Could You Live With Fewer Toiletries?

Minimalist bathroom toiletries on a white shelf against green tiles.

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Here are some simple strategies for reducing the number of products you use.

Open any beauty magazine and you'll be bombarded with ads for soaps, creams, and makeup that promise to make you look younger, more beautiful, eternally vivacious. It's all a lie, of course. The cosmetics companies tell you this because they want to sell more products. But it has contributed to a culture of dissatisfaction and dependence, not to mention an enormous amount of non-recyclable waste.

A good way to fight back against this is to streamline your personal care routine. By eliminating and simplifying products, you can take a stance against rampant consumerism and improve your own quality of life. Here are some ways to use fewer products at home:

1. Just keep one.

Parred down pink and white beauty and skincare products in a plastic organizer.

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This concept is described beautifully by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist. His philosophy is that there's great joy to be found in owning a single possession of a particular kind and that most people are mistaken in their assumption that backups are necessary. Pare down your personal care products and cosmetics to a single one, and there will be no more fumbling through multiple eyeliners, shower gels, and lotions to figure out which one you need. (Read: Akamai wants to pare down your beauty routine to 3 items.)

2. Use it up entirely.

Beauty products, lipstick, brushes, gloss in a plastic organizer.

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When was the last time you used an eye shadow down to the very bottom, scraping powder bits out of the corners, or squirting contact solution into an old mascara bottle to make it go further? Make it a personal challenge not to forget about products or get distracted by new ones until they're all gone.

3. Some products can do double-duty.

Two bottled oils and a sponge, brush in a minimalist clean white washroom.

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A good oil, for instance, is useful as a makeup remover, a skin and face moisturizer, lip balm, taming frizzy hair, shaving legs. Bar soap can wash and shave, eliminating the need for multiple bottles in the shower. If you wear makeup, eye shadow can work as lip color and eyebrow tint. Learn 15 ways in which baking soda can be used in a beauty routine.

4. Say no to samples.

Perfume beauty sample bottles lined up on a table.

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Many cosmetics companies mail out samples whenever you place an order online. Not only does it create waste and clutter in your makeup bag, but it counteracts efforts to streamline the personal care process -- and could get you hooked on something that you really don't need. It's easier just to stay away.

5. Resist the urge to buy seasonal fads and colors.

Make-up on a towel and in plastic containers and bags.

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This goes back to the 'power of one' idea, but it's important to note that marketers of cosmetic companies are experts at convincing people that looks change constantly. (They don't really.) The entire industry relies on what The Guardian calls "fast-moving consumer goods," which means it must sell enormous quantities in order to stay afloat.

6. Focus on the truly important things.

A young black woman drinks water from a glass in a white washroom.

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Plenty of water, good nutrition, and adequate sleep will go further than all the most expensive toiletries and cosmetics in the world.