Busy women stick to routines: same breakfast, same route to work, same way we brush our teeth. It saves us from decision fatigue, and there’s no reason to change a good thing when it works.

But sometimes routines need interrupting, both for fun, and to keep us questioning our why. Why do I brush my teeth this way? Why do I reach for this snack the minute I get home?

Let’s filter this idea with our beauty routines: Why do I wash my face this way? Why do I wash my hair with this stuff, this often, this way?

Maybe we just like what we do in this department. If so, then stick with what works. But if you’re itching to detox from some chemicals and sticker shock, I have a few suggestions. Take a quick inventory of your routine, and see if you could switch to a cleaner route, one small step at a time.

1. Hair

I use baking soda and apple cider vinegar to clean my hair. There’ve been a few hiati (plural of hiatus? Maybe?) when I’ve switched to a chemical-free shampoo for a few months, but I always go back to the simple baking soda-vinegar route.

(My breaks are mostly for when I’m pregnant, and even baking soda can’t control the oil created by my hormonal wackiness.)

Baking soda

This routine has remained the same for me for almost a decade, but plenty of people do it differently—you’ve got to experiment with ratios to get it right for your own hair. (There are also alternatives to baking soda.)

Yes, it takes time for your hair to adjust back to producing healthy oils, so if you want to start, pick a time when you don’t have any regatta galas for a month. You may need to wear a hat for that month, but once your hair gets back to producing the oils it’s supposed to for shiny, healthy hair, you’ll be glad you suffered.

And nope, the vinegar doesn’t make your hair smell—you wash it out. But some readers have found alternatives to the vinegar.

After my hair dries, I rub some Hair Butter into the ends (avoiding my scalp) to help my hair de-frizz and lay smoothly. This stuff is magic—it’s my absolute favorite hair product.

2. Skin

Every night, I wash my face by dipping my fingers into a mason jar filled with oil. I massage it in to my face, then rinse it off with a hot washcloth. My skin and my wallet thank me for it.


Almost a decade into it, I remain a huge, huge fan of the oil cleansing method. It washes off makeup without a trace, it leaves my skin clean and soft, and it’s cheap.

I then moisturize my skin with Skin Fuel, both on my face and the rest of my body. In the winter, I also add a tiny layer of Hair Butter to my face after the Skin Fuel skins in (really).

3. Lips

Chapstick, Carmex, Burt’s Beeswax, even homemade lip balms—they all eventually dry out my lips. The only thing that doesn’t is lanolin. Yep, the stuff you use for cracked nipples when you’re nursing.

A tiny bit goes a long way; one tube will last me about three years.

Lanolin also helps heal my kids’ minor skin woes as well, from rashes to chapped skin. (Some people have a sensitivity, however.)

4. Teeth

It has taken me ages to find a natural toothpaste I like (that also happens to be natural). I think I’ve finally found it: Akamai’s Mineral Toothpaste.

akamai mineral toothpaste

This stuff blows me away. I love the not-super-sweet taste, the mouthfeel (a word I hate, by the way), and how my teeth feel and look afterward: clean. Really, really good stuff here.

5. Makeup

Obviously, the purest, most eco-friendly thing I could do is swear off makeup. But I’m not going to right now because, well, I like makeup. I don’t wear much, but I do wear a little almost daily.

I’m okay with spending a bit more money on non-toxic, better-for-my-skin products, mineral makeup in particular. A few brands I like:

To check your favorite brand’s toxicity, refer to Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.

Bonus: Feminine Care

Okay, so this isn’t a beauty product, but it belongs in the bathroom cabinet right along with my olive oil cleaner and baking soda, so it’s here. I’ve used Diva Cup for over a decade, and I’d love to calculate how much money I’ve saved not using throwaway products.

I won’t go in to details, but let’s just say it works great and it makes travel a million times easier. I mean, so much easier.

Small things add up

It might sound more complicated to make your own hair cleaning formula or face wash, but I’ve found these items keep my care routine simple for these reasons:

1. I use these products for other things, too. Baking soda and vinegar are both house cleaners and recipe ingredients. I’m buying most of this anyway.

2. A little goes a long way with every one of these. These products last ages.

3. These things are so much cheaper than conventional beauty products.

4. They’re good for my body. No unpronounceable ingredients concocted in a lab, and I know every single bit that’s going on me.

5. They’re better for the earth.

Overwhelmed? Try one thing.

If reading this makes you feel like you’re already behind, don’t let it. Just do one thing at a time. There’s no race—just move in the right direction. Try cleaning your face with oil this week, or maybe sign up for an Akamai subscription and see what you think.

I keep my beauty routine—and my bathroom cabinet—nice and simple with these products. I can’t imagine switching back to “normal” products.

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