Minimalist Skincare

Definitions

For some people a minimalist skincare routine is all about having a minimal amount of products. It might be to save time, space, money or to avoid over cleaning and treating their skin.

For others minimalist skincare is not about how many products they own, but using products with very few ingredients. The might focus on minimally processed natural ingredients. They might buy certain brands that contain few ingredients. They might make their own lotions and potions.

For some it’s about minimal packaging so they have minimal waste when they are finished.

My Minimalist Skincare Routine

Minimalism for me is about simplifying the things I do day-to-day and creating space to feel grounded and present. I hate feeling rushed. It makes me anxious. So I take my time with a short routine of rinsing my face with tepid water first thing in the morning and applying moisturizer and an eye cream. And later, after I’ve done my gratitude journaling, meditation, workout and had breakfast, I put on sunscreen and make-up. Though make-up is optional. It depends how polished I want to feel. I will write about my make-up choices in a future post.

In the evening I usually have very little energy so I want to gently cleanse my face and apply no more than a few products (serum, moisturizer and eye cream) and go to bed. I enjoy the process with a facial massage I learned from Reverse the Signs of Ageing: The Revolutionary Inside-Out Plan to Glowing, Youthful Skin, but often times I skip this step. I’m not a night person. At all.

In terms of the actual products I use, it’s varied throughout the years. I like to experiement – I’ve used drugstore brands like Neutrogena, fancy department store brands like Enro Laszlo, multi level marketing brand Arbonne, and small independent brands like Stark Skincare.

Right now, I avoiding ingredients that cause me irritation – read more about my reactive skin here – so I’m using products recommended by Dr. Sandy Skotnicki author of Beyond Soap: The Real Truth About What You Are Doing to Your Skin and How to Fix It for a Beautiful, Healthy Glow as well as a few DIY recipes.

This past year I’ve also outsourced some of my skincare. I see an esthetician for a monthly treatment following a plan she created for me after I had a Visia Skin Complexion Analysis. It has included a series of Venus Freeze treatments, IPL (in the winter) and a bit of microdermabrasion.

Creating Your Minimalist Skincare Routine

Learn your skin type. I think seeing an esthetician or dermatologist can help you figure this out, but they may try to sell you their product line. An impulse purchase is not what you want to do as minimalist so if you are still working on that you can determine your skin type on your own.

Ask yourself what you want from your skincare routine. Be specific.

Knowing your goals and what’s important to you ingredient-wise will help you decide on the right products and routine for you.

What is your budget?

How much time do you have for skincare?

Do you engage in any activities that may require specific products (like more sunscreen because you alpine ski)?

Do you have reactive skin and experience irritation on the regular. Do you know what is troubling your skin?

If you do have irritation you can see a dermatologist for a patch test to determine if you have a known allergy (I did that a few years back and it was helpful). Or you can consider going on a skin product detox. Much like a food elimination diet with a product elimination diet you remove the most common allergens and irritants for a period of time and then slowly reintroduce products one by one to figure out what is triggering what.

Then, when you have your answers, start researching brands that suit your needs and budget. Remember that there are effective products at all price points. Also, research DIY product recipes if that interests you. Two of my favourite blogs on the subject are Madeleine Olivia and Wellness Mama. There are some super simple, inexpensive and effective options in your pantry. I think a mix of both choices is a great way to go.

If you are looking to simplify your skincare routine, I hope this post was helpful. If you have any questions for me please post in the comments or head over to Instagram. It’s the best way to reach me.

Intention

Let me start with a little reflection on decluttering…

I started my decluttering in 2011. I think I was ahead of the trend. By a smidge anyway. I had a tonne of boxes to go through because of my separation and move to my solo life apartment. I was depressed and anxious. I wanted to feel better about myself, my stuff and my space. I happened upon the book Magical Housekeeping: Simple Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home by Tess Whitehurst and used it to clear up my space both physically and emotionally. It might not be the book for everyone, but I learned a lot from that book. It started me on my road to minimalism and simple living.

It also got me shaking maracas I got in Cuba during a solo heart healing vacation and burning sage to move energy around. I love doing both of these things.

There is something to be said about doing things with intention. Doing things with intention makes action more meaningful. It makes change more likely to stick. it sets a foundation and focus on how you want to feel and what actions you need to take to get you there. It helps you get things done, stay present and optimistic.

I think it’s a very powerful thing.

I have a tattoo of the letter I on the inside of my right wrist. It stands for INTENTION.

Summer 2016 Capsule Wardrobe

I’m a big fan of the 10 Item Wardrobe as described by Jennifer L. Scott in her book Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris. She suggests curating your wardrobe in such a way to have 10 main items and a handful of extras. Creating this type of capsule wardrobe helped me simplify getting dressed and develop my discernment when it comes to my look. Poise is one of my Core Desired Feelings and having a well thought out capsule wardrobe most definitely makes me feel (and look) that way.

A quote from Jennifer…

One of the many reasons why I love the ten-item wardrobe is it requires me to be thoughtful about my clothing. Nothing is shoved into the closet as an afterthought. If a garment is going to take up valuable real estate in my closet, it needs to belong there.

It also takes the stress out of getting dressed. Something I used to experience on the regular. It also saves me time and energy that I can use in more productive and creative ways.

My Ten Items & Extras

I put my summer capsule wardrobe together in May soon after I moved from Montreal to Ottawa. I was anticipating a bit of a lifestyle change because I changed jobs so I took that into consideration. Still, most everything I chose was from last year’s wardrobe (stuff I didn’t wear because of the actual uniform I was in 5 days a week).

See the notes afterwards for explanations, exceptions and transformations.

  1. Black Jeans +
  2. Jean Shorts ^
  3. Black Flowing Trousers
  4. Jean Capri +
  5. Black One Piece Romper <
  6. Black Jersey Tunic Dress *
  7. Short Capri Jersey Leggings
  8. Black Jersey Pencil Skirt
  9. White Linen Shirt >
  10. Blue Linen Shirt >

Pink Cotton Cardigan (for the occasional chilly AC type outing)
Black Raincoat (for the rain – obviously)

Fancy Black Sleeveless Tunic (this and all items below can be matched with my pants and skirt)
Black Sleeveless Blouse
White Tunic Sleeveless Top
Razor Back Black Jersey Tank
White T-shirt
Black T-shirt
White Tank Top
Black Tank Top

Black Polyester Mini Dress (for nights out and post-burlesque shows)

Sandals, black Jack Purcells, white Jack Purcells, pink rubberboots and open toe black stacked heels.

Recently I took some photos of some of my Outfits Of The Day that you can see over at my Instagram. I will take some more and post a final roundup of my summer outfits and post them all together here.

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

The black flowing trousers and black tank top.


^ I only wore the shorts once to the beach and then tried them on again a month or so later. They were too big. They quite literally slipped off my hips and past my bum without me having to undo them. I think my switch back to a whole food plant based diet combined with daily powerwalks caused me to lose an inch or so from my waist and hips. These shorts are now in my donation bag.

+ It has been a very hot and humid summer and the denim of my jeans are much too thick for 30 degrees Celsius and 70% humidity days and nights. I put these in the back of my closet and I will bring them forward once we have consistently cooler days and nights. Hopefully by the end of August.

< I adored wearing this romper this summer. It has been my favourite thing to wear to work and meet ups with friends.

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

* This dress was moved to my home-only capsule. This is stuff I wear around the house, when I do laundry, post workout but pre shower. Besides the dress it includes a pair of longer black leggings, grey sleep shorts and two worn but not see through t-shirts. The dress in question – I have had it for 5 years – was pilling in spots and looked a bit ragged for work and running errands. I purchased a black tent type jersey dress to replace it. It has a belt so I can wear it two ways.

> The only thing I bought at the start of the summer were the linen shirts, two t-shirts (1 white and 1 black) and a white tank top. These are things I didn’t have as last year I worked in a restaurant and wore a uniform 5 days a week. I needed a few things to fill out my capsule in a clean and polished way now that I work at a shop.

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

And yes I know – I wear a heck of a lot of black. I make it a bit more lively by adding a pop of colour like with my Matt & Nat Triplet Loom Crossbody, Fuchsia (Pink).

Resources

Tedx Talk. – Video by Jennifer L. Scott

Dress With Less and Create Your Capsule Wardrobe – Mini Course by Courtney Carver

A Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes & 8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day – Blog posts by Joshua Becker

My Favourite Simple Living YouTubers

I enjoy watching YouTube videos on simple and minimalist living. WHY? Because they inspire me to live a simple and minimalist life. Or rather they reinforce the choices I am making everyday to live a simpler, healthier and less consumer-driven lifestyle. I am on journey after all. ;-)

Here are some of my favourites. I like them because of the content AND the production style of the videos. They appeal to me on many levels. I like to watch them while I cook and do the dishes.

PS I’ve also included links to their other online spots in case you are more of a reader or photo person.

Jenny Mustard

YouTube – WebsiteFacebookInstagramTwitter

Jenny and her partner David create some of the most lovely v-logs. She shares vegan recipes, minimalist lifestyle advice, organization tips and her overall optimistic perspective on life. She has a stunning, edgy style and a very warm demeanour.

Light By Coco

YouTube – InstagramTwitter

Originally from the Netherlands and now in the USA, Coco posts very simple and to the point videos with her tips for living a simple life. Her focus is on clothing and keeping a decluttered living (and head) space. She travels frequently so there is excellent packing advice too. Her videos are not overly edited, but they are high quality and very pleasant to watch. By the way, her fashion style most closely resembles my own. Except I am not tall. ;-)

Rachel Aust

YouTubeFacebookInstagramTwitter

Based out of Australia, Rachel shares minimalist organization, beauty and style advice. She and her partner Beau own and run a training gym Eat Run Lift as well as offer diet and exercise digital products so this topic pops up on the channel often. It doesn’t feel like a distraction from the minimalism but rather a compliment. She has a background in photography and design and it shows. Her keen eye and aesthetic is clear and consistent in all the products she creates.

Your Faves?

What are your favourite SIMPLE LIVING websites and YouTube channels? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Marvellous Minimalist Blogs

Zen Habits

An early discovery on my road to living a simpler and more productive life was Leo Babuata’s website. I found his posts very helpful as they are not just about decluttering our homes or being organized. They go deep into the feelings related to why we accumulate stuff. In my experience articles solely with tips and tricks are not enough for real change. Reflecting on the why and the how we have messy overburdened lives is key. This blog has both. I really like that. Also, he is a father of 6 children so his blog explores what minimalism can look like for families with children.

Be More With Less

Internet famous for her 333 project that has participants living with 33 items of clothing for 3 months, Courtney Carver writes about much more than capsule wardrobes. Her blog is rich with personal examples of how living with less, living in a simple way has brought so much value to her life. She offers a variety of super affordable courses to help simplify your life. I am a big fan of her course How To Create a Meaningful Routine. It was a game changer for me. Read about my experience here.

The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are probably the most famous minimalists on the Internet. They have published a number of books, have a documentary coming out in May 2016 and post quick to read, insightful (and often amusing) essays at their blog on the regular. What I like about them is that they base their minimalist lifestyle about what brings value to their lives – not about a specific number objects they own. Also they often state that we should love people and use stuff and never the reverse resonates so strongly with me.

BTW They have a fantastic podcast that I listen to when I take my weekly long walk. You can find it on iTunes and Soundcloud.

My Simple Wardobe

I’m a huge fan of a simple wardrobe – also called a capsule wardrobe.

I have two – one for winter and one summer. The winter one consists of thick black leggings, a white undershirt and a black v neck sweater. I mix it up with grey sweaters or slim jeans. I also have one dress and one knee length black pencil skirt. I wear slim boots when it is above -5 Celsius or above. When it is colder and there is snow I wear my super duper winter boots. If I am going out to something a bit fancy and not doing much walking I have high heeled boots. At home I have a pair of slip on sneakers.

I keep things simple jewelry-wise too. I have two sets of earrings by Swarovski (one set of studs and one that dangle), a silver metallic watch and a simple band I got for myself when I first got separated.

Why does this work for me?

Getting dressed used to be a stressful experience I dreaded. Very much anxiety provoking. As a child it meant temper tantrums. As an adult it meant a horrible feeling of panic and countless clothing changes until what I wore felt just right.

I was working from the outside in. Mistake!

Once I realized I needed to do the opposite – identify how I wanted to feel first – I was naturally drawn to clothes that did just that and I got rid of the stuff that didn’t (I call it the great purge of 2012).

Shopping changed. My old pattern was to be compulsive and buy something that immediately gave me a rush or a sense of escape. My new pattern is all about selectively buying only things of quality that fit exceptionally well (or I alter them as need be). When I get dressed the experience is simply one that generates My Core Desired Feelings in me. No more drama or anxiety.

VISA now hates me, but that is OK.

My Morning Routine

I have done so much clearing out this year. Of damaging habits, old strategies that were hurting more than they were helping. It is an ongoing process of internal, mindful recalibrating of the way I think, perceive and respond.

I have also been doing this in a physical way. Lots shredding of old university research papers and documents. Lots of purging of clothes, CDs, books and other belongings.

One of the other things I have done in this recalibration is a mix of the mind and the body. I have created a new morning routine for myself!

Reading Courtney Carver’s mini course How To Create a Meaningful Routine (disclosure: affiliate link) inspired me. So much that I have decided I will apply the principles (slowly – you gotta do it slowly) for my evening routine.

Before I had a tendency to let the day get away from me – you know, look at the clock and realize it was 2pm and while I had done some productive work I was still in pyjamas, unwashed and unkept. I had fuelled myself with coffee and nothing else. I also felt exhausted and a bit of a mess.

Slowly creating and implementing a morning routine as the mini course guides you to do has helped me cultivate one of my Core Desired Feelings – Equanimity.

The Routine

Open blinds & window, push back sheet and duvet, fluff pillows, spray with my homemade lavender fabric spray, start coffee (I prep it the night before)

Bathroom, cat litter, wash hands

Wash the sleepies from my eyes with water

Feed cats, drink 1 glass of water, make bed, put on workout outfit

Have coffee, read The Skimm

15 minutes of yoga (I started with 5 and slowly increased over a few weeks), 20 minute run, 1 set abs (My goal is three sets as well as 2x week of a strength training routine as well as 1 long 1x week – again, I will be slowly adding these day by day, week by week as per the mini course by Courtney Carver)

Breakfast (usually slow cooked oatmeal with blueberries and ground flax seeds accompanied by Yves Veggie Breakfast Sausages – the only processed soy I eat – I somehow digest it well)

Shower, get dressed

That might seem like a lot but it takes me about 45 minutes to do it all. I don’t rush. I simply get moving and keep moving, one task at a time. Usually, I play some music to keep me company, keep me smiling. The Garden State soundtrack is a favourite.