Sex, Lies and Lip Waxes

How do you preserve the mystery when you share a medicine cabinet?

An ex-boyfriend once told me that he couldn't stand two-faced women. "And by two-faced," he explained, "I mean the sort of woman who wears so much makeup that she looks one way when you're out with her at night, and then totally different the next morning. That's why I love the way you look. You don't feel the need to get all dolled up in blue eye shadow ‑- you're just so natural." When we moved in together nine months later, the jig was up. Living together has plenty of benefits, but preserving the "I just rolled out of bed looking this way" myth isn't among them. To keep the shadowy side of your looks out of the bright bathroom light of your love, come to grips with which beauty routines he can get used to, which he can actually get in on, and which he will just never get.

Nice 'n' Easy

The hardest thing for men to deal with when it comes to our general upkeep is the sudden lack of space in their formerly barren bathrooms. "I am still amazed by the amount of stuff she needs," says Zach, who has lived with his girlfriend, Karin, for more than two years. "In the beginning, I had to learn to maneuver the bathroom like an obstacle course." Try storing countertop items--blow dryer, makeup bag--beneath the sink. It may be a pain to pull them out and put them back every day, but you're sharing a home now, so at least give the poor guy a place to put his toothbrush. Patty, who has lived with her husband, Ben, for almost a year, bought porcelain bathroom canisters as soon as she moved in, placing them on a wicker shelf. "I put tampons, Monistat, and anything else that's unpleasant to look at in them," she says. In the shower, stick to shampoo, conditioner, a razor, and products that do double duty ‑- try Lush's Buffy the Backside Slayer, an exfoliating bar with shea butter that also subs for your moisturizer, or Olay's Complete Body Wash, a cleanser and lotion in one. And unless he's in a metal band, he won't be accustomed to all the stray hair you generate. "It's everywhere ‑- in the sink, on the floor, around the drain. It's crazy," says Zach. Clean up after yourself; it'll give you leverage to complain when he leaves the toilet seat up.

Sharing Is Caring

Some beauty secrets are worth revealing. Your man probably won't be as open as your girlfriends to giving and getting manicures, but you might be surprised at what he will do. Kristina and Matt, who have lived together for 14 years, brush, floss and use teeth-bleaching trays every night. "It gives us some quiet time together while we watch TV and chill before bed," says Kristina. Aliya, who spent a summer living with her boyfriend, Nathan, says, "I was using St. Ives Apricot Scrub in the shower, and he agreed to let me try it on his back. He loved it." Sometimes men help themselves. Patty was a bit baffled when a $50 bottle of Susan Ciminelli Cleansing Milk that usually lasts for six months was almost empty after just three weeks. "I asked my husband if he'd been using it, and he admitted that he'd been slathering it all over his face. I had to explain to him that it wasn't Pond's cold cream." If there's something you don't want your man to use, either let him know ahead of time or retaliate: You might find that some of his stuff is worth using, too. Long after What'shisname stopped showering at my place, my love for his Mach3 razor and Kiehl's Ultimate Men's After Shave Balm and Moisturizer lives on.

Primper, Party of One

Still, some things are sacred. A lot of otherwise enlightened men admit that seeing their women shaving, waxing or bleaching gives them the heebie-jeebies. Most of us aren't too thrilled about doing it in front of them, either. "I won't even pick up a pair of tweezers if he's in the room," says Carolyn, who's lived with her boyfriend, Mike, for four years. Try to carve out one night or morning a week when you can be alone to do your less glamorous upkeep, or simply tell him it's your primping hour and lock the bathroom door. Of course, every couple is different, and it will take time to figure out your particular pet peeves. (For example, according to Zach, because "tube-middlesqueezers will be the end of Western civilization as we know it," both he and Karen have their own toothpaste.) But let's face it: You're living together now, and, sooner or later, he'll catch you ripping off that mustache. When the fateful day arrives, make a joke and move on. Tell him that if it weren't for wax, he'd be dating Tom Selleck. He'll probably be grateful, not grossed out.

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