Skin care routine – Revised

Last year in September I wrote a post about my newfound ideal skincare routine. It involved doing absolutely nothing to my skin except washing my face twice a day. I kept it up for a few months and it kind of worked, until I flew back to Europe over Christmas and my skin turned into a desert.
My skin is naturally on the dry side, however since I live in New Zealand I haven’t really experienced THE REAL WINTER: Wellington is very wet even when it’s cold, so in the past year and a half I’ve had to deal with different skin issues.
But while in Italy I knew I needed some extra moisture. Since I hadn’t brought any face cream with me, I thought I’d be a good idea to hunt for something locally made and as Zero Waste as possible. My mum is a big fan of L’Erbolario (they are awesome: all their products are cruelty free and locally made, mostly packaged in glass, and the company is really into environmental sustainability and social responsibility), so we went to one of their shop where I purchased this amazing face cream which I mainly picked because it smells delicious (it’s made with Argan leaves) but also because it was recommended for skin types that are prone to dryness.

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Back home it really helped make my skin softer and more nourished, and I’m still using it now that I’m back in New Zealand.
So in the morning I still only wash my face with lukewarm water, then apply this face cream and that’s it.

In the evening, though, I decided to spice things up a little, especially because when I came back from Europe it was the middle of an uncommonly hot summer, which required me to wash off layers and layers of sunscreen every night.
I’d seen the local vegan community writing good reviews on this particular face wash barso I thought I’d give it a go. It’s made of activated charcoal, French clay and peppermint oil, and it’s designed to remove impurities and fight blemishes, which I have a bunch of. It’s going down quite quickly and I can definitely see myself purchasing it again because I love it.

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After my face is all nice and clean, I take a homemade cotton round (find out how to make your own here), and I tone my skin with Thayers alcohol-free rose petal witch hazel toner (could the name be any longer?). This is definitely not a Zero Waste product but I’ve been wanting to try this toner for years and I eventually gave in – hopefully it’ll last me a long time. I really like it so far and my skin definitely feels cleaner at the end of the day.

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In those rare occasions when I wear make up, I would use a bar of African Black Soapwhich is a bit drying for me so I need to make sure I moisturise profusely afterwards. However I still prefer to remove my make up with this rather than coconut oil, as I found that coconut oil makes me break out if I use it too much.

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(My homemade face scrub is still coconut oil-based, but I only use it maybe twice a month. You can find the recipe for that here.) Talking about scrubs, I also have this face polish that I got from work, I’ve only used it once so far and it’s very gentle which I appreciate.

As for moisturiser, I switch between a few products at night.
The first one is my loyal and forever favourite Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask by Origins, also not Zero Waste but I’ve had the same bottle since way before I even started thinking about reducing my impact on the planet. In fact, I purchased this baby in Canada back in 2013. I haven’t used it every single day, but man this face mask will last you! A tiny bit really goes a long way, and as I’m approaching the bottom of it I’m getting more and more torn on whether I want to repurchase it. I do love it a lot but it obviously come in plastic and – alas – Origins is not cruelty free (they sell their products in China). So yeah I guess the answer is pretty straightforward.

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I also got myself some rosehip oil, which I’ve had my eyes on for a while. Other than coconut oil, I had never used “liquidy” oils on my skin and I was very intrigued. I can’t say love it (I really don’t like the smell), but it does the job: the morning after my skin feels soft and nourished. I picked rosehip oil because it’s supposed to help with discolouration and even out your skin tone, but I don’t think I’ve been consistent enough in using it to see any results just yet.

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Talking about oils, the final product I’ve been using is Jason’s Vitamin E oilwhich I also got from work.
(I should specify, I do get free skincare products from work, and that’s the reason why I have so much stuff. I’m experimenting, but mostly I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase all these products, especially since most of them come in plastic.)
Anyway, I haven’t been using this oil for very long but I am LOVING it so far. I might even dare to say it’s running right behind the Origins overnight mask in my favourite skincare products ever.

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Finally, I’m still using up the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque that I’ve had for ages, I’m almost out now but this is something I’m definitely not going to buy again. Its successor is going to be this Antipodes mask which I also got from work, I’ve used it once so far and I like it, although my favourite face mask ever will forever be Mask of Magnaminty from Lush, which I haven’t used since I ran out of it last year but I am considering getting myself some when I go back to London in October.

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Overall, my skin feels good. I regularly get a few pimples on my chin when I’m on my period but I know that’s hormonal and there’s nothing I can do about it. (Also this is new for me: I used to get pimples on my cheeks or around my nose, as well as some small bumps on my forehead, but only recently I started getting them on my chin. I wonder what it means?) I’m eating pretty healthy since I started working in this organic supermarket, but I also know food has nothing to do with the state of my skin. Finally, I’m not drinking enough water, which is also nothing new. So I’ll probably keep all this up and will check back in a few moths.

(I apologise for how gloomy these pictures look, it’s 2 in the afternoon but the Great Flood is happening outside and it honestly feels like the end of the world.)

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Wardrobe review

About a year and a half ago (holy cow) I wrote a post about The True Cost , where I reflected upon the impact of fast fashion on the environment and the people involved in the clothing manufacturing industry.
At the time I went through all my clothes to get an idea of how bad I was doing (turned out: pretty bad). During the following months I’ve been revamping my wardrobe with the double goal of getting rid of things I didn’t like/use and moving towards a more ethical collection. I am now proud to announce that I finally got to the point where I love everything I have and have everything I need.
So today I went through my wardrobe again to reassess the situation. This is what my wardrobe looks like, plus a couple of other places where I store my clothes:

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And below is the final verdict.

NOTE: “Ethical” to me indicates a piece of clothing that either comes from an ethical brand, or I purchased second hand, or it’s a hand-me-down (so it could be from an unethical brand but I haven’t personally purchased it).

Sweaters
Total: 19
Ethical: 9
Unethical: 10
Not sure: –
Hoodies
Total: 4 (plus 1 I’m not sure I want to keep)
Ethical: –
Unethical: 1
Not sure: 4
Sweaters I lounge around in
Total: 4 (plus 2 I’m not sure I want to keep)
Ethical: 3
Unethical: –
Not sure: 3
Dresses
Total: 2 for winter, 3 for summer, 3 for both
Ethical: 1
Unethical: 5
Not sure: 1
(Go me, I used to have 12 dresses that I never used!)
Skirts
Total: 3
Ethical: 2
Unethical: 1
Not sure: –
Shorts
Total: 2 plus a pair of dungarees
Ethical: 2
Unethical: 1
Not sure: –
Flannels
Total: 2
Ethical: 1
Unethical: 1
Not sure: –
T-shirts (short sleeves)
Total: 12 (plus 2 for work)
Ethical: 5 + 2
Unethical: 4
Not sure: 3
(I used to have 43 t-shirts! Forty three!)

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Tops (long sleeves)
Total: 7
Ethical: 4
Unethical: 1
Not sure: 2
Tank tops
Total: 7
Ethical: 2
Unethical: 3
Not sure: 2
Jeans
Total: 4
Ethical: 2
Unethical: 2
Not sure: –
Other pants
Total: 5 pair of leggings (2 ethical and 3 unethical), 2 pairs of harem pants (not sure), 2 pairs of lounge pants (one ethical, one not sure)

Not listed: underwear, sportswear, ski stuff, coats and jackets, shoes.

Last year I owned 39 pieces of unethically produced clothes out of 89 pieces of clothing in total. As of today, both numbers went down: 29 out of 48 pieces of clothing I own are unethically produced. In more mathematical terms, I went from 43% to 60% of my entire wardrobe being unethically produced.
As bad as this sound, the reason behind these numbers is not me purchasing unethical clothes, but me getting rid of ethical ones. (Although well, I guess I did buy a couple of sweaters from H&M.) As I went through my decluttering process, I found that lots of items I purchased second hand were not in good conditions or the quality was quite poor, whereas most of my favourite clothes are – alas – from unethical brands. I don’t want to keep something just because it’s second hand, I’d rather stick to the clothes I love most until they last, and purchase second-hand replacements only when the original ones are falling apart.
All in all, I’m happy about my wardrobe now: I have everything I need, and everything I have I love.  I don’t have any desire to buy new clothes nor to let go of anything (except a couple of things that are already in my “Maybe” pile). It took me years to get to this point, and it might not be the more sustainable collections of clothes ever, but it is the best I have ever done, so perhaps it means I can stop spending hours in my closet getting rid of stuff. Success!

Am I a consumerist biatch?

Remember when I said I didn’t want anything for Christmas? WELL.
Since I’ve moved to New Zealand, I haven’t really treated myself to anything rather than coffee. I did buy things I needed (some clothes), but I can’t remember one instance where I got myself something just as a present to myself. The reason for that is not that I didn’t want to, but rather that I never found anything I liked. In spite of never being big on shopping, not buying anything for 18 months is a record even for myself.
Then I flew to Europe. I had already warned Giac that I was not going to be responsible for my actions over Christmas, as I knew I was probably going to unleash my inner consumerist monster in London, and my mum had told me she would pay for anything I wanted back home (I know).
However, in spite of my predictions, I overdid myself and went absolutely bananas. I bought thirteen sweaters, three journals, two pairs of shoes, slippers, some t-shirts, a bunch of winter hats and scarves, and a crazy amount of makeup.
I am sure that, compared to the average consumer, this is not that much. But condensed into such a short amount of time, it sounds absolutely insane. Plus, it totally goes against my Zero Waste/minimalist principles. Although I did try to buy as much as I could second hand/from sustainable brands, it probably doesn’t justify the fact that I had to ask my parents to send me an extra parcel from Italy to New Zealand because I couldn’t fit all the things I bought in my suitcase.
Now, some things I actually needed (I had zero winter jumpers), but some other things I got simply because, well, I could.
And I was not expecting that.
When I wrote about the joys of being frugal and not falling for temptations, I meant that. Although at the beginning I did struggle with not having access to stuff, after a year and a half I’d learned to be ok with it and actually quite enjoyed living on less. But once I was back to the realm of shopping and consumerism that is London, I was surprised by how quickly I readjusted to that and turned into my previous, careless self.
I don’t know how I feel about it. I don’t really regret buying things. I love each and every one of my recent purchases. And considering how few possessions I had before, I still feel like I don’t own that much.
But I wonder, why am I so obsessed about it? Am I trying to be a minimalist just because I read about it and watch so many YouTube videos on people decluttering their lives that I feel like I should only own 30 pieces of clothing?
After the big move from London to New Zealand, I wanted to get rid of stuff because packing up 33 boxes of books was such a stress that I didn’t want to do it again next time I move. (Although I obviously still have all my books – fuck it.) So I did go through all my possession and donated everything that I didn’t wear/use/love. My ultimate goal was to get to a point where I owned everything I needed, and I needed everything I owned.
After my clear out I was left with… Not much. And I was missing a bunch of things that I considered necessities (i.e. winter sweaters. Again. It’s cold here, ok?)
This crazy Christmas shopping spree filled that gap. I now only own things I love. I invested in some staple items that I know will last me a long time. I will probably not buy anything else for another 18 months (hopefully longer).
Also, strictly speaking, I don’t think I’ll ever be a minimalist, unless I refine what minimalism means to me. I sure wish I could live on less material things – especially in view of my next move. However, I do make use of everything I have. And I guess that’s the point: I’m happy to let go of things that don’t serve me any purpose, and to keep those that do, even if they are more than what fits in a single suitcase.
The other point is, I am not perfect (duh). Although I am passionate about Zero Waste and conscious consumerism, I also falter and succumb to my old habits from time to time. And I’m ok to admit that. Living this way is not easy, but in my opinion you don’t have to be one hundred percent “perfect”, this is all about being aware of the consequences of your actions and know that you are responsible for them. In spite of this Christmas craziness, I still think overall I’m doing ok. I’m not claiming to be perfect or to know it all – after all this blog is all about my journey and my struggles and my internal conflicts, and me analysing them as well as accepting them for what they are.

This was just a big fat ramble and it probably didn’t make much sense but I guess I just needed to let it all out, so thanks for listening. I promise the next post will be more constructive!

‘Tis the season

It’s after the holidays, and I’ve been thinking a lot about how being a Zero Waster/wannabe-minimalist/life simplifier relates to the consumerist mindset and spending spree that is the holiday season.
Up until not very long ago, I didn’t think much about Christmas presents. It was just something you had to do. During my London years, I used to associate the appearance of Christmas decorations in Oxford street to the daunting awareness that I had to get people stuff. Every Christmas I would fly back home with a suitcases full of presents for my friends and family, and as much as I did enjoy buying nice things for them, I also felt like this was an obligation more than a pleasure.
December 2016 was our first Christmas in New Zealand, and since we were not going home I didn’t buy any presents to my loved ones. Instead, I sent them cards that I painted myself, and wrote them letters saying that I missed them. That was the most personal gift I’ve ever given them.
I realised all I was doing was taking the values I’d normally apply to my own day-to-day life and extending them to other people. I’m all about minimising waste and simplifying my life, so obviously I wasn’t going to forget about that when it came to present-giving.
But this posed another issue: what about the presents I was going to receive? I started to dread the prospect of unwrapping a present only to find the umpteenth birthday cake-shaped hat from Ikea (yes, that’s something I’ve actually received).
My main goal this year became to avoid superficial gifts that I didn’t need. How was I going to do that? I was gonna speak up. Thanks to finding the balls to tell people what I did and didn’t want, I managed to have my first (almost) Zero Waste, conscious-consumer-oriented, kinda minimalist Christmas.
And this is what I’ve learned:

  • It’s ok to ask
    A few months prior to my return, I wrote to my family members and gave them my Christmas wish list. I knew it wouldn’t make sense to ask for no presents at all as people still feel compelled to get you something, so at least I was going to ask for things I actually wanted or needed. This may be a bit blunt but at least you won’t end up with stuff you’re never going to use.
    This also goes for wrapping paper: I’ve asked everyone to please not wrap any of my presents or to at least use old wrapping paper or whatever wrapping they had lying around. It worked!
  • Presents don’t have to be a physical thing
    Giac, for example, always asks for experiences for his birthday. This Christmas, his aunt and uncle told us to pick anything we want to do in Welly and they would pay for it – it can be anything from a theatre performance to a museum exhibition to dinner in a fancy place. That’s amazing because it’s up to us to decide, and it’s one less item we had to carry back to New Zealand in our suitcase.
  • Cashy -cashy
    If somebody really doesn’t know what to get you (and is kind enough to tell you), you can always ask for money. This obviously only applies to people you are particularly close to, but if they really won’t go for not getting you anything, in spite of you insisting, then just ask them to give you a little bit of cash – which you can use to cover some boring expenses like paying for gas or for some bills.
  • Go with someone
    My mum didn’t get me anything for Christmas. Instead, she said she would come with me to whatever shop I wanted to check out, and if I did want to buy something she would pay for it. I’m not gonna lie, it was amazing to feel this spoiled and I did end up buying a bunch of things. But at least they are all things I love! And I got to spend time with my mum 🙂

Now, you’re always going to get the odd relative who doesn’t listen to you or doesn’t understand why you have so many requirements, but that’s ok. There’s only so much you can do and you can’t demand that everyone gets where you’re coming from. Remember not to get upset (something I still struggle with) and maybe try to explain your position again to them. At least you’ll know you’ve done your part.
I actually had some really great conversations about Zero Waste with people I would have never thought would be interested in that, so another lesson I’ve learned is to never assume. People are always going to surprise you!

Zero Waste toiletry bag

I’m flying back home in eleven days and I’ve already packed three times. This is what I’m taking with me in my toiletry bag. It’s not 100% Zero Waste but getting there. I haven’t included things like soap or toothpaste as I’ll be staying with friends and family so I’ll be borrowing from them, these are just the things that I can’t do without.