How to Simplify Your Beauty Routine

blonde woman relaxes with cucumber eye masks and diy oatmeal scrub on face

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

Yes, there are more important things to worry about than your roots showing, ragged manicures, hair stubble, split ends, or perfectly groomed eyebrows. But in times of great crises and stressful situations, it's 100% normal and okay and necessary to practice self-care — in whatever form that works for you.

Some may find gardening soothing, while others find solace in forest-bathing or simply resting in a city park (six feet away from anyone else, we hope). But if your self-care routine consists of pampering your skin, hair, nails, and body, by all means, pamper it up.

With so many retails shops temporarily closed, online ordering shows no signs of stopping. But try not to let panic and sudden closures encourage over-buying and excessive consumption. (Looking at you, toilet paper hoarders.) Instead, I've been digging through my pantry and fridge to see what kind of DIY beauty routines I can dream up. It's much more fun than buying a lip scrub in a plastic container, shipped from hundreds of miles away. Additionally, the more I read about what kind of chemicals are lurking in our everyday cosmetics, the more I'm motivated to make my own.

If you're able to receive deliveries from a CSA, take advantage of all the wonderful spring produce coming in. Supporting your local farmers and small businesses, while also treating yourself to an organic, fresh-from-the-fridge face mask, is a win-win for everyone.


still life shot of bar soap, wooden hair accessories, and perfume with monstera leaf

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

Out of shampoo? If you don't have any shampoo bars stashed away, try making your own with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Or, if you're lucky enough to be working from home, give the no-poo experiment a try! You're not leaving the house, so why not go with the greasy hair for a month and see what happens?

I normally get my hair trimmed every three months, but that's not happening right now. I pulled some tiny hair scissors out of the back of my shelf and merely trimmed the ends the other day. If you've got time on your hands, watch a couple of YouTube tutorials to get a feel for how to carefully trim one's hair. And while you're self-isolating, try one of these homemade hair masks (bring on the stale beer and eggs!)

Dry shampoo

A woman rubbing dry shampoo on her head.

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Dry shampoos have become especially popular, and are great when you're trying to cut back on shampooing and styling every day. However, drugstore brands can contain harmful ingredients like talc, propane, limonene, geraniol, and hormone-disrupting parabens. They also come in the environmental disaster that is aerosol cans. Make your own with cornstarch and a couple drops of your favorite essential oil (I like lavender and lemon). If you're worried about the white powder showing up, try adding cinnamon, clove, or cocoa powder to better blend in.


person in floral caftan shaves leg with metal safety razor

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

This is one area where it's pretty easy to stop single-use plastic. This razor is solid metal with replaceable double-edged steel blades, and is 100 percent plastic-free and zero-waste. The blades are pure steel and come with a special blade disposal box made of tin, so the entire thing can be recycled as scrap metal. If your municipality doesn't accept metal recycling, you can ship the entire box back to the maker to be recycled in bulk. Consider also switching to a bar, like this olive oil shaving soap, rather than using those nasty aerosol shaving cream cans.


reclined woman rubs sugar scrub on lips with oatmeal mask on

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

Lip scrubs are a great way to slough off dead skin and keep your lips feeling moistened and fresh. Simply grab whatever sugar you have on hand, combine it with coconut or olive oil, and gently massage on your lips. If you accidentally ingest some, no worries, but try not to lick it off, as that can aggravate dried skin. Try this recipe for brown sugar vanilla lip scrub.


woman reclines on pillow while holding glass bowl filled with DIY oatmeal face mask

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

Time to open up the fridge. Got yogurt, avocado, organic mayonnaise, or banana? You can make wonderfully moisturizing face masks with ingredients that are on their last leg. Add brown sugar, finely ground oatmeal, baking soda, or almond meal to any of your facial cleansers for an all-natural, gently abrasive scrub.


Epsom salt in a glass jar with twine and lavender tied around it.

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While you're letting your hair mask and face mask soak in, go ahead and put your whole body in an epsom salt bath. Made up of magnesium and sulfate, epsom salts are wonderful for treating body aches, removing splinters, and volumizing your hair naturally. There is also no end to sugar or salt body scrub recipes, too. Try this banana sugar body scrub for when you've got some brown beauties needing to be used up.


Beeswax balm in a small jar sitting on a chunk of raw beeswax.

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I'm ashamed to admit I was a chronic nail-biter during most of my childhood and teens (and maybe my 20s, too). The only way I could stop myself was occasionally indulging in a professional manicure. But, I didn't like the process, with all the chemicals being breathed in by customers and workers alike, and the monthly costs add up quickly. Plus, if you're not used to it, manicures can really hurt. Now, I try to keep it very low-key: metal clippers and a file, a bit of beeswax balm on my cuticles, and if I really want to, a pop of color with these vegan, cruelty-free, PETA-certified, and made-in-the-USA nail polishes.


close shot of hands mixing up coconut oil with essential oils in glass bowl

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

Katherine, who is a religious Cross-Fitter and very active mama, makes her own deodorant and swears by it. The ingredients might already be in your house: virgin coconut oil, shea butter, baking soda, cornstarch, and your pick of essential oils.


DIY bronzer made with cocoa powder in glass jar with makeup brush

Treehugger / Kasia Surowiecka

This is where most of the chemicals are hiding, and it can be difficult to go cold turkey on lipstick, foundation, or mascara. If you can't bear tossing them out, find new ways to use up what you've got, rather than buying more. Got some lipsticks that are almost used up? Mash them up with a little coconut oil in a small container. Instant lip balm! If you're feeling extra-crafty, Katherine recommends making your own lip balm with beet juice, bronzer out of cocoa powder, or homemade mascara from kohl powder bought in bulk.

Makeup removal

zero waste beauty routine can consist of scraps of fabric, coconut oil, and essential oils

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

You don't need to buy special wipes that are tossed in the trash after one use. Buy some soft cloths (flannel, fleece, or muslin) that you can throw in the laundry with the rest of your clothes. Oil (coconut, olive, or sweet almond) does a great job cleaning the skin, and is especially gentle on the sensitive eye area.

The do-it-all

hands turn on water in shower tub combo with Dr. Bronner's castile soap in corner

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Feeling overwhelmed by all these DIY recipes and anti-plastic rants? We got you. If you make just one purchase, I recommend castile soap, a highly versatile cleaner made from vegetable oils. This bottle or bar of wonders can clean pretty much anything: from dirty dishes to laundry to body wash to pet shampoo! Its ethical production, eco-friendliness, and affordability earn it an A+ in my beauty book.