I simplified my beauty routine and I’m not “less of a woman” for it

Guest post by Aurora
I love Sephora, but do I really NEED all this? (Photo by: Erica KlineCC BY 2.0)

After discovering the ShamPHree method on Offbeat Home, I was super-excited to find ways to tweak and improve my beauty routine. I wanted to make it more simple, more home-made, and more vegan. Having been a goth in my youth and graduating to a pin-up chic look in my young adulthood, I had a pretty complicated beauty routine and I used a lot of products. But as much as I love me some Sephora goodies, did I really need all of them?


Before I started washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar, I had already started making my own toner. I found a recipe online that suggests ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar and ½ cup of green tea, which I sometimes substituted with rosewater. And then I realized buying rosewater is actually kind of pricey…


So I decided to make my own rosewater. It’s a pretty simple process:

  1. Take the petals off of a rose (Editor’s note: Use only homegrown roses to avoid pesticides.)
  2. Place them in a stock pot
  3. Cover the tops of the rose petals with water (don’t use too much, or the rosewater will be diluted)
  4. And simmer gently until the rose petals lose their color.

To make it last longer, I put the rosewater in an ice cube tray (use an older one, because red and pink rose petals make a highly pigmented rosewater which can stain), popped them out of the tray, and placed them in a labeled freezer bag in the fridge.

Face scrub

The second thing I switched out of my beauty routine was a standard face scrub. Instead I use fine sea salt, which I keep in an old Manic Panic container in the shower. It gently exfoliates and also helps with acne.


Unfortunately, because I use salt for a face scrub, when I started the ShamPHree method, my fiancée noted that I got out of the shower smelling like salt and vinegar chips — not super pleasant. I decided to try mixing the apple cider vinegar conditioner solution with rosewater instead of tap water, and voila — now my hair smells like roses when I get out of the shower, and it’s pretty magical.


The next item I switched out of my beauty routine came out of monetary necessity, much like the rosewater. I was going to order my facial moisturizer online when I realized… that shit is $17. I could use that $17 on something else. So I decided to try my body moisturizer, which conveniently has an SPF of 15, on my face. And you know what? Nothing terrible happened. It turns out I didn’t actually need separate lotions for my face and body, despite what the beauty industry may tell you.

And when I decided my facial cleanser was also a bit pricey, I started looking into making my own out of castor oil and olive oil. But then I thought, “Self, don’t you use Dr. Bronner’s for your body wash? And isn’t that mostly oil anyway?”

And, just like with the lotion, it didn’t kill me to use my body wash on my face.

The results

I had become trapped in societal expectations about my beauty routine. And these expectations aren’t just damaging with their interpretations of my femininity — they were damaging with their interpretations of my age. I hate that we live in such an ageist society where women like Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep are tokens, while their male counterparts are in abundance. This beauty routine I had developed wasn’t because I enjoyed the pampering and the process (and if you do enjoy the pampering and the process, then go you!) — it was because I listened to “beauty authorities” tell me that I needed to be afraid of growing old and afraid of being seen as less feminine.

I think my biggest sin when it comes to my old beauty routine was telling one of my trans friends that “women are supposed to do x/y/z when it comes to their skincare process,” because that’s what I honestly believed at the time. If you’re a femme, girly girl, or a goth princess, or a Rockabilly pin-up queen, or a guy who wants to pamper his skin, and you honestly enjoy all those products, then by all means, continue with your process and rock that shit. And if using the same soap and lotion all over your body works for you — as I have just recently learned it does for me — then go ahead and use that same soap and lotion all over your body.

The things you do to take care of your skin are not direct reflections of your gender identity or gender presentation — they’re just the things you do to take care of your skin. And as long as you’re comfortable in that skin of yours, that’s what counts.

Comments on I simplified my beauty routine and I’m not “less of a woman” for it

  1. This is awesome. I’m always looking for ways to pull my bathroom out of the store. I make my own toothpaste and I do ShamPhree, but I haven’t looked into making my own skincare products. Can you tell me more about the salt-on-face thing? Do you use a specialty sea salt? Do you mix it with water or just rub it on in clumps? Does it sting?

    • I don’t use a specialty sea salt, just make sure it’s fine because the standard giant sea salt granules are too big to properly scrub with. You want it about the same consistency as sugar. I wet my face, pour a dollop in my hands, and then rub it on my face. If you have an open sore on your face (say, a pimple that’s been popped) it’ll sting a little, but it’s not bad. If you’re a little scared to try sea salt you could always use sugar!

      I’m kind of interested in making my own toothpaste, but I have these dark stains on my two back teeth that could develop into cavities if I don’t take care of them properly, so I’m a little afraid to use stuff that doesn’t use fluoride in it (even though I’ve heard terrible things about fluoride). What does your dentist say about the homemade toothpaste?

      • I still buy my products, but I buy from Lush most of the time and have a pretty good idea of what goes in them. I consider it my splurge. 🙂 I use their Ocean Salt scrub and it is a mix of fine sea salt with some avocado butter and other ingredients. So you could use some form of skin butter with the sea salt if that helps. But sugar scrubs are an option too. Just be careful with the sugar as it can be larger grains than fine sea salt and so might scratch a little more if your face is more delicate. The salt does sting a little as @Aurora said, but not too badly.

        • GAH I love Lush! Their Ultrabland facial cleanser (which is basically a beeswax cleanser) is literally the only thing that has staved off my 15 year fight with acne. Their lotions and shampoo bars are also fabulous, and if love that even if I don’t have the time to DIY my own products, I know exactly what is in theirs.

      • Try Neem toothpaste! Or actual neem twigs, if you are fortunate to be near a tree. I made the switch from conventional toothpaste and the taste and bright clean feeling of Neem is otherworldly. My brand of choice is Dabur herb’l.

      • I use a homemade remineralizing toothpaste in the morning, and a store bought fluoridated toothpaste at night, in an attempt to get the best of both worlds, so to speak. I’ve just started, so we’ll see how it works!
        My teeth are not in great shape. I’m hoping some dietary changes I’ve made in the last year (I went 75% paleo) will make difference.

        • 75% paleo sounds like an awesome compromise. I’m trying to go paleo but I struggle with what to make. Do you have any food/meal plan information that you can recommend?

          • Well, I find a lot of stuff on Pinterest. Also, I follow a lot of paleo bloggers and I buy e-book bundles when they come up to get good recipe books. It’s really not too hard when you get used to it. I got into paleo just because the recipes looked so yummy, and I stayed because I felt so good. But I’ll never go 100% because I don’t believe it’s healthy to isolate yourself from society through food choices.
            I blog a lot about paleo stuff as well, in addition to feminism, natural parenting, environmentalism, and homesteading.

      • I haven’t been to the dentist since I started using my own toothpaste, so I can’t tell you what he says about it. I’ve always been really good about flossing and brushing, and I haven’t noticed any problems. In fact, I was having minor tooth pain on one molar, and since using my own toothpaste, that pain has decreased.

        I use this recipe from diynatural.com:
        2/3 cup baking soda
        1 tsp fine sea salt (optional – direct application of the minerals in sea salt is great for teeth, but can be left out if the taste is too salty)
        1 – 2 tsp peppermint extract or 10-15 drops peppermint essential oil (or add your favorite flavor – spearmint, orange, etc.)
        filtered water (add to desired consistency)

        I keep it in a little jar in my bathroom and I use a butter knife to apply it. It’s super salty tasting, so the taste may throw you off if you’re used to standard toothpaste. I had been using Tom’s, so the switch wasn’t too bad for me. Crunchy Betty is also a good place to find stuff about making toiletries at home.

        Disclaimer: I’m totally not a dentist and would absolutely recommend you read about different options. Research is your friend. Googling “homemade toothpaste” is a good place to start, or talk to a real dentist.

        • Disclaimer: Totally NOT a dentist.

          However, I have switched over to “hippie” toothpaste that is basically baking soda, xylitol and peppermint oil after being told (by a dentist) that SLS in toothpaste was triggering my husband’s canker sores. We’ve been using it for about a month, and my mouth feels 100 times cleaner and fresher than it ever did when using “regular” toothpaste. Also, I have had a dark stain on my front tooth from smoking and drinking coffee forever that I’ve been too poor to get bleached, and in a month of using the new toothpaste, it is almost gone. YMMV. But I don’t think fluoride in toothpaste is a necessity.

        • I use a recipe very similar to this, with cinnamon, magnesium powder, and clay added. Clove is another great essential oil for those that are prone to toothaches.

          For those who’s teeth are too sensitive for baking soda, there’s also a recipe for Toothsoap here: http://www.mommypotamus.com/homemade-toothsoap-tooth-powder-recipes/
          Using soap in your mouth sounds really scary and gag-worthy, but I really didn’t find it bothersome. I only noticed the soap taste after I rinsed, and after using mouthwash couldn’t taste anything. I found the tooth powder recipe better at removing stains, though, so I switch between these two recipes frequently.

          Also, anyone looking for more info on natural teeth health care, look into the book Cure Tooth Decay. I found it really helpful in helping my fiance, who for a long period of his life survived off of Sour Skittles and pasta and now has the cavities to prove it, find solutions to avoid as many expensive dentist bills as we can.

        • My recipe also calls for bentonite clay , trace mineral drops, calcium powder, and activated charcoal, which ironically for whitening, even though it makes your teeth black when you use it. It also uses coconut oil instead of water to make it pasty.

          • Isn’t this where someone jumps in and talks about oil pulling?

            Somehow I keep hearing about it. Design mom just did a write up on it. 20 minutes of swishing coconut oil in your mouth – apparently it replaces brushing your teeth. I haven’t tried it, but I am intensely intrigued – some offbeat homey must have, surely?

          • I have done oil pulling.
            Traditionally, according to Ayurveda, it’s done with sesame oil, but the hot thing now is to do it with coconut oil, I guess. I did it daily before I got pregnant with my son. I had never heard 20 minutes until recently, what I heard was. 5-10. I stopped because it didn’t agree with my super sensitive pregnancy gag reflex. I keep telling myself I should start again (seven years later). It didn’t replace brushing for me, it was just in addition to. I do feel like it whitened my teeth and was good for my gums.

  2. Yay! I also discovered the shamphree method here, and have used it for more than a year. I love that my hair remains dry and clean for up to one week. After that, I also toned down my beauty routine since I’m not a huge fan of the CIC (beauty Industry Complex) anyway.

    As for oil, I’ve learned recently that you can use it to remove make-up: simply apply to you skin and eyes, massage until all make-up is gone, and voilà! You want to wash it out with floral water or soap though, to remove all make-up. The, re-apply for moisturizing effect, just like the article said. Careful: not all oil types agree with all skin types, so check your compatibility first.
    For scrubs, you can also use ground coffee, caster sugar… Basically, a lot of kitchen items can also be used in the bathroom. I think that’s kind of cool to fry your dumplings with grape oil and then remove your make-up with the same bottle of oil. It’s kind of a circle of life thing, except, in the bathroom. Maybe.

    Then for body, I only use my local castille soap. If you really want to go all out and have some kind of über-minimalist guerilla-type bathroom, than castille soap works for body, face, hair AND teeth. Yes, you can brush your teeth with soap. I tried. Doesn’t taste half as bad as it sounds.

    • I totally use olive oil to remove my makeup! I forgot to mention that in the post. I love it! It’s nice and gentle and doesn’t sting my eyes like some professional makeup removers with scents in them do.

  3. I have no real “beauty routine.” And I have never considered myself any less of a woman, just a girl with a simple no fuss look. You don’t need beauty products to be beautiful.

    • Same here. Most days, I don’t wear makeup (if I do, it’s an all natural lip gloss and eye liner). Outside of the shower, it’s usually just lotion (same for face and body), and an all natural hair gel for my crazy curly hair.

      Dr. Bronners is awesome as a face wash, especially the peppermint version (tingly, but nice). I’m not on a shamPhree method yet, but I do like using Everyday Shea Shampoo and Conditioner. It’s all natural (no sulfates, sulfites or parabens), fair trade and donates a part of the proceeds to help people in Africa. Plus the container is so huge that it tends to last me a solid month.

      Odd part is, my husband actually likes the fact that I have a no fuss look. Totally contrary to what the beauty industry tends to tells everyone.

      • @Chrissy, I think you hit on something. I think a lot of guys like the no fuss look. Just a lot of them have no idea that many women spend a lot of hours achieving the look. But most of the guys I know do not want to taste makeup when they kiss and are pretty mystified about what all some women do. My husband’s beauty routine has changed as we’ve lived together and as he discovers some things that might help him (using moisturizer and a scrub, using oil and conditioner on his hair). I do my makep for me as he’s quite clear that he is quite happy with my look sans makeup.

        • This is so true for a lot of guys, and for a while I just couldn’t believe it! I’ve also simplified my beauty routine a lot in the past few years, but I still wear make-up daily (BareMinerals foundation, just a bit of eyeliner and mascara). I really like how I look with it on and my husband does too, but he has made it clear to me that he prefers my look without any makeup at all. It’s somehow really nice to put on makeup just for myself, and not for anyone else at all.

        • Generally speaking, though, I don’t do myself up for guys. I don’t really care what guys like, in general, and while I do care some what my husband likes, it’s really not my top priority. Of course, I married someone who likes me best when I’m feeling best about myself.
          If I’m being completely honest, though, I do my hair and makeup mostly for other women. Makeup, in particular, is something I tend to use more as war paint, something I put on when “going into battle” with people who might be intimidating, or who I don’t want to be fully open and vulnerable around. I don’t wear much, but a little eyeliner and some f-off red lipstick works wonders for my battle confidence.

          • I totally get the “war paint” thing. I’ve always worn make-up most days, but not usually lipstick. I went through a phase when I really only wore lipstick for teaching hours, or for a presentation I was feeling nervous about. It felt like a preparation for being more grown-up, more professional and extra-confident.

            Is there something particular about lipstick with this too? Maybe it has particular associations of f-off-ness.

    • Yep. The only “makeup” I wear is sunscreen and Chapstick. My beauty routine is “take shower, while in shower wash with body wash and face wash”. I don’t have time to spend hours in the bathroom, and I really don’t care that much lol. My skin is great, no problems (except the occasional psoriasis flare).

    • Same here. No makeup for me. My hair and skin products are pretty simple and are mostly free of the chemicals that concern me. My haircuts are simple and take only a few minutes. I’ve had people give me trouble about my lack of makeup and my simple long hairstyle, but I no longer let it bother me. I let them know that this is what works for me and that they should stop imposing their beauty ideals on others.

  4. I wish I could use one wash and one moisturizer for my body and face. I am sadly one of those people whose face skin type is directly opposite the skin on my body. My body is super dry and my face is super oily, so that’s a no-go situation.

    If you have skin that is super, super dry – like cracking, like mine is prone to – I can’t recommend beeswax enough. It will basically form a seal against your skin. You can use a conventional moisturizer and put beeswax over it to seal it. You can also mix beeswax with other oils (like coconut) to make a wonderful balm. It works wonders on hands, feet, and your joints if they’re prone to extreme dryness. It’s a wonderful thing to have in cold weather. I’ve been on mountains and seen people just smearing globs of it on themselves (especially around the mouth) to keep from drying out and cracking. It’s replaced all body moisturizers for me – but again, it’s very strong, so if you don’t have pretty dry skin, it might be overkill.

      • I do too, and super sensitive, and I’ve started washing and moisturizing with coconut oil! If she doesn’t have an allergy to coconut, maybe suggest this one because my skin has never been so happy.

        To wash: I splash warm water on my face, take a little bit of coconut oil and rub it between my fingertips to melt it, then rub it all over my face. I use a washcloth I’ve wet with hot water to scrub it off (it comes off super easily in a few seconds).

        After that, I just take another little bit and rub it on as a moisturizer. Good luck!

        • I’ve been doing that too, and I also use a coconut oil + sugar combination to exfoliate. And I use coconut oil as deodorant. Basically, I use coconut oil for everything.

        • I heard about using coconut/castor/olive oil to wash your face about a year ago, and gave it a shot last spring. After a few days, I developed deep blackheads along my jaw line where I’ve never had them before. Now, eight months or so later, I’m still battling them. So…the oil face cleansing idea might not work for everyone.

          • I haven’t personally tried oil cleansing, but I’ve heard that coconut oil and olive oil have a greater tendency to cause breakouts. Not that they necessarily will, but certainly for some people (like you discovered!). Seems like there are tons of oils out there, some of which are lighter. This video gives a pretty good overview (or just check the video description), but I understand if you’d be hesitant to try again. I myself haven’t taken the plunge yet, since I’m already dealing with some breakouts! But if anyone else reading and getting excited about coconut oil is also prone to acne, have a look at that list first.

    • My skin is very dry, thanks for the tip! I’ve been using coconut oil but it seems like my skins just completely soaks it up and I have to reapply a lot. I’ll definitely try beeswax.

      On another note, can anyone explain the pros/cons of salt vs sugar for exfoliation? My skin is really dry and it seems like salt would dry it out even more. But I don’t necessarily know if sugar would be any better. Thoughts?

      • I don’t find a lot of difference between the two, personally. Salt can burn and sugar will not. You can mix it with a food grade oil ( olive or coconut are popular ) to make it moisturizing. Just put enough oil in your salt or sugar to form a paste.
        Exfoliating in and of itself can be hard on your skin. I no longer do it on my face at all. I only do it on parts of my body that tend to get very dry and flakey, like my feet, hands, elbows, an knees.

      • Consider trying honey that’s a little bit crystallized (natural honey is better than pasteurized, but even pasteurized will have some benefits). Honey is a humectant, so it will actually moisturize your skin.

    • Thank you for this! I’m gonna pick up some beeswax for my husband today as an Easter gift! 🙂 He’s an industrial maintenance mechanic, and his hands are feet are nothing but cracks!

  5. I’ve been ShamPHreeing for months now (because of the Offbeat Home post!) and I don’t have the smelling like vinegar problem, but rose smelling hair sounds wonderful. The rosewater wouldn’t effect dreads in any way, would it?

  6. Also, I’m sure this won’t work for everyone, but I stopped using face wash all together. I started having skin problems around 19/20ish, and being at least fairly clear skinned most of my life it really bothered me. I tried a mess of different things (including the castor/olive oil!) but for me what ended up working is just ditching all the face stuff. I use a cotton pad thing that was made for me – it looks like a doily and is softer than a wash cloth – and just give my face a nice scrubbing under hot water. It rubs off all the excess oils without stripping my face too much. It exfoliates too. Makes my skin feel nice and clean and I haven’t really had skin issues since, except in the rare instance I leave a full face of makeup on overnight

    • I also noticed that my skin got notably clearer when I stopped using face wash, just hot water on a washcloth. I’ve also noticed that I need to use moisturizer now or my face actually feels uncomfortable, strange how things change as I age.

      • That’s how I wash my face now too. I got into the oil cleanse method for a while but, meh, that’s too much work. My skin is awesome. I used to have pretty bad acne, but it all cleared up when I stopped using soap. Also, I don’t sunburn as easily now.

    • I’m another one who would recommend giving up face wash and moisturizer altogether. I’ve had acne ever since my teens and tried all kinds of acne washes and even prescription creams to get rid of it. None of them worked. About 2 years ago, I stopped washing my face with anything and just give it a splash with water. My skin didn’t get any better, but it didn’t get any worse either, so now I just don’t bother with products at all. If it feels greasy (every few days or so) I give it a scrub with salt, dab on some coconut oil as moisturizer and that’s it. It hasn’t changed my skin, but it has saved me money, time, and worry!

      • Hi Hazel. I’m like you and have had horrible acne since my teens (I’m now 30). I tried everything including all the hard core antibiotic creams and an expensive version of the pill. I found my cure with raw unprocessed honey. I keep a small sealed container in the shower. I just smear it over my face, let it sit for a couple of minutes while I wash, then wash it off. It’s brilliant and it doesn’t dry out my skin. I don’t usually need to use moisturizer but I do try to use something around my eyes. I though perhaps this might be an option for you to try. I know how horrible stubborn acne is. Anyway best of luck with it all.

    • I don’t use face wash either. I will admit that when I had acne as a teen, foaming facewash was like a godsend, but in the end I’m just too lazy to do more than splash water on my face in the morning and maybe pass a comb through my hair. So far, it’s worked out for me, though if I’m actually trying to look nice the hair needs much more fussing.

  7. Beauty routine?….never had one. I wash my face each day, but that’s about it. Some days I’ll even use some makeup for fun. Why do we have to have beauty routines? It implies that without them, we are not beautiful. Maybe skin care routines would be a better term.

  8. You know how if honey gets cold it crystallizes? Perfect face scrub. I use it about once a week.

    I am going to look into the other products you mentioned. Great post!

    • Yes! Also, crystals in honey can be caused by excess moisture…I find that I leave a little jar with honey in it to wash my face in the shower, and dipping my wet fingers in it every day causes more crystals, which are the best thing ever for gently exfoliating face and lips.

      • Oooooohhhhh, the moisture. Should have known. Well, I guess I’ll start keeping mine right in the shower then. I wonder what my house guests will think of that?

        • I use a little screw top jar that jam came in, it’s like a shallow mason jar. It works well, and seems to crystalize pretty quickly. Nobody even notices it at my house…just have to be careful not to drop it in the tub. 🙂

    • Raw honey that hasn’t been pasturised (…honey doesn’t go off… why do they pasturise it..?) pretty much stays crystalised unless it’s like 40°C (like it is today, ugh) bonus: it tastes delicious, and can help with hay-feaver.

      • They pasteurize it to kill botulism. But most local honey is “raw” in that it is not pasteurized, none of the beekeepers I know do that to the honey they sell; if your honey has lots of crystals in it it can be a sign that it is very old. No big deal really as honey does not spoil, but I’d be more inclined to think “last season’s honey” if the whole jar was crystalized in a normal room temp kitchen.

        • But, FYI, it is not the botulism bacteria itself that causes the illness, it’s the toxin the botulism bacteria produces as it’s waste product (basically, it’s poop is poisonous). Killing the bacteria does not remove the toxin, it only minimizes the amount of toxin produced before the food product is consumed. This is why it is never safe to give honey to babies under one year old, whether the honey is pasteurized or not. If botulism was in the honey at any point, even if it was killed off through pasteurization early on, there could be minuscule amounts of the botulism toxin still in the honey. Not enough to make you or I sick, but a baby, or an immunocompromised person, yes.
          That is also why reheating food that has gone bad won’t eliminate food poisoning risk. Even if it kills the bacteria, many bacteria work like botulism, it’s not the bacteria itself that makes you sick, it’s the poop they leave behind.

          • That’s interesting, I didn’t know that 🙂

            Having said that… isn’t honey naturally anti-bacterial as well? Would the botulii (you heard me) even get a chance to poop in it?

          • Apparently botulism is one of the few bacteria that is resistant to honey’s bacterial butchering ways.

            Coevolution is a weird and wondrous thing.

          • Yes, you are absolutely right about the botulism “poop” and not giving honey to babies! I’ve eaten “raw” honey my whole life once I was over the age range (my great grandpa was a beekeeper, my mom gave it to us kids for allergies and it WORKS as long as I’m in my home town area I have no allergies. Where I live now, though, different pollen so not so much. :() and I’ve never had botulism. I’ve never known anyone who has had botulism from honey, and I’m training now to be a beekeeper myself. It seems like it’s a fairly rare thing, but still something that has to be considered when packaging commercial honey that is going to be transported far and kept a long time.

            And yeah, something about botulism thrives even in honey’s usually anti-bacterial atmosphere. Nature is weird.

  9. Oh how I love this post! I’ve been slowly downsizing my beauty routine over a few years. Stopped using shampoo, started using oil cleansing method, stopped using soap with SLS. Friends are generally pretty freaked out when they find out I don’t use shampoo, which makes for some interesting conversations. I doubt I’ll give up my makeup though. It’s fun and it makes me happy.

  10. Ok, here it goes. I don’t wear make up, in fact I never have worn make up. (full disclosure: I wore mascara to my senior prom and I can tell in the pictures and I hate it) I’ve always felt like make up is the same as stuffing your bra, eventually you have to take it off and then people will know what you look like anyway so why bother? That being said GO YOU because I know that I have gotten so much grief over the years for not being ‘girly’ or ‘attractive’ because I don’t wear anything. I think its awesome that you are simplifying and that you are happy because really, the happiest people are the most beautiful people!

    (also to people who do wear make up and stuff their bras I love you too! you are awesome and you should rock out to the fullest extent in whatever way makes you feel beautiful!)

    • I’m with you on the not-wearing-makeup thing — I tried out the makeup thing for a while as an insecure teenager (I’d wear it for the first week or so of classes, and then get tired of the hassle and revert to the usual au naturel look), but I never actually got good enough at applying it that it made me look any better! I threw out my makeup about a year ago, realizing that I wasn’t even wearing it for fancy occasions, since my husband prefers the way I look without it. I guess I must hang out with a different crowd than you do, though, since I’ve never gotten any pushback for not being “girly” enough — probably just my group of hippie-crunchy, home-birthing, home-schooling friends! 🙂

  11. I don’t have any sort of beauty (or skin-care) routine at this point. Heck, I don’t even own most of the products for that stuff anymore — it’s been a few years since I’ve had exfoliant or face wash around. I’ve been wanting to show my skin a little more love, though, and after getting extreme sticker-shock at the drug store (what do you mean it’s $17 for a tube of face wash?! That’s worth, like, $5!), I’ve decided I’m going to make my own.

    I’m also scent-sensitive (I’m fine with natural scents like orange and peppermint, but artificial perfumes give me a headache), so it’s super-hard to find stuff that’s safe for me to use. No-pooing and making my own skin-care products lets me know what’s in my stuff and keep out the stuff I can’t use.

    Has anyone actually made their own face wash? What did you put in it? What was the process like? I really liked the Burt’s Bees orange face cleanser I had five-ish years ago, but I couldn’t find it when I looked, and it’s probably also more than I want to spend right now…

    • I make my own soap with delicious things like coco butter and shae butter and stuff in it, also becuase the glycerine’s still in it, it’s really gentle. I use it on everything from my hair down to my toes. I also add a bit of clay-powder stuff to it, which makes it really slippery so it’s great for shaving too (if you’re into that)!

      • I could do that I suppose…. I usually sorta just grab whatever I fancy at the time and run it through an online lye calculator… I do need to make some more soon though, so I could hash together a tute…

        I just had a baskets moment…. always intend to make a blog about crap I’m making, but not motivated enough to write posts all the time….. write posts for OBH……..

        • Please do! I love making soap, but I’m chicken to try anything other than my For Dummies style coconut oil+lye+crock pot recipe. I’d love to hear actual tips from someone who actually makes different kinds of soap, ESPECIALLY if you’re just winging it and making up your own recipes!

          • I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say I “actually” make different kinds of soap… I’ve done it like 3 times… but I wing everything….

            Especially baking. Everyone’s all “oh you have to be so precice when you’re baking!” Which just makes me go “HA! I’ll show Yoooou!”

  12. Hahaha, this came at a funny time–I actually want to develop more of a beauty routine, and juuuust started reading r/skincareaddiction and r/makeupaddiction on Reddit. As I wrote in my post on discovering fashion last year, I was a tomboy through all my teen and college years and never gave makeup and skincare much thought. However, my adult acne has been worse than my teen acne–not horrible, but something I’d like to take care of through better skincare (seriously, I only started moisturizing yesterday) or be able to cover up with natural-looking makeup. And it would be nice to know how to do my makeup for real when I have a fancy event. Maybe in a couple months I’ll write about what I discover!

    That said, I love your post. I can relate to getting tired of doing something because you feel like you’re “supposed” to, and not because you like it. And as I look at makeup tutorials and accompanying prices, I’m a little floored by how much and how expensive it can be. It’s always good to question what society/the media/marketers are telling you, and I’m glad you’re finding things that work better for what you want!

  13. Coconut oil is an amazing moisturizer! I’ve had the worst case of winter dryness this year, and it has saved me from months of misery. I use it on my face at night (rosewater & glycerin in the morning) and on extra-dry patches on my body. A little goes a long way, too. Best. Stuff.

  14. This is all so completely foreign to me. Growing up with a mom who doesn’t do any of this stuff, I never really learned any of it. And I’m fine with that.

    I wash my hair with shampoo and conditioner, and I wash my face when I shower. And I only shower when my hair starts getting greasy (usually after about 2 days, but I can push it longer if I don’t have to go to class).

    I have some moisturizer but I only use it when my skin gets dry (which it has this month because it’s been so cold, but I almost never need it).

    I don’t own any makeup at all (save for a couple lip glosses I never use, does lip chap count?), which could be why my skin doesn’t need this kind of routine. I recognize that I have pretty good skin naturally, though I’m sure not using any kind of foundation or anything is only good for me.

    How do so many women have time to do all that? It’s so ridiculous that we’re expected to. I hope I don’t have to wear makeup when I get into the professional world. If a manager ever tells me I have to wear makeup at work I’m going to make them implement a policy for EVERYONE, not just the women.

    • I remember reading something about how, in like the 50’s and 60’s, they’d have makeup classes in psych wards because a woman putting on makeup was just that mandatory and depressed women were assumed to not put it on because they were lazy/very ill. It’s kind of scary to think of that as the mentality. I’d have some choice words for any boss who told me makeup was mandatory at work…

    • “If a manager ever tells me I have to wear makeup at work I’m going to make them implement a policy for EVERYONE, not just the women.”

      Haha, please do this!

      A friend of mine was told she had to wear make-up to work… kind of sucks, but she discovered what you have to do to pass as “make-up wearing” was pretty minimal. Still annoying and sexist of course.

    • I’m the same, grew up with a mother who never put on make up and have NO IDEA how to do it (don’t own any even if I wanted to learn, which I don’t). I’m 26 and my boyfriend just taught me to shave last year (funny how that goes, but my Mom would sometimes get a wax, but never shave, so that’s what I learned to do: I’ve waxed my legs almost every mouth for years… more intense that a lot of people’s beauty routine!). It’s so interesting what an impact our families have on that kind of stuff.

  15. I love having a low-maintenance cleansing routine. Baking soda and vinegar rinses for my hair twice a week, watered-down Dr Bronners for everywhere else, tea tree oil for pimples, and a spritz of rosewater so I don’t smell like pickles. Bam! Tiny toiletry bag and I’m ready for the day.

    (Well, and Tom’s of Maine cinnamon clove toothpaste. That stuff smells like heaven…)

  16. As I turned 30 this year I made the decision to age naturally.

    I have fond memories of when I was younger of the adults around me with salt and pepper hair. Unless I want to dye my hair funky colors or for fun, I’m not coloring my hair. Mind you I’ve had stray albino hairs since I was 10 so I went through my “I have white hair” panic in my teens.

    Now I embrace them, and my new found wrinkles I have found developing on my face. I think of them as badges for making it this far in life.

      • YES! I have very dark coarse hair that just won’t dye (even if I bleach it first, the color just doesn’t hold) and I cannot wait to have enough white to have hot pink streaks!

        I’m shaving my head in April for a fundraiser, so maybe by the time it grows back…

      • I only have light brown hair (which I dye red with henna because deep down I’m really a ranga) but it just won’t hold colour very well, and I can’t bare the idea of bleaching it, I can’t wait to go grey so I can dye it funky colours without them looking drab.

    • I want to age naturally too. Honestly, I think people who fight aging look worse. Plus, once you start dying your hair, how do you stop? And don’t even get me started on Botox. I probably don’t know when people have just had a little, but you can tell when it gets to be too much. I saw a dermatologist once … Oh, if only she knew how she really looked, poor thing. I wonder though if it changes your face permanently or something, so that you have to keep using it. Like, once it wears off your face is even saggier? Who knows? I know my grandmother had several face lifts and she still looked old. Seems like a waste of money and a huge risk, to me. Old does not equal ugly. I’ll just age how I age, thanks!

  17. I LOVE this article, and the comments too. I’ve done a complete 180 with my beauty routine. As an insecure teenager, I wore full make-up everyday, and if I overslept and didn’t have time, I’d hide behind my long hair all day because I thought I wasn’t worth looking at. I stopped wearing make-up a few months into college, and have never gone back.

    It’s amazing how questioning why I was doing things made me realize that it was only because I thought I had to. I’ve been shampoo-free for several years. I only shower once a week in cold weather. This time of year, when I’m not sweating, I don’t feel dirty or smell bad. I got sick of razor burn on my armpits and gave up shaving them. I thought about why I shave my legs, and realized that I do like how they feel smooth, so I’ve kept that. But eyebrow tweezing? No more, thanks.

    I’m looking forward to trying some of the face wash alternatives mentioned. That’s something I’ve been looking to change.

    Now I only wear make-up when I’m doing theater. I’m more comfortable in my skin than ever. I love my natural look, and so does my husband. And if anyone is judgmental of me for my appearance? Probably not someone I want to know.

    • Can we talk about showering once a week? Like, maybe somebody writes a guest post about it? As someone who has bipolar disorder and a generalized anxiety disorder, showering is considered a pretty big deal. “Oh, you don’t take a shower everyday? You’re depressed. You need to take a shower every day to be clean and hygienic. Showering everyday is something high-functioning and neurotypical people do. So shower every day.” That is the message I have been getting my whole life, and it drives me up the wall. I remember once I had an issue where my PTSD symptoms made it pretty much impossible to take a shower, and instead of encouraging me to wash my hair in the sink or use dry shampoo or wipe down certain areas with a washcloth (all things I consider to be acceptable shower substitutes), people said “Take a shower, you’ll feel better” with no regard to my internal feelings of safety. I hate feeling like I’m some kind of depressed low-functioning loser because I don’t feel the need to shower everyday.

      • When I was writing this comment, I sat with the window open for about five minutes before I pressed “leave comment” because I wondered if I really wanted to confess to the internet, anonymously, that I don’t shower daily. (I even wrote “in winter”, when in reality I have a weekly shower all year round, just with extra sponge baths when I get sweaty.) There’s no reason for my choice other than not feeling the need, but it’s not something I’m comfortable talking about. Which is ridiculous.

        In winter, showering means my skin gets dry and itchy and horrible. Why put myself through that? I change my socks and underwear every day. I wash my hands a lot. All other skin is pretty much covered. In summer, I take a sponge bath if I get sweaty between showers. Think of how much water I save! I consider myself a reasonably balanced, well-groomed adult. Why is this such a big deal in our culture?

        I’ll think seriously about a guest post. I never expected that comment to strike a chord.

      • I don’t know that I have a post worth of things to say about it, but I only shower once or twice a week, and I would guess most people around me would have no idea. In my case it has nothing to do with any mental health issues; I’d just rather not spend the time and water if I don’t have to.

      • I love all these comments! I shower every other to every third day. I’d shower even less, but my hair gets super oily if I don’t wash it every other day, and I really don’t like how oily hair looks on me. (I’ll have to look at that ShamPhree post)

        But shower every day? It’s simply not in my nature. When I travel and have to share a room with a colleague or acquaintance, I shower daily because it just seems assumed that everyone needs to shower every day (“are you going to shower first, or should I?”), and I wouldn’t want my colleague thinking I’m gross. But it’s all a facade. I hate showering daily.

        (Re: anxiety – when I was having serious issues with GAD, I stopped brushing my hair. Now, nearly 10 years later, when I go a morning w/ out brushing my hair, I feel guilty. But I think if you are a relatively high functioning individual, you can know if your lack of showering is normal or a symptom of a possible problem)

        • This! I always pretend, “oh I showered this AM,” when traveling and expected to shower. Then I will shower once in the hotel room and then the third day I will just say that I will shower when I get home. Whereas really, I tend to only shower if I’ve just been sweating at the gym. Sometimes that’s almost daily, sometimes that is once a week.

        • hahaha love this! I do the exact same thing when I’m travelling with someone, and it’s definitely a facade! When I have guests I don’t want to force myself to shower daily (my apartment, my rules!) but I always have this internal dialogue of “ok, maybe if I don’t shower tonight, they’ll just assume I showered in the morning… and then I’ll shower tomorrow night, but the next day I’ll skip it and they’re leaving so they’ll just assume I was going to shower in the evening? Maybe?”.

          And then when it does up come up in conversation (which somehow it seems to a lot, but then I talk about everything and anything), I always feel like I have to add this disclaimer, like “well during my period, of course I shower every day” (which is only kind of true)…

      • My sister is one of the girliest super-groomed people I know. We’re talking 6-weekly visits to the hairdresser for bleaching and style-maintenece, makeup every day (even to go to the beach) hair straightened every day, acrylic nails, perfume and $400 designer handbags…. I’m fairly certain she only showers every other or every third day… and if she does shower every day, it’s a recent development….

      • I was showering about once a week, no-poo, with long hair, but when I cut my hair off it started looking greasy faster (or maybe I care more?), and at this point I’m showering generally 3 times per week (I have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and church on Sundays, so guess which days I shower?). I kind of miss the once-a-week shower routine, but I also hate washing my hair in the sink, and do kind of enjoy long hot showers, so it’s not that big of a deal for me.

        Who showers daily, anyway? That’s a thing? The adults I knew growing up were generally every-other-day shower people (and not at all when camping…).

        • My mom absolutely showers every day, but I don’t really remember her doing that when I was a kid. (Maybe she was too busy taking care of me? Or maybe she showered when I was at school. Mind blown!)

          I don’t know if all of my conference attendee roommates over the years are just pretending to be daily showerers like I am (maybe they are), but they almost all have always showered daily.

          • My husband showers daily before he goes to his second shift job. That being said, he almost daily soaks through his pjs in his sleep with sweat. I give him a pass for it, being an every other dayer myself (and now that I’ve discovered dry shampoo…)

          • I prefer to shower every day, but it’ll often work out to every 1.5 days out of laziness. Like, shower in the morning on Tuesday, then at night on Wednesday. The next shower might be Thursday night or Friday morning. I think every day works best for me, though, because I start feeling grimy in some places, stink up my clothes faster (and I’m one of those people that likes to rewear things a lot before washing them) and my hair gets pretty greasy. It’s especially bad if I go two days without a shower. Maybe I overproduce oil because I’m over-washing, but while I’m working full-time in an office I don’t want to experiment and go through a couple weeks of being smelly.

            Oh, and at a conference I’d be especially diligent about showers, because I’ll be wearing nicer clothes and definitely don’t want to feel grubby while I’m networking. So yes, we do exist!

          • My family showered daily and expected me to do so as well as a child. As an adult I developed a different routine.

          • kids take up a lot of time…and feeding them tends to take higher priority than bathing 😉

            i don’t shower daily at home (if nothing else because of my time management skills), but i totally do at hotels. travelling tends to make me feel grimy, and i love the industrial scalp-massage water pressure (as compared to the “oh, my shower is peeing on me” water pressure at home).

        • My boyfriend showers every day and I’m pretty certain most people do? In North America at least. When it’s come up in conversations or when I have guests they always seem to shower every day.

          I’ve also lived with 10 people for 9 months (doing Katimavik, a volunteering program that used to exist here in Canada) and I’m pretty sure they all showered every day.

          • I’m in Canada, too, and the people I know well enough to know their shower-habits (parents, brother, husband, and a handful of best friends — maybe 10-ish people in total) mostly don’t shower daily; one friend did while she was working on a farm, but doesn’t usually. I guess it depends a lot on the group of people — I hang out with a pretty liberal/hippie crowd, so maybe we’re less washed than most. 😛

        • My hair got greasier when I cut it off short too! I think the reason is because your head is still making the same amount of oil, but it has less hair to spread out in. I’m thinking I’ll grow mine back out for that reason.

      • In Mary Roach’s “Packing For Mars”, she goes into the research about daily showering/how to keep astronauts clean when water in space doesn’t flow. Turns out, daily showering is not NEARLY as important as daily change of next-to-the-skin garments. And daily bathing is especially bad for our largest organ, the skin. As long as YOU are comfortable (and people aren’t gagging at your odor) shower when YOU feel you need to! I do. You are not weird.

      • Showering every day is definitely a pretty recent social norm. In the 50s they mainly still bathed once or twice a week, I believe.

        And when does this kick in anyway? No one has their children bathe every day, surely? I distinctly remember it becoming an expectation in my teens, but not earlier.

      • I live in the tropics, today it was 36 degrees and 90% humidity. The thought of not showering everyday… Shudder. And everyone knows when you have not showered, everyone. I can’t imagine kids not bathing every day, at least not kids like I was that run ans play outside, dig in the dirt, spill food, paint things, glue things, cook things and are just generally dirty little creatures.

        • I was a play-in-the-dirt “dirty little creature” (although not in the tropics), but I only took a bath once a week as a kid. Beyond that, wash what’s dirty (usually hands and feet, sometimes other parts if needed).

      • Daily showering is not necessary unless it fits with your personal needs. I shower ever other day (or on the third day) when I need to be seen outside, and have been known to shower twice a week if I don’t need to be seen by many people. If I could get my hair not to get greasy so quickly, I would probably stick with twice a week showers, at least in the winter. Perhaps I should try ShamPHree sometime.

        I know some people who are blessed with less active sweat glands and oil glands, and they rarely need to shower more than twice a week and still look presentable right before they shower.

        Do what works for you and don’t let people tell you it’s wrong.

  18. Just wanted to mention that witch hazel is also an amazing toner, particularly for acne prone skin. Soothing, cuts the redness, tingles, etc. For anyone who like me ended up with most of a giant bottle left after the postpartum soreness was gone…. give it a try!

    I say a beauty routine is about what makes YOU feel good. Period.

    For those who wear makeup and want to pare down for busy days, I recently compiled a tiny on-the-go makeup kit for myself that consists of stick foundation (tinted moisturizer would work too for those who want less coverage, I like a little more), mascara and a double ended shadow stick. One side is for all over my eyelid, the other is for a very foolproof liner. That’s it! I use chapstick or tinted chapstick only on my lips, my personal preference. I love knowing I can throw myself together in 5 minutes in the car and still feel totally put together, which for me is really self esteem building with a 3 month old.

    I LOVE hearing about this stuff. More articles like this, I beg of you all!

    • I’m Team Witch Hazel too 😉

      I actually use a Neutrogena Naturals makeup remover/facial wash in the shower, then a quick swipe of Witch Hazel afterwards, then a moisturizing lotion before bed.

      I have minimal makeup, just eye shadow and eyeliner before heading out to work in the mornings 🙂

  19. All this talk about natural and vegan DIY beauty things and not one mention of coconut oil? I didn’t think it was possible. I use it as an occasional moisturizer and a makeup remover.

    Personally though, my routine has gotten more involved (by conscious decision). I was ‘Poo-free (shamphree if you prefer) and never had any makeup to wash off last year. Now it’s product in my hair every day and makeup on school days. It doesn’t make me feel more or less feminine, but I find for me that I enjoy spending a few minutes focusing on just me and the weird things I can do with my hair.

    • Yea, when I mentioned to my aunt that I was doing the no-poo/shamPHree, she said, “Gosh, I could never give up shampoo. It’s so luxuriant and it’s my favorite part of the shower.” And I definitely have awesome vegan shampoo and conditioner I got from Etsy that I save for the occasion when I would want to take a bubble bath. Sometimes it’s fun to use all that extra stuff!

    • Yes to coconut oil! I wash my face, moisturize my face and body, brush my teeth, oil pull, stir it into hot oatmeal, and cook with the stuff 🙂 Amazing!

  20. I am taking the complete opposite journey – like “Gosh, if I use products meant for sensitive skin, I don’t have daily rosacea flare-ups that cause everyone to constantly ask if I’m feeling OK!” One of the great things about the internet is that it’s sooo much easier to find information for each specific skin/hair type.

    • Totally feel ya. I have curly dyed hair and really stubborn eczema. I have to research the crap out of everything because I need to know if it will strip the dye or be bad for curly hair or make my eczema worse.

  21. Yay for simplifying life! I wish I could find the article I read about this, but apparently the amount of MONEY and TIME that women spend on beauty routines really adds up. Which is totally fine if it works for you, but I was always annoyed that there was this expectation that as a woman I had to have this complicated morning routine.

    I stopped using any kind of soap or facial wash on my face, as well as toner, in my mid twenties – washed almost exclusively with water only. For a lot of people that totally works (for me, that was the end of my acne problem). I sometimes used a low toxicity foundation that contained SPF. (I tried Lush products briefly, but they trigger migraines for me). A little more make up on special occasions.

    Now, as my body’s hormones change with age, I have a touch of rosacea, so I’ve had to switch to Davita tinted moisturizer with SPF during the day and add a Davita night moisturizer. They are sort of working, but if anybody has simple tips for rosacea skin I’d love to hear them! (I prefer to use only super low toxicity products, since most of the women in my family have had cancerous things removed from their face)

  22. I haven’t really worn makeup in years. I do own some, and I do put it on when I want to look super fancy, so maybe about twice a year. Otherwise, I don’t bother. I don’t think makeup is bad if you enjoy it, but I don’t enjoy it or feel like fooling with it. I’ve always been fairly no frills, and not big into chemicals, but I really started to get serious about eliminating that stuff from my home about two years ago because of assorted medical things with me and loved ones.

    I do Shamphree, wash my face with honey in the shower, and use a blend of grapeseed, tea tree and sea buckthorn oil on my face instead of moisturizer. We use Dr. Bronners castile soap. I use natural deodorant, my husband uses none at all and instead wipes his pits down with witch hazel every morning and night. The last thing to go was hair dye. I tried hendigo, but I’m just not that patient and it didn’t work for me, so I’m growing out the gray and dealing with it. Gray hair is cute when you’re 20, not so cute when you’re almost 40, but I’ve finally reached the point where vanity is not worth putting poison in my body, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. 🙂 Maybe when it’s all grown out I’ll go crazy with some bright Manic Panic.

    One thing I will say is that there seems to be a “detox” period when you go off chemical stuff. Everyone probably knows about the adjustment period for going shamphree, but I found the same thing to be true with going off chemical deodorant (for about two weeks, SERIOUS BO, then none) and the same with switching from chemical face products to natural ones. A little bit of an increase in oiliness/breakouts for the first few weeks, then equilibrium seemed to be achieved, then a marked increase in the health of my skin. It might just be me, but I thought it was worth mentioning. It’s worth it, IMO, but better to be prepared.

    Another thing that surprised me is the appearance related nagging from some of the women in my life, as far as growing out my gray hair and not wearing makeup. Several of my loved ones are big makeup lovers (as in, won’t run out to get the mail without a face on) and while that is great for them, it’s not my jam. But there has been some element of them seeming to feel like my rejecting the “traditional” trappings of femininity (I also won’t wear nail polish or perfume) is somehow me frowning upon their lifestyle. I get a decent amount of “you’d be so pretty if” and “someday when you’re really old you’ll regret that you didn’t take more advantage of your looks” and it’s annoying to say the least. A lot of the attitude seems to be somewhere in the vein of “this is what women do, it takes work to be pretty, not doing those things is laziness or letting yourself go”. They seem to mean well, but it does get old. Hopefully that won’t be a big issue for many people, but it’s something else to be aware of if you’re planning to streamline your beauty routine and have lots of makeup/hair dye/product lovers in your life.

    • “without a face on” Isn’t that a funny expression? My tendency towards concrete thinking makes me think of an anatomy textbook or Halloween…

      • Imagine being a little kid, standing outside the bathroom, hearing your grandma say “I’ll be out in a minute honey, I have to PUT MY FACE ON.” O_O

  23. I just wanted to note that I haven’t washed my face in about a week – due to sheer laziness – and my skin actually looks better. This dry patch on my cheek has vanished, skin tone seems a bit more even, and I don’t have any zits as a result of not-washing.

    My usual routine is moisturizing in the morning with a dry oil, and then at night washing with a Clarisonic brush and Philosophy’s Purity cleanser, then moisturizing with dry oil again. I have combination acne-prone skin but I did a course of Accutane and that helped a lot.

  24. This post is right up my alley!

    Quick question: do you keep your toner in the refrigerator? If not, you might want to look into getting a natural preservative (Silvereon/Tinosan and Leucidal Liquid are two popular and safe products). Tea kept on the bathroom counter will eventually go bad, and that bacteria will transfer to your skin. Here’s a GREAT site for more info on making your own beauty/skin care products: http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.com/p/preservatives.html

    Also, ground oats are another great and gentle exfoliant. OR baking soda and oil. OR clay. I’ve found a ton a great recipes from the book Organic Body Care Recipes.

    There are so many interesting recipes out there that, for someone that has always had a simple routine, I find myself sometimes getting carried away with how many products I make. Then I have to tone it down again. Especially with a wedding coming up, I find myself suddenly interested in makeup, when the most makeup I have owned in the past ten years or so is tinted lip balm. Now I’m experimenting with eye colors and lipsticks. Not that that is bad. I can have a lot of fun with it (I’m even formulating personal all-natural perfumes for the women in the bridal party) , I just have to remind myself to keep on doing it for fun rather than because I feel that “I’m supposed to.”

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