Minimalist Makeover: How To Kondo Your Beauty Routine

Minimalist Makeover: How To Kondo Your Beauty Routine Hero Image
Photo: Chloe Bulpin

We’re putting out a “5 Days to Minimalism” series to help you clear clutter from your life really, really quickly. Day 2 is all about paring down your beauty routine to let the staples shine.

Anything that doesn't make you happy or isn't absolutely necessary should be touched, thanked, and sent on its way, according to bestselling Japanese writer Marie Kondo. If you haven't communed with your mascara lately, thanked your beauty products for their hard work, or bowed (at least mentally) to your bathroom in appreciation, maybe it's time to consider doing so according to the tenets of Marie's first international best-seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

Give yourself the chance to reconsider your current beauty routine. As decluttering devotees would ask, are there unnecessary steps that slow you down in the morning? Is there packaging in your bathroom that, quite simply, doesn't bring you joy?

We're all trying to reduce our carbon footprints, let go of things that no longer serve us, and divest ourselves of the objects that—we are told—are in some ways asphyxiating us.

Think of these tips as a sort of minimalist intervention. Here's how to do more, with less:

1. Consider what you use on a daily basis.

Owning fewer products is a very low-stakes way to dabble in minimalism, and as an added bonus you save time and money—heck, it might even result in a stronger sense of your own beauty identity. "If you want to know what products you use most, look at which ones are worn down or actually used," says natural beauty and self-care expert Jessa Blades. "Say you have a blue eyeshadow that has only been used one time—send it on its way! You probably won’t wear it again and it's not bringing you that much joy to hang onto it." I must confess that streamlining my makeup routine was liberating, because trying to make my wishful sensibilities fit with some tenuous sense of self was a bit exhausting!


2. Use up what's left.

If you're hesitant to throw away perfectly good products that no longer suit you, kudos to you! "If you need to finish up a face lotion that you are not super crazy about, use it as a foot lotion or on your body," says Jessa. "Don’t worry so much about labels and what the products say they are for—think outside the box. Tons of lip balms? They also make a nice hand balm for those super cold and windy winter days. Finish up the products and let the streamline begin."

3. Opt for natural products with simple packaging.

In the same way that a cosy blanket and sleek potted plant from West Elm sends our hearts aflutter, the simple labeling and apothecary-style packaging of an Aesop hand wash, let's say, or a Strange Invisible fragrance, appeals to our desire for fuss-free design and tasteful minimalism like never before. And it's not just the packaging. These products tend to have a simple and clear focus based on no-nonsense formulas—centered around natural ingredients—so they fit the mood for all things simple, stylish, and most importantly, purposeful. Turn to them to fill any gaps that might be left in your beauty repertoire.

"Having an organized, thoughtful, and joyful beauty routine is especially enhanced by using non-toxic cosmetics with lovely ingredients," says Jessa. "The trick with non-toxic products is that they don’t have as long of a shelf life as conventional beauty products. It is about shopping differently. You can have less products and actually finish them versus having 20 products that you have been hanging onto for years."

4. Don't forget that a little goes a long way.

There's a common misconception that the more products you use, the better your skin will be. Paring down your beauty routine into something easy to stick with usually makes for a healthier complexion. Start right and focus your routine on easy, actionable steps—wash with a gentle cleanser in whatever formulation best suits your skin, use multitasking moisturizers, and go with your gut.

5. Curate your new collection.

If you're new to the organization game, there are some things you might need. I love The Container Store and Amazon for boxes (and then more boxes) in which to put those boxes; Bed Bath & Beyond for dust eradication, and Muji for small and stackable containers to decant oils, creams, and crumbly makeup. Maybe even invest in a label maker—the minimalist path is full of possibility!

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