What Are YOUR 21 Layers of Beauty?

BOAW 2014

True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows and with passing years only grows!” — Sam Levenson, “The Beauty of a Woman”

One of my BFFs comes from a long line of debutantes. The kind of women that form the backbones of the communities down in North Carolina, where she’s from. A few years back we had this conversation over morning coffee:

Her: What do you use on your skin?

Me: As little as possible.

Her: I’m serious. You’ve got like no wrinkles. My twenty-one layers are a lot of work and they’re just not working as well now that I’m forty.

Me: *holds up hand* Whoa. You’ve got twenty-one things you do to your face? Every freaking day? Like before you go to sleep? And FYI, I do have wrinkles.

Her: Not really. And, yes, I can’t go to bed until I’ve completed the 21 Layers for the day. (And she didn’t even look overwhelmed by it.)

Me: Dang, girl. I’ve got like two layers, and I can’t even always remember those.

Her: What are they?

Me: Moisturizer and hair spray. I don’t even get my makeup off every night.

If you could have seen the horror on her face… She railed at me about makeup removal for like ten minutes. And, after all that, she wouldn’t even tell me what the 21 Layers are! Apparently, it’s one of those family secrets where if she tells me, she’ll have to kill me.

So for a few years now, I’ve been Googling variations of “21 Layers of Beauty Southern beauty regimen” and coming up empty. It’s extremely annoying.

In honor of the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest (#BOAW3), thrown by my dear friend August McLaughlin, I’ve made up my own version. [Click that link to be inspired. The lineup’s stellar!]

Jenny’s 21 Layers of Beauty – in no particular order

1. Laughter. Not only does smiling shave years off your face, it adds about 7 years to your life. Here’s 15 Health Benefits of Smiling.

2. Sleep. Being a working mom decreases my horizontal time considerably. [Stop smirking!] Sadly, I’ve noticed that sleep not only brightens up my skin, it also takes inches off elsewhere.

3. Learning. Learning new topics and skills brings an extra sparkle to most people’s face. Example: My husband looked at me after I attended and taught at WANACon last week and said, “Wow! You’re looking hot!” (Click that link to watch the recordings – you too will look HOT afterwards.)

4. Teaching. While you don’t have to get up and teach in front of a bunch of people, the act of imparting knowledge hits most people’s passion place. Passion places make us prettier. Mentor someone, somewhere. You’ll be glad you did.

5. Exercise. As much as I hate doing it, exercise amps up your complexion. Maybe it’s my Viking background, but I usually have rosy cheeks for 4-5 hours after working out.

6. Gratitude. In my Margie Lawson course last month, she made us list “5 Great Things” about each day. I could not believe the difference it made. It totally perks me up. Here’s how Gratitude Decreases Stress.

7. Relaxation. Stopping work for a quick walk, to water my garden, or just watch the birds does wonders for me. Here’s a list of 10 Health Benefits from Relaxation.

8. Fresh air. Turns out there really is something to that old saying, “You need to get some fresh air.” Here’s why it’s important.

9. Sex. Need I say more? Here’s an article about How Sex Can Make You Beautiful.

10. Kind words. The same as complainers sap your energy (at least they do mine), giving kind words and a positive attitude to others tends to fill me up. Turns out being kind is good for you.

11. Sassy Undies. Okay, maybe this is just me. If you’ve got your panties in a twist, stuck in an uncomfortable crack, or if they’re flat-out ugly, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve maximum sparkle for the day. Just sayin…

12. Hugs. Hugging builds self-esteem and your immune system. Here’s 10 Reasons Why We Need at Least 8 Hugs a Day.

13. Conversation. The number of one-person households in our society has increased over the last many decades, especially in America. However, all that “personal space” can affect your health. Social Interactions are GOOD for you. (God bless social media!)

14. Friendship. What about the deeper connection of true friendship? I don’t know what I’d do without my friends, even with their “crazy 21 Layer” habits. They feed my soul, which in turn increases my hot factor. No wonder my dude sends me out with the girls.

15. Loving. Have you ever heard the saying that every bride is beautiful? It’s because nearly every bride is glowing with love. What about those times your face lights up when your child or pet enters the room? Now that’s beauty.

16. Indulging your passions. My guy loves to watch me garden. When I asked him why he said: “Because you look so happy. You’re gorgeous in your garden.”

17. Communing with Nature. Whether it’s the beach, the mountains, the trees or the desert, I’ll bet there’s some place on this earth that makes your eyes shine with wonder.

18. Random Acts of Kindness. My pal, Amber West, is aces at this in her daily life. Go check out her “GoWithout Movement.” It’s easy to do, and will add a sexy swish to your step.

19. Being clean. As much as I’d love to stay in my pajama pants and scrunchie day and night, the fact is I’m not all that pretty unless I’m clean. I’ll bet you aren’t either.

20. Good posture. My mama always nagged me to “stand up straight” and “don’t slouch.” Turns out, standing up straight can make you look 10-20 pounds thinner. Don’t you hate it when your parents were right? Here’s 15 minutes to better posture.

21. Writing. When I’m writing regularly I’m funnier, more confident, more sparkly. All those things translate into beauty. If you’re a writer, for Pete’s sake, WRITE.

As you’ve likely surmised, I think true beauty comes from feeding the soul. However, if you still want to learn how to become a Southern Belle like my pal, or want  some Traditional Beauty Tips that Pass the Test of Time, I’ve included those too (even though some of the tips are a wee bit odd).

Which of my 21 Layers resonated with you?  What do you think I need to add to the list? Care to share your own thoughts about beauty? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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46 Responses to What Are YOUR 21 Layers of Beauty?

  1. Pingback: The Beauty of a Woman BlogFest III: Original Edition | August McLaughlin's Blog

  2. K.B. Owen says:

    What a fab list! Jenny, these ALL resonated with me, and make so much sense. I would add “read” – reading gives you new ideas, opens up pathways in your brain, and I think that makes any woman beautiful.


  3. I love this, Jenny! Such an awesome way to respond to your friend’s commentary. You can probably guess my faves, though I dig them ALL. Sex, laughter, loving, friendship and sex 😉 rank high on my list. I’d add pursuing your passions with gusto–which is similar to #16. Having a lackluster job is such a beauty and happiness tanker, IMO. We’ve got to follow our hearts!

    Thanks for bringing your brilliance to the fest!


  4. Right on, sister! Love them all. What most resonated was friendship and learning. Amazing what a good girl’s night out does for the soul or attending an inspiring workshop! But most of all, #21. Thank you for THAT reminder 😉 Let’s talk soon! XOXO


  5. Catherine Johnson says:

    Yikes how long must 21 layers take! I love yours so much better :0)


  6. Amber West says:

    Sounds like you and I share the same beauty regimen! 🙂

    This is seriously the best. Love!


  7. viveka says:

    Jenny, 21 of layers of beauty …. the sex bit is not for me just now, but the rest I do everyday … so I must be stunning. *smile – love your post.


  8. Cory Imhof says:

    I live Coconut oil mixed with lavender essential oil for redness and irritation or some ladies use it for menopausal/ thyroid dysfunction dry skin issues. It works great.
    I have very dry skin so I’m constantly slathering oil onto my skin and scalp. I can’t get enough of it.
    Once or twice a month I scrub my scalp and skin with baking soda to exfoliate and restore ph balance then rinse well then I put apple cider vinegar on my hair to remove product build up. Then after a thorough rinse put I put warm olive oil in my hair, tie it up tight and leave it on for a day. Makes my crazy curly girl hair and very pale skin soft and shiny. It’s it 21 layers but it works for me.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Holy cowbell, sis!! I had no idea you did all this. I promise you’d be equally gorgeous without it. Still, the coconut oil sounds fun. Perhaps we need to have a spa day when you’re here. 🙂


  9. Wow 21 layers! Yours sounds so much more fun.


  10. tomwisk says:

    Hi Jenny. August has warmed me but I rely on you for universal rules. The 21 Layers apply to men as well as women. Sassy undies, eh, maybe but no torn ragged boxers. You hit it out of the park. Again, a reblog.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I do try to be universal, Tom, so I’m delighted with your comment. And no, NO ragged torn boxers, unless they’re your by-yourself-wear. At least they’re not likely to be twisted up any cracks. 🙂


  11. tomwisk says:

    Reblogged this on tomwisk and commented:
    Ladies or gents read this. Ladies pass it on to your significant other, gents follow.


  12. OMG, 21 layers! I’m annoyed by the amount of time it takes me to do two (sunscreen/moisturizer and makeup). I love your list!!


  13. You made #14 sound like it applied only to your gal friends, but you have guy friends, too. I’m glad to be one of them.


  14. Raani York says:

    Wow!! I just love love LOVE the 21 layers!! What a great and powerful post!! Well done!!


  15. Jess Witkins says:

    Wow, I thought my 3 step was annoying… LOL

    Oh man has my regime changed now that I’m not managing/selling cosmetics. The cost of that stuff is insane! I’ve toned way back and I’m happy about that. Totally believe the gratitude journal is mind saver and mood booster. I love looking back and flipping through my lists of 5 things. Such a variety of things big and small each day to take notice of. 🙂


  16. katybrandes says:

    Sleep, fresh air, relaxation and being clean … absolutely necessary. Throw in some laugh lines as well. Love your take on the 21 layers!


  17. Laura Hilger says:



  18. Julie Glover says:

    Wow, love this! Fabulous list!

    I haven’t compared myself to a 21-layer beauty routine, but I’ve often had that Proverbs 31 woman (as she’s called from the Bible) as my sense of what’s really beautiful. And my favorite line has always been “she can laugh at the days to come.” Yeah, I can do that. One of my goals in life is to keep my laugh line wrinkles on pair with my crow’s feet…or ahead. 🙂


  19. Diana Beebe says:

    My face regimen is just like yours, Jenny! 😀

    Your list is fantabulous!

    I refuse to be serious about growing older–that would be layer number 22. 🙂 I ignore my gray hair, my little wrinkles, and the number my age is. People usually don’t believe me when they find out I’ve been married for over 21 years.


  20. It’s so nice to find kindred spirits. I also have a one-layer face routine–just moisturizer. I’ve never worn makeup regularly and can’t remember the last time I used it for anything. Your list is perfect. And I’m with Diana on refusing to get serious about growing older. I don’t really care how many wrinkles I have, because it beats the alternative!


  21. Great post, Jenny. And we’re loving the 21 layers. They’re all so great that Mathair and I couldn’t pick faves, but writing is my top while sex is Mathair’s. Gotta love my mother, I knew at an early age that she had a sick, twisted mind. LOL. Sharing now. Happy BOAW


  22. Jenny! I see a book in your 21 layers. What a fabulous list and every item is so important. I’m firing off a 21-gun salute to that list (that’s cannons not handguns!).


  23. Jenny, I have a sassy undie fetish. I suspect it’s why hubby makes sure I get a Victoria’s Secret gift card every Christmas. 🙂 Like you, I can’t imagine 21 layers for a beauty regimen. That seems a lot of work. Laughter and Friendship are the ones that most resonated with me, though. I kind of feel they go hand in hand! Loved your list.


  24. shanjeniah says:

    Oh, Jenny!

    I’ve got like 33 layers of love for this list!

    The only thing I would add to this list is some time for solitude. I am saying that while Hubby’s outside the bedroom window, hammering away as he works on the roof, and my daughter is one the bed with me, editing pictures and scrolling through albums her friend’s mom posted on facebook. There’s also a cat here….but, in a few hours, I will be here with the pets and my own thoughts. As a homeschooling mom, those hours are precious.

    As for learning, I married a chef, and he works weekends. So the kids and I sometimes travel together to visit out-of-state friends or attend unschooling events. Not only do I learn and learn, but, when I come home, my husband always comments on how beautiful I am!!

    I have like no layers, or a least no regular ones, other than using apricot face scrub in the shower. Sometimes I remember to slather a bit of lotion on – but that’s it. My hair is stronger than any spray, and I stopped wearing makeup in my late teens, when I worked at a veterinarian’s office. The dogs would lick my face, and I wondered what they were ingesting, so I stopped, and never got back into the habit.

    I honestly think happiness is making more more beautiful with the passage of time. I love my silvering strands, and Jim thinks my crow’s feet are sexy.

    You did remind me, though, to make more of a point to get outside for at least a few minutes each day (right now, there’s a small mountain of firewood begging me to play with it!), and to dig some of those sassy lacy undies out of the back of the drawer – a surprise for hubby, later, that will maybe lead to some of that yummy sex stuff, and then a satisfying sleep…

    This is a delicious post! =)


  25. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    I love your 21 layers, Jenny, and I can relate to all of them. I’m lucky if I get one layer of moisturizer on my face each day, so I can’t imagine tackling 21! Yikes! I think my favorites on your list are laughter, sleep, and random acts of kindness. Those are at the top of my list. And so is drinking tons of water. Staying hydrated is one of the best things we can do to make ourselves not only look better, but also feel better. That’s probably included in one of the many links you’ve included in this post. Dang, girl, you seriously rock at blogging!


  26. Marcia says:

    I love your whole list, Jenny and I can’t think of anything you might have forgotten to add. My favorite is passion – in ALL things. When you live with passion, you can’t help smiling, being kind, having great sex, total relaxation, etc.My hubs found a a moment yesterday when, even though I was hooked up to my home chemo treatment and still in pjs, hair in a ponytail, no make-up, but doing something i love, he looked at me for a minute. I said, “what’s up, babe?” “He said, “I was just thinking about how crazy I am about you.” That’s the beauty of love for a woman’s inner self!
    Great post, Jenny!


  27. Eden says:

    To heck with top ten lists… we need at least a blackjack to hold the awesome ways beauty is revealed in a person. And, if my guess is right, I’m betting we could all find a few more. Because… real beauty can’t be limited to a number.

    But this is a great start, Jenny. Thanks for posting this.

    (PS: if you get duplicates of this comment, please ignore… WordPress is giving me an exercise in patience today.)


  28. The Regular Guy NYC says:

    Great list! #1, #9, and #11 stand out for me. Well, unless you’re laughing at my underwear as we are about to have sex. Mood killer.


  29. I LOVE this post Jenny. I’m going to print it and put it on my wall. Thank you.


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