While I sometimes envy those photos of bathtubs I see on Instagram – you know, the ones that are littered with Lush goodies, aromatic body washes, and loads of other potions – there is something nice about keeping things simple. And that’s been the name of the game when it comes to my shower routine recently.
I’ve been sticking with just the basics ever since I moved into my new (and much smaller!) California apartment, and I’ve actually been enjoying it. It means less clutter in the tub (making it surprisingly more relaxing), less time spent in the shower (which is actually better for your skin) and less money spent on products that aren’t really, well, necessary when it comes to cleansing. Here’s a rundown of my full routine and some of the products I’ve been loving lately…
As soon as I hop in the shower, I start with my hair. Now, my scalp can very easily dry out and then get super oily after 24 hours if I don’t use the right shampoo. Sulfates may occasionally be the cause, though I’ve had similar issues using all natural, sulfate-free shampoos too. After 10+ years of these scalp struggles, I still haven’t pinpointed the exact ingredient(s) that turn it into a desert, but I have found a few shampoos that manage to keep everything in check, one being derma e’s Scalp Relief Shampoo (which I’ve been using for a few years now, and reviewed here) and the latest shampoo that I’ve been loving – Lather’s Mint Thyme Hair Wash.
With Lather’s shampoo, I only have to use a small amount to get my hair and scalp feeling completely clean and build-up free. The formula produces a luxurious lather, but at the same time, it’s non-drying thanks to natural aloe, chamomile, cucumber and olive extracts. I also love the herbal, minty scent and slight tingling sensation from the peppermint oil. Because my hair is on the drier side, I’ll finish up with Lather’s Mint Thyme Crème Rinse. This ultra-lightweight conditioner leaves my hair super soft and bouncy, and my scalp calm and balanced. To keep my routine short (and also because the Crème Rinse is so moisturizing on it’s own!), I’ve been skipping the hair masks.
Takeaway tip: Experiment with different shampoo and conditioner combinations until you find one that keeps your scalp balanced – because scalp health is key to healthy hair! And don’t write off shampoos just because they have sulfates – some are well-formulated enough to benefit oily hair and a congested scalp while keeping the scalp balanced. At the same time, don’t assume that natural ones are going to give you better results – some can be just as harsh and oil-stripping!
Next, I’ll wash my face with a gentle cleanser – something that’s able to remove my makeup completely, and that foams up a bit to really get into my pores, all without drying out my skin. One that fits the bill perfectly is another new favorite from Lather – their Ultra Mild Face Wash. It manages to get rid of all the gunk, yet it’s super gentle. And with the infusion of soothing botanical extracts, it keeps the skin balanced and soothed, making it the perfect cleanser for all skin types.
Then, because my skin seems to be in a perceptual cycle of shedding (which I know is natural, but mine seems to be accelerated, probably because of the acid-rich masks I’ve been using lately!), the only way I’m able to keep my skin smooth and makeup looking flawless instead of patchy is to use a washcloth on my face 2-3 times a week – a scrub just doesn’t provide enough continuous friction to do the trick for me. And since a steamy shower helps soften dead skin and open pores – it’s the best time to exfoliate. So that’s when I’ll get to work, using small circles and gentle pressure over my cheeks, chin, brows, nose, and forehead, and then very gently around the eyes.
A washcloth works great on its own, but I like to get a little extra benefit out of this step by adding a dollop of Your Good Skin’s Energizing Facial Scrub. It contains the perfect amount of tiny, gentle granules that provide that bit of extra ‘polish’ to the skin without feeling too rough, no matter how much pressure you apply. Plus it’s creamy and moisturizing so it won’t dry out or strip skin.
- Opt for a gentle foaming cleanser for a deep, pore-clearing cleanse that won’t over strip your skin of its natural oils.
- A washcloth is your skin’s best friend when it comes to exfoliation – but be gentle! Work in small circles using light pressure to remove dead skin without causing damage.
When it comes to cleansing the body, I used to use a shower gel all over, and then go crazy with a body scrub – every two days. That was before I read that all the scrubbing and even whole body cleansing isn’t necessary – you really only need to cleanse the “dirty areas,” which include the lower bits, the armpits, and underneath the chest – i.e. the spots that have a high density of sweat glands which encourage odor-causing bacteria growth. Everywhere else your soaping, you’re actually stripping your skin of necessary oils. And when it comes to exfoliating and sloughing away dead skin, two or three times a week is plenty (and once a week for sensitive skin) using a gentle exfoliatant and light pressure. Any more than that and you can start removing those healthy skin cells, causing irritation and redness.
I’ve also stopped using those plastic loofahs, which to be honest, tend to sit in my shower for way beyond their prime (which is supposedly 2 months). On top of that, if you think about it – they’re moist, with lots of dark, hidden little spaces – i.e. the perfect home for bacteria and mold. Plus they aren’t recyclable.
So what does that all come down to in my routine? A good old bar of soap. I like to use ones that are gentle and contain little exfoliating bits to provide a light, gentle polish. And that’s where Lather fits into my routine yet again – their Exfoliating Body Soap contains gentle cleansers plus little oatmeal bits and bamboo extract for exfoliation. Combined with moisturizing shea butter and olive oil, it keeps my skin soft, smooth, and balanced, and not begging for lotion afterwards. When I feel I need a bit more exfoliation, I’ll either use a washcloth, or I’ll dry brush my skin beforehand (talk about a rejuvenating experience!).
- Don’t over cleanse – just focus on the dirty bits (armpits and down below especially!) to avoid over stripping your skin of its natural oils.
- Never scrub too hard, or too often. Gentle exfoliation, 2-3 times per week is all you need to keep your skin looking fresh.
- Swap your plastic loofah for a re-usable washcloth – it’s more sanitary and also better for the environment!
- Use an exfoliating soap bar to gently polish while you cleanse in one quick step.
One thing that I completely eliminated from my shower routine is shaving. I started using an epilator last year and it’s changed my life – no move constantly having to buy new razors, spending time shaving in the shower, and then seeing that annoying stubble peek through after just a couple of days! Instead, I’ll use my epilator once a week (sometimes every two weeks) on my legs and underarms. Not only does my hair grow in slower, but also much softer and finer, so it’s not as noticeable (even if I do get super lazy!). If you can tolerate the slight pain, it’s one of those life-changing beauty tools that I think every women should own!
Takeaway tip: Invest in an epilator so you can skip the need to shave every time you shower (and conserve water)!
Post shower, I’ll wrap up in a cozy bath towel, and then wrap my hair up in a micro-fiber towel. (I stopped using regular bath towels on my hair since they’re so heavy and make my hair frizzy. Plus these ones from Aquis really speed up the whole drying process!). Then I’ll apply a lotion or oil to my driest areas while my skin is still damp (I love this one – it keeps my skin hydrated for 24+ hours!). And finally for my face, I’ll pat on a facial oil if it’s an evening shower, or an SPF daily moisturizer if it’s a morning shower. That’s it!
- Invest in a micro-fiber hair towel for sleeker locks, and to speed up drying time.
- Apply lotion right after your shower (within 1-3 minutes afterwards, and while the room is still steamy), to lock in the most amount of moisture.