I might as well admit to being quite vain – especially when it comes to my skin and my hair, both of which I obsessively pamper. Doing this in a minimalist fashion means making the most out of your looks without spending much money, using as few products and gadgets as possible, in a way that is truly nourishing, and, in addition, friendly to the environment. Is there such a routine, then? Yes, there certainly is – but finding your way to truly minimalist beautification does require a very critical stance towards both conventional and alternative beauty industries.
There is a fortune to be made out of making people in general – and women in particular – feel bad about their appearances. It’s insanely lucrative for a vast number of industries to try to convince us that we need to consume costly tinctures, supplements and treatments in order to look good – or to prevent us from deteriorating at the speed of light, should we happen to be content at the moment.
It can be quite hard to resist the alarmist, pseudo-scientific arguments put forth. Do bear in mind that many studies “proving” the benefits of certain products or procedures are funded by the industries themselves. According to legitimate science, though, it appears that preventing water to evaporate from hair and skin by locking it in with something fatty can be a good idea – but it doesn’t much matter how you do it.
In other words, spending a fortune on luxurious products claiming to do this and that is unnecessary. This is true no matter if you rely on chemical-laden, big pharma-produced ointments in fancy containers, or if you buy colloidal oats that you grind yourself and mix with organic argan oil. The latter may be better for the environment, but the propaganda behind each alternative is similar, engineered only to appeal to different consumer-populations.
First of all, then, minimalist hair- and skin care is about accepting your appearance as it is. If your hair is curly, getting it straight will undoubtedly be more expensive and time-consuming than embracing its natural way. If it’s thin and straight, trying to manage a voluminous hairdo will be next to impossible. Instead, minimalist beauty means that you learn to love, and make the most out of, what you were given. However challenging this may be, so is a lifetime of fighting nature. I, for one, have learnt that keeping my hair long requires the least money and attention, while, at the same time, awarding me the greatest pleasure. I do have a slightly alarming head of thick and wavy hair, but when it’s really long, it tends to behave quite well. Whenever I make the mistake of experimenting with a shorter style, however, I end up needing products such as wax or balm to tame it. Now, I use absolutely nothing and go to the hairdresser once a year.
Secondly, you need to identify any health- and lifestyle factors contributing to beauty-related problems you may experience. If you suffer from dry skin, brittle hair, puffiness, dark circles under the eyes, or the like, it’s probably due to a combination of stress, hormonal imbalances, insufficient sleep and poor diet. As frustrating as this may sound, there are no shortcuts to eating well, sleeping at least 7-8 hours a night and getting enough exercise. Especially when it comes to acne, psoriasis, eczema and the like, I can’t even begin to describe the potential benefits of a strictly ketogenic diet. There is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the treatment of such ailments by way of keto-food. If you suffer from any skin condition, please look at some of these inspiring examples.
Finally, I thought I’d share mine and Kristoffer’s minimalist face- hair- and skin care routine. Having tried a number of trending, exclusive oils, such as argan oil and raspberry seed oil, we ended up favouring the far less costly and fashionable sunflower oil. Sunflower oil has excellent qualities when it comes to preserving moisture in skin and hair. What’s more, is that it’s very cheap and easy to come by. It costs about one euro a litre at the grocery store. Yes – it’s the same one you use for cooking, although we absolutely do not recommend eating it, since it contains too much Omega 6. After a cold shower – we’ll get back to the benefits of cold showers in later posts – we rub sunflower oil onto our faces and bodies while still wet. The only downside to this, is that you may stain your clothes if you get dressed immediately after. Otherwise, it works perfectly.
When washing your face, body and hair, you should make it a priority to avoid sulphates, which are used as foaming agents in most conventional soaps and shampoos. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, SLS, is a common form or sulphate that you’re likely to find in many of the products on your bathroom shelf. You should also avoid the many forms of silicone, such as dimethicone or cyclomethicone, found in moisturizing lotions, conditioners and other body- and hair care products. These substances work in symbiosis, creating a vicious cycle. Sulphates rid your hair and skin of their natural sebum, upset their inherent balance, and, therefore, make silicone-based body lotions and conditioners seem necessary.
That’s right: if you don’t use sulphate-based soaps and shampoos that fuck up your skin and your hair, you won’t need conditioner, body lotion and the like. We ourselves use only olive oil soap, made entirely out of olive oil (and possibly laurel- and cummin oil). The brand known to most people is the Syrian Aleppo soap, but we use a less pricey, Palestinian soap from our local grocery store. A bar that lasts up to six months costs us less than one euro. It can be tricky getting a lather while washing your hair, since there are no artificial foaming agents. Therefore, I sometimes wash it twice.
After having washed your hair with soap, you’ll probably need to rinse it with apple-cider vinegar (again, the inexpensive one that you’ll find in the grocery store) to make it shiny and manageable. The downside to this routine is that it takes a bit longer than using conventional products. On the other hand, you’ll probably need to wash your hair significantly less often, since you’re not disturbing its natural rythm. I wash it twice a month or so. In between, for example after working out, I rinse it with cold water.
In sum, our minimalist beauty routine consists of sunflower oil, olive oil soap and apple-cider vinegar. These products are inexpensive and environmentally friendly. They take up very little space in the bathroom, making it easier to clean and keep clutter free. When we travel, we only bring a bar of soap and buy some oil and vinegar at the local grocery store. This makes packing easier, since we don’t have to worry about the hand luggage-restrictions for liquid. And, last but not least, our skin- and hair quality has never been better. Can you wish for more?