These days it’s nearly impossible to know what women are spending on the way they look. Someone with Instagram-flawless contouring might have honed her craft using the finest from the drugstore aisles, and the utterly makeup-free type might be spending thousands on laser treatments or face serums. Enter our series “What It Costs to Be Me,” where we’re asking interesting women for radical transparency.
Up this week: Lindsey Caldwell, DJ and mother of two from Long Island, New York. Her annual total? $3,673.50
DJ Lindsey Caldwell may well be DJ royalty. She’s spun her soulful, eclectic mix of classics and hits for everyone from Iman to the great late Prince. But she isn’t afraid to keep it real when it comes to the challenges of her life/work balancing act, especially when it comes to self-care: “My focus has changed for sure after having kids; it’s got even more difficult to keep organized—and moisturized,” says Caldwell. “Mom guilt is real, and the pull to be the best mom and wife is intensely stronger than it is to do anything for yourself.” Caldwell’s wellness and beauty priorities right now are about life-improving strategies that don’t cost much: meditation, a beloved weekly workout, a failsafe hair routine she’s got down to a science, some super chic (and time-saving) head wraps—and above all else, slowing down.
My simple morning skin care routine: $147
I use a basic cotton washcloth (a clean one every day) with Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser ($20). That’s typically enough exfoliating for my face. For my body, I use Savon de Marseille soap ($8). After I wash, I moisturize my face with Kiehl’s Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate ($59) and Kiehl’s Rosa Arctica Lightweight Cream ($60). I also drink an obnoxious amount of water every day. And I go out of my way to eat more fruits and vegetables than anything else.
My evening wind-down ritual: $47
At night I use my Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser again and the brand’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate ($47). If my skin is particularly dry, I use my Rosa Arctica Lightweight Moisturizer again too. I also tie my hair down every night with a silk scarf to prevent breakage, tangling, and frizz.
My daytime makeup: $126
During the day, I wear a simple black eyeliner, usually whatever cheap-o eyeliner pen I’ve gotten from Ricky’s or the drugstore. The one I have now is from NYX ($9.50). I keep three lipsticks in rotation: NARS Schiap ($28), NARS Heat Wave ($28), and Mac Lady Danger ($18.50). I brush on a little Milk Makeup Kush Fiber Brow Gel in Dutch ($18), and I use Mac Cream Color Base in Improper Copper ($24) as a highlighter if I’m feeling fancy.
My DJ makeup: $280
If I’m DJ’ing, I’ll sometimes do my whole face. I use almost all MAC. After I moisturize, I apply Face and Body Foundation ($30), concealer in NC45 ($24), then Mineralize Skin Finish in both Dark Deep and Dark ($34 each), my Improper Copper highlighter, eyeliner, brows, and a lip. I use all MAC brushes—eyebrow ($20), shadow ($32), powder ($42), and foundation ($35).
Mascara kind of bugs out my eyes, so I only use a Sephora lash curler ($15). I really have to be doing something extra-fancy to put on fake lashes. They make me feel like I have palm tree fronds on my eyes. But if I am going to wear them, I’ll just get whatever new fake lashes they have at Sephora ($14) that are easy to apply. I love trying new stuff; my husband always laughs at me.
My chill-out bath routine and body products: $56
I live in my bathtub. I keep it pretty simple: I use epsom salt ($5) with NOW essential oils, usually lavender ($8). I love that brand, because its oils are usually cheaper. I’m also dying to try CBD oil soaks, but I’m waiting until after I finish breastfeeding to get into that territory.
For my body, I use Everyone Lotion ($11), which I also use on my son Henry. We like to mix it up with the scents; sometimes coconut, sometimes mint. In problem areas like my heels and cuticles, I use Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil ($32). A good friend recommended it, and it’s the only thing that isn’t Aquaphor that gets ashy skin right. It’s a very light oil and way less messy than other things I’ve tried.
My spirit-lifting scents: $397
I love clearing the air with sage ($10) or palo santo ($7). It’s part of the whole experience when I take a bath or if I’m about to meditate. If I don’t have time for a bath, I’ll sometimes put a few drops of essential oil on the shower drain.
We love Diptyque candles ($65 each): Right now we have Santal and Tubereuse in our living room, the grass-scented one in the bathroom, Menthe Vert in the kitchen, and the Baies black currant candle. And then we have nepali rope ($8), Murray and Lanman Florida Water ($8), sweetgrass ($15), essential oils, and rose water ($24)—all that witchy stuff. I get it all on Amazon.
When I walk into my house I want it to smell a certain way, and that in and of itself is calming to me. We even lined the walkway to our old house with lavender for that purpose. Even when there are giant plastic toys all over the place, and I step on a Lego or two, the scents help me stay a little more decompressed.
My weekly hair routine: $175.50
Here’s what I do for wash day, which is once a week: I use 3-inch butterfly hair clips ($3) and a wide toothed comb ($3) to section and clip up my hair. Then I cleanse and detangle my hair in sections with Devacurl No Poo Decadence ($22), twisting each clean detangled hair section into a little bantu knot with Hair Rules Quench Conditioner ($22) as I go. Then once it’s all detangled, I rinse out the conditioner and get out of the shower.
If I’m styling my hair into a wash-and-go, I use Kinky-Curly Knot Today ($12) as a leave-in and then nearly a third of the jar of KeraCare Clear Protein Styling Gel ($17) to capture my curl pattern. Then I go sit under a hood dryer ($40) for the rest of my life—just kidding, for like one or two hours. Usually that gets interrupted and it air dries the rest of the way because…kids.
I also wear a head wrap a few times a week to give my hair a break from all the styling products. I love The Wrap Life head wraps ( $26) because there are so many different ways to wear them. On days I have them on, I leave my hair in twists and work in Giovanni Direct Leave-In Weightless Moisture Conditioner ($9) after my shower, then put my own grapeseed oil ($6) and rosemary essential oil ($6.50) mixture on my scalp. My scalp is always itchy and dry—it’s just the nature of my hair—and this blend helps soothe and smells so good. And if my hairline is showing, I use Design Essentials Sleek Max Strength Edge Control ($9) with a toothbrush to lay my edges. My hair does what it wants, so I need that extra hold.
My special occasion hair looks: roughly $640 a year
I get braids around two to three times a year—usually whenever I don’t want deal with my hair and would rather focus on the music for big gigs. The only downside is that they’re not always gentle on your hair and some places have really torn out my edges. So when I do get them, I invest. My braider Inna is super gentle—plus, she’s done hair for Beyoncé! My last style, box braids inspired by Rihanna’s 2015 cover of i-D, cost about $200.
I also used to buy a lot of wigs when I had time to mess around with them. They’re a fun and quick solution, because a weave is like the worst torture ever. And if you get good human hair, sew-ins can cost up to $1,000 or more—another reason I don’t usually get them. I prefer the freedom of a wig: I can take it off at night, shake it out, and put it on the shelf. If I want a cheap, trendy one, I’ll go on elevatestyles.com, where they have super-cheap synthetic wigs. I’ll find the name of a few I think are cute, then go on YouTube to read reviews for the full tea on each one. From there, I’ll narrow it down to one that’s about $40, has minimal shedding, and by then I have all the cheats for how to make it look more natural. If I want to spring for one that’s expensive, I go to evawigs.com. Usually they have a picture of a celebrity, and you can buy a similar wig. They can also custom-make wigs, which cost about $500.
My quarterly hair cuts: $600 a year
I do really love changing my hair, but I care way more about keeping it healthy. Before I had kids, I used to go to H2 Salon Brooklyn once a week to get my hair done. Now I go every three months to get my ends trimmed, get a deep condition, and to kiki with them because it’s so fun in there and the owner programs the best music. I usually go to Char. She always suggests style changes to keep things exciting but manageable and healthy. It costs around $150, plus tip, depending on what I get done.
My exercise regimen: $780 a year
Every Monday at 10 A.M. I do my pilates class on Google Hangouts with Lisa Schoenholt at Brooklyn Embodied ($15 a class). She’s a miracle worker and closed my diastasis recti in no time after both pregnancies. I do the class with a couple other moms, and Lisa watches and corrects us over video. I started doing it around four months postpartum. I love that it cuts out the commute time, so it’s easy to commit to. I practice the breathing Lisa teaches throughout the day to keep my transverse abdominis (the deepest layer of ab muscles) pulled in as tightly as I can to avoid any potential back issues or reopening my diastasis.
This class is one of the most important things I spend money on. Not only does my body feel better afterwards, but I also feel better about the way I look in general. It’s been a huge part of avoiding postpartum depression, as much as anyone can.
My meditation practice and sanity-saving tactics: $425
Last year when I became pregnant with Amel (my youngest), my husband and I started taking HypnoBirthing classes with Gina at Jaya Yoga ($425 for a 5-week series). All of the practice meditations really changed me. I was always giving to others and never taking the time out to focus on my own mental health. Plus, work-wise, the past few years have been really intense. DJ’ing has become less about your skills as a DJ and more about your social media following, and being that bound to followers and likes takes a toll on you. I’m now trying to change what my idea of success is; which is where the meditation also comes in. It’s made this go-round with the baby so much more enjoyable. I’ll do it at night to help me get to sleep—until Amel wakes me up, of course.