The Minimalist Beauty Routine

The rush to get ready in the morning is stressful. So is trying to look put together and alive when you have kids pulling on you. I believe it is important to look our best both at home and at work or in public. It encourages a sense of empowerment and confidence. It also establishes a healthy pattern of accomplishment in our day. If I don’t get up and get “ready for the day” it effects the rest of my day. I feel sluggish and lazy and I believe that is reflected in my actions as well. Even if I know I will be home all day with the kids and see no one else, I still make a point to dress nicely, do my makeup, and fix my hair. It brings me energy and my day is approached with purpose.

However, I do not want to spend hours getting ready in the morning. I simply do not have the time to do that. Nor do I think hours in front of the mirror is healthy. So I have come up with my own minimalist beauty routine and some ideas for yours! If you want suggestions on how to quickly dress your best in the morning without rummaging through clothes that don’t go together, see my blog on The Minimalist Wardrobe.

Okay, let’s get started!

Hair

Here’s the thing I’ve discovered with hair and pretty much everything else: the more product we use and the more often we use it, the more product we need. Commercial shampoos strip our hair of natural oils. The result is that our scalp over produces to try to make up for the loss and we’re left with greasy hair. Also, because we strip out the natural oils, we then need to use a conditioner. We then blow dry our hair or use hot irons and this causes our hair to break and frizz. So then we MUST blow it dry and add frizz control or it’s a frizzy untamed mess! We add numerous other types of product which result in lots of build up in our hair. All this washing, drying, styling, adding product is not only expensive but takes a lot of our time! Here’s my minimalist solution:

-Start using a natural shampoo bar and force yourself to throw out (or at least put away for a time until you decide you no longer need them!) all other hair products and heat styling!

Natural shampoo bars gently wash away dirt and excess oils without stripping your hair. Although there is an adjustment period (and I’m not going to lie, those who go through it need t-shirts that say, “I survived my hair’s adjustment period”) of a few weeks, the result is well worth it! What happens is, after your scalp freaks out for a few weeks as it tries to learn how to produce normal amounts of oil again, your hair stops becoming greasy so quickly. Also, you most likely will not need to condition it because your natural oils do that. If you stay away from heat, your hair will reach a point where it no longer needs a blow dryer or flat iron to look polished. I can pretty much guarantee you, your hair will be the healthiest it’s ever been and very easy to manage! I wash my hair now only once a week! And I don’t walk around with greasy hair;  my hair is just much healthier than it use to be. I don’t put anything else in it. Styling it, for my hair type, just means combing it in place while it’s wet and letting it air dry. I never would have dreamed I could do that back even a year ago. I have straight hair, but I have heard from others that this works beautifully in curly hair too, making curls shine and easy to manage.

Here are some other tips for hair:

  • Have only 3-4 signature hairstyles. Make your life simpler by not having to stand in front of the mirror trying to figure out how to wear your hair every day. Choose three or four simple hair styles that you like and go with one of those each day. You can choose three different “moods” if you like and match it to whatever you wear that day. For example, with long hair, you might do a tight top knot, hair down or partially pulled up with a clip, and a loose, elegant low side bun. Wear the top knot with edgy clothing and the side bun with a feminine blouse or skirt. Or mix it up! Three hair styles can give you quite a variety of looks!
  • Consider cutting/trimming your own hair. I know, it sounds daunting. But there are actually a lot of simple ways to do really cute haircuts on yourself! Sometimes it’s as simple as a ponytail placement and chop. Look on Youtube for some ideas if you are interested.
  • Wash your hair in the evening and sleep with your hair twisted into a bun or braided to create heatless curls or waves. This is a great way to keep your hair healthy by keeping it away from heat but also enjoy waves and curls. It takes much less time than curling your hair as well! A simple google search will land you tutorials from accomplishing beach waves to lose ringlets while you sleep.

Face

Just like with hair, washing my face and putting on makeup use to take a lot of time. When I began to head down the path towards minimalism, I counted my items in my makeup bag and was shocked that I had 12 different items that I used every day! No wonder it took so long. I didn’t want to go without makeup but I definitely wanted to cut down…way down. Now I only use four items on a normal day and it takes only five minutes.

This is my new, minimalist makeup routine:

  1. Dust on mineral powder foundation. Powder is so much easier to use than a liquid and never causes strange smears or smudges. For covering blemishes or under the eyes, just put a dab of powder on your finger and put on those areas so it goes on a bit thicker.
  2. Define your cheek bones with mineral powder blush. You can of course go as minimalist as you want, down to no makeup at all, but for me, I felt like the blush was important. I apply it very lightly from my ear down my cheeks, just under my cheek bone. It defines your cheeks and adds more to the look than you’d think!
  3. Apply mascara. If you wear any makeup, an eye makeup should be the one you choose! Your eyes should stand out most! Don’t wear red lipstick but apply nothing to your eyes unless you want everyone staring at your lips…which would just be awkward.
  4. Finish off with a few dabs of mineral powder eye shadow. I use a deep earthy tone that compliments my blue eyes. I apply it with my finger just to the outer corners of my eyes, smoothing it both inward and out a bit for an ever-so-slight “smokey eye” look.

And there you have it. Sometimes when I go out, I put on one of Burt’s Bees tinted chap sticks.

To clean my face, I no longer use soaps, toners, and makeup removers. I simply use a microfiber cloth and water. I like the Body Cloths from Norwex. They remove dirt, cleaning pores and even exfoliating the skin without stripping the skin of it’s natural oils. They also remove makeup beautifully. I use a light moisturizer after I wash my face with the cloth, but that’s because I live in such a dry climate. It is the same concept as with hair: when you don’t strip your skin of it’s natural oils, it’s healthier and shinier on it’s own.

Body

Here’s a breakdown of what I do to keep things simple:

  • Hands: We use about 1 teaspoon of Castile soap watered down in a foam pump for hand washing. It also does not strip oils and keeps us from having to use a lot of lotion.
  • Body: It’s true, I only shower once a week. But I don’t stink! In the shower I use Castile soap in a foam pump. During the week I use a microfiber cloth and take a bird bath or two. For extra moisture in the winter, I use coconut oil. In the summer, because I don’t strip the oil off my skin, I don’t use any moisturizer.
  • Teeth: We make our own toothpaste with just water, baking soda, and about a teaspoon of sea salt for the minerals.
  • Deodorant: We also make our own deodorant with coconut oil and baking soda. Melt and mix and apply! I make about 4 oz at a time. It works wonderfully.
  • Shaving: I bought a battery operated electric razor. It’s so simple to use wet or dry and I’m not constantly buying new razors. The batteries have to be replaced, but only about every six months.

I hope these tips can help you look and feel your best…even if you only have 10 minutes to get ready in the morning!

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29 comments

  1. You’re writing about exactly the kind of things I wish I had the energy to write about! It sounds like we have a very similar approach. I’d love to hear what you do about this kitchen as that’s been my latest focus of simplifying. I feel like clothes, laundry, personal care stuff are under control for me, doing basically what you are doing, but keeping the kitchen clean and 4 people fed every day is too much!

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  2. Do you exercise? I run 5 times a week and can’t imagine not showering after a run, my hair and body are all sweaty and gross.

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  3. May I ask what shampoo bar you like best? I started the minimalist lifestyle a year ago…. And am still purging. Your blog is so very encouraging! Thank you:)

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    • I personally was overwhelmed by the many different types of bars so I went to Whole Foods where there was only ONE shampoo bar and bought that one :). It’s Jr Liggett’s Old Fashion Shampoo Bar. I’m sure there are many fantastic bars out there!

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  4. HUGE yes to the shampoo bars! I already make soap as a home business, so I added a couple to my line …and of course, had to test them before I sold them, doubtful as to whether they’d really work. After a month of regular use, turns out I love them! My hair, which before was flat and oily, is now full of body and has a natural wave to it. No more shampoo bottles to throw in the recycling, and they last a long time with proper care (using a soap dish that drains and keeping it out of the shower stream). One less thing on the shopping list always makes me happy.

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  5. I used the JR Liggetts bar for a couple of months and my hair always felt weighted down and oily the next day. How long did it take your hair to adjust? I’m back on a natural liquid shampoo for now.

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    • I felt like it took a solid two-three months! But I don’t think one shampoo bar is right for every hair type. Now that your hair has adjusted to natural shampooing, I’d suggest trying some different bars to see which one works for your hair.

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    • I use that same exact shampoo bar (for about 5 years now) and if my hair starts to feel a little weighted I just rinse with vinegar. I think it helps dissolve the soap build up???

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    • Water makes a HUGE difference with a shampoo bar –if you have hard water, you will likely find a shampoo bar (or any kind of natural soap vs. detergent) will leave some residue. If you can’t get soft water somehow (water softeners are expensive, but there are shower filters that do the job adequately), I’ve read that adding a little baking soda to the lather might work, or using an apple cider vinegar/water rinse occasionally works as well to combat the residue/heaviness.

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  6. Great post and I agree with your regimen. Would you tell me what brand of battery-powered electric shaver you use? TIA!

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  7. I started using a paste of baking soda & water as a wash, and 50-50 vinegar & herbal tea (for the scent, really– you could use vinegar & water) as a conditioner… Wonderful! The soda is slightly basic, so it de-greases, but not too much, and the vinegar rinse is slightly acid so it tames the hair back down. Super cheap, super easy, nice & green… What’s not to like? 🙂 And it needn’t be any vinegar other than distilled, either. It’s the acidity that the hair likes… I learned from being a knitter/spinner that protein fibers (wool, silk, & hair!) are strongest & happiest when dry and in mildly acid environments, and cellulose fibers (plant based) are strongest & happiest when wet and in mildly alkaline environments.
    Try it out!

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    • Jenny, that’s what I use to do before using the shampoo bar. I loved the ease and cheapness of it, but started noticing that my hair was getting too dry and breaking. Then I researched and found others saying the same. I guess it has something to do with the baking soda being too alkaline.

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      • Ah. That could be. I have quite a short cut, and am growing it out, so maybe I’ll have to switch as it gets longer. Although when I do use regular shampoo, the vinegar rinse is still the ticket! 🙂 It works on wool sweaters, too– cuts down on the itch factor. Rinse in vinegar, then use regular conditioner meant for people on your wool, and the itch really goes away. My skin is quite sensitive to wool, so I can still feel it, but not near as bad.
        Anyway. Love your blog! I’ll be coming back! 🙂

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  8. I tried a shampoo bar from Chagrin Valley Soap (the one they make specifically for scalp conditions like psoriasis & seborrheic dermatitis), but had crazy buildup of oil and gunk on my scalp, plus my dermatitis went haywire along with the scalp and had a feeding frenzy on all the extra oil 😦 I tried the baking soda & vinegar routine, but that made my hair crispy (kid you not! I was so bummed), even when increasing the vinegar to counteract the harshness of the baking soda. Added to THAT, I color my hair (who wants to be 50% gray at 30? Not me!), and both the shampoo bar and the baking soda/vinegar mix stripped my hair color completely. My hair went from a lovely dark brown to a gawdawful bright orangey yellow. Natural shampoos seem to have the same effect–either they are too moisturizing/heavy, and simply “coat’ my hair & scalp, causing an extreme flareup of my dermatitis, or they strip everything, including the color! Anyone else have these issues, or are shampoo bars merely for those without gray hair & scalp conditions?

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    • Sorry you haven’t found anything that works for your specific hair and scalp! I have a couple ideas you could try. First, you may want to get a filter for your shower head. This can cut down on any buildup if you are having trouble with that which could, in turn, help your dermatitis. Another idea is to use a shampoo bar and then also rinse with apple cider vinegar. ACV has anti-inflammatory properties that could also help your scalp. The pH is very similar to your hair and scalp so it’s not harsh. Hope you find something that works!

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      • Thanks, Janie! I’ll look into filters once I move this fall. I’ll have to check into bars again, and then combine them with ACV and see what happens. Off to question Chagrin Valley about my unique combination of problems (thanks, mom and dad, for the dermatitis & early-graying genes!).

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    • Hi. I have gluten intolerance, found about it 6 years ago and did a lot of research about it then. There are those who belive that gluten intolerance could be the culprit behind early grayening of hair. As to a lot of skin conditions (as psoriasis)! Don’t know if the gray hair thing is reversable if you switched to a gluten free diet but your skin issues should at least improve. Just a thought, you might want to look it up!

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  9. I feel your pain. It may just be the soaps. I tried samples of nearly all the Chagrin Valley Soaps and they didn’t work out for me. I had problems similar to what you experienced. I finally found a soap at a nearby soap shop and I was fine. I know that doesn’t help you but I also found another brand that is sold online that I can use – Basin Soaps (http://www.basin.com/shampoo-bars/). I had used another brand I can’t recall but it had wheat protein and I am allergic to that. My point is try other brands, they might work for you. Good luck!

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  10. I have just found your blog and have been reading through your articles and blog posts — I wish I would have found this blog years ago… many of my trials and errors concerning learning to live a minimalistic lifestyle. And there are small tips I am picking up from you. One thing I wanted to mention – I do continue to shower most days, though they are super short showers, so I don’t have a bad conscience. I make my own soap from lye and coconut oil and olive oil and use it to wash my body and hair. Then after I shower I put a tiny bit of olive oil in my hands and run it through my hair as conditioner. I’ve been doing this for 3 – 4 years now and love how strong my hair us, how healthy it looks. Have you heard of others using olive oil?

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  11. Oops — I meant to say that many of the trials and errors WOULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED….. sorry for that mistake. — Nicola

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  12. I have used rye flour mixed with a little water that I would mix into a paste in my hand, then massaged into the scalp for shampoo. It doesn’t really get any cheaper than that! It worked great to strip the oil but maintain a healthy PH as opposed to drying baking soda, and then I would rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar. I had to stop because I lived in a 100+ year old house and I was worried about clogging the drain! I used to make my deodorant, similar to yours but I couldn’t wear black because it would stain my pits! As for a natural deodorant you can wear with black clothing, I mix alcohol with essential oil like lavender and spritz ze pits after a shower. It works wonders, is very light and lasts. Also castor oil is really healing for women’s bodies for a variety of reasons, and coconut oil makes the best lube: Anti viral, anti bacterial, smells delicious, doubles as a massage oil and eatable! (Only catch is that oil tends to break down condoms, so that combo doesn’t work.)

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  13. Thanks for the tips! I agree, mineral/powder make up is so much easier. I used to use bare minerals but now I’m hooked on Bobbi Brown’s new weightless powder foundation, the formulation is soo natural and has slightly more coverage. I was wondering how your homemade toothpaste works over time? Any more prone to cavities?

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  14. Hi, thank you for this post! I just want to testify what benefits there are to a beauty routine like this. I’m 36, soon to be 37 and grew up with and still use a similar routine. Every single person I meet is chocked to learn my age. They belive me to be 20/22 (if they were only polite they would reduce my age by less years, not 15 don’t you think 😉 ). I have basically no wrinkles and shiny healthy hair. My intention is absolutely not to brag. But to prove/testify that this type of routine is not just simpler, but also pay off on your looks.

    I found out about and switched to natural/organic beauty products in 2009 but before that I still used as little and mild products as possible. My routine is not exactly this way, but some version of it. Suffice to say that less is definetly more 🙂

    I would like to share a tip though – which is to use a classic safety razor for shaving. Great result and they are so pretty too.

    As to some comments here: I have always used olive oil as a hair mask, once or twice a year. For me its a bit too greasy to use on a regular basis, but is a wonderful deep treatment. Although I find I need this less since I switched to natural products. On a regular basis I use a dab of almond oil – smells nice and absorbs quickly, doesn’t leave a greasy feeling.

    One last beauty secret: argan oil. Brand is of no importance but being 100% pure, cold pressed and organic is. I dab a tiny amount around my eye area (sometimes all over my face) at night after face wash, instead of a moisurizer.

    Again – thank you for a nice blog!

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