Monday, February 22, 2016

I Don't Wash My Hair and Other Minimalist Grooming Confessions


Personal grooming is probably the area where I've gotten most out of step with normal American society, minimalism-wise. I forget that it's considered normal to shower every single day. Why? Most people aren't getting that dirty through the course of a normal day. I used to shower every day or two and I'd wash my hair with shampoo every time I showered--it was on autopilot.

Now, I haven't washed my hair in, like... a year?

I mean, I shower, and I rinse my hair with water as a part of that, but I don't use any shampoo or conditioner or soap or anything. For awhile, I did the "no 'poo" method, where you replace frequent shampoos with a weekly baking soda and apple cider vinegar wash, but even that started to seem like too much after awhile. So I started doing it less and less, and... as far as I can tell... hair doesn't actually need to be washed that much??

When I washed my hair frequently, I often had the feeling--after a day, two, maybe three if I let it go that long--that my hair felt greasy and needed a wash. But now that it's been so long since I washed it with any kind of soap, I guess my hair has adjusted and it just doesn't produce that much oil anymore. This is a lot of why I shower less often, too--I no longer have that "greasy hair alert." Now I shower if I work out, or get actually dirty, or it's really hot out, or, failing any of that, if it's been... oh, maybe a week or so. (And no, I don't smell... at least, nobody has said anything.)

Granted, my hair is short--that's a big part of why I can do this. And I no longer put any styling stuff in it, so I don't have to wash it out. Similarly, I've made the personal choice to not wear make-up, so I have the luxury or not washing stuff off my face as often.

My bathroom used to be full of plastic bottles and tubes of all sorts of products: shampoos, conditioners, hair styling wax, face wash, body wash, facial moisturizer, body moisturizer, shaving cream, cosmetics... Currently, my shelf in the shower has three items: razor, bar soap, and a bottle of almond oil. Here's how I use them.

Hair Care

Used to use: shampoo, conditioner, hair styling goop
Currently use: Nothing

Body cleaning

Used to use: body wash, washcloth
Currently use: bar soap, washcloth


Not much change here except a switch to bar soap from body wash on the grounds that it's plastic-free (it comes in a cardboard box instead of a plastic bottle) and it's cheaper. You use less, so it lasts longer. I tend to use a sensitive skin soap, such as baby mild castile soap or Dove sensitive skin soap, but I've also been known to venture into the soap sections of craft fairs.

Face cleaning

Used to use: commercial face wash with microbeads, facial moisturizer, washcloth
Currently use: almond oil, washcloth


I used to feel like my face wasn't really clean if it didn't have that tight, squeaky-clean feeling. Now I know that was a sign I was over-exfoliating and using a cleanser that was too harsh and dehydrating. (That's why I don't wash my face with bar soap, even though that would be even more minimalist--even sensitive skin soap is too harsh for my face.)

I don't know if it's coincidence, confirmation bias, or a real thing, but I feel like I won the battle with acne when I stopped washing my face so harshly. Crunchy Betty taught me that, counter-intuitively, the best way to wash your face is with more oil. A skin-friendly oil will draw out dirty oil. You then rinse away the oil with a wet washcloth, and, if desired, use a little more oil to moisturize.


After trying out a few, I'm most fond of the way almond oil feels. Many cooking oils feel too heavy, and avocado oil made me break out. I like jojoba oil, too, but it's a little expensive for everyday use.


As for exfoliating, I find now that a washcloth's roughness is enough for me. Knowing now that microbeads are impossible to filter out of the water system and inevitably get into the ocean and kill fish, I'm ashamed that I used them for so long.

Moisturizer

Used to use: face moisturizer, body moisturizer, hand cream
Currently use: almond oil


You can use oil to moisturize as well as to clean. Anytime my skin is dry or itchy, I rub in a little almond or coconut oil. Aloe is great too, especially for burns. Vitamin E oil--which is usually a cheap oil like safflower with tocopherol added--can be great for reducing scarring. I swore by it after I had surgery as a kid. I've also heard that adding a little lavender essential oil to your oil of choice can be skin-friendly too, but I've not tested it firsthand.

Shaving

Used to use: razor, shaving cream
Currently use: razor, almond oil


I basically use almond oil because I have it in the bathroom, but I suppose it would be more frugal to use cooking oil, since it's cheaper and the good stuff isn't needed for this purpose. Leftover shampoo and conditioner also worked well, when I still had some lying around but was no longer using it my hair.


For my razor, I've used the kind with a disposable head for years, which is not only better than totally disposable razors from a zero-waste perspective, but also works a lot better. If I were to start over from scratch, though, I'd probably go with an electric razor. I was recently given an old one, and it's great: super easy to use, no knicks or cuts, no shaving cream necessary, and the blades last for years! Even though I got past my mental block about buying men's razors (THEY ARE EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE PINK SHIT BUT CHEAPER AND BETTER IN EVERY WAY), it never occurred to me to use an electric razor on my legs. I'll probably switch to the electric full-time after I use up my stock of razor cartridges.


If I were really minimalist/feminist I guess I wouldn't shave my body hair, but there it is. Sometimes I conform to society's standards.

Cosmetics

Used to use: facial moisturizer, primer, foundation, concealer, blush, lip liner, lipstick, eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara
Currently use: nothing

This is a personal choice, for sure. Given my skin's sensitivity and proneness to rash, my ambivalence about beauty standards, and, most importantly, my laziness, I decided first not to wear makeup to work, and then, once all my products gradually began to expire and stink from lack of use, not to buy any more makeup. Getting enough sleep, washing my face gently, and dressing with my palette colors are my preferred ways to make my face look bright and vibrant, without all the hassle.

Unoptimized Routines


I've not yet veered from standard personal care routines when it comes to brushing my teeth, flossing, using deodorant. Yes, sadly, I still have toothpaste, floss, a plastic toothbrush, and a roll-on deodorant in my bathroom. While oil pulling doesn't appeal to me, I'm considering ways to make my own toothpaste, but I'm nervous about not getting enough fluoride, since I tend to be very cavity prone. I also tried using coconut oil and baking soda as a deodorant, but it gave me a rash (I think the baking soda was too harsh), so I switched back to ordinary deodorant (though I make sure to get a brand without aluminum -- the roll-on type that is just mineral salt water seems to work pretty well). These areas of my grooming are still works in progress. I welcome your crunchy suggestions!

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