In Defense of the Unwashed + Routine Simplicity

Natural Hair productsYou all know that I am quite skeptical of many things: fad diets, miracle wrinkle creams, magical superfoods, or anything that claims to “show results overnight.” But when the worth of something is proven to me, whether through personal trials, or scientific studies, or multiple, unbiased testimonials, I tend to become excited. This excitement usually leads to me purchasing said item. Often, I’ll find something I love, but occasionally I’ll try something, like it fine, and then be distracted by the allure of something else. (That statement in no way reflects my personal life, really!)

This unfortunate cycle is why my bathroom is filled with half-empty conditioner bottles. Oy.

I don’t want to be this way, I swear. I’m slowly moving in the direction of using fewer products, because SIMPLICITY IS BEST. I aspire to reach a state of harmonious simplicity. Someday, I will get there.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go off, like every other blogger, into infatuated paroxysms about the five hundred-odd uses of coconut oil. Though it is AMAZING and you should DEFINITELY buy some, eat it, and then also slather it all over your body.coconuts

Moving on. Here are my body care-related goals, in the name of simplicity:


I know this sounds gross, but hear me out. I don’t know too many people who like to be smelly, but I know even FEWER people who actively desire to have dry skin. I’m moderately obsessed with smearing my body with lotions and oils (which necessitates sitting in the middle of my floor, on my towel, nakedly waiting for my skin to absorb everything…but you didn’t really need to know all of that). With my hair, I know that washing less often means curls that are shinier, softer, and less frizzy. So why is it so hard to apply the same principle to my skin? It must be because Western society associates cleanliness with heavy scents, thick suds, and hot showers. Yet doing those things too often actually DRIES out our skin! And if you already have dry, eczema-prone skin like mine, then washing that way only exacerbates those issues. I’m also a pretty non-stinky person, (I can get sworn statements in writing if you need some proof) so I probably don’t need to wash quite as intensely.

A few months ago, I stopped using normal bar soaps in the shower, because I’ve read some information about soap damaging the skin’s acid mantle. This happens because soap has a very basic pH, while the skin is much more acidic.  There are pH-balanced washes like Acure’s Ultra-Hydrating Body Wash, and NutriBiotic’s Super Shower Gel, which I’m currently using. I’ve also looked into this raw African Black Soap, which is supposed to be very moisturizing and only has a few ingredients. I’m not sure about the pH. It might be as high as other soaps, but water might lower the pH…I just don’t know. I need a

Whatever I choose, I’ll be using it on just the “important” bits, meaning that I no longer scrub my arms, legs, and torso with soap every day. Since I’m not a farmer or a construction worker, I don’t generally accumulate a lot of dirt in those areas. Washing this way has so far made a big difference in my skin this winter. It’s much less dry, even if I don’t slather myself in coconut oil. Side note:  I also will shave my legs with just about anything that happens to be in the shower, because I think having a separate shaving cream is expensive and pointless. You can use conditioner, or coconut oil, (obviously) or aloe, or body wash, or butter (if that’s your thang). Disclaimer: I don’t know anyone who shaves with butter.

As for showering less…that’s my next goal. I shower every morning, but I’d prefer to do it less often. Unfortunately, my hair needs to be styled while wet. Since my bathroom doesn’t have a tub and I can’t fit my head under the sink faucet, I’m pretty much screwed. Maybe I could use a spray bottle. Somehow, I’ll find a way.


Facial skin is even more delicate than body skin. Mine is also acne-prone, and I’ve given it the runaround over the years; first with Proactiv (horrible stuff) and then with other harsh cleansers. Since I do wear some makeup, I have to wash my face every day. I always remove my eye makeup with coconut oil, (ugh, I know, I am totally one of those coconut people, but it WORKS SO WELL) and then I wash with a very gentle cleanser. I’m currently using this one, by Acure. (I know, I might as well start working for them.) I have a Clarisonic, which I love for its gentle exfoliation, and I can use that with pretty much any kind of cleanser.

However, I don’t feel the need to exfoliate every day, and on those days, I’d prefer to use something even simpler than the Acure cleanser that is also non-foaming. I’ve heard about washing with honey, and I’ve heard about the Oil Cleansing Method. I’m also drawn to Stark Skincare’s Grapefruit Cleanse + Hydrate Balm, (and their gorgeously graphic packaging) though for the sake of buying fewer products, I’m not giving in to the urge to try it! I like the idea of using one thing (like oil or honey) because I know exactly what’s in it, and while I love gentle cleansers by  Dr. Hauschka, Suki, and Acure, their prices don’t always align with my budget.gf_white_sq_1024x1024

So I’m toying with the idea of making my OWN cleansing balm. Do you know how EASY it is to make a balm or salve? So freaking easy. It’s essentially just oils and wax. My mom actually taught me how to do this; she used to make comfrey and olive oil salve for my terrible childhood eczema (that has thankfully since mostly gone away).

Oil cleansing (or balm cleansing, in this case) follows the principle that “like dissolves like,” in that the cleansing oil will dissolve dirt and excess oil while keeping the skin moisturized.  Many people are skeptical of putting oil on their faces, but as long as the oil is non-comedogenic (meaning that it doesn’t clog your pores) and as long as you don’t have a sensitivity to that particular oil, you should be able to cleanse without breaking out. This method is beneficial both for people who have dry skin (because it doesn’t strip your skin of the oil it already has) and for people with oily skin (because it follows the same principles of oil normalization that I mentioned in my curly hair post).

Essentially, you slather the balm, oil, (or maybe honey) on your face, rub it around to remove dirt and makeup, and then remove it all with a washcloth and some hot water. Of course, washcloths are notorious for trapping bacteria, so it’s best to use a new one each day. Ugh. More things to buy. Then, ideally you’d apply a toner and then moisturize with some of the same balm or another kind of moisturizer.


So, here’s my product recap:

1. Cleansing balm (for facial cleansing, perhaps facial moisture, and body moisture)

2. Facial oil: I’m currently using a facial oil that I made myself. It contains: jojoba oil, sea buckthorn oil, tamanu oil, and thyme essential oil. It’s working pretty nicely, but making it wasn’t actually any cheaper than buying a pre-mixed oil. I think I’ll switch back to  Badger Damascus Rose Facial Oil with maybe a bit of thyme oil, which has been shown to fight acne. I guess that’s one more product, but they’re an ethical, affordable company, and I like supporting them. Plus, it feels really nice on my face. (I’m just too intrepid and obsessed with making things for myself.)

2. Toner: I love Suki’s Concentrated Balancing Toner
3. Body wash
4. My hair arsenal (which is currently 3 products, described in my curls post)
5. Toothpaste (thinking of making my own tooth powder, as well)
6. Deodorant (I might start making a variation of this recipe for myself.)
7. Various makeup products

That’s not very many things at all! Plus, I’d be making some of those things, so I’d know the exact ingredients. That makes me feel pretty safe.

Here’s what I’ll probably use for the balm:

¼ cup olive oil
½ cup coconut oil
1 quarter-sized chunk of beeswax
1 tbsp unrefined shea butter
some kind of essential oil (rose? lavender? ylang ylang? not sure yet)
1 tbsp honey?

I’ll melt it all over the stove, over low heat and ideally with a double-boiler, and then pour it into a sanitized mason jar. Voila: balm!


I’m not going to add any of the more expensive oils (sea buckthorn, baobab, tamanu) because I’m mostly using this as a cleanser, and I honestly can’t afford it.

I’ll update the blog one I’ve made it and tried it out for a week. And I’ll post pictures of my “manufacturing process.”

So, there you go. These are the things I think about on a daily basis. I just get into moods where I feel like being less of a consumer, and non-conformist, and as natural as possible, and then these fits of DIY body care come out. But I think it’s ultimately a good thing. Why not be passionate? (Also, see if you can catch my embedded grammar lesson. Teehee.)

5 Responses to “In Defense of the Unwashed + Routine Simplicity”
  1. mallory says:

    I’m all about showering as little as possible in defense of healthy and nourished skin. especially in winter. i try to tell people this and they just think i’m a dirty hippie. wuheva they’re just dry and itchy and judgey.

  2. Is the badger facial oil used for the same reason you’d use argan oil?

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