chronically a babe

Before I got diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, I had a vision of what a chronically ill person looked like, though I’m not really sure where it came from. Think dingy grey robe, sad pink fuzzy slippers and terrible, slumping posture. Of course, I know now that’s not (necessarily) what chronic illness looks like, but I still think that image of perpetual illness persists for a lot of people. Maybe that’s why it’s so important to me (and I’m not alone, clearly) to keep the babe in chronic.

Even the BBC’s Newshour took a stab at this via New Year’s Resolutions (chapter 9 is where it starts), the idea that the outside really matters.

[You might say,] ‘Oh, I don’t know if I’ve got the energy or the self-belief to really make that leap.’ That’s where I think making a few personal changes, like to the way you look, perhaps, can really kind of just give you a little bit of that instant boost and give you that extra energy you need to tackle the bigger issues head-on. If you can start there, then I think it’s much easier to make those fundamental changes going forward.

And I really think that’s true. I know a month or so ago, when I was in the grips of that awful flare, it was really hard to care about how I looked; it was hard to make that extra effort—to use those extra spoons—to put on some lipstick, do more than just comb my hair and really think about the clothes I was going to put on my body. But on those days I didn’t do all those things, I actually felt worse.

And that makes sense; looking at myself with flat, limp hair and no make-up just reminded me of how crappy I’d been feeling. (Not that I needed a reminder!) So now that I’m feeling relatively good, I’m working to get down my favourite products, tips and tricks to being not just a Chronic Babe but a babe, regardless of health status. And, in the tradition of the fashion blogger, here are a few of my must-haves to get me on my way to babe-dom.


  1. Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Shampoo and Conditioner. This shampoo and conditioner duo are great (and cruelty free; they don’t test on animals and don’t use animal by-products in their shampoos and conditioners). My hair feels silky, clean and light after I use them, and the rosemary, tea tree oil and eucalyptus help take the itch out of my psoriasis and cut down on the flaking.
  2. The Body Shop Rainforest Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner. Since my hair gets used to products pretty quickly, I alternate brands so I can use them longer. This shampoo and conditioner (again, cruelty free) make my hair soft and manageable but not greasy, unlike some moisturizing products can do sometimes.
  3. V05 Hot Oil.  Love this stuff. I used it all the time as a teenager, but fell out of the habit when I moved back to Canada for university. Now that I’ve rediscovered it, I used it once a week to help protect my hair from styling damage done by blow-drying and flat-ironing my hair.
  4. John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze.  I use the clear glaze once per week and it makes my hair super shiny, like I spent a ton of money on it.
  5. The Body Shop Macadamia Straightening Balm. This is a must-have part of my cold weather hair routine. In the summer, I often wear my hair wavy, since that’s wash and wear, but in the winter, I don’t want to leave home with wet hair. This stuff lets me have straight hair with volume. And it smells delicious.
  6. Kusco-Murphy Bedroom Hair. I use this as a finishing balm after I’m done straightening my hair (or for hold and frizz control when I leave it wavy).


  1. The Body Shop Body Butter. Right now, I’m using up the rest of my (discontinued, sigh) Black Velvet Apricot. Once I’m done, I’ll be heading back to Moringa. Just a little bit of this body butter and I’m good and moisturized for a day or two.
  2. Aveeno Positively Nourishing Smoothing Body Wash. While I love this stuff, I’m going to have to stop using it for one reason: It’s hard to get the body wash out of the body and into my hand. I have to squeeze unreasonable hard to get any to come out, and that’s just too hard on my hands.


  1. Aveeno Positively Radiant everything. I use the daily scrub and the cleanser in the morning before slathering on the facial mositurizer with SPF 30 (a must for someone with fair skin who also happens to be on MTX). At night, I use the makeup removing cleanser, which does a good job of getting even the most stubborn eye makeup off my face.
  2. Neutrogena Healthy Skin Blends Sheer Highlighting Blush. It’s soft, fresh and it stay put. ‘Nuff said.
  3. Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Plum. I love this stuff, and I normally hate applying liquid/gel/pencil eyeliner. It’s easy to get a nice thin or thick line that looks straight and stays on all dang day.
  4. The Body Shop Eye Shadow Palette. This one has a couple shimmery purples and corresponding highlights that I just love. It’s easy to apply and stays on all day. And—a bonus—it doesn’t burn the way some commercial eye shadows do (or maybe that’s just me).
  5. The Body Shop Colourglide Lipstick. A lipstick that’s actually good for your lips. Sign me up.

Now, of course, I’m still a babe whether I’m all decked out or at home in my sweats, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to look good. And really, it boils down to this: When I look good, I feel good. That’s the most important thing.

4 thoughts on “chronically a babe

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more about keeping up our appearance as an aid to feeling better about ourselves. As a stay at home mom, putting myself “together” is certainly not a requirement for the job. But I decided a long time ago that I wanted to make it an important part of my day. Because even if I don’t see anyone other than my family the entire day, it just feels good to look good. And now that I am battling a disease that easily makes me feel like an old lady some days and less attractive than the healthy girls that strut the streets, it has become an even greater necessity to feeling good about myself. I also thinks it’s important in a marriage. Who wants to see their wife look like a bum? I swore that I would never become a dumpy sweatpants wearing, stringy haired, haggard looking wife for my man. So, I do it not only for myself, but for my man. : )

    So glad to hear that you were able to get the med.s you needed. How scary. Stupid insurance companies always dragging their feet about something or another!

    • Yeah, exactly! We don’t have kids (yet?), so I work outside the home. But I’ve certainly been tempted some days to immediately change out of my work clothes and get into my PJs; still, my husband deserves better than that, so I try not to—at least not every day. I agree that’s super important for a marriage. Plus, doesn’t your family deserve just as much as some random schmo on the street? So, even if I’m not going anywhere that day, I try to look halfway decent: for me and the Professor.

  2. Hey, I found your site from ChronicBabe. I have chronic pain in my hands, wrists, arms (whatever, they’re all connected 🙂 ), so I know what you mean about trying to squeeze out body wash. What I’ve started doing is getting an empty hand soap bottle with a pump and pouring my body wash into that. Then, I use less of it (2 squirts on a loofah is good) and I don’t have to squeeze the bottle (ow).
    I can totally understand the fear of no medicine. I hate that feeling, hate it completely, but I don’t know what else to do! My problem is more mechanical in that my ligaments don’t support my wrist joints, but I have constant inflammation and pain from it, and I’m worried that I may end up with arthritis later on. Anyway, I can either take medicine or immobilize my wrists, and neither is perfect. You’re not alone! 🙂

    • Ugh! I know what you mean. I dealt with that on a minor scale when I had tendonitis last year; how impossible is it to completely immobilize a hand/arm! I write for a living, so I need both hands to type, and that was just making things worse. Enbrel was actually the only thing that really helped. But it’s nice to know none of us, really, is alone! 😀

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