Simple, frugal and green beauty

My goodness am I a beauty and skincare geek. I have spent countless small (okay, maybe not so small) fortunes on all kinds of moisturizers, serums, masks, facial oils, natural deodorants, mascaras, eye shadows and body lotions.

When I became pregnant with my son though, I knew that I needed to scale way back on my consumption of this stuff, much as I loved it. I needed curate my choices more — I always massively researched my potential purchases in beauty products, but I needed to think a new way. Fewer products that can serve multiple purposes, but with quality ingredients that I still felt good about putting on my body.

Why green? 

Most humans on this planet, whether they’re interested in the environment or not by now are vaguely aware that there is a lot of nefarious stuff lurking around in our local areas that didn’t exist or wasn’t there 1-2 generations ago and it’s affecting our health. I am not as hardcore as some out there when it comes to going all organic (because you can definitely drive yourself to the brink of insanity if you’re on a mission), but I think with certain things it’s a good idea. Overall, it’s important to find a balance that works for you.


Anyone who has kids or has kids living in their house, or has had kids knows that money gets tight with other mouths to feed, clothe, etc. As appealing as the high end, fancy shmancy organic formulations are and appeal to me, I know that financially they aren’t the right choice for our family, especially with me currently working part-time. Full disclosure: I do still include some less-than-frugal options in my routine. However, they contain high quality ingredients, are from companies that I love and are used sparingly.


I’m a simplicity lover. What does this mean? I don’t like to have a bunch of extra stuff around I don’t need or use. Things that are great multitaskers turn me into that hearts in your eyes emoji. I’m all about those things in any facet of my life, but especially when it comes to beauty and skincare. Plus, you know, less stuff to store, clean, dust and lose! When you’re using fewer products, you can also focus on having quality rather than quantity.

Before you go out and buy anything…

Shop your stash! What’s that mean? Dig out everything in your cabinets, cupboards, boxes, drawers. Lay out every single beauty product you own. If you’re like me, stuff will get hidden in unreachable or seemingly invisible crevices of your bathroom and bedroom. No matter how diligent I am about not buying what I need, I always find that stuff comes out of the woodwork once I start searching!

Throw it away if it’s way past its expiration date or has been opened for longer than the recommended time on the label.

If it’s still good, use it! I’ve rediscovered stuff that I forgot that I loved this way.

So what do I do? 

I first looked at types of products that I didn’t need and could replace with something more long-term.

Make-up remover: Put any oil (coconut, almond, olive, sunflower — whatever you have in) onto a wash cloth or cotton flannel. Wet it a bit with water and voilà! Non-toxic make-up remover that works amazingly well.

Cleanser: Can I be really boring here and say water? Yep, water to clean my face. Cheap and plentiful. 2-3 times per week I really push the boat out and use Dr Bronner’s Organic Lavender Castile Soap*** and in the past I’ve used the other scents too like baby-mild, rose, almond and peppermint (tingly!).

My face also loves Akamuti’s African Black Soap which is a skin savior made from shea butter. My sensitive, spot-prone, semi-dry skin loves it and it’s made by a lovely small skincare business in Wales.

Exfoliator: Back in the olden days, our grandparents, great-grandparents didn’t have fancy micro beads. I mean, some of them might have used ground up seeds or something of that ilk, but overall most people would use probably something very humble. A washcloth or flannel. I know, I know, not very sexy, right? But they’re so useful! Truth be told, I started by using my own baby’s washcloths. And you know what, they work so well, especially if you have the right kind. I prefer cloth wipes that a lot of people use (and we did use) for cloth diapering — where one side is smooth and the other side is a bit rougher.

Facial mask: Honey. Seriously, get a teaspoon sized portion of it and slather it on your face. Rinse it off with water and whatever you’re washing your face with. It will feel smooth as a baby’s bottom and if you’re prone to the odd spot, it’ll soothe them. Honey, especially quality honey (raw or manuka) has enzymes that are anti-bacterial as well. And if some gets on your lips, it isn’t the end of the world if you lick it off! 😉

Eye cream: I tend to use oil here and right now I’m using almond oil during the day or rosehip oil at night. During the day, if I want to feel a bit more made up, I use the Lavera Illuminating eye cream here and there during the day which lasts forever. A pin prick sized amount is enough. Too much of this stuff and you look like a tween who has tried contouring for the first time.

Face cream: Here, I switch it up and go with more conventional natural/organic unitaskers because I’m a big proponent of sunscreen year round (must be my Californian upbringing). Sometimes I will apply almond oil or (occasionally) coconut oil to my face and that’s the end of that. However, most of the time, I use a CC cream with SPF 15+. I’m currently using Pacifica’s, but it’s a bit dry for me, even with oil on underneath, so after I finish it I’m going to go back to Yes to Grapefruits which leaves a great dewey glow. If I’m feeling dry, I’ll add an oil underneath whatever skincare product I’m applying.

Body wash: I tend to use Dr Bronner’s castile soap, but recently I’ve been using up my stockpile of goat’s milk soap I got eons ago as a gift.

Most body washes are more water than cleaning agent, so you’re paying for a lot of water. Now, I don’t mind doing this when paying for safer skincare versions of bubble bath/shampoo/body wash for my son, because let’s face it, bubbles are an absolutely important part of a kid’s growing up experience. But for me? I’d rather use something more concentrated, long-lasting, lovingly handcrafted and let’s face it, economical. Bars of soap last so much longer than body wash if you let them dry out between uses.

Shaving gel: I use one of the soaps I mentioned above because it’s easier, works relatively well and I don’t get lectured by my husband for leaving the bathtub slippery afterwards!

Some people use oil for this. Coconut oil is a perennial favorite for many, but in my experience in cold UK bathrooms it can sometimes be a bit fiddly and can clog up my razor to boot. I suppose you could maybe use another oil you have laying around in your kitchen like olive oil, almond oil or sunflower oil instead.

Body lotion: No lotion here, just oil. Oh sure, sometimes just to change it up I’ll go to TK Maxx and get a natural or organic brand’s lotion. But 95%+ of the time I use oil. The current oil I’m using is almond oil that I got from our local supermarket’s world foods aisle because if it’s good enough to put in my body, it’s good enough to put on my body. It was ridiculously cheap, under a fiver, for a liter of the stuff! We purchased it probably 6 months ago and are not even close to finishing half of it. I even now use it on my son as well as a baby oil and his skin has responded to it (so far) better than anything else I’ve ever used on it.

If you’re pregnant, I totally recommend using Weleda’s Stretch Mark Massage Oil. It admittedly isn’t a very big bottle, especially when you are in the 3rd trimester, but I loved it while I was pregnant and used it all 3 trimesters. Honestly, I would’ve bought it in bulk if I could’ve. It worked so well, smelled great and kept my skin so soft!

Other people use shea butter or coconut oil. These work great but a little goes a long way because if you slap on too much your skin can’t breathe as well.

Haircare: I go for Faith in Nature’s Rosemary shampoo because I get itchy scalp very easy (scalp psoriasis runs in the family) and it’s the only thing that keeps it at bay. Sometimes I pair it with a Faith in Nature conditioner, but not always.

I used to use baking soda and apple cider vinegar thing to wash my hair for about a year, but ditched it for a more simplistic solution when my son was born. Lush do some shampoo bars that worked fairly well for me in the past too.

Deodorant: Finding a natural deodorant that works for you is pretty much the Holy Grail of natural skincare. I kissed seemingly thousands of frogs before I found ones that I liked and didn’t give me irritation. Late last year some lovely ladies in a group I’m in suggested Natural Deodorant Co. and I tried out a sample at Naturisimo and immediately bought more when I ran out. I’ve been very happy with it ever since.

I was a Primal Pit Paste stick convert for years, but it’s tricky to get outside of the US. Sometimes you just want to be able to buy something to stop you stink without a lot of hassle, you know?

Now that seems like a lot of products there — That doesn’t seem simple or frugal!

I know, but a lot are there to give you some ideas of different options you could try. Plus, it’s all about progress or perfection. I’m now using far fewer products that I ever have, so this is a huge step in the right direction for me!

In short, my daily routine is:

5 “products” maximum used every day

When showering or bathing (2-3x/week),

  • Wash face with water and Dr Bronner’s, exfoliate with wash cloth
  • Bar soap or Dr Bronner’s for body wash
  • Faith in Nature to shampoo / condition hair
  • Honey face mask (typically 1x/week)
  • Use almond oil for body oil after showering or bathing

6 “products” maximum used 2-3x/week


Now, I’m not saying ditch everything and throw it out. 

If you’re interested in making your beauty regime more simplistic, green and frugal, know that you don’t need to go do everything all at once. This was totally a gradual process for me over the course of a year. But the next time you run out of something, think about whether you can shop your stash or use a multitasking product to meet that need rather than buy something new. It’s a much more creative way at looking at the world and it could save you money!

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