My Skinimalism Routine

it's nothing fancy, but it doesn't steer me wrong

I keep thinking about skinimalism.

I don’t keep my finger on the pulse of consumer trends — at all — so I really have no skin in the game here (pun fully intended). But over the years I have scratched my head at the wonder of how modern society has lured many, many a smart woman I know into the belief that she needs a million potions and elixirs to be viewed as passable in public.

Why is this? Why do we fall prey to this idea by Who Knows (and we all know They are always in charge here) that not only must women always look younger than they are, but they must also continually stay up to date on style trends to stay relevant? It’s one of the most glaring double standards given to the fairer sex (stereotype also fully intended), and yet even the most feminist-persuaded among our kind buy into the lie.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying I think it’s ridiculous to care about how you look. Not at all. I don’t scoff at makeup, doing your hair, assembling outfits, or going the extra mile in your grooming routine if any of these are your thing. I think a basic standard of cleanliness and a certain respectable sartorialism that echoes the day is beyond a decent baseline. I like playing around with my hair and wearing fun earrings (though you can keep your overflowing, vial-filled counters to yourself — the thought makes me break out in hives and thus cancels the entire point of the endeavor).

But to wring our hands with concern that the clothes make the woman or the makeup makes the girl is just …well, a shame. And the fact that a societal weariness at product overload is now being tapped for more product overload, just with the brand name Minimalism™ slapped on it is — well, it would be funny if it weren’t so infuriatingly consumeristic.

We’ve become a culture where we’re defined by what we consume, use, endorse, and spend our money on, and I’m afraid it’s left women bereft of everything that’s better.

I don’t pretend to know what I’m doing here. All I know is that my since-childhood leaning towards a minimal style, a preference for traveling light through the world, and a frugal nature that balks at the price tags on these fountain-of-youth tinctures has led me to some tried-and-true favorites that haven’t steered me wrong yet.

Again, I’m not throwing anyone under the bus if playing with potions is their hobby. But I do think it necessary to add voices to the fray that lean toward thrifty and low-waste. If we vote with our dollars — and I believe wholeheartedly that we do — then we vote for the kind of world we like to see with what we smear on our morning and evening faces.

Here’s what works for me these days. If you lean toward the natural and economical as well, I’d love to hear in the comments if you’ve found stuff that works for you!


Cleaning: Bar soap encased in this sort of contraption, which both gives just the right scrub to work the soap into a lather and allows me to hang dry the soap overnight. I usually pick up whatever low-ingredient, low-package local soap I’m around (farmer’s markets FTW) — right now, though, I’m using this classic French beauty and couldn’t be happier. It’s huge and lasts forever.

Moisturizing: Homemade hair butter. I’ve been using this delightful stuff from MadeOn since 2013, and while I still love the company, I also make my own to save money. I’m still working on my final ratio of ingredients, but I think I lean towards 2 parts shea butter, 2 parts coconut oil, and 1 part beeswax, melted together over a double-boiler. I then stir in sweet orange essential oil (or grapefruit), then pour into a mold and toss in the fridge until completely cool and hard. I’d love to whip it a la this tutorial, but haven’t taken the time yet (I started one time and gave up at about 20 minutes). A tiny bit goes a long way — I dab it on my face in the morning and at night.

Deodorizing: Right now I’m toggling between this stuff from Apple Valley and a Hey Humans! stick in a compostable tube from Target. I thought I’d never call a deodorant delightful, but that’s how I’d describe the stuff from Apple Valley — it works miraculously, yet it’s kinda pricey so I only use it at night post-shower. Also, it doesn’t travel well since it melts. (Oh, and I’m of the school that we over-antiperspirant-ize and that’s been bad for us, both for our health and our collective culture.)


Cleaning: The oil-cleansing method. Can’t stop, won’t stop; it’s been well over a decade now since I discovered this foolproof method of clarifying my face while living in Turkey. It’s about as easy and frugal as it gets — the only difference now from that original 2009 post is that I only do the OCM if I’ve worn makeup that day (which happens only 3-4 times a week, max). If I’ve gone bare for the day, all I do is lightly buff my face with this sort of thing + water in my evening shower.

Moisturizing: See the homemade hair butter, above. I first use either Moroccan Argan or almond oil at night.

Deep cleaning: Every few weeks I’ll make a bentonite clay mask — I’ll mix equal parts clay and apple cider vinegar, toss it on my face, then freak out my boys as it slowly turns to stone (Tate joins me). When it’s fully dry and cracking, I’ll wash it off with warm water + a washcloth, then finish with a splash of cold water and the moisturizing routine above.

Makeup: I can go into more details one day if anyone’s interested, but these days, here’s all that’s in my bag:


Cleaning: I switched to bar shampoo over the pandemic in an effort to cut down on plastic waste, and while there was a bit of transition, I’m now fully on board and can’t imagine going back to liquid shampoo (I no longer do poo-free). I’ve tried a number and have come to the conclusion that there are lots of good bar shampoos but you have to sample a variety to find what works for you. These days, I’m a fan of this bar from Acure.

Conditioning: I spray my hair with a concoction of one part apple cider vinegar, three parts water, and about 10-15 drops of either lavender or rosemary oil. Shake well, then spray on wet, clean hair. Let it rest for about a minute, then rinse.

Smoothing: See the homemade hair butter, above. I’m telling you, this is my Windex.


Cleaning: Right now I’m a fan of my Hey Humans! Toothpaste + silk floss + bamboo toothbrush situation. I also started brushing using the Bass technique during the pandemic and my teeth feel much cleaner. Who knew? (Not me, but maybe you did.)

*not technically skin, but thought you might be curious in a collection like this

This is pretty much all I use — it’s frugal, travels well, and keeps my repertoire pretty clutter-free. I’ve truly gotten rid of everything but the above, and it’s just how I like it. It’s simple.

I suppose I’ll also add: drinking tons of water throughout the day, walking as much as I can, and sleeping with an eye mask + mouth taping for better deep sleep.

…This is about it on my end. I’d love to know if you have thoughts on the skincare industry, the trend of skinimalism, or most of all — if you’ve found a tried-and-true method or tool that works well for your skin situation. Do share!

Oremus pro invicem,