Minimalist Beauty: 11 Ways to Look Gorgeous without Chemicals

Last week’s post on The Story of Cosmetics inspired a lively discussion on natural beauty alternatives. Many thanks to everyone who commented! I’ve decided to gather up the information that was shared, plus a few extras, and consolidate it into a Minimalist Beauty post.

So here you have it: eleven ways to minimize the chemicals in your beauty routine (and still look gorgeous!).

1. Wash your face with honey. Used as a facial wash, honey tightens pores, moisturizes skin, and is believed to help treat and control acne. Simply wet your face with warm water, massage with a tablespoon of raw, unprocessed honey, and rinse well. Or, apply it as a mask, and let it sit 15-20 minutes before washing it off. I’ve been doing this for some time, and have been quite pleased with the results.

2. Use witch hazel as a toner. It’s natural, gentle, and alcohol-free, and won’t dry out skin like chemical-based formulas. Witch hazel refreshes your skin, and removes excess oils and impurities. I tried this a while back, and was perfectly happy with it — just too lazy to keep it up. Although I don’t currently feel the need for this extra step in my beauty routine, I would use witch hazel if I did.

3. Moisturize with olive oil. Other suggestions from the Comments included coconut oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil. I’m a little nervous to try this, as I’m afraid to break out or look greasy; when I work up the courage to give this a whirl, I’ll let you know.

4. Shampoo with baking soda, and rinse with apple cider vinegar. This natural combo is a popular alternative to shampoo. First, dilute a tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to make a loose paste, then massage it into your scalp. After rinsing it out, pour an apple cider vinegar and water solution over the ends. (See Nature Moms No ‘Poo post for complete instructions.)

5. Make a facial with oatmeal. I’m not really a facial kind of gal, but if I ever fancy one, I like the idea of oatmeal. The simplicity of it appeals to me: just mix dry oatmeal and water into a paste and spread it on your face. Let it dry, then rinse with warm water. It’s supposed to have a wonderful calming effect on the skin, reducing irritation and inflammation.

6. Use tea tree oil for blemishes. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic that kills bacteria without chemicals – simply dab a bit on the inflamed spot morning and night. It’s a great way to avoid the harsh ingredients in acne creams (which can further irritate skin).

7. Use one natural bar soap for body, hair, and teeth. This tip was mentioned a few times in the Comments; and while I was aware that one could use the same bar soap for hair and body, I would have never considered brushing my teeth with it! Cool idea!

8. DIY. Search the internet, and you’ll find plenty of recipes for making your own soap, lotions, shampoos, facials, and cosmetics from natural (and edible) ingredients. Check out Tammy’s (Rowdy Kittens) recent post on How to Make Your Own Cosmetics.

9. Choose products with natural ingredients. If you don’t want to cook up your own potions, start reading labels more carefully. Dawn Michelle lists chemicals to avoid in this post on her Minimalist Beauty blog, and the Skin Deep cosmetics database provides safety ratings for thousands of personal care products. “Natural” brands recommended in the Comments include Dr. Bronner’s, Fresh Line, Giovanni, Dr. Hauschka, Suki, and Aubrey’s Organics.

10. Drink plenty of water. Drinking eight to ten glasses of water per day hydrates your skin, helps it maintain its elasticity, and gives it a healthy, natural glow. An added bonus: it’s also good for the rest of your body, helping to lubricate joints and flush out toxins and impurities.

11. Get your beauty sleep. Sounds simple, but this can be a tough one for night owls like me (I do my best work at night!). Lately, however, I’ve been making a real effort to get the recommended eight hours of sleep. I’ve noticed that when I do, my skin looks smoother and more radiant. It’s also a great way to avoid dark, under-eye circles (and the concealer or makeup needed to cover them up!).

Keep the tips coming! I’d love to hear more about your natural (and minimal) beauty routines.

54 comments to Minimalist Beauty: 11 Ways to Look Gorgeous without Chemicals

  • jeannie

    I keep a little jar of ground adzuki beans in my bathroom. Put some in the palm of your hand and mix with honey and water to make a paste, scrub face and leave on for a couple of minutes, then rinse off. (I grind them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder) I got this from The Japanese Way of Beauty, and there are lots of wonderful natural beauty ideas in it. This makes your skin feel like silk.
    I use diluted Dr Bronner’s as a shampoo and use a natural conditioner – any conditioner that doesn’t have proteins in it can be used as a leave in product – just use much less and put on after towel drying, comb through.
    I only pat dry underarms and panty area, then while skin is damp put on grapeseed oil. It has no odor, spreads thinner on damp skin and seals in the hydration.

  • This is a great list! I’m definitely going to try a couple of these.

  • Kate

    I have some great minimalist beauty recipes on my blog: face scrubs, dry shampoo and cleanser. Raw honey is a great cleaner.

  • Dylan

    I’ve used Dove bar soap for my body and face since I was a young girl. When they came out with an unscented version, I started using that. I don’t use liquid hand soaps at any of my sinks, I keep a bar of Dove soap at the kitchen and bathroom sinks. Unfortunately, I discovered that bar soap freaks out a lot of people – they think it’s unsanitary? – so when I have houseguests, I have to put a new bar in the guest bathroom. I refuse to use liquid hand soaps.

    I found an unscented 2-in-1 on Amazon for my hair so I was able to ditch the separate shampoo and conditioner. I don’t care about the chemical aspects, I just want unscented products.

    I agree about not being afraid of products that don’t say “natural” on the container. Everything breaks down to a chemical molecular structure. Reductionism isn’t sound science.

    Using “natural” products for cleaning, like baking soda, salt, lemons, vinegar, etc., for me has more to do with saving money than anything else. They are also clutter busters since you can use these products for a variety of cleaning tasks around the house, and you don’t need a product for each type of cleaning. Plus they just work and except for the vinegar are unscented (what I want the most out of a home/personal product). Vinegar isn’t unscented but it’s more tolerable than those fake flowery scents of commercial products. I’ve used white vinegar my entire life to clean almost everything, whiten my laundry, and as a disinfectant. In fact the glass vinegar bottle I’m using is probably about 25 years old! I just buy the gallon size jug of white vinegar to refill the small bottle.

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