AM/PM: Nothing But The Morning

Welcome to AM/PM, where Autostraddle team members share our morning and evening rituals.


Sometimes you’re living your life and then something happens that makes living your life much, much harder.

So then what’s left?

Sometimes, my mornings are about tasks, accomplishments, making my own dreams come true by waking up anywhere that whim or fate or the dog needing to pee dictates between 5 am and 9 am, morning sex or not, getting dressed or not, drinking coffee or definitely drinking coffee, murdering my to-do list or not, reveling in all the freedoms of being a self-employed person who also has shit to do.

But lately, my mornings are a structure to control, before all the things I can’t control pop back up. I can’t figure out my life, but I can figure out what I’m doing this morning, this hour, this minute. I haven’t been in this place before. I don’t know how long I’ll be here or where I’m going next. But right now, this is what my mornings look like.

why yes I do wake up with eyeliner that perfectly applied itself in the middle of the night, how kind of you to notice

I’ve been waking up and getting up immediately. I’m definitely not impatient for my days to start, but there’s something in “I woke up, so I got up” that is very reassuring to me. Is it because I am also reassured that the dog usually waking me will not be peeing on the floor? Who can say?

On nights I sleep in my own bed, she wakes me up, and I pee and splash water on my face and take her out for her first walk immediately. I’ve been trying to run outside in the “away from panic attacks” sort of way, so the first clothes I put on are running clothes, mostly so that later in the morning I can start to feel embarrassed that I’ve just been wearing my dorky shorts around and maybe I should run so I can take them off finally. I used to put on my day of makeup before taking the dog out the first time. I used to have a lot more fucks to give.

On nights I sleep elsewhere, I do perfunctory makeup — drugstore concealer and eyeliner, from a stash in a jacket pocket. I used to give more fucks about that, too.

I try to enjoy the quiet.

Then, coffee and whatever work needs immediate attention, and then more coffee, and then if I’m going to run, the running, for which my benchmark of success is “did not pass out or injure myself,” and then actually getting showered and dressed for the day.

in truth I run in shorts + sports bra because why dirty a shirt

For a while, I had this really intense and involved morning skincare routine that took between one and five hours to complete (not that I was intensely focusing on it for all that time, that’s just when it started and ended). The steps included but were not limited to light chemical exfoliation with Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel, every so often an Aztec Clay and apple cider vinegar mask, an essence that probably had snails in it like Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, at least one sheetmask, and sometimes an under-eye patch. It felt good to try to intentionally direct positive energy toward my body, when I am so used to directing negative energy toward it instead. But lately, I don’t want to direct all that much energy toward it at all. I want it to do its job and also look good, whatever that even means, but mostly I want to stop worrying so much about it.

Now, my routine takes about five minutes, plus however long makeup takes that day. It’s oil-based cleansing with Banila Clean It Zero, water-based cleansing with Milky Jelly, Milk Cooling Water to depuff, sometimes Belif Moisturizing Bomb but not every day if I’m being honest, and Shiseido sunscreen.

When I get to makeup, it looks like: drugstore concealerbareMinerals powder if it’s hot out, Boy Brow after an eyebrow pencil which maybe defeats the purpose of Boy Brow but I don’t care, Clio eyeliner, and now that I know what they are a blush and a highlighter, which I will never again be without. (Ugh sorry for all the Glossier, I am a millennial and easily attracted to clean typography-forward packaging and a certain shade of pink, what do you want from me.)

ugh so millennial ugh

Generally I try to wait as long as possible before breakfast because we all have our damage, but once I have it it’s normally two to four soft scrambled eggs in coconut oil or ghee or avocado oil or something, with tea or coffee. My frying pan died recently because frying pans that cost three dollars have a short life expectancy, but I have high hopes for the new one I ordered on Amazon.

For the past two years, I’ve started my day by pulling a tarot card, reading a few interpretations of what that card means, and journalling about it in a notebook. I can tell when my mental health or life is about to take a dive because when it does I do not give a shit about this practice, or feel out of sync with my tarot decks (I’m into The Wild Unknown and the classic Rider-Waite), or resentful of the time a meditative morning activity takes out of all of the feeling sad or frustrated I have to do, and who do you think you are The Wild Unknown tarot deck, you’re not my real mom. Otherwise this activity makes me feel very centred and focused and, even when it takes like twenty minutes, makes the rest of my day feel focused. I already dealt with the fact I had feelings so after that handling deadlines and solving work problems and moving through the world seems easier.

Carolyn Yates was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles by way of Montreal and Toronto. Find her on twitter or instagram.

Carolyn has written 964 articles for us.

40 Comments

  1. Carolyn! Just when I thought you had reached the apex of cool, you quietly reveal your skincare routines and I realize, wow, there is a whole mountain of cool I couldn’t even see before now.

    (I blog about skincare, with a focus on Asian beauty).

    Cosrx snail and Banila are part of my routine every day, even if my depression means I am just going back to bed. And now I want to write a novel about skincare routines but, uh, that’s super obnoxious and Not The Point.

    ♥️♥️♥️♥️

  2. “But lately, my mornings are a structure to control, before all the things I can’t control pop back up. I can’t figure out my life, but I can figure out what I’m doing this morning, this hour, this minute.” – this is exactly why my morning and evening routines are extremly important to me – I’m autistic and there’s already so much uncertainty, so many things I cannot control, in my life, so having some parts of the day that I can definitely control and that are the same every day helps me a lot in dealing with life, basically.

    And I just love reading about the routines others have, it’s somehow extremely calming for me and one of the reasons why I got into beauty and skincare blogs, tbh. Really looking forward to the other articles in this series!
    (also, I really need to order a full size of the Banila CIZ, it’s amazing, thanks for reminding me!)

  3. I love this new series! Morning rituals are important to me, which is something I feel the need to establish over and over again by skipping, altering and otherwise sabotaging them. Morning pages are my barometer of mood; if I skip them, odds are I’ll end up feeling confused and scattered. When I don’t do them over a long period of time, I know something’s up. Usually there’s something I’m hiding from myself or otherwise avoiding; you can’t fool the empty page. There’s nothing there but you.

    Anyways, just thought I’d post this comment seeing as I’m alarmed by Riese’s statistics and the 65% of people who never comment (I’m in the “comments a few times a month” category and thinking about improving that).

  4. Nice routine! I always think about taking better care of my skin, but washing and moisturizing a few days a few days a week is all I can muster ^^ Thanks for inspiring me to give consistency another go!

  5. I’m so excited for this series!! Also: “I am a millennial and easily attracted to clean typography-forward packaging and a certain shade of pink, what do you want from me.” –>this is all of us <3

  6. This is fabulous! I am very here with you on mornings as a structure to control, there’s just something so satisfying with plotting out even an hour of time.
    Also, “who do you think you are The Wild Unknown tarot deck, you’re not my real mom” is very much how I feel about it lately as well. I was pulling a card every morning and realized I was letting it dictate my day, rather than giving some insight or providing a lens to look through.

  7. I am impressed by your morning ritual! Makes me feel like I should get my shit together a bit more because the most “ritual” I can handle is making my bed and grabbing a yogurt and a spoon as I power walk to catch the bus. Cleansing routine? I splash water on my face and I sometimes wear sunscreen. At least I brush my teeth…

  8. What a brilliant idea for a column AS!! Depression makes it extremely difficult for me to come up w my own morning/evening routine and googling random stuff has always been overwhelming but this might just do the trick in getting me a routine I can stick to! I am so excited to see everyone’s stuff! Thank you thank you thank you!

  9. I really like the idea of this new column and hope maybe it will get me back into having a morning routine beyond “take dogs out and drink coffee while yelling at them to knock off the fucking barking.”

    I’m feeling a lot of the same general malaise right now and I think that’s what is keeping me from getting my shit together.

  10. Hehe so I couldn’t help but compare once I got up this morning since I read this in bed – you have so many amazing products! Everything I put on my face comes from Trader Joe’s or CVS. I salute you.

  11. okay, so because I love writing about routines, I’m writing another comment.

    My morning routine is currently:

    -wake up somewhat late, but because work doesn’t strictly enforce a start time, fall asleep again
    -wake up again, feel stressed about waking up too late
    -deal with being stressed by scrolling through instagram for 20 minutes
    -finally get out of bed
    -brush teeth and boil kettle
    -wash face, (maybe shower if it’s very hot/I didn’t shower the night before/I am extremely groggy) apply toner, serums, moisturiser
    -make instant coffee and get granola bar from kitchen while stuff on my face is sinking in
    -apply sunscreen
    -apply mascara and have breakfast while sunscreen is sinking in
    -apply bb cream, concealer, powder, blush, eyebrow pencil and powder, setting spray and also take breaks to have more of my breakfast
    -panic because it’s really kind of late
    -maybe put on lipstick if I’ve finished eating and am in the mood for it
    -do some random stuff to my hair and put some clean clothes on

    that’s it! I’d actually love to have some quiet time for reading, planning my day etc. in the morning, but so far, I didn’t manage to make that happen. I’m still happy about having a pretty consistent routine and the consistency definitely is something that helps to make me feel more prepared for the day – nevertheless, I’m looking forward to a time when I’ve pulled myself together enough to not eat breakfast while sitting on the bathroom floor and applying my makeup.

  12. I’m always meaning to establish a morning routine, but the snooze button is stronger.
    Whatever it is that my sleepwalking self does in the fifteen minutes it takes to haul itself out the door, though, skincare needs to become a part of it!
    Thanks!

  13. Oh, I just love that this series is beginning. I just have gotten into watching Youtuber’s morning routines -videos for inspiration so this is just the perfect timing for me 🙂 yae! Also, my first comment here. Have been reading this for about a year and a half now.

  14. I don’t know exactly what you’re going thru Carolyn but whatever it is I sympathize. I too went through some shit this year that made it hard to get out of bed in the morning, or really do anything, and funnily enough a few months ago I wrote out my own morning routine so that I wouldn’t have to remember what I had to do every day. It’s working out okay. I gotta get back on the “wake up, get up” thing though…this morning I stayed in bed post-alarm and ended up missing my therapy appointment ?

  15. Thanks for this Carolyn! I love seeing our individuality and personality shine through in our morning routines. I’m also convinced they are excellent indicators in finding that perfect partner 😉

    My mornings are all about self-care, and cultivating gratitude. I wake up crazy early (before 4:45)

    4:45: listen to music in bed for a good 10 minutes to set the tone for my day. Then get up and dance because life is short, and every day is beautiful.

    5:00: Look under covers and determine how much self-care or work is required to overcome today’s dysphoria. If it’s really bad, I sit and meditate on my body and try to appreciate things about it I love. If it’s not a bad day, I leave for the pool.

    5:30-6:30: Workout and swim. Swimming lets me clear my mind, appreciate my body, and feel embraced by the water. It’s my Zen. Now that I am in a good state of mind, I look at my body for some minutes in the gym mirror, admiring how I am changing each day.

    6:45: Shave face and try not to cry. Apply medical grade silver, and then Aveda all sensitive moisturizing to combat redness

    7:00: Make breakfast and lunch/dinner for the day and eat. Lunch is always fresh fruits and veggies with baked tofu and ALWAYS pickles. Breakfast usually two fried eggs, yogurt with a spoonful of local honey to combat allergies, and whole grain something or other. If I’m in a rush, just a protein smoothie. I take my time eating on the patio with my dog and enjoy the morning sunshine. I always, without fail, open The Prophet to a random page, and know that this is what I need to work on that day.

    8:00: Current skincare routine: I always do eye makeup at least, but rarely wear much else. I am a big believer that exercise, diet, WATER, and low stress lead to beautiful skin – then why need makeup? Products change a lot, as I’m still learning what I like. Going to try Saranghae here next month. Not much need for hair at this point – it just kinda naturally does it’s badass thing.

    8:20: Yoga or Tai Chi and choose outfit

    Before 9:00: Leave for work. If it’s a slow day at work, I will stop at a café or park to play some chess first or read.

  16. the girl who makes the wild unknown tarot deck was the girl in my high school that made every other girl in my high school question her sexuality and she was a great writer and a great artist and also played ani on her guitar and she told me i had nice legs and her nose was pierced and she always held hands with her best friends but she’s straight and lives in portland now and it’s fine but also nobody will ever wear a tank top like she wore a tank top

  17. I’m so excited about this column, thank you AS and Carolyn! This was exactly what I needed right now, and tbh always, because I suck at routine and remembering why keeping any semblance of schedule is important/helpful/actually a thing at all. My morning routine most of this summer has been “force myself awake when my alarms have been blaring for hours; scroll on the internet on my phone until i see something that makes me feel the need to get out of bed; change into a different pair of shorts and maybe acquire food,” but i have a lot of morning classes and shifts next semester and I need to get out of the depression/anxiety slump, so I am definitely looking forward to some idea of what other people do for rituals and routines.

  18. I am starting a new job on Monday that will require a long commute, so my morning routine is going to have to shift drastically – I used to leave the house around 8:15 and now I’ll have to leave at 6:30. I may have to cut myself off from the snooze button entirely in order to get my butt out of the house. Thanks for the inspiration and I look forward to this series!

  19. Yes yes yes to all of this! + especially,

    + “intentionally direct positive energy toward my body, when I am so used to directing negative energy toward it instead.” MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    + the oil cleansing method

    + tarot practice as a mental health check

    + your dorky shorts that are very cool indeed!

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