27 February 2015

Body Care, Simplified

Clean face towel / orange blossom floral water / organic argan oil / home made deodorant / coconut oil

Eight months after the beginning of my shopping fast experiment, dealing with my beauty product stocks and researching natural alternatives, here is a short overview of my current body care routine, along with a quick explanation of how I got there, in case you are also looking to simplify your beauty routine.

I have never been a beauty afficionado, partly because my mother also wasn't, and taught me that natural beauty was the most flattering after all. So please be warned that this post may sound dull to many. But as I changed my routine during my simplification journey, I thought it might be interesting for you to read my reasoning and process, even if my routine itself may not suit your skin and lifestyle.

Paring Down

First, I used the overall experiment of the Shopping Fast to pare down my bathroom closet:
  • I made an initial inventory of everything I have and threw everything out of date, dirty, funky...
  • I put on the bathroom shelf all the products for daily use, reunited weekly products together (mainly nail care), and stored the backup products in a dedicated box where I systematically look before making a purchase list. If I have backup, I don't buy any new product of this type.
  • For six months, I used everything I have without buying anything new, to drop the stocks down
  • When I finished a product, I didn't replace it at first, and went a few weeks without it to see if I really needed it in my routine.
  • In the end, I came up with a list of steps that seemed important to me (I noticed the difference in a negative way when I removed that step from my routine)

That's  the important part, that helped a lot redefine my body care routine: I defined important steps, rather than indispensable products, because, when considering which product to use for this step, I was going from my need, rather than from a product. It leaves the field open to test several products and find the adequate one for my skin.

So, once my stock was pared down and important steps identified, I started researching methods, products and habits to redefine my simplified beauty routine.

The Adequate Routine

Before anything else, I asked myself what  adequate body care habits were for me:
  • I have little time to spare for this - so it had to be quick
  • I travel a lot - so it had to use as few products as possible
  • Yet I want this moment to feel a connection with my body and take care of it
  • I wanted the products themselves to be as natural as possible and avoid uncertain chemicals
  • I wanted affordable products as beauty isn't where I want to spend my resources

These points helped narrow the research, and find solutions that tend towards these goals. I looked into natural beauty blogs and brands, searched for "all in one" products which could serve several purposes, always went for the simplest options (with as few ingredients as possible), and looked at traditional methods - after all, women used to take care of their body long before brands told us "pre-serums" were a must in our beauty routine...

My Daily Routine

As a result of all this process above, here is my current body care routine. It is satisfactory for me now, but I'm leaving a flexibility for future changes, to accompany the evolution of my body and its needs.

  • 1. Freshen Up - I like to start the day by freshening up my face. I find it helps feeling more awake, and it kickstarts my morning routine. I use reusable cottons with orange blossom floral water over my face and neck. The smell of this water is divine, and herbalists say it helps with dry or sensitive skin, which mine is becoming with age.

  • 2. Hydrate - After the shower, before make-up, my skin needs some form of hydration, which used to be the day cream. I now use plain argan oil, organic.  The cheapest I found comes from the French website Aroma Zone, 60€ for 1 liter. I like to take the time to massage my face after warming the oil between my hands, as a morning ritual of personal care.

  • 3. Apply Deodorant - I did try to stop using deodorant altogether. How do you know if that's efficient, if you have always worn some? Well, it is. But I found a recipe based on coconut oil, cornstarch powder and baking soda, that works quite as well as a regular deodorant.

  • 4. Remove Make-up - As you may have guessed, this is the first step of my evening routine. For this, I use coconut oil, stolen from my kitchen cupboard. In winter, it is solid, as shown on the picture above, so I warm it up between my palms before massaging my face with a generous amount of it. It is actually extremely efficient at removing any trace of make-up. Then I put the white towel under very hot water (or cold in summer), and remove any trace of oil from my face with it. I find comfort in that warmth in winter. I usually hydrate my skin with argan oil after that, before going to bed.

There is more to my overall body care of course, including daily showers, occasional black soap scrubs, and body massages with argan oil, but that's the daily routine part of it. It might seem like very little to some of you, but keep in mind my routine has never been complex in the first place. 

Simplifying your own routine doesn't mean paring it down to so few products. Hopefully the short process explanations above can help you figuring out which are the adequate steps and products for your own skin, lifestyle and preferences.


  1. I love this post!
    I've been very into such products, too. Unfortunately, I have seborrhea sicca. It's not a skin sickness, it just means that my skin is both dry and oily at the same time, which means that stuff like Argan oil just sits there, while my skin underneath the oily film dries just further out. Completely oilfree (like with aloe vera only) is, on the other hand, too oilfree for this princess and the pea (and dear god is this stuff sticky :( ). I found a good simple moisturizing serum and a simple day cream and mix them toghether. It's not so bad because I can adjust to the seasons with using only two products.
    I use simple natural products for the rest of my body. It's really true that everyone has to find their own routine and it's not a shame if natural products don't work for everybody or any part of the body. My before mentioned two facial products, as well as my facial cleanser are products for very sensitive skin, and they have a simple short list of ingredients, but they are not what you would call natural cosmetics...
    Kali, do you practice minimalism with makeup, too? I would love to read about that!

    1. Oh and you have to watch out if the baking soda deodorant leaves lighter stains on your clothes. It doesn't happen to all users, but still it can be very annoying. I even simplified the deodorant even further, I only mix baking soda and shea butter 1:1, works like a dream and stays creamy even in summer. I also found out that the body gets used to less or no deodorant when left alone for some time. It took me some months (I started to use deo with alcohol instead of aluminium, then I gradually switched to an alcoholfree (and aluminium free) deo, then I went mostly deo free in winter) but I stink less and when I keep my armpits well shaven and shower with water only every day, I don't need a deo in winter :)

    2. Thanks for sharing your own experience! I would imagine the efficiency of products vastly depends on your skin type indeed. Regarding your make-up question, as for body care I never had a complex routine in the first place, again, my mother's routine was simple and I probably got influenced by that in what a "normal" product is supposed to be.

      The thing with make-up is, I don't know if I'm using it wrong, but it seems to never wear out. I'm using a black eyeliner from Bourjois that I bought in 2010 or so... I replace mascara less than once a year, and the make-up palette I use daily (Naked 2) is starting to show signs of use for my favourite colours after 3 years. Where I'm going with this, is that since my make-up doesn't get finished, I don't replace it. So I've been using the same products for quite a while now, and didn't have the chance to replace my daily products at all lately. I have been looking at more natural brands though, for example for my next mascara as it seems to be the one that wears out most quickly. I also tested natural brands of nail polish. But all in all, my make up routine has been more or less the same for the past 10 years, and I don't see a reason to change what works for me. I can make a post about what products I'm using if you are intersted, but it's probably going to be ordinary, and with old, well-known products :)

      And for the deo, yes I've heard about stains, and from a thread of comments I read on a blog, it seems to be linked to using too much product actually. So from the start I've been using little product for each application, and no stains to be seen so far, even on the lightest coloured tops!

    3. I'd still love to see it, maybe on instagram :) (I'm missing some minimal makeup role models, maybe you could become one! The internet is full of full faces - highlighters and bronzers and foundation and 456 different brushes everywhere. Can't find any normal faces any more?)

    4. Haha I see what you mean! I'm not sure I can live up to being a "make-up role model" as I take these things very lightly and have no expertise whatsoever. Some people may have a heart attack listening to my habits. But I'm keeping that in mind, I can show the products I use and the make-up habits I have. It's just going to be boring :)

  2. Thanks for sharing your routine!
    I actually tried giving up deodorant as well, which didn't work out, and then tried out Soapwalla's deodorant cream as a replacement... after a few weeks of that experiment I decided that I play too many sports and am a little too active to go without an antiperspirant :/
    but I agree with you that you don't know if you actually need something until you try going without it for a bit!

    1. Ah I guess this depends on each and every one of us indeed. I heard a lot about soapwalla, but given how annoying it is to get it here in France, I tried the home-made version instead, which works well for me even when I practice sports. But you're right, the idea is to try out things and go for the option that works best for you

  3. I love reading about people's beauty routines, and your reasoning about how to choose beauty products and structure your routine is so great! I'm trying to overhaul and simplify my beauty routine (I have a lot of products that I just don't use, so it's time to edit them out), and I probably need to do a little reflection to figure out what's important to me.

    What recipe did you end up using for your deodorant? Would you consider sharing it?

    1. Good luck with your edits then! This can be a fun process, I enjoyed it at least :)
      My deodorant recipe is quite easy: I mix in cornstarch powder and baking soda half half (I use 3 table spoons each). Then I liquefy the coconut oil by warming the glass jar in a boiling water pan. Then, when the oil is liquid, I slowly add it in while stirring until the consistance is creamy. At the end, I add a few drops of teatree and mint essential oils, but that's optional (and I read some people actually didn't tolerate essential oils well on their skin). I hope it helps!

  4. Similar story! My mom was more au natural & tomboyish so she wasn't too big on makeup (or teaching me) outside of a few events! To this day, I just rely on taking care of my skin rather than beauty products because I'm not too experienced with cosmetics. Eyeliner, mascara, & maybe lipstick, done. lol. Loved this. (:

    ♥ | http://www.connect-the-cloths.com | xoxo

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Nice to know! I wonder if being raised by a mother who prefers a natural routine influences our own choices and habits as an adult. I also certainly put more emphasis on body care than make-up itself...

    3. Oops, I must have accidentally deleted my post? I wondered about if one's attitude towards cosmetics has something to do with our parent's/siblings' attitude as well as if it is closely linked with our body image (in both directions). I observed for example some women who decided to pare down the products used and/or letting their natural hair color grow out and becoming so mich more content and body positive than before.

    4. This is a good question actually. I can't really generalize to all women, but as far as I'm concerned, and from what I can see around me, I definitely think we are influenced by adult women's behavior around us when we are children/teenagers. And most adult women we see as children are our mother, maybe some aunts if we see them often enough.

      In my case, both my mother and my aunt were very natural oriented. Where make-up is concerned, it isn't only about habits (my mother never used foundation so I never considered it mandatory to use any either, as a result I never used foundation in my life); but it is also about the mindset toward her body and beauty. The fact that she didn't use much make-up instilled the idea that appearances aren't that important, no pressure about being "beautiful" and this probably generated a higher self acceptance for sure. Of course I've dieted and wanted to lose weight like any girl my age - as there are a lot of influences around teenagers to be thinner - but yes, I believe my mother's relaxed attitude toward her own appearance probably helped shape a healthier self esteem for myself as well. I even remember not understanding why my step mother, who appeared in my life during my teenage years, used so many products - foundation, blush, a lot of perfume and make-up, fake nails... I thought it made her look older than she was, and fake, which is a proof that my mindset toward make-up was probably influenced by my mother's habits.

      I'm wondering if this is maybe a state of mind that helps being in peace with getting older, too. I'm not old enough to feel the social pressure of it yet (I don't have white hair nor many wrinkles yet), but as she got older, my mother never really cared about looking younger. She does dye her hair (with natual henne products), but apart from that, she's never been big on anti-age products, she never even considered botox or any similar procedures, and she's always been thought younger than her age. Like she aged well you know, maybe partly because she always accepted her ageing body, and made the most of it by remaining natural. I admit I hope to inherit of that mindset as well in the coming decades...

    5. Our social environments do shape us more than we might think. Apart from my au naturel mother, I grew up in a quite feminist peer group and I never worried about my weight or a bit of acne or anything and studying sociology afterwards did the rest. I'm really thankful of that, because it doesn't seem to be normal like I used to think (or, in fact, I hardly ever thought about it at all). In the last couple of years, I mixed more with more body conscious women and I really was shocked about some cases. I do admit that one of them is my secret little project (INFJ that I am), verbally cuddling some better state of mind into her, pushing her gently out of that mask and wall she set up. Cosmetics and makeup surely are a good thing, if they're used as an afterthought, but not if they are used as a mask and sole identity. I often wonder if pairing down cosmetics often can be harder than decluttering our homes. It often has to do with accepting what we are and what we look like.
      Even my au naturel mother has had a hard time when she became allergic to hair dye some years ago. It meant accepting her gray/white strands. But how positively different she looks now! Even though she used a color very similar to her natural one. Even though so many people think one looks younger with dyed hair. Her hair now is this salt&pepper gray you can see with many mediterranean women. Her skin glows, her eyes sparkle and she looks so elegant. When I look at older pictures of her, I can't believe, she ever did this to herself.
      A body positive mindset isn't something you inherit only, much of it is actually selfmade. Avoiding certain magazines and TV shows, throwing out your scales (and go by gut feeling only), reading books like Bodies by Susie Orbach to understand the mind/society/body-connection better - and definitely thinking over one's beauty products, rituals, attitude. I personally think that you will totally nail that going older thing! :D

    6. It's true that most of our body image and attitude depends on surroundings, education, but also what we decide to do about it once we are conscious and thinking adults. You know, there is a debate about marketing, ads etc. among my social circle: should consumers be held responsible for being so influenced by ads in their life, their self esteem, their choices? And body image is a part of these influences. As we are all adults, shouldn't it be our own responsibility to take our life in our own hands and make the necessary arrangements to break free from these preconceptions as much as possible? But on the other hand, marketing is using a lot of concepts from human psychology and they are manipulating us on a subconscious level, so shouldn't this be restricted as well? My personal opinion is both, actually, but it's a complicated debate, especially when it comes to body image, and all that comes with it (anorexia for example).

  5. I discovered a product when I was in Italy called Bionike Shower Shampoo. It is an all-in-one shampoo and bodywash with no dyes, fragrance, etc., especially formulated for sensitive skin. I really love it and it means I only need one product in the shower (it's gentle enough that I don't even need hair conditioner anymore.)

    1. Ah nice to know, thanks for sharing! Bodywash is something I haven't replaced yet, as I still have bottles of the Body Shop's shower cream bought over 8 months ago. But this kind of product would certainly interest me once I deplete my current sotcks.

    2. Did you know that you can use simple soap too? One bar for all :) It's abit hit and miss though, some people can use whatever soap they can get, others like me have to try different ingredie ts (my hair doesn't want coconut and olive oil, so I make my own soap with babassu and rice oil). Beware of shampoo bars (like those from lush) they are not soap, but just solid shampoo. Still a good thing, though! Just not soap.

    3. Ah I'm very skeptical about solid soap. I've used the traditional Marseilles soap in the past as my father lives in Southern France and I have access to the original product, and I found it unhygienic (sitting here in a damp bathroom all day long, open to germs) and leaving my skin dry and uncomfortable. So I'll probably try out some liquid formulas, but if I can find something that works for body, face and hair I'm in :)

    4. 1) Soap is germ free. It's so alkane, no germ would dare setting foot on it. Of course, it has to have to opportunity to dry well, but just so that it won't lose its shape.
      2) There are soaps, and there are soaps. Basically, soap is made like this: You take oils and fats (olive oil or shea butter for example), melt them and pour sodioum hydroxide (dissolved in water) to this oilstuff. The chemical reaction that follows results into soap. If you take more oil than the sodium hydroxide can "make" into soap, you get some loose oils that make the soap much milder. This is something that is only possible since the invention of very precise scales. In the old days (like, traditional Marseille soap days or Aleppo soap days) people didn't have those scales. They also couldn't use chemically pure sodium hydroxide, but they used potash and similar stuff instead. Which is a problem because you never now if there was enough fat to use up all the sod.hyd. or if (dangerous!) there is sod.hyd. left in the soap. The solution was, put salt into that goo so that all the impurities and remaining bases separate from the hard soap (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_soap). This is how Aleppo soap and Marseille soap - and actually every cheap supermarket soap is still made. In supermarket soap you will find additional oils and glycerin put back again, but they still just aren't as nice as hand made soaps you can find on the internet and often on farmers markets :) They are usually with about 5-15% more oil than the sod.hyd. can process into soap, so they are usually very nurturing. My oily skin would crumple away with hard soaps like the Marseille, but my hand made soaps are just gorgeous. (When I use them for my hair, I always rinse with 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice diluted in 1 litre of warm water, this is important)
      Dr. Bronner offers liquid soaps, but they might be totally different from the "real shampoo soaps" you can find on the internet, the solid ones are mostly like hard soaps in my experience.
      But of course, soaps are not for everyone. Even if you get the "real stuff", there's a chance you still don't like it. But maybe one of the other readers gets interested! :D
      Oh and hey, have you tried washing your hair with baking soda ("no poo method")? Works like a dream for a lot of people, especially ones with shorter hair and dryer skin. Sorry for spamming around, but hair care and growing my hair incredibly long once was quite a hobby of mine... And I still love making soap.

    5. I can't tell you how bad I feel, babbeling on and on - but have you compared the ingredients of shampoos, shower gels and face gels? Basically, they are just the same. You have water and a detergent like sodium laureth sulfate (or coco glucoside) and then follows a bunch of helpers (active ingredients like plant essences, thickener, perfume, preservative). The helpers are adjusted to... sensitive skin or greasy hair. But in fact, as long as a mild shampoo doesn't contain silicone, you can use it wherever you like. Your face gets washed with shampoo automatically anyway, as does the rest of your body, when you rinse it out (at least your back). Sometimes, using a nice mild shampoo for the whole body doesn't do the trick, but it mostly does. Using separate products for this and that mostly is good for economic growth, but not necessarily important for our skin.
      (Oh my god, someone please gag me!)

    6. Thanks for all these details! I still have quite a bit of stock of both shampoo and shower gel so I have time to do more research, buy some samples here and there before I make up my mind on what works best for me once everything is depleted. Thanks for all the input, you seem to have done a great deal of research around this topic :)

  6. Thanks for sharing such a useful information about daily care of body and your own body care routine. Thanks for the useful and wonderful post.

  7. beautiful....ultimate....and usefule info

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