Low-Waste Summer Skincare Routine

Last year, I decided to cut down on the amount of waste my personal hygiene routines create–that’s everything from showering, feminine hygiene, and skincare. With a good attitude and a willingness to adjust to a little less convenience (though not in every case!), I have dramatically reduced the amount of garbage I create. In fact, save for a few teeny blades I toss each month from shaving, showering has become a waste-free activity. A low waste face-care/skincare routine, on the other hand, has been harder to peg down! This one took a lot of persistence, and there are a few facial cleanser and moisturiser bars in my cupboard that are destined for the garbage, because they just didn’t work on my skin.I definitely haven’t had this much “bad luck” with conventional products. Unfortunately, natural products don’t have the best reputation when it comes to performance, and my experience aligned with this bad rep. Keeping this in mind helped me to manage my expectations; I knew I might run into a few rough patches and would likely have to spend a few extra dollars on products that wouldn’t work as advertised before finding workable alternatives.Divorced Blog Graphic

And, guess what? I’ve finally got something that works! Below are the details of my daily face care routine. 

Cleanser: Fresh Farmacy from Lush

Fresh Farmacy lives in that sweet spot of actually cleaning your skin without being abrasive that vegan facial cleansing bars tend to miss. And it’s not a soap! I thought this point would would be a no-brainer: that bars labelled as facial cleansers would not be soaps. But unfortunately, there are plenty of small businesses that seem to label their soaps quite archaically, calling some shampoos and others face washes or shaving creams, when really the only thing they make is just soap.The problem with soap is not just that it can be really drying for your skin, but it can leave a film of residue that could clog the comparatively bigger pores on your face. So you might end up with breakouts in days and dry patches in months–ones you wouldn’t otherwise have. So resist the temptation to wash your face with a bar of soap and call it a day.Back to Fresh Farmacy. It’s cruelty free and vegan and great for sensitive skin. Its base of calamine powder makes it feel like you’re washing your face with a very gentle pink clay (it does not lather at all). Lush offers other package-free, bar format face cleansers, as well, and if you want to try something altogether different, look on Well.ca. They carry brands such as Sibu and Ethique, both of which sell solid, minimal packaging face cleansers, and I can vouch for a great shopping experience with Well. 

Exfoliator: Silicone Face Brush

It’s been months since I last used actual face scrub, and that’s coming from someone who used a pea-sized amount nearly daily! I’ve found that a silicone face brush gets the job done just as well. You can change the pressure to change the level of abrasion slightly, and since there’s no scrub to threaten to wear the skin on my fingertips raw, I’m a lot more patient with massaging my face to increase blood flow.

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I use my face brush four or five times a week. Really, the goal is to use it every morning, but sometimes I’m in a bit of a rush to just get ready and I skip over those extra two to three minutes. It feels pleasant to use, and I have noticed better textured skin in the last few months. I’ve found it helps to fade red marks from past breakouts along with minimising scars.

I usually just use this to massage over my cleanser. So I’ll rub my cleansing bar over my wet face, and then exfoliate with the silicone brush over top for about two minutes. Voila! Fresh skin.

Serum: Argan Oil + Carrot Seed Drops & Vitamin E

I’ve given up moisturizer for serum. I make this at home and use larger, plastic packages to mix this once every few weeks. Over time, I save on plastic and paper packaging, so while this part of my routine is still wasteful, it’s a better solution than purchasing a prepared product.

The base of my serum is argan oil. Argan oil is considered a dry oil. Dry oils were all the rage about ten years ago, and the idea is that some natural oils are less comedogenic, or less likely to clog your pores. Argan is one of them. It’s also rich in vitamin E, but I add extra anyway. Our skin easily absorbs vitamins E, A and C, and it’s super easy to find the first one in stable solutions over the counter or online. 

The idea to add carrot seed oil came to me when I really wanted a retinol product. Retinol is a synthetic form of Vitamin A commonly added to anti-aging and nighttime skincare products. From what I remember of my reading, over an extended period, think two years, the use of concentrated retinol products is associated with thicker (younger!) skin and fewer wrinkles. 

But the more I searched, the more I realized that whatever retinol product I chose, with it I would need to compromise my goal of moving towards a more environmentally aligned routine. So I looked to see what else I might find.

Carrot seed oil immediately stood out. It’s basically the next best thing: It’s an oil that contains a number of antioxidants that may be beneficial for aging skin (but not vitamin A!). Beyond the miracle-touting claims made on health websites, what caught my eye about this oil was the amazing reviews left by users. 

I wear the serum, made of argan and carrot seed essential oil and vitamin E, each morning and night, and my skin has been looking brighter and healthier. 

I purchased all three items required to create this serum from a local wholesaler. They come in larger bottles, which translates to plastic savings as compared to purchasing the same yield of product in smaller packages.

Sunscreen: All Good SPF 50 Sunscreen Butter

As my daily sunscreen, I am using the All Good Sunscreen Butter, which comes in a teeny tiny aluminum or tinplate twist-top tin. It’s a reef-safe, non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen, and All Good is Leaping Bunny certified (they do not test on animals). I couldn’t find information on whether the product is vegan-friendly, but I’ve sent them an email and will update this when I know.

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The product has a very thick consistency and probably wasn’t made to be used as daily sunblock (their website says it offers sun protection “in the most extreme environments,” which I’m assuming doesn’t look like sitting in front of a computer for most of the day).

Gram by gram, All Good’s tin sunscreen may appear a bit pricey. At $12.99 + tax (Whole Foods) for just 28 grams, it’s about 25% costlier than Derma-e’s SPF 30 facial sunscreen (113 grams for 19.54 on iHerb). But you need a lot less of it! I only use a few swipes of my index finger against the zinc-loaded “butter” to get for full-face coverage. It glides on surprisingly well on its own, but wearing a serum under this really helps, too.

While for the first hour or so of wear, it does leave a chalky residue, this low waste sunscreen has been a surprisingly great solution for me. I haven’t broken out as I expected I might, and I have peace of mind knowing my faccia is protected from all those UVA/UVB rays. 

That’s all for now! I hope this post inspired you to rethink and innovate parts of your daily face care routine. If you have any questions or plan on trying anything I’ve mentioned in the post, feel free to drop a comment below. 

Subscribe to my blog to receive an email when I post new content, and connect with me at @Sweetbliss_Zhina on Instagram. 

 

 

 

I Tried Lush Hair Care (Again)

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Photo courtesy of Lushusa.com

I have switched to waste-free hair care! Two months ago, I picked up a Lush shampoo bar, and there is no going back. I have waited two (and a half) months to write this post, and I’m already on my second shampoo bar; I just wanted to give their products an honest try before talking about them here.

Even though I have known about Lush shampoo bars for a very long time, I didn’t first try them until just a few years ago, and then, I tried the wrong ones for my hair type. I chose two at random, basing my choice on the colour of the bars–I picked red and orange.

They both left my hair super dry, and I didn’t know to go back and ask for the right product–I figured they were all the same, which is not true.

This time, I asked, and the sales associate recommended the Godiva shampoo bar, their most moisturizing option, along with the Jungle hair conditioner (also a solid bar). All Lush shampoo bars, including the Godiva, contain SLS beads, the solid form of a cleanser commonly found in conventional shampoos, which means you can count on them to clean your hair just as well, and without leaving greasy soap residue. A Lush shampoo bar is not made of soap! This is an important point to note because I have seen natural body care brands that offer a “bar shampoo” that is essentially just a regular bar of soap.

They all also contain other essential oils and moisturizers, and the jasmine-scented Godiva also contains chunks of natural moisturizing butters for extra hydration.

My hair absolutely loved the Godiva bar, and I didn’t really need to top up with a conditioner–I found that doing that made my normally very voluminous hair look limp. I ran out after about a month of every-other-day hair washing, and I restocked with the citrus-scented Montalbano bar because their Godiva was sold out. I love the distinctive scent and colour of each bar; they make me feel super pampered in the shower, and like I’m not giving anything up for the sake of living a more aligned lifestyle.

If you are ordering online and don’t feel like popping by a Lush store, try calling a nearby store and explaining your hair type before purchasing. Talking to a sales associate is what made all the difference for me. With the Montalbano bar, I am back to using the Jungle hair conditioner, a luscious moisturizing bar that leaves the shower air around smelling like ylang-ylang, a subtly sweet scent. It’s made with cocoa butter and mashed avocados and bananas (which you can also smell–yum!) and somehow conditions my hair without making it greasy.

Before styling my hair, I usually also run some Queen Bee hair honey (also sold in a solid bar) through my locks with my fingers. My hair has never felt softer than it does with this hair care routine, and I can’t recommend Lush enough not only for products that perform but ones that feel so good to use.

 

Safety Razor for Women’s Shaving

For ages, I considered trading my Gillette Venus or Schick Quattro (I have switched back-and-forth between these two women’s razors for a long time) for a safety razor. The prospect was a little scary, and I was too comfortable with my old routine, but I finally did it, and I’m so glad!

It’s not that I ever had any problems with the two types of shaving products I used, but the amount of plastic that accumulated in the bathroom trash can while each day I listened to the calamitous environmental consequences of waste and waste pollution on news podcasts became too much to bear.

A couple of months ago, I bit the bullet, as they say, and bought literally the first inexpensive safety razor that came up on Amazon. You’d hope someone purporting to inform an audience about this would delve into some research first, and I did, but I found the price premiums on the double-edged safety razors marketed to women had more to do with the pink handles than with an innovative shaving mechanism or functional design difference.

It just seemed as though the experience would be more or less the same, and I didn’t want to splurge in case safety razors were a definite no-no for me. But good news–they aren’t!

The razor I bought came with twenty blades, and I am on the third one now, shaving about once every five days, at the same rate as previously. Each blade lasts for 3-4 shaves of my full legs and produces so much less waste in the end than my made-for-women razor cartridges (the only thing that ends in the trash is a single thin blade, no plastic).

There was definitely a bit of a learning curve, and on that, I wish I’d done a little more reading before starting. For example, I’ve found that with a double-edged razor, I simply don’t have the luxury of applying pressure liberally or dragging the blade along my skin for long strokes to save time. Instead, short strokes with very, very gentle pressure are the only way to keep from nicking the sensitive skin on my legs.

I also have to lather up and trace my skin twice with the blade each time to get the same closeness as my Gillette provided once through. So ultimately, it takes a little more time and focus, with a razor handle that is not nearly as ergonomic (it starts to slip out of my hand when I get the slightest bit of shaving soap on my hand).

Following my first time shaving with the new razor, I remember actually feeling a surge of gratitude for the product designers at Gillette. My user experience with the Venus razor had been so absolutely seamless that shaving had never really been a noticeable part of my routine, but this time I couldn’t not notice as I stood with blood prickling out of at least three dozen spots all over my legs.

I’m sharing the struggle bits because I don’t want to contribute to the idea, which is generally a lie, that “green” products perform just as well as any other. An other which has usually has had countless R&D resources poured into it and that doesn’t face the same need to conform to some environmental standard. This one certainly doesn’t do as well from a performance standpoint alone! But I have chosen to keep at it because it seems almost like a bit of a moral imperative to do so. It doesn’t escape me that it’s a laughably small contribution on the grand scale of the worldwide trash “problem” but if it’s one of the only things I can personally do, why not? In the end, my legs are still hairless, and I’m completely accustomed to my new routine.

It truly was mostly just a matter of adjusting the pressure and dedicating an extra minute or two to the task. If you go this route, you’ll feel so, so much better knowing you’re not needlessly spending so much money on being hair-free and not polluting the world/oceans/landfills with so much of your trash.

I’ve replaced a few other conventionally wasteful personal hygiene and self-care products that I use regularly and will be sharing about them soon. Thoughts?

HIIT Workout + Yoga (#3)

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I haven’t done a fitness log in a really long time, but today I tried two new videos from Youtube, and I thought I’d share my thoughts. I was looking for a Jillian Michaels’ workout on the BeFit channel, but when I couldn’t find it, I settled for another result.

This 40-minute yoga and Pilates inspired workout was supposed to be a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) routine, and the upvotes convinced me to try it. I didn’t love it, but I was surprised by how much I noticed about the quality of instruction since having completed my Power Pilates training.

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Udemy for Classical Pilates

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Classical Pilates includes the modifier classical to indicate that it more closely resembles founder Joseph Pilates’ method of Contrology (or what is now just referred to as simply Pilates). A weight-bearing, low-impact, and mind-body type of exercise, Pilates stretches and strengthens the muscles, developing them in a balanced fashion aimed at increasing everyday functionality. From experience, adherence to this practice results in more bodily ease, and an increased sense of balance and freedom within one’s self. And this seems to hold true for practitioners starting at any age.

To me, Pilates is all that and more, and if you haven’t tried it, the short online course I am about to recommend in this post might just be the perfect place to start!

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Recipe: Creamy Vegan Coffee Ice Pops (Low Calorie)

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Summer is right around the corner! Even though today was windy and chilly, the weather has been trending towards the sunny and warm here in Toronto. So in honor of the slowly descending mid-spring, and soon-to-be-summer, I made these coffee ice pops.

love a good popsicle, and I love coffee. So combining the two came naturally! Usually, I’m partial to mango or strawberry-flavored smoothie pops, but these were so different—in a good way. They have a rich coffee flavour that, combined with the sweetness of the banana and dates, makes for a great low-calorie Netflix dessert option  (do you know what I mean?).

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Side Salads for Weight Loss (My Story)

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It wasn’t too many years ago that I found myself at a weight that made me really unhappy. I had tens of pounds to lose to get back to where I was before and where I am back to now, and I knew I didn’t want to follow any specific diet. I recently watched an interview about why despite the majority of Americans now finding themselves overweight, fewer of them than ever before are dieting.

One subject very aptly put it this way: “dieting is a four-letter word for failure.”

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Q & A: Coffee, Job Search, Our Planet, Cats and Dogs

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This is a fun “life lately” type of post made up of questions others have asked me lately.

In the last two weeks, I’ve been either on a or phoned into a half-dozen job interviews, and they’ve all had one thing in common: so many questions—which makes a lot of sense. In that time, I’ve also been asked countless questions from friends, prospective dates (hi, Hinge), my mom, and even my doctor. So today I thought of putting together a Q&A based on some of those questions. 🙂

Anything you’ve been asked lately that made you stop and think? Tell me, I’d actually love to know!

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Throwback Thursday: Running My First Mile

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This post is a throwback to the first time I ran a mile. For years now, people have known me as someone who loves to jog. I recall the first time someone texted me with something along the lines of, “I’m looking for a local race to run. Which one would you recommend?” I was shocked, and for good reason.

I didn’t know myself to be a sporty person of any kind. I had run “the mile” for the first time ever in grade 9 gym class. It was a mandatory part of the class curriculum, and it was also the most physically challenging thing I’d ever done up to that point. My experiences running before that had been few and very far between.

I had spontaneously enrolled in a 3,000-metre race at a cross country meet when I was in the fourth grade, and I’d dropped out after less than two full laps around the track because I couldn’t catch my breath enough to continue, and then I’d watched another last-minute contender wearing high-heeled wedge sandals sprint to a first-place finish. Then there was the maize field where my father jogged… He’d taken me once, and I had not had an easy time of trying to keep up with him. I’d walked more than I’d jogged.

And that was that.

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5 Ways to Make Time (for Exercise)

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I’ve often heard people claim they don’t have time for exercise. I have never actually had this problem, but there have been times when I wasn’t organized enough to make the time. I think this might be the case for some others, as well.

Becoming intentionally organized with my time has helped me feel as though I have more of it. The feeling of being on top of your day can leave you with that precious hour or two that you can choose to spend exercising.

I first faced a major time-management problem when I started working from home. The lack of structure as compared to working in an office meant that if I took things at too leisurely a pace during the day, I would find myself scrambling to finish tasks and projects in the evenings. I had no time to exercise, and any social plans I might have had suffered. Not only that, the added stress from that disorganization was a drain on my energy levels.

A few basic changes worked really well for me, and I am sharing them below.

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