If you are an urban dwelling student or young professional like me, odds are we suffer from the same consequences: things are generally more expensive, and space for things is limited. Or maybe you don’t live in the city, but you’re finding that you spend way too much time (or money) on the process of getting ready in the morning. I’ve found that I could seriously limit the amount of beauty products in my home to make my mornings easier. The less I buy, the more money and free space I have. I found that beauty products was one of the easiest categories to minimize because I could easily pinpoint what I actually use and need each day. I’ve been able to save lots of money by replacing some of my products with multi-functional or reusable items.
As you read through this, start to consider the similar changes that you can make, too. Look at the products that you use on a daily basis (or more importantly, the products you don’t use). Look at their ingredients. Are these ingredients helpful or harmful for your body? Can you replace it with a more natural or sustainable product? Better yet, can you phase it out completely? What are the benefits or consequences of doing this? These questions will help you streamline your routine.
On that note, here are five items I no longer buy, and what I’ve done instead to replace them!
To be honest, I just love the look of my natural nails. Though I do think a freshly done manicure looks nice, but it’s never been something that I’ve had to have. Also, I’m the type of person who gets super frustrated whenever a nail chips or smudges, so I found it easier to just give my polish away after I noticed that it hadn’t been touched in well over a year.
I still stress nail care, because I care about having clean and healthy nails. I just have a small nail kit with all the proper tools to keep my nails trimmed and clean, and that’s all I need.
I’ve parted ways with the potent body gels that you’d find on a Bath and Body Works front shelf. Instead, I use my magical bar of African Black Soap. This is also what I use as a face wash. Originating in West Africa, African Black Soap has been a “holy grail” product in the black community for generations. It contains an abundance of natural, beneficial ingredients, including shea butter, plantain peel, and palm ash. Best of all, it’s super cheap. A $4.99 bar can last me about 3 months. Though there are many places to buy African Black Soap, the ingredients can vary from batch to batch. For that reason, I buy mine from Shea Moisture, since it’s specifically formulated for acne prone skin. Shea Moisture also sell two other variations – one for severely dry skin and one for eczema/psoriasis.
If you are going to use bar soap to wash your face/body, I recommend keeping it in a wired soap dish or something that lets liquid drain from the bottom. If water pools in your soap dish from your shower, it becomes easier for bacteria to manifest there, which is a recipe for disaster if you are using that bar of soap to clean your face.
This was the easiest change to make for me. I just can’t justify buying a can of shaving cream when my African Black Soap works extremely well for me. It hydrates my skin, and lathers pretty well. I also enjoy how it contains no artificial fragrances or perfumes that might irritate the more sensitive areas.
I stopped wearing tampons and switched to a menstrual cup for three main reasons. First, it means that I no longer need to use a single-use, disposable product when I’m on my period. Though that may not seem like much, it’s a small step for me to cut down on consumer waste. Second, it saves me some money. I’m not going to be rich by not buying tampons, but it’s one less trip to the drugstore each month. And third, I will never have to worry about running out of tampons again.
There is a slight learning curve to using a menstrual cup. It requires some trial and error the first couple times you use it for it to feel comfortable, though I’d argue that the same concept applies to the first time you use tampons, also. Plus, my DivaCup takes up much less space than a box of tampons does.
You don’t have to have incredibly thick, curly, difficult-to-manage hair like mine to know that sulfates can be incredibly harsh for our skin. If you’re a fan of Queer Eye, you’ve probably heard Jonathan Van Ness’s spiel about how Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is the same ingredient used to clean the car engine in a car. Yikes.
Long story short, sulfates can be quite drying, since they strip the natural oils from your scalp that your hair needs to stay hydrated. There are also claims that SLS can have carcinogenic effects in high doses, but there is little current research to back those claims. But before you ditch the sudsy stuff forever, know that there’s a large variety of sulfate-free shampoos on the market that cleanse just as well. Even though I no longer purchase shampoo, I do own a bottle of OGX sulfate-free shampoo that I bought by accident (thinking it was conditioner). I use that to cleanse my hair no more than once per week, and I plan to only cowash (i.e. cleansing with conditioner) once the bottle runs out.
It’s also really easy to find sulfate-free shampoos! Since natural products are becoming “trendy”, most companies will heavily market that their products are sulfate-free. Just read the label quickly, or when in doubt, check the ingredient list.
Remember, these are all things I’ve chosen to eliminate due to personal preference. My hair type doesn’t need to be shampooed multiple times a week, but that doesn’t mean that yours is the same way. Don’t feel pressured to give up any of these products just because I have, or if your favorite celebrity/YouTuber/blogger has. Everybody is different. What you can do is personalize this approach to the products that you use. You might be able to make some cool hacks to simplify your day, just like me.