Minimalist Morning Skincare Routine

A mindful morning routine doesn’t just have to apply to what you do. Minimalism and mindfulness can also take place in your skincare routine. I’ve mentioned before that skincare is one of my “luxury items” — however, lately, that’s been changing. While most of my skincare isn’t plastic free — there are overall a lot fewer products that need to be recycled or TerraCycled. In addition, I stay mindful of the ingredients in each product. Ultimately my goal is for my products to be simple, effective, and with a hint of luxe — because, why not?

1. Origins Cleansing Oil 2. La Roche Posay Gentle Cleanser 3. Versed Vitamin C Powder

Oil Cleanse: I bought this with a Macy’s gift card when I had no idea what else to buy. And, you know what? I love it. It smells delightful and is both gentle and moisturizing. Great at helping take off my sunscreen.
Eco Pros: No parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, mineral oil, DEA, petrolatum, paraffin, polyethylene beads, formaldehyde & animal ingredients. Origins also supports reforestation projects around the world and are working to have net zero carbon emissions by 2020.
Eco Cons: Plastic bottle (recyclable).

Second Cleanse: This is a super gentle cleanser that is suitable for both me and my husband. This is the one product that we share so the big bottle works out well. The only reason I double cleanse in the morning is because I put SPF on as soon as I wake up to walk the dogs and then get a bit of a sweat on with a workout.
Eco Pros: Huge bottle that takes a long, long time to go through. One less thing in the bathroom since my husband and I share. Paraben and fragrance free.
Eco Cons: Plastic bottle (recyclable).


*An effective double cleanse allows me to keep a makeup remover and toner out of my product rotation.*

Vitamin C Powder: I love that this Vitamin C is in powder format since Vitamin C is very sensitive to light and air. I also love that I can mix this in with my existing moisturizer instead of having a separate serum with Vitamin C.
Eco Pros: No fragrance added, dye-free, paraben-free, Petroleum-free, Talcum-free, silicone-free, Sulfate-free, mineral oil-free, vegan, formaldehyde-free, nonylphenol ethoxylate free.
Eco Cons: Plastic container (recyclable).

4. Drunk Elephant Lala Whipped Cream 5. Herbivore Phoenix Oil 6. Avene SPF Moisturizer

Moisturize: This is new to the mix but, so far, so good! Definitely meant for dry skin like mine — the texture reminds me of buttercream frosting. It’s hella expensive which is why I’ll only continue to repurchase with Sephora gift cards.
Eco Pros: Vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free. Fragrance free.
Eco Cons: Plastic container.
I don’t think the company is as philanthropic as people think (based on the whole elephant thing).

Seal It In: I tried the mini pack of all three Herbivore facial oils and I this one is my favorite. The scent is a bit more subtle than Lapis and Orchid and I find that it sinks in quickly. Overall, it gives a lovely, glowy look to the skin and seals all the moisture in.
Eco Pros: Glass bottle. No synthetic ingredients, parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, phthalates, chemicals, fillers, animal testing, mineral oils, petroleum. Herbivore frequently donates a portion of certain products to causes like the ACLU.
Eco Cons: Must TerraCycle dropper.


SPF: Since I work from home, this doesn’t always happen. But if I’m going out and about for the day, I’ll slather on this bad boy that I picked up in both Paris and London last year. (I stock up whenever I get a chance.)
Eco Pros: Paraben free. No Oxybenzone.
Eco Cons: Plastic tube must be TerraCycled.

There you have it! Next week, I’ll get into my pared down evening routine (mostly thanks to the magic of Differin).

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My “Do Not Buy” List

An effective way I’ve found to curb shopping impulses is by creating a “Do Not Buy” list. This is a list of things that I’ve bought that have gone to waste or went unenjoyed for various reasons. Reminding myself of what these items are and, more importantly, why they didn’t work out (whether it be a certain type of clothing or food) keeps me from accumulating unwanted items. Truly the first step to reducing waste is by purchasing fewer items to begin with.

Food/Drink

Dark chocolate: I have a sweet tooth and as much as I try — I find dark chocolate far too bitter… these usually end up accumulating in the pantry until my husband eats them all.
Excessively flavored tea: I love tea but am mostly drawn to black, builder tea — the stronger, the better. I’ll occasionally do a light herbal blend or an Earl Grey. But outside of that, I don’t need to get too fancy with it.
Flavored balsamic vinaigrettes: While I love flavored balsamics, they usually come in a massive bottle that I struggle to use up.
Non vanilla-based ice cream: I’m a vanilla girl. Sure, I’ll get crazy flavors when out and about, but, at home, there’s no way I’ll finish a pint of something purely chocolate.
Most cookies: Give me all the cakes and pies — cookies I can pass on.

Personal Care

Hairspray: I’ve had the same bottle for years — I have incredibly thick, mostly hard to control hair. No amount of hairspray can change that.
Conditioner: For every conditioner bottle I use up, I’ve probably gone through 4-5 shampoo bars. I don’t use enough of it to justify the purchase. I think coconut oil pre-shampooing should be enough.
Nail polish: I love having my nails done. I suck at doing them myself. And, no matter how much I practice, it never looks as good as when I get it done at the salon. I’ll leave it to the professionals.

Clothing

Boat neck shirts: Doesn’t look good on me.
Empire waisted dresses: Doesn’t work on my petite frame.
Shirts/dresses with halter straps: Makes me self conscious about my shoulders.
Jeans without stretch: Not comfortable.
Trench coats: Looks cool. Completely impractical in the Texas weather.
Tight shorts: Too old to feel comfortable in these.
Fancy compression workout leggings: I love my Nike Leg-a-see Leggings and gravitate towards them. Everything else feels too tight.
Black loungewear: Three cream/golden dogs who love to shed. Don’t wear black in my home.
Expensive shoes: I have flat feet and do a number on my shoes — doesn’t matter how expensive they were. There are plenty of affordable options out there.
Non black/grey/nude undergarments: I see all these cute colors and prints but they just aren’t practical!
Dress socks: I work from home. I have no need for these… no matter how adorable they are.
Bracelets/watches: I hate anything on my wrist.

Home Items

Beachy or linen scented items: I prefer warmer, sweeter scents. I don’t like to feel like I’m inside a washing machine.
Blankets or pillows with poms on them: Three dogs and poms do not mix.
Non-cotton blankets: My cotton blankets have outlasted every other material and are so much more comfortable (and compostable!).
Pure white bedding: These end up looking grimey and yellow pretty quickly in our home. Only gray bedding moving forward.

What would be your “do not buy” list?

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Spring Sprucing To Dos

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.

William Shakespeare

Ah spring. The time for fresh starts and spring cleaning. Although I try and keep up with everything year round, I like to go extra hard in the spring in preparation for the brutal Texas summers. I want everything as streamlined, minimized, and light/airy as possible. So here’s my spring to do list (and hopefully you get some ideas as well)!

Purge

  • Expired or unneeded OTC medications, vitamins, and prescriptions. (You can safely dispose of these at certain Walgreens locations.)
  • Extra cords and chargers. (Drop these off at your local tech recycling.)
  • Unused hangers. (Donate to Goodwill or other similar store.)
  • Ripped and worn out towels and blankets. (Drop these off at your local animal shelter.)
  • Decor items that went unused this past holiday season. (Donate to Goodwill or other similar store.)

Clean + Reorganize

  • De-pile sweaters and winter wear before storage.
  • Wash winter bedding and blankets before storage.
  • Clean out receipts and other trash from purses and wallets.
  • Re-organize car kit and donate/give away to friends any excess reusable bags.
  • Clean out the fridge/freezer of any expired or unwanted food items. (Remember to recycle any glass, plastic, or aluminum packaging.)

Fun Stuff

Boring Stuff

  • Make sure all light bulbs in the home are LED — 4 years later, we realized that we never changed the incandescent light bulbs in our closet!
  • Swap out all water and air filters in the home.
  • Call pest control for a treatment before summer.
  • Touch up the walls and baseboards.
  • Install fans in bedrooms before summer.
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The Single Use Kitchen Gadgets I Keep Around

I would consider myself a minimalist. I’m not extreme about it but I am pretty ruthless about what I keep in the house. But as a family that cooks a lot, the kitchen is where I break my rule on not having overly specialized/single purpose items. I relegate these little gadgets to one drawer (except for the two appliances listed). Your list might look very different than mine… but be very thoughtful about the kitchen gadgets you do keep. Don’t keep things that will only be used once a year or in a wishful/just in case scenario. Or items that you hate using because they are bulky/a pain to clean. To me, minimalism is not about having anything but about keeping the items that are used often and make life easier. Here are the items I personally keep around.

Photograph of cooking utensils.

Milk Frother: I seldom buy tea/hot chocolate/etc. from a coffee shop as I prefer to make them at home. It’s cheaper, produces less waste, and I can get exactly what I want. Wins all around. However, because I don’t use a fancy machine to make these things (just a kettle or on stovetop), my drinks lack the wonderful frothiness found at the coffee shop. This tiny, inexpensive milk frother does the job.

Citrus Squeezer: We are frequently in need of freshly squeezed lemon or lime, whether for a margarita, a cake, or in hot water when sick. Frankly, I just suck at squeezing lemons… barely getting any juice out of them and then resorting to using 2- 3 times the number that a recipe calls for. A citrus squeezer makes the job easier, faster, and less wasteful.

Apple Slicer: This is one of those items that you do not need to have if you don’t eat sliced apples FREQUENTLY. However, in our household, that is not the case. Our dogs eat apples, I eat apples, my husband eat apples. Always sliced. With peanut butter. This item is a time saver for us.

Dough/Bench Scraper: Some people consider the humble dough (or bench) scraper a single use item. I disagree. I use this to, yes, scrape dough but also to transfer veggies from a cutting board, clean flour/sugar off the counters while baking, and to cut/portion out pieces of dough.

Meat Thermometer: As someone who has gotten food poisoning from chicken, I can wholeheartedly say that it is an experience I have no desire to ever repeat. Hence. The meat thermometer. I also use this while baking cakes and frittatas.

Potato Masher: I like mashed potatoes. Both sweet and regular. I have yet to find a way to mash potatoes with forks (or another household item) that lead to a consistency I enjoy. Therefore, the potato masher stays.

Now for the appliances. I don’t think either of these are must haves (even for me). However, I enjoy them and they make life a bit easier. If I didn’t have the space for them, I wouldn’t hesitate to give them away. But, for now, they stay.

Bread Maker: I don’t think making your own bread is the only zero waste way to get bread. It’s actually less wasteful to get freshly baked bread from Whole Foods (or wherever) and stick it in your own bag straight from the bakery. Making bread at home means that I have to get flour, sugar, salt (all package free) and yeast (in a glass jar). However, the resulting bread is divine. Basically, I keep the bread maker because of the sheer joy of eating warm, freshly baked, low ingredient bread at home. I think that’s a pretty good reason to keep it around.

Rice Cooker: I’m Asian and I also enjoy cooking different Asian foods. And rice is a large component of many Asian cuisines. As an Asian, having a rice cooker is a part of life. I have never lived without one! Can I make rice on the stove top? Yeah. Do I want to? Nope. My compromise is that I have a much smaller rice cooker than the one I grew up with.

Pin this post image: the single use kitchen gadgets I still keep as a minimalist.
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Move 27 Items In Your Home

Have you heard of the Feng Shui idea that moving 27 items can change your life? I think “change your life” might be a bit of a stretch BUT moving 27 items can get you out of a rut, make you feel less stuck, and just allow for better energy in your home. Moving can entail both getting rid of things or shifting an item’s position in your home. This is something you should do at least seasonally. I find that it allows you to evaluate the items in your home consistently and ask yourself whether you still need it/love it/want it. And sometimes moving an item can make it feel “new” in a way. Here are the items I tend to move around the house on a seasonal basis (some of these (such as laundry) are done weekly).

  1. Candles: recycle or reuse empty glass jars; move candles to different spots on your coffee table or kitchen counter.
  2. Coffee table books: restack your books or trade out books from your bookshelf to coffee table.
  3. Cook books: donate the ones you no longer use; reorder the ones you keep.
  4. Throw blankets and pillows: shake them out; run them through the dryer; move them to the opposite end of the couch.
  5. Photographs/Artwork: switch out the prints in your frames; move a painting to a different room.
  6. Baskets: move your catch call or blanket basket from one corner of the room to another.
  7. Benches: swap the entryway bench with the one in front the bed.
  8. Small plants: reorder the plants/succulents in the patio and bathroom.
  9. Fruit bowl: move the bowl to a different part of the kitchen.
  10. Lamps: swap/move floor or desk lamps to a different spot that allows for light to hit in a new way.
  11. Toothbrush: ditch old toothbrushes or brush heads.
  12. Laundry: put up any clothes that are still sitting in the basket; do a load of laundry with whatever is sitting in the hampers.
  13. Seasonal bedding: swap out heavy blankets for lighter ones or vice-versa depending on the season.
  14. Old pens/writing utensils: send old writing utensils to Pen Guy Art.
  15. Bags of items to donate: take those bags of unused items that you’ve collected to the donation location of your choice.
  16. Electronics to recycle: take old batteries and electronics to local electronics recycling center.
  17. Trash cans: empty these out.
  18. Duplicate items: add to donation bag or re-sell on eBay or Poshmark.
  19. Single purpose items that are never used: add to donation bag or re-sell on eBay or Poshmark.
  20. Pet beds and toys: shake these out; give them a wipe; move them to a different spot on the floor.
  21. Small electronic device like an Apple TV: wipe these down; move over a few inches or to other side of the tv.
  22. Tsotchkes: donate ones that don’t “spark joy”; move the rest to other spots in the house.
  23. Mugs: donate ones that don’t “spark joy”; rotate the rest between mug holder and cabinet.
  24. Coats/outerwear: rotate order in coat closet.
  25. Canned food: take unopened cans to local food pantry.
  26. Snacks: take unopened snacks to local food pantry; compost stale or expired items.
  27. Vases: swap locations of vases in the house.
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