen says...

      You are so not behind, Alyssa. I had a great pregnancy at 40. Felt great, walked to work & back every day. Healthy kid (my first/only). Don’t worry.

    • Eve says...

      Alyssa, allow me to echo that 26 and unmarried (or 30, or 36…) is truly, verifiably common in many urban areas. And it’s great :)

    • michelle peterson says...

      Alyssa,

      At 38, most of my friends are just having their first! Enjoy and take your time!

      xo michelle

    • Lisa says...

      Alyssa, as you know, PA is large. Come to Philly – I had my kids at 34 and 37 and felt right on track. I completely agree with Angeleno, one’s 20 seems young depending on what else is going on in one’s life.

    • I’m sorry you’re feeling stressed about your life choices. I grew up in Philadelphia PA and so many people my age (not my parents’) were having kids in their early to mid-30s. I then moved to Utah and the average age is something like 21! culture SHOCK! I have one child and didn’t have him till I felt prepared – emotionally, financially, physically, spiritually, mentally. I think that, more than age, is what is important. I was 38. It was tiring and I’ve heard from others that having a child younger they weren’t as tired but really, I’ll take tired if I’m a better parent because of it! :) do what works for you regardless of what others are doing. Its kinda like speeding…when people push you from behind – I think if I get a ticket or in an accident THEY will not stop to pay or help…no one but me is taking care of my child so it had to be when I knew I could do it. (single parent by choice)

    • Jamie says...

      I agree Alyssa I live in rural Ohio and it feels like everyone has kids already, I just turned 30 and feel like I have to decide now. My mom was 30 when she had her first child (my older brother) and around where I grew up she was always an older mom so I felt like it’s now or never. Good to hear I have at least a little time to decide, because right now I’m not ready.

    • YES!! More of this conversation, please!! I just turned 28 and my husband and I (who have already been married for 6 years) are some of the last of our friends who still don’t have kids yet. I want to tell everyone to slow down! Haha

    • KSullivan says...

      You guys, you just brought tears to my eyes. I’m 38 and single & lately have been feeling worried about not having found my person-for-life, let alone having a baby. It cheers me to be reminded that there is no one standard or “right time” – it’ll happen when it happens (or it won’t) and I’ll be okay. I loved what Reagan said in her Beauty Uniform ala, “there’s something beautiful about not always getting what you want and choosing to love your life anyway.” thank you thank you thank you. And Alyssa, if you think you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be, then you are. Lots of love!

    • Robin says...

      I was thirty before any of my friends had kids! And they were way ahead – most of my friends didn’t have kids until later. I’ll be 38 before my second son is born. My first is three. You have tons of time! Make the most of it. I’ve been with my husband since we were teenagers, so we could have started earlier but I’m very happy with how things worked out. I had a couple different careers, we lived in Japan for two years and travelled all over before my son was born. Not to say we couldn’t have done that with a kid but it would have been very different. Also (as a bonus) if you have kids after your friends the hand me downs (and advice, and support) are amazing. I’ve felt very lucky to be a couple years behind the curve ;)

    • Emma says...

      And I’m having my first baby at 23. So the moral of that story is just do what’s best for you and your family and don’t worry about all the other peeps because we’re all over the map!

    • Megan says...

      Yep it goes both ways! I just had my first kid at 25 and none of my friends have kids yet. it took me a while to be okay with that and not feel like I was living my 20s incorrectly. Everyone is different and we can’t all fit into a neat life narrative.

  79. I love reading about gals from my hometown!

  80. Wendy says...

    This is my favorite series. I love Michelle’s tips and outlook.

  81. Cynthia says...

    I’ve been using Clinique Super City Block SPF 40 for years. It’s the best sunscreen for your face because it doesn’t feel sticky and it’s not oily. I like it in place of foundation.

  82. I’m going exactly through the moment Michelle described so perfectly “it’s a lot of pressure to be the best mom, best partner…” I am now in self-care mode too and gravitating towards natural products. Michelle you gave me hope that I can also make it out of this funk.

    Xo Lendy
    http://www.twoplusluna.com

    • Mimi says...

      Agreed! I feel so overwhelmed and recently behan trying to take steps toward self care. Thank you, Michelle, for the Chopra link – exactly what I needed to get back into paying attention to my breath and heart. And I love the reference to your grandmother, along with using oil for your skin. My grandmother always and only used olive oil on her skin. At 41, after trying everything from prescription/drugstore/department store/health food store, I tried olive oil on my skin. It was a revelation! I, too, love not needing any big companies to care for my skin. Just a little oil messaged on my face and a quick “steam” from a warm washcloth. It’s so relaxing. I feel pampered and glowing in under three minutes -which is important when you have a two year old banging on the bathroom door :)

    • michelle peterson says...

      HI Lendy,

      We are all in this together, and yes, you will get out of the funk one breath at a time. Please let me know if you want to continue to connect if it helps. It helps me too!

      Sending you warmth,
      Michelle

  83. Alex says...

    The beauty uniform posts are my favorite <3
    I haven't even read the post yet, I just opened up your blog and I got super excited! I just had to share my thoughts and gratitude. Keep bringing these! I love them!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so sweet of you, alex! thank you so much. we really appreciate it.

    • I totally agree Alex! I love hearing different perspectives on beauty from all these interesting women. They’re my favorite second only to the motherhood abroad posts!