My Minimal Beauty Routine (With Recipes!)

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Gorgeous with or without makeup!

I used wear makeup everyday. I was younger then, but I cared more about how people perceived me. Makeup didn’t make me look all that different, but I was convinced I couldn’t be seen without it.

Makeup is a vicious cycle because once you start wearing it all the time, you might feel like you must uphold this version of yourself. I know not everyone who wears makeup is doing it out of low self-esteem, but I certainly was. I was in an unhealthy relationship, and felt pressure to look a certain way. Many people see makeup as their form of self-expression and enjoy the artistic side of it. But I was your typical “I need eyeliner and mascara to look dressed” person.

When that relationship ended, I embraced the natural look for the first time. It started as a rebellion. A re-birth of myself, as someone who didn’t care one bit what my hair or face looked like – someone who had been freed from certain standards of beauty and wanted to reclaim some independence from the conventional. I wore some pretty outrageous thrifted outfits and not a stitch of makeup. It was what I needed at the time.

This is how I looked when I first met my husband.

It worked out great, actually. Because I met him at a time in my life when I didn’t care, he’s used to -and attracted to– someone whose beauty isn’t skin-deep. The first time Josh saw me with makeup, he was a little weirded out. He preferred just plain me.

Ironically, the same goes for him. I met him with a full beard leftover from No-Shave-November, and I preferred the lazy bearded look. So we’re both off the hook, I guess!

Benefits of the natural look:

Authenticity

Your spouse is going to see you without any makeup anyway. Why not make it that way from the start? I’ve never had that fear of wondering what Josh would think of my appearance first thing in the morning (okay, I might have still been conscious of bad breath!) But this is me, the real me. And I don’t need to be flawless to be loved.

Time saved

Neither Josh nor I spend more than a few minutes a day in front of the mirror, and it’s mostly just in passing. The daily routine is simplified, and it gives me less time to scrutinize my outward appearance. I used to waste hours in front of the mirror, nitpicking every last detail. No one else looks at me with such a critical eye. Why should I do it to myself? I’ve got better things to do with my time.

Healthier

Once I found out what was in some makeup and realized that most of it ends up in your body, either through the pores, the eyes, or the mouth, I didn’t want all those foreign chemicals in my body. There are homemade and all-natural solutions out there, but in all reality it’s easier just to skip it. I recently threw away all my nail polish because of the nasty fumes, and how fussy and stressful keeping my nails painted is. As cute as painted nails are, I prefer the clean, plain look to chipped polish.

Even if you choose to wear makeup, it’s not a bad idea to give your skin a break once in a while. My skin looks much clearer and healthier than it did in my makeup days. Hormones and a diet change may have a lot to do with it, but I’m convinced some skin problems are from over-applying and over-washing. Even good ol’ moisturizing and cleansing with too many chemicals is worse than letting your body’s natural oils do their thing. The mostly hands-off approach has been awesome for me.

Cheaper

I’ve also found that going all-natural saves a bit of money. Good makeup -even “cheap” brands- is expensive! I was shocked the last time I browsed the makeup department for some concealer at how pricy it was. If someone was starting their collection from scratch or actually replacing everything every 4-6 months like they recommend, it would be a significant expense. (And I’ve never even stepped foot in Sephora!)

No clutter

It’s so easy to keep buying new beauty products. What’s harder is completely using the old ones up! The top of my dresser used to be covered in makeup and body products. I had several different shampoos and bottles of soap in the shower. I purged regularly and it was still a mountain. Now I’ve finally given away all the heavily fragranced ones and I’m working my way through what’s left. I’m buying anymore until what I have now is gone.

Doesn’t get messed up

I never have to worry about smears and streaks. I can camp, swim, run, and have a good cry without having to touch-up and maintain.

Changes how you view yourself

Again, maybe it’s just me, but I feel so much freer and more beautiful now that I’ve given up and embraced my natural face. When I see other women without their makeup I think they look extra gorgeous too. There’s a woman I know who insists on wearing a hat and large sunglasses everywhere unless she’s fully made-up. I wish she didn’t view herself this way. We can all afford to go bare if we so desire. Other people will accept you, and they will probably admire your confidence!

My minimal beauty routine:

Castile soap

I wash my face daily with water or heavily diluted Castile soap. I use about a 1/10 ratio for hands and face. I’ve found that less is more when it comes to cleansing my face. I’ve had acne-prone skin since I was a teenager, but found that it just got worse when I treated it with chemicals and expensive facial cleansers. I wish I’d learned earlier that plain water is really all my skin needed!

Burt’s Bees lip balm

I’m totally addicted to this stuff. 100% natural lip balm is important because you basically ingest whatever is on your lips.

I recently started making my own and it works great! All I had to purchase was the beeswax, and I used empty tubes I’d saved. The beeswax was bought at Hobby Lobby with a coupon and a gift card – and there’s enough leftover for many more batches! Talk about frugal! I predict making my own (basically for free) will save me about $3 a month for several years. That might not sound like a lot, but all these small changes add up. And it’s really fun!

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Homemade Burt’s Bees

3 tablespoons beeswax pellets
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons olive oil
Pea-sized drop 100% lanolin
12-20 drops peppermint essential oil

Melt all ingredients but peppermint oil in a glass jar hot water bath.
Store in glass jar or use a dropper to fill empty tubes.
May reheat to keep filling tubes as needed.

Essential oil scents

I’ve removed pretty much all artificial scents from my home. What remains are essential oil blends. I find that I’m now highly sensitive to artificial smells and they give me headaches. Not great. But I’m glad those chemicals are out of my house!

Everyday I use a simple body spray. You can make your own by simply filling a spray bottle with water and adding 20 drops of your favorite essential oil blend.

Homemade deodorant

This is where it gets crunchy. Just kidding! I did not think I was the kind of person who could get away with making my own deodorant. I sweat, I workout, I run…. But I love this stuff! It melts in the summer so I keep it in a mason jar, but otherwise it works just as great – if not better- than the aluminum-containing antiperspirant I was using. It’s surprisingly powerful, but doesn’t leave a rash either.

Homemade Deodorant

1/4 C baking soda
1/4 C cornstarch
3 tablespoons coconut oil
12 drops essential oils (optional)

Combine baking soda and cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix in solid coconut oil with fingers until desired consistency is reached.
Add essential oils if using. I like to use patchouli and lavender.
Store in a shallow mason jar and apply with fingers, or press into an empty deodorant stick. You may need to refrigerate the stick in the summer to keep it solid.

Unscented lotion / Unscented bar soap / Natural toothpaste 

I get all three of these from Trader Joe’s. The lotion is marketed as hand cream but I love how it feels on my legs. I use their unscented tea tree oil bar soap in the shower. It’s amazing, doesn’t require a washcloth, and it doesn’t leave a ring on the tub like some natural bar soaps. I will probably never go back to shower gel! The toothpaste is natural, but it feels amazing and fresh and costs about half what the name brand stuff does!

Infrequent shampooing

I’m not completely no-poo, but I do think washing your hair everyday is too much. I used to think my hair was oily from not enough washing. Turns out it was over-compensating from too much washing. Once or twice a week is actually perfect for me. My curls love the moisture from the natural oils rather than the chemicals. Noticing a trend? It’s all less hassle than what I was doing before!

To shave or not to shave?

Do what feels right for you. There’s no rule that women need to shave their whole bodies in order to fit into society. I personally shave because I love the feeling of smooth legs. But I do it for myself. If you feel liberated by tossing your razor, go for it! More and more women in the US are starting to do it. (And I recommend shutting off the water if you shave in the shower, just to conserve. Even low-flow shower heads spit out about 2 gallons of water per minute!)

The bottom line is…

Your beauty routine should make you feel amazing. If what you’re currently doing is hard to keep up with, stresses you out, or breaks the bank, consider simplifying. Your friends won’t mind, your skin might like it better, and your wallet will thank you.

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