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.

Get Your Act Together In The AM

Morning Routine Resource

I’m a big fan Sadia Badiei, a nutritionist and dietician who hosts the wellness site and YouTube channel Pick Up Limes. I was going through her recent uploads and came across a great post where she shares her 10 strategies for a healthy morning routine including a printable checklist. I appreciate her approach to wellness because it’s informed and compassionate. Her tone is gentle and positive. Her suggestions are realistic and achievable. I highly recommend you check her work out.

Speaking of morning routines, I have been tweaking mine recently. I have more time at the moment to work on my writing so I knew I’d need to make sure my morning routine was solid. Otherwise, I would be too excited about writing and just sit down. That might sound productive, but actually it’s not. If I don’t have a solid and healthy foundation for my day, then crashes happen in the afternoon or I power through my work and end up frazzled and wired by the evening. Not good for me in the moment or for my longevity.

This is what my morning routine looks like right now:

1 – Take my temperature when I wake up (I’m tracking my ovulation for my perimenopause project).

2 – Do some gentle stretches in bed as I rise to warm up my back.

3 – Make my bed (this is important as I live in a small studio apartment and sleep on a sofa-bed).

4 – Feed cats, drink water, splash some water on my face.

5 – Mediate (I use the Calm app and do 15 minutes each morning).

6 – Boil water for tea and my neti pot. Drink tea and let neti pot cool down.

7 – Look over my to-do list, journal a bit, note down my temperature. All things related to my bullet journal.

8 – Check social media and email. Add any pertinent things to my to-do list.

9 – Go for a 45 minute walk then do my core exercises. If I’m walking somewhere as part of my morning I do some yoga instead.

10 – Have breakfast (usually a large portion of slow cooked oatmeal with a scoop of pea protein, a mix of ground seeds (pumpkin, chia, hemp and flax) and 1 cup frozen berries.

For an older post on my morning routine go here.

How about you? Do you have a morning routine that gets you off to a happy, healthy start?
Would you like one? Not sure where to start? Share in the comments below.

 

Dull Dry Damaged Hair

I’m a fan of YouTube make-up and hair tutorials – especially when it comes to retro looks. My first discovery was Iris J. She was especially active with her uploads from 2007-2010 and I referred to her work for my burlesque styling on the regular. What I liked about her videos besides being amazed by her beautiful long, thick locks was that she was well-spoken, poised and charming. The quality of the video is poor compared to today’s standards, but this was also before the current YouTube age of drama, clickbait and fast cuts. If the content is good and without negativity and gimmicks I’m a fan regardless of video quality.

As I watched her videos I discovered she had many tips for no heat styling. My hair was long and dyed dark brown at the time and I was doing my best to keep it healthy. My hair doesn’t hold styles very well so to give it volume I used hot rollers, teasing and lots of hairspray for all my retro looks. They were fast and effective, but also harsh and damaging. In 2013 I cut my hair short and used wigs for burlesque in part to start over with healthy hair and healthier habits (less heat, less products, less chemicals).

Fast forward to today and I have short natural hair that is VERY soft and healthy. I have only used a hair dryer twice in 18 months. I’ve never used a curling iron, hot rollers or a hair straightener. While I don’t have much hair to work with as I’ve had a pixie, now growing it out and have some length to play with. My hair looks and feel very healthy and I want to keep it that way.

So what’s a person to do when they want some volume, curl and hold without the damage? Go back to the basics of no heat styling.

Pros of No Heat

Using heat can cause hair to become dull, dry and damaged. No heat styling will help prevent frizz, split ends and breakage. You can have shiny, bouncy hair without using chemically loaded products that come nearly always in plastic bottles. It’s also easier on your budget because you won’t spend money on expensive tools (buying them in the first place or replacing them when they inevitably break or get nasty with product buildup). If you like no heat styling you can then sell your tools or donate them – minimize and simplify!  Plus, no heat styling is environmentally friendly – you will not need to use any electricity (that saves money too).

Cons of No Heat

Not using heat means you will be air drying your hair and this will take some time. It reminds me of the 1950s expression for not being able to go on a date – I’m busy drying my hair. This was not necessarily an excuse. It was a reality. But I think setting the time aside for some body care can be selfcare. Plus you can read or watch a movie as your hair dries. It’s not time wasted in my opinion.

No heat styling also requires time and some patience as you learn a new skill. For a curly or wavy look that means pin curls, foam rollers and rags. Thankfully, there are many tutorials out there.

Setting your hair at night and sleeping on it can save you time. I’m a light sleeper and I find I can sleep in foam rollers, but not pin curls.

If you have wavy or curly hair, absolutely straight hair can be a challenge without heat tools, but some people have found some success. I’m curious to try this once my hair is long. Expect an update in 2-3 years. ;-)

If You Do Use Heat

Minimizing the amount of times you use heat tools will help prevent damage.

Don’t wrap or rub your hair with a terry towel after wetting it. Some people advise using a microfibre towels, but I’m not a fan of them because they are made from petrochemicals and do not biodegrade. They also shed their fibres (as all clothes do) in washing and these tiny plastic particles end up in our waterways causing noticeable microplastic pollution on coastlines. A better option is a worn out cotton t-shirt.

Use only using a hair dryer on slightly damp (not soaking wet) hair.

Use a flatiron with a ceramic plate and follow the manual’s time limits. Typically for a maximum of 5 seconds on dry hair.

Get regular trims! Every 4-6 weeks! This is what kept my long hair less damaged. I still had length and kept the split ends at bay.

Don’t use banana clips ever. My stylist told me she can always tell who uses them from the breakage she sees in certain spots. Elastics can do much the same so I made my own with old black tights and pantyhose.

Super Popular Video

For more tips on healthy no heat hair I suggest you check this video from Sarah Nagel of Holistic Habits. She is a big fan of hair oils and massage which of course so am I!

BTW – I’m working a blog post with step by step photos of me styling my short hair without heat and using foam rollers. My first attempt created a fun 1980s new wave look I think will be great for a night out. Stay tuned!

My Hair Care Routine

My hair care routine is always evolving based on my lifestyle activities and the refinement of my values. For nearly twenty years I had long dark hair that I dyed to cover up my grey. Now I have short salt and pepper hair. You can read all about that here. My different looks have required different products and tools. What has always remained the same is I have never washed my hair every day.

When I Had Long Hair

When I had long hair I would wash it every three days. I worked out at the gym almost every day so it got a bit greasy, but I kept it feeling fresh by using the now discontinued Aveda hair freshener from their Light Elements line. I quite adored that product.

I didn’t want to wash it and dry it daily or even every second day because I found it a tedious process. Also slightly dirty hair is great for up-dos and retro styles which was important for my burlesque performances and glamour photoshoot.

The styling and the teasing began in the 1980s. This is from my high school graduation in 1988.

A photo posted by Seska Lee (@seskalee) on

This is a photo from the Montreal Burlesque Festival. My hair was professionally styled by Antoine. Most of it is my natural hair. He did stuff some hair to shape it. Slightly dirty hair makes these kinds of hairdos possible.

In terms of products I was a loyal client of Aveda for many years. When I had long hair I started off using Aveda Shampure Shampoo & Conditioner and then when I was colouring my hair every 6 weeks I used Aveda Color Conserve Shampoo & Conditioner, protected it during heat styling with Aveda Brilliant Damage Control Spray, and styled it with Aveda Smooth Infusion Style-Prep Smoother and Aveda Smooth Infusion Glossing Straightener. I used Aveda Control Force Hair Spray for my hot roller styling and up-dos.

Now With Short Hair

I wash my hair every 7 to 10 days.

Last year I worked at a restaurant which is a smelly, greasy environment. My scalp became irritated with cysts (yeah, I know – gross) so I washed my hair every three days with Aveda Scalp Benefits Balancing Shampoo. The cysts were gone after one week of use. I kept using it until I moved to Ottawa and started my new non-restaurant job. Now I am using Aveda Brilliant Shampoo & Conditioner and swapping it every second wash with Lush Daddy-o Purple Shampoo for Blonde or Grey Hair (which has blue malva to keep grey hair from going yellow). Once I’m done with these products I want to move to either a package-less shampoo bar or make my own.

As for styling I’m finishing up containers of Confixor and Control paste. Once I’m done I have some products from Arbonne to go through. When I’ve finished them I will asess my needs and see if I should buy a new less plastic based line or make my own.

Healthy Hair

In my experience the way to healthy hair is twofold:

  1. Avoid damage from heat and styling. Be mindful of the clips you use as they can break hair.
  2. Get regular trims. Even while growing out my hair (which I’ve done twice as an adult) regular trims will ensure that your length is as healthy as possible.

Other tips:

Give yourself a daily scalp massage. It’s a relaxing experience and is thought to be beneficial to your hair. And I say if it worked for Jon Bon Jovi I might as well try it. ;-)

Don’t use too much product. Not only will it build up (especially if it is something that cannot be absorb like silicone) and weigh down hair, it can lead to facial breakouts.

Fitness Journey

These photos were taken 2 years ago over the course of 6 weeks of working out and eating 80% clean under the supervision of my trainer Sophie P Fitness. I think the results were pretty impressive.

2014-03-10 11.23.50

At the start point in early 2014 I was at around 160lbs.  Over the past 3 years I had gained weight (30lbs) and lost muscle tone.  Post-divorce I did a lot of emotional eating and excessive drinking as well as dealt with all the anxiety, depression, fear and over all stress that comes with struggling over how to rebuild one’s life.

When I got sober in January 2014 I dropped 10lbs quite quickly and then I lost another 10lbs by eating well and working out with Sophie during my 6 week programme. I was feeling pretty good, but I got off track by the end of 2014. I spent much of 2015 stressed and working as a waitress and manager at a restaurant. While it brought some stability to my life, it also took up all of my time and my mental and physical energy. It was not my ideal work/life situation. My healthy habits disappeared. My meals were not plant-based or centered around whole foods as it was more economical and convenient to eat at the restaurant. Then in the summer I suffered a back injury and after that I didn’t work out at all. While I was not living the same unhealthy lifestyle as before, I wasn’t making my health a priority.

I decided in January to change that. I started with small changes in my schedule, doing less of what was not working and doing more of what I know does work for me. Now I’m moving to a new space, being more consistent in my exercise and healthy eating. I have a ways to go as I want to be able to run and lift like I did some ten years ago.

I decided to share this photo to keep myself accountable AND to remind myself of what I can do in six weeks if I am consistent with my healthy life routine.

My 2016 Day Planner

Early this morning I purchased my copy of The Desire Map 2016 Daily Planner by Danielle LaPorte. I got so much from my use of the 2015 edition and I cannot wait to use the one for 2016. Danielle and her team have made even more improvements over last year’s version – it is radically newer, smarter, wiser, funner, and sexier. So exciting!

There is nothing like the feeling of having a blank agenda to start the year. So many empty pages to fill with my thoughts, goals, inspirations, to-dos, questions and concerns. Not to mention milestone life events, family get togethers, meetings, appointments, friend dates and date dates.

I chose the Signature version for daily entries but there is also a weekly version as well as a journal for those of you who already have a planner (paper or digital) .

I went with the Signature cover but there is also one with a beautiful art piece. Groovy.

They ship in November but as always it best to order sooner rather than later.

 

Public Declaration

Sharing this blog post is a bit scary for me. I am declaring what is important to me. This declaration is about me making a commitment to myself. It is about me sharing a vision of my life. It is about inviting others to share in my journey of exploration and wellness.

It’s also about making a list.

You see, I want to share some personal life goals and use this special space that is Love-Yourself Living to further document my journey toward wellbeing. I want to be accountable. I want to do what I say I am going to do.

I say all this knowing that I have publicly shared of myself in profound ways for many years. However, right now I feel so much more grounded and clear-headed. More than any other time in my life. It feels like a good time to be a little more specific and concrete with my goals.

I have laid the foundation with mindfulness work and discovering My Core Desired Feelings. Now I can set goals with soul as Danielle LaPorte says.

Sharing also makes me accountable. Not as pressure to live up to my goals. Not motivated out of fear of shame and guilt. More as a way to encourage me to check-in with myself and others.

It is about respecting the holistic. I’m relying on our interdependency. I’m a being that is part of a greater whole. I have a plan and sharing this plan with others helps me and it helps others.

So here it is – a list of definable actions inspired by My Core Desired Feelings of whimsy, full, purpose, radiance and poise.

Ready! Set! Go!

Daily Practice

GRATITUDE

I am a thankful person. I appreciate what I have. Definitely a glass-half-full person. However, my mind can sneak in some scarcity thinking which totally throws me down a rabbit hole of assumptions, comparisons and resentment. Doing a gratitude exercise every night is the plan and so far so good. I do a count of ten things I am grateful for. I have not made it to ten each night. I have actually fallen asleep. So this exercise not only helps my soul, it helps my body and mind ease into sleep. Bonus!

LUNG SUPPORT

All my asthma attacks and allergies were really getting me down. I had trouble breathing 24/7. My previous apartment did not help (it had a mould problem), but my breathing problems go way back. I finally got myself a family doctor (they are hard to find in Quebec). He practices integrative medicine so he has me dealing with my asthma with a combination of prescription medications and natural methods. I take the medications consistently. Now time to be consistent with the natural methods to support my breathing.

  • gargle with salt water every morning
  • neti pot (Not before yoga! If you have neti potted you know what I’m talking about!)

YOGA

My hips are very tight. I have trouble sitting cross-legged. My back is also tight from sitting at my computer desk much of the day. Yoga has helped me loosen up and expand. It also helps me start the day feeling grounded and present in the moment. There isn’t a yoga class in walking distance from my apartment so I last year I started following Tara Stiles on YouTube. I especially liked her little routine for opening up.

NOURISHMENT

I want it to be plant-based most of the time. Moderate animal product consumption for when I visit family.

For the past 4 years I have totally been struggling with my veganism. I was vegetarian for 20 years and vegan for about 15 of that.  Then I began to cheat. Yes, it was cheating. Guilty and shameful cheating. The reason being because I started feeling trapped by the NO aspect of veganism instead of feeling expansive by the YES aspect of it. This Scarcity vs Abundance type thinking and living went beyond food, but that is for another entry.

It makes sense now. I was in the depth of the pain of my divorce and used food to numb the feelings. This made the trapped feeling worse. Over a few months I explored the feelings behind the cheat-eating and the numbing. I was very gentle with myself. No judging. Radical Acceptance all the way. I became more resilient to difficult feelings and the desire to cheat and numb began to lessen.

Now that the tide has changed and I am leaning back into veganism once again. All the reasons for choosing veganism are still there for me. The bottom line is I just do not feel good when I eat animals.

Please know, this is about me and my choices. I don’t care what you eat. It is such a personal thing. Sure, I wish for us humans to be kinder to animals, the planet and ourselves, but unless you ask for advice, it is all up to you and your choices.

I have to say yes to greens and fermented foods more often. I love greens. They are easy to make. Simply steamed! I need to eat more of them. Same thing with (low sugar, low sodium) fermented foods. They are kind of magical. They help with digestion and are correlated to over all improved health. Tempeh is already my soy of choice. Now I want to add sauerkraut to my nourishing mix. I have an acquaintance in the burlesque world who makes and sells it. Hey Lise V, I must get a jar from you!

In terms of supplements I want to add pro-biotics and cranberry extract. This is super practical and oh so important for my lady parts. They help keep my vaginal flora in balance and my urinary tract happy. I find things has been wacky since I gave up booze. Not sure exactly why. Perhaps just a readjustment. Time to get the tract on track.

So that is my list – my self-care declaration for 2015. Adding new things slowly but surely over the days, weeks and months to come. Building a Daily Practice requires time, but it is so worth it. It’s such an adventure in self-love!

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.

Warrior 2 Past Present & Future

Warrior Two is my favourite yoga pose. I had an instructor tell me that when you are in Warrior Two pose you have one part of you looking at the past and all you have done, seen and learned, another part of you firmly in the present, living in the moment, and another part of you looking towards the future. It really resonated with me. The pose feels good physically and emotionally for me.

I have dabbled in yoga for a few years. I regularly took a class at the YMCA. I have had a membership at a fantastic studio called Breathe. I have done yoga at home. I have done yoga outside. I have done it with friends. What I have not done is do it consistently for more than 1 year. This lack of consistency is a thread that runs through my whole life from childhood until now. This is something I want to change. Not just with yoga but with all aspects of my life. I know I need spontaneity and such too, but I cannot live with only that. It is very draining and damaging. It is one reason I have been so out of sorts. Of course, I cannot expect for it to change over night. It is something I need to build over time.

When I think about consistency I think of words such as routine, regime, schedule and practice. And practice is the word I like best because it implies a work in progress and I like that. It also can be applied to individual interests and activities and the whole of who I am.

Today I also did the most yoga I have done in maybe two years. Today’s poses.

4 Sun Salutations
1 Mountain Pose
1 Forward Bend
2 Triangle Poses
1 Forward Bend
2 Warrior Two Poses
1 Mountain Pose
2 Tree Poses
1 Sitting Forward Bend
3 Cow and Cat Combo
1 Child Pose

I have been adding 1 Sun Salutation a day. I am doing it flow style so it took me about twenty minutes to do this series today, but I am going to hold them longer and I would like to have a 30 minute practice by next week. I listen to spa style music with birds chirping in the background and I find it both relaxing and invigorating.