If we are lucky, we all have that one friend in our lives who glows impossibly. She glows when she’s working, she glows when she works out, and she glows when she’s very drunk at 2 a.m. dancing to the music coming from her own phone at a hotel bar in Paris. You are in constant wonderment of her spirit and energy, and even though it’s really never possible to be anyone other than yourself, you wonder what it is that you could do to capture that glow, even just a little bit.
For me, that friend is Tamu. Tamu is my chic older (but somehow younger-looking) sister, my unwitting mentor, and one of my favorite people to daydream about the universe with over WhatsApp. Simply put, Tamu is magic. And she has this effect on most everyone she comes into contact with – I have yet to meet someone not immediately captivated by her energy and genuinity.
Tamu also has radiant skin, a thick and flawless crop of hair, and a holistic way of taking care of her whole self that I have always wanted to adopt, but never quite makes it to the top of my eternal to-do list. We talk a lot about food, beauty, routines and rituals, and finally I decided that Tamu has enough enviable practices in her life that I should try absorbing them into my own to see what, if anything about this magical person, is replicable. That’s right. I Single White Female’d Tamu for a week.
Mostly I was interested in seeing the outcome of the products she uses in her day-to-day, but to take the challenge (who challenged me though? It was actually just me challenging myself) seriously, I decided to really lean into her daily practices and see how it felt. So for five straight days, I ate, exercised, cleansed and binge-watched past seasons of Insecure just like Tamu.
The result? I am still me, but perhaps a more improved version. Tamu’s life is an ambitious one in terms of timing, logistics or, in my case, stamina, but I did learn about some amazing new products and see a few changes for the better in just a few days.
Without further ado, I give you: My Week In the Life of Tamu.
Tamu’s assistant Marta sent me a five page PDF document full of a daily schedule of meals, appointments and products with little PDF images included. So my first instinct was to abandon this challenge entirely and just find someone to be my Marta, but… deadlines.
As you may have seen on her Instagram Stories, Tamu starts almost every day with the same breakfast:
two 6-minute eggs over rye toast
a matcha latte
I don’t usually eat breakfast, so this was a stretch for me to fit in before I left for work, but I did feel more fortified and less panicked than usual, perhaps just as a residual from dedicating time to my own mental and physical well-being. Later in the week, due to a busy morning and a slight hangover, I had to move this breakfast to my seat at The Wing while also working, and this made me realize that the ritual and the time matter much more than the protein and the rye.
However, this was also an amazing opportunity to be the last person on earth to get on the Matcha wagon, which is another ritualistic practice that I plan to keep. I usually can’t function in the morning without a strong coffee, but will probably keep matcha on as my afternoon alternative to my usual latté. So, I am now the proud owner of an economy-sized package of CAP Beauty’s in-house matcha.
Next, skincare! Tamu uses Julisis Gold Wash Day in the mornings, which has a great gel consistency and left my skin very clear without any sting or intrusion. Recently, I started using a more gentle cleanser in the morning and more aggressive cleanser before going to sleep, and have seen a drastic improvement in my skin’s ability to overcome pollutants during the day when it’s not as stripped in the morning. This gentle wash with natural ingredients and soothing scent of aloe, carrot, and jojoba was the perfect start to my day.
This is followed directly by Dr. Alkaitis Organic Ageless Facial Elixir, which I, in a word, love. The promise of this formula is to nourish and moisturize skin at a cellular level, renewing your cells and protecting you from environmental damage. But also: it smells like organic tootsie rolls. For the rest of the week I woke up every morning and could not wait to use this stuff. Not quite an oil, not quite a serum, it applies smoothly and immediately absorbed directly into the skin. Dr Alkaitis very kindly sent a bottle for this challenge, and I will definitely be keeping this in my daily routine indefinitely.
Next is sun protection. Tamu uses Coola Mineral Face SPF, which was new for me. I never cared about sun protection until I turned 30, so these first few years of my actual thirties have been about integrating SPF into my life in manageable ways. I use a moisturizing foundation in my makeup routine, and Coola’s SPF blended lightly and seamlessly between my Dr Alkaitis Elixir and my makeup without feeling heavy or oily.
Now fed and conditioned for the world, I headed out to work. Monday was an easy one, I decided to only tackle the morning routine and try adding more on Tuesday.
One of the things Tamu has always told me is that she makes appointments in her diary to workout, because she considers it to be her most precious time for self care. If she doesn’t make an appointment, it doesn’t happen. If you follow her on Instagram, you will see videos of her running through the park in Milan or trying new rope-throwing techniques with Kirwin, her trainer. I feel like I really know Kirwin at this point, but motivating me to throw a ship rope back and forth while balancing on a ball and sweating like a maniac takes more than just charisma and an adorable accent. So I went running.
I haven’t run in a long time, mostly because I never squeeze the time in to take care of my body and when I do I just want to lay supine in my bed and rest. So, needless to say, I am a little out of shape. However, I brought my favorite (mostly untouched) workout ensemble with me in the morning, ready to hit the streets after work. Running in New York can be a bit scary because of cars, bicyclists, small children, and other runners, so I hightailed it from the office to the West Side highway path where I’d face less resistance, and where there’d be plenty of people to call 9-1-1 if I toppled over from exhaustion.
Here are a few things I loved about taking the time for this run. First, it is nearly impossible to answer text messages or look at social media while you’re running. I turned my phone to Do Not Disturb and cranked up the music in my headphones, and for the twenty minutes that I ran I was focused, alone, and thought only about either my breathing or completely hypothetical and pointless topics, like whether I should move to the Virgin Islands and spend the rest of my life working an ocean cleanup non-profit (and maybe find love? I dunno!). Second, my body fell into the rhythm of running pretty quickly, and even though I had to pace myself to not go overboard, my muscles were so happy to break up the stasis of winter and hit the pavement. And third, the rhythm of running shook a percussion into my brain, so when my run came to an end and I found myself back in Soho, I felt as if I were coming out of a hypnosis.
This I will definitely be keeping in my routine.
On Wednesday, having conquered the first half of Tamu’s usual day, I took on bodycare. Marta’s PDF was very detailed in terms of body products, which I was thrilled to indulge in and I thoroughly enjoyed this portion of the challenge (though the word “challenge” is getting looser and looser considering how fun this was).
Tamu uses Aesop’s Geranium Leaf Body Cleanser, which is one of my favorite cleansers of all time. She follows this with Living Libations Cell U Lite Formula. Cellulite is a lot like SPF in that in my 20s, I was completely unaware that sun damage and cell-aging existed, and while I wish I would have prepared my body for this inevitability ten years ago I am perfectly happy to be obsessed with preventative treatments now. Living Libations formula smells amazing and the consistency is light enough that it doesn’t feel like it’s stuck on your body for the rest of the day.
I followed this with Sun Potion Shea Butter, which I regret only starting with on Wednesday because the immediate results on my skin were astounding. Sun Potion’s entire line is available at one of my favorite beauty stores, CAP Beauty.
My other favorite thing about this body routine is the Naturopathica Sweet Birch Rub, which I truly should have used my Tuesday early evening run. The smell is amazing and the effects are felt all the way down through the muscle tissue, an effect of the magnesium supplements in their formula. I silently vowed to work out again just so that I could have an excuse to use this.
One other thing that I should mention is that I found out via Marta’s PDF that Tamu and I take almost exactly the same lineup of daily supplements, which I’ll outline here for anyone interested in being as cool as we are:
Omega 3 Fish Oil
On Thursday I took on the nighttime skincare routine. According to Marta’s PDF, this starts with The Honey Mud Gentle Enzyme Cleanse and Masque by May Lindstrom, and this is another product whose main purpose in its relatively short life is to moisturize and replenish. This is much more intensive than my normal foaming cleanser, but works along the same lines as my evening skincare routine in that it really cleanses. After removing it completely, my skin felt so soft and fluffy I almost did not want to apply any other product.
However, the instructions were to follow this with the infamous, the notorious, the in-all-ways-supreme Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum. If you have not tried this serum yet, please save this tab and go make the purchase. The beauty of this serum is its subtlety – the scent is gentle, almost barely there, the weight of the serum is neither light-as-air nor oily and memorable. You simply put it on your face, massage with your fingers in tiny circles, and go on about your evening. On freshly exfoliated skin, all serums will work more effectively, and when I woke on Friday morning my skin felt soft, glowing, and somehow more naturally elastic. I’ve been meaning to try this serum for a while, and I’m glad I did because it’s definitely on my top shelf to stay. Read about Vintner’s Daughter founder April Gargiulo’s beauty routine here.
On Friday I tackled hair. Tamu has a very healthy and thick head of hair, but her texture and length is very different than mine. Her brand of choice for both maintenance and styling is Ouidad, and they kindly sent a package full of products to experiment with for this challenge. In short, I am now in love with their line. It’s affordable, high-quality, and smells amazing.
On Friday, I masked with the Melt-Down Extreme Repair Mask. This had such an immediate effect on the health of my hair that I was actually stunned – when I rinsed the mask out, my hair felt heavier, silker, and sturdier. I only wash my hair once a week, but their directive for use is 2x weekly, so I will definitely be adding this to my weekly regimen with each wash.
We were also expecting warm weather in New York on Saturday, so I styled with the Advanced Climate Control Featherlight Styling Cream. I am constantly worried about my hair being weighed down because I go so long between washes, but I also have lots of breakage and flyaways to manage. This applies lightly, and has a more flexible, generous feeling than a gel.
For her shorter crop with a natural texture, Tamu uses their Curl Immersion Low-Lather Coconut Cleansing Conditioner.
So now it’s Saturday, and I have successfully switched up my usual routine for five straight business days to try to capture some of Tamu’s magic. How do I feel? Well, my hair is moisturized, my skin feels amazing, I smell wonderful and the lactic acid in my muscles has been broken up from my low impact workouts.
Quite a few of these products I plan to roll into my day-to-day indefinitely, but I also think the most important part of this week for me was the time and energy that I got to put into caring for myself. I, like many others, tend to prioritize myself last, behind all of the other balls I have in the air at all times, and having an excuse to embrace self care was phenomenal.
I am definitely coming out of this week with a glow, and while I have no doubt that these amazing products all contributed, I think the glow is really coming from a place of Self Love. And that I will definitely be keeping in my routine.