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. 

 

 

 

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?

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.”

Continue reading “Side Salads for Weight Loss (My Story)”

Blogging: How to Stay Inspired

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Daily blogging is one of those things that appears deceptively easy, especially for a “generalist” blog written without much specific expertise in the field needed, which is often the case for lifestyle blogs—but that’s true for many others as well, such as personal finance or hobby-specific sites. However, what you’ll find, as I did, if you actually try to put up quality content every day is that staying inspired with enough ideas to create posts that will genuinely interest you and your readers each and every day requires great time management, planning, and a strategic plan just to stay inspired.

Yesterday, I opened my WordPress editor to find that there was absolutely nothing left in my “inspiration tank.” I had already talked about most of what was a current lifestyle inspiration to me, and the other things I’d tried recently weren’t noteworthy.

Continue reading “Blogging: How to Stay Inspired”