Maybe it seems odd to start this series why less is more with a Do-it-yourself (DIY) process and even more so to focus on care products. But I have to start somewhere – and yes, I really have to. I really feel it is time to work on transformation on different levels. Less is more is a series, a process I started (partly a long time ago) in order to reduce my own footprint regarding resources as well as support my wellbeing. I can really feel that less is more in care products, but also have been told so by a doctor.
Less is more for body, mind and soul
Granted, that doctor was only referring to daily skincare. After inspecting a rash on my skin which I got after using a very well-known brand marketed specifically for sensitive skin, he said: „Just try to use as few products as possible so your skin can find its own balance.“ I have to admit that this wasn‘t exactly what I had hoped to hear – or get. A magic pill fixing the condition instantaneously would have been really nice, doc! Or at least, some potion to make it all go away. Doing nothing, even more so, reducing what I was doing and using, seemed strangely enough pretty hard. Unfortunately, changing our behaviour always is.
Once I started thinking about the advice, it made a lot of sense though. After all, there are multiple areas in life where less is more. In the sense of less being actually better for body, soul and mind. Pondering less over problems or situations that are out of our control can definitely calm the mind, same as comparing yourself to others. Eating less junk food or any other kind of highly processed food is appreciated by the body, while less apathy, fear, anger, shame, guilt, grief, desire and even pride can lift us up and unburden the soul. However, all too often we are looking for solutions in the outside world, instead of looking at the inside for guidance and changes (Why breathing is our superpower) …
Facing the outside world
Even though I was a little hesitant to simply reduce care products, it actually worked out pretty well, in particular when I am in my element: The sea. Okay, the structure of the hair is definitely not profiting from sun and salt, but at least the colour turns almost back to my childhood days of white-blond. The skin seems to find its natural balance much more easily in the tropics. In particular, this winter was long and cold and my skin got too dry for most parts (Richtig Stimmung unter dem Gefrierpunkt).
So, I started to experiment on how little was still good and even more importantly what to use. The first thing I threw completely overboard at the beginning of the year was make-up. Not that I have ever used an awful lot. To be honest, I am hopeless with anything more than putting on mascara and darkening my eyebrows. During my aquatic life, I never even used those and started wondering why I should use them again only because I was trapped on land for the time being. Ditching make-up was the easiest step for me personally, but not necessarily for the people around me. Some asked what about special days? Good question, as every day is special in one way or another, I thought it was easier to simply decide once and for all. We shall see how this process continues.
From the inside out
In the end, the most important routines for healthy skin and hair hardly cost anything other than time and discipline: good sleep, lots of fluids to drink (especially water and tea) and cold water to wake up the face. Also, contrast showers (always ending with cold water) do enliven the body immediately. Apparently, it is also good to vitalise the skin. As I used to do that years ago, it wasn‘t that hard to integrate it back into my self-care routine. After a while, it becomes an automated reaction to turn the temperature down.
Another huge game-changer is actually cooking. To my own surprise, I love it. But that‘s another story. Healthy, nutritious and fresh food has a bigger impact than any product to clean the skin with. Yes, cooking and sleeping do take time out of the day, but they are nurturing all of us from the inside out and support any healing process that is needed.
Why I started with DIY care products
Ditching make-up was just one step of my journey searching for options to support my skin without overpowering its own healing powers and without making my skin or hair dependent on certain care products. There are great companies and natural products out there, but in general, I like the idea to be more self-sufficient. After all, living on small islands these products teaches you to focus on the basics.
For years I only used natron powder (baking soda) mixed with water to wash my hair together with a rinse made of apple vinegar. It worked perfectly fine while abroad. At home in Europe, I made the mistake to use leftover shampoo every once in a while. Since then I am struggling to get my scalp back to „normal“.
But less is more was not only supposed to help me but also the planet. After all, I wanted to do my part to reduce plastic pollution worldwide (Rubbish wave: Looking for solutions for small islands). Hence, I bought and used fewer and fewer products, and opted for organic, paper packaging or at least recycled materials wherever possible. Some alternatives that are much less plastic intensive, like soap instead of shower gel or washing powder instead of liquid washing fluids, I am using already for many years. But I wanted more.
How I started with DIY care products
It was all there – in my mind. However, „wouldn‘t it be nice to“ and „will it work at all“ seemed to bring any further action from my part to a standstill. As usual, the hardest part was to get started. Seeing others on social media living completely plastic-free lives did not help me at all. Don‘t get me wrong, I applaud all of them, but this perfect lifestyle just seems impossible to reach and instead of discouraging me to take the first step, it was keeping me from even start trying. Finally, I got my shit together: Let‘s all try to get better, starting right here right now, at our own speed with our own interests instead of pointing fingers or just freezing.
In order for me to translate my DIY care products mission into action, I needed an outside push. Luckily, along came Christmas 2020. As I love self-made presents anyway I worked on another greeting card, added a book for each of my friends that I had read already and was ready to add the next DIY care product (Pictures as cards: Thoughts, quotes and affirmations). Luckily, I came across a recipe online that seemed easy enough and my first production went all smoothly: Deodorant (Deo selber machen von Aroma 1×1).
For some, it isn‘t strong enough for sporting or days they have presentations, workshops or such. But for others, it works perfectly fine and is even used to cure skin rashes! Mine works great, especially after I added some more essential oils to the mix (one can just reheat the deodorant in a water bath and stir additional drops into the paste). If it is too liquid, add more bee wax. Too hard? More coconut oil.
Where I stand with DIY care products
There are so many great sources online. Nevertheless, I love to hold a book in my hand. Therefore, I ordered „Selber machen statt kaufen. Haut und Haar“ by Smarticular to get more inspiration for DIY skin and hair care products. They actually have loads of ideas and recipes on their website. In case you also like to order a book you can do it on their website or maybe support your local book shop or alternative book shops online linked to good causes like Ocean Heroes. This charity bookshop offers millions of books, including ebooks to choose from. All profits go to organisations and projects protecting the ocean.
Since I got the book I started to prepare alternatives for the most plastic intensive care products first: Mouth wash and body lotion. The solutions aren‘t completely plastic-free (yet). Work in progress. Now I try to prepare one product per week, slowly working my way up to more complicated mixtures of cremes and lotions. Though I am actually happy that the simple options do the trick. After all, one day we go abroad again and with travelling, less is definitely more.
Less is more: Step by step
I am far from perfect – in my self-care routine, with regards to DIY care products as well as minimising plastic use and my general footprint on earth and share of its natural resources. I admire everyone who is leading a complete plastic-free lifestyle and prepares all their food as well as care and cleaning products from scratch. My own journey has taught me that the hardest part is the first step, but also that each and everyone took afterwards becomes not only easier but also so much more rewarding. It‘s not the thought that counts, it is action – one step at a time. Embracing the process instead of longing for a result is training patience, compassion and self-love at the same time.