In previous posts I’ve written a lot about how to figure out a skin care and make up routine that will support your style concept and give you maximum benefits with a minimum number of products. But what about the rest of your beauty stuff? Do the same rules apply to body lotions, conditioners, loofahs? The short answer is: yes they do, you can also use the minimalist approach to establish a simple, but effective body and hair care routine, de-clutter your bathroom and de-stress your mornings by finding the perfect set of products that fulfil your needs. Easier said than done, right? For me the whole process was a lot more challenging than I had anticipated: Even once my make up and skin care products were sorted, my shower was still stuffed with rows and rows of shampoos, body lotions, body butters, etc. In the end I did manage to shrink my product collection and I also figured out why I had found it so much harder to curate my bath and hair care products than my make up/ skin care/ wardrobe. Here's why: body skin (and also your hair if you are lucky) is just a lot easier to manage than facial skin and because body/hair care products have to fulfil fewer criteria, we have a much wider range of products to choose from. We also expect less from a body care product and it’s harder to go wrong: shower gels, for example, are supposed to clean our skin and smell nice but that is about it. As opposed to facial skin care products we don't expect body stuff to dramatically improve the condition of our skin. The combination of lower expectations, fewer criteria and lower prices compared to skin care and make up, makes it so much easier to buy and overbuy body and hair care products and end up with way more stuff than you could ever use up. This post is a collection of 8 little assignments that helped me combat the product flood in my bathroom, in no special order.
1. Reconsider your needs
The first step of any curating process is always to figure out exactly what you need. Now, your perception of what you need may have become a little distorted over time because it's so easy to accumulate a good stock of products and then let the products you own dictate what you use. Have you ever pushed yourself to use up a product that you didn’t really like all that much just because you didn’t want to ‘waste’ it? If that sounds like you, you need to mentally distance yourself from the contents of your bathroom and reconsider which items you actually need rather than which ones you 'should' use up. Go to a product-free room and write down what you think you need in one day from the top of your head (for example deodorant, shampoo, tooth brush, hair spray etc.). In all likelihood that list is going to be far shorter than you expected, and you can start weeding out items that are more of a burden than anything.
4. Try the 'planned chaos' method
Streamlining your beauty routine isn’t about taking all the fun out of beauty, wellness and shopping. Although in most cases I like to take my time to find the perfect product and do a bit of research, I'm also a fan of the 'planned chaos' concept, where you choose one area or product category that you are allowed to buy on a whim and collect to some degree. My chosen planned chaos category is bath products: I sometimes go a little crazy in Lush or The Body Shop and then just throw everything into a designated box that I dip into about twice a week. Having one product type that you can buy spontaneously definitely makes it easier to resist overspending on other items. Choose your own planned chaos area by picking a category of products that isn't too pricey, easy to get a hold of and that you would enjoy having in multiple versions.
6. Create a bare essentials routine
How much of your beauty routine is wellness and how much is basic upkeep? If you often find yourself struggling to get ready on time, it might help to clearly identify the steps you absolutely have to take every single day and push them to the front of your routine, so you are more likely to have your bare essentials taken care of if you suddenly have to run out the door. Store all of your essential products together and keep them separate from the rest of your stuff. For more ideas on how to find a storage system that is in tune with your routine check out this post.
8. Choose a signature hair style
In my opinion you can always get away with little to no make up but greasy or frizzy hair is never a good look. No amount of styling will fix a bad cut or colour, so before you spend any thought or money on hair care and styling products, take your time to find the best cut and colour for your hair type, colouring and personal style. Once you have found the ideal cut, pick 1-4 signature hair looks that fit your style concept and that you can do in a cinch without having to think too much about it.
2. Check for ingredients
Although it can be extremely helpful to check reviews online before buying a product, we all have our own individual preferences about which textures, smells and effects we like, and therefore might love what somebody else hates and vice versa. In many cases it’s super easy to pinpoint those preferences (e.g. a vanilla scent), but sometimes you have to do a little digging to figure out just what ingredient made you like a certain product and dislike another. As a first step, try to compare the ingredients lists of a handful of products you loved and hated and see whether you can single out any ingredients that could have made the difference, for example salicylic acid, silicone, a certain fruit extract, acohol, and so on.
3. Assess the natural state of your hair and body skin
When it comes to hair and body care (something you have to do every single day) it can be quite easy to get stuck in a routine and do the same thing for years without ever reassessing your needs. Believe it or not, I was 22 when I realized that I actually have wavy instead of straight hair, because ever since I can remember I would brush out my hair directly after washing it. I once asked a friend about one of her styling products and she said “I think it detangles my hair” but she didn’t really know because she had just always used it and didn’t remember what her hair looked like without it. To get a clearer perspective of the natural state of your hair and body skin, try to go back to basics for at least 5 days: Use a plain shower gel and only wash your hair when it is actually greasy. Then reexamine which products in your kit truly make a difference and which don’t.
5. Write your own budgeting guidelines
My beauty budgeting rule of thumb is that I only buy high-end products if the higher price comes with a significant increase in quality. Most of my skin care, make up items and perfumes are high-end, but since my hair and body skin is a lot less fussy, I tend to stick with drugstore brands for basics like shampoo and shower gel. To streamline your own decision making process, try to formulate a set of rules about which product types you are happy to spend more on, for example conditioner because you have damaged hair, and which products you will save on. For more info on beauty budgeting click here.
7. Find double duty products
A full beauty regime (body: cleanse, exfoliate, tighten, moisturise, deodorise, scent; hair: cleanse, condition, deep condition, straighten/curl, texturize/volumize, style, hold, shine) with single-function products will not only clutter up your entire bathroom but also make your routine a lot more complicated than necessary. Even if your routine isn't as high-maintenance as the one above, try to find products that serve more than one function, for example a body scrub that also moisturises or a volumising mouse that also adds a bit of texture and hold to your hair. List all of your needs (i.e. cleanse, tone, etc.) and brainstorm which ones could be fulfilled by the same product.
If your beauty pantry is already well-edited but your wardrobe could use a little help, check out the sister post of this article: Refine your style and upgrade your wardrobe: 20 quick-fix ideas.
How many body and hair care products do you need? How many do you own?