Nina’s Morning Skin And Hair Routine… Exposed!

Meet Nina. A couple of weeks ago she sent us an email wondering why there aren’t more Morning Routines from moms and women over 30. Now, we love our super-smart 20-somethings, but we told her: We’ve kind of been wondering the same. We can only put up what we get. So! Consider this a bit of a callout: Moms especially, but all of y’all, we want your routines and we want diversity of all kinds, dangit. Just email them to with GOOD MORNING in the subject. (But don’t forget to tell us your favorite celebrity from the past like Nina! We chose this shot of Shirley Maclaine with her daughter for her.)

Name: Nina

Age: 35

Hometown: Berkeley, CA

Current weather: cool, sunny and dry

Hair: shoulder length, wavy at the ends, fine and thin

Skin: I am a brown girl.  I joke that I tan in the shade.  I never burn.  Before I had a baby and for the last 10 years or so, I have had clear sensitive skin, with occasional pimples.  In my teenage years I had horrible skin and I took medication to alleviate the problem, which didn’t actually help. And then in my twenties my skin some how worked itself out — I didn’t do anything special.  However as we all know, pimples are only one part of the problem.  There are the after effects of scarring and pigmentation which I do suffer from but it’s amazing what time does!  They fade and I was finally in a great place about my skin.

Then my old skin roared back after I gave birth.  Not immediately but may be six to eight weeks post partum.  At around this time, I had the Mirena put in and then I broke out like it was no one’s business.  Two months later I had that darn thing removed though a doctor suggested prescribing a low dose estrogen patch.  No way! Take it out.  My skin is not as clear as pre-baby skin but I hope that my skin returns to its former self once I have weaned my baby.  Apparently breastfeeding suppresses estrogen production which means more testosterone is floating around (since there is less estrogen to bind to it).

In any case, I really enjoy reading this blog, learning about a variety of routines and products. However, I have been wondering if only/mostly 20 somethings get to post.  Where is the working women in her 30s or moms (either working or not)?!

Reading these vignettes made me think of the 2007 New York Times article The Cosmetics Restriction Diet by Natasha Singer about skin-care minimalism.  Can one over do it, even with clean products?

Before I started a family,  I had a simple routine.  I have wondered if I am missing out when I read what others use but if it’s mostly working than why change, right?  Now I really appreciate my routine though at times I can’t complete it!

I no longer have the time to research products and companies.  I dislike spending gobs of money on products without actually knowing if they will work.  Now I only purchase products if I can purchase a trial size and then I don’t feel robbed if something does not work.  I wish more companies selling pricier products would offer trial sizes for sale.  Hint: I would love to try the Marie Veronique line but no individual samples for sale, just travel kits.

Some of my clean routine began back in 2003 or 2004, when emerging from the throes of graduate school, I noticed that my face cheeks were tingly, red and sensitive in the AM, after applying a cult favorite, Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion (score of 4 on the EWG’s Skin Deep website).  I had ignorantly assumed that this popular product couldn’t be why my face was red but it was indeed the reason.  So I threw the lotion out and immediately noticed a difference.  Not long after I suspected I had rosacea which was then confirmed in a five minute appointment by a dermatologist I had waited one month to see who then subsequently prescribed me a topical antibiotic.  After a bit of research suggesting that long term use could make me addicted to this medication and make my condition worse, I never had the prescription filled and I also no longer see this dermatologist.

This incident led me to use even fewer face and body products.  I don’t think I have rosacea.  I used a product that damaged the skin which leaves it red.  Subsequently, most products even those labeled sensitive skin make my skin red so I am very particular about what I put on my face.  It can take me months to purchase products but with trial sizes I am much more game.

In the Shower

I have a 9.5 month old and while she’s a gem of a baby, I don’t shower for as long as I used to though I am sure my dermatologist is happy (apparently shorter and less frequent showering is helpful to the skin).  I miss my long daily shower — it was my vice.  Since 2010, for my hair, I use baking soda shampoo.  I mix 1.5 tsps of baking soda to 1 cup water.  When I first tried this, I used 1 T to 1 cup and it made my hair dry and brittle.  I also use apple cider vinegar conditioner.  I mix 2 T ACV to 1 cup water.  In the last month I discovered that I had been using the wrong proportion (1 T instead of 2) and now my hair is much more manageable.  When I was using 1 T ACV I had to periodically apply oil on my hair before showering but now I can skip the oil which even after rinsing left my hair limp.  And now I can wash every three days without washing (so if I wash on Monday then I wash again on Thursday).  My husband also loves these shampoos and conditioners.  In fact, his hair dresser loves his hair and says it is strong.  My hair is soft, shiny and tends to be frizz free.

As an aside, I was able to figure out the homemade shampoo and conditioner stuff when I was laid off from my job a few years ago.  So I was then able to try this out and not wash my hair for a week, something I could never do when I worked.  Prior to this,  I washed my hair every day.

I would like to use a product to give my fine hair texture but find that most weigh my hair down.  Any recommendations (I will only try products that offer trial samples for sale)?

On my body, I use either a glycerin soap or Whole Foods Market Triple Milled Organic Soap.  I previously used the latter on my face and it was a little drying.  I recently switched over to Evan Healy’s Blue Lavender Cleansing Milk. Thank you EH for offering trial sizes for purchase!

Outside the Shower

In a previous life I used Aveeno body lotion and noticed that if I missed a day, my legs would crack.  After a week of non-use, my legs were no longer cracked.  My body had been addicted and was now re-regulating.  I now use jojoba oil that I fragrance with lavender essential oil (1 ounce jojoba oil with 5 drops of lavender essential oil).  I use this all over my body.

For my face (and also my neck and decolletage), I use aloe vera juice (the drinkable kind) toner/hydrosol.   After a lot of reading and research, I purchased the 32 ounce bottle of aloe vera juice at Whole Wallet ($9) and a two ounce glass spray bottle (perfect for planes and travel).  I had no idea that something as simple as this juice could be so moisturizing!  The oil I apply on my face afterwards goes on so much better!  I also spray aloe vera on my hair, after towel drying.  I haven’t owned a brush in years — I usually comb my hair in the shower with a wide toothed comb.

I previously used organic jojoba oil but now use Evan Healy’s Rosehip Treatment Facial Serum (Blue) and I love it.  My skin is smoother and does not look as good if I skip these steps.

I then apply Skinceuticals Ultimate UV SPF 30 Sunscreen.  This is the least clean product I use, a 3 on the Skin Deep website.  I’ve been using this product since I learned about my “rosacea” and I love it.  It’s creamy, moisturizing and if I apply it right after a shower, I don’t get the whitish tinge, and I’m a brown girl.  I wish it were cleaner but it works.

Anyone have recommendations for sunscreen product (where I can buy a trial)?  I have tried John Master’s but the smell annoyed me and I also didn’t like the texture.  I spent $30 and threw out the whole bottle.

I repeat the face, neck and decolletage stuff at at night, minus the sunscreen.

Finishing Touches

I use Soapwalla Deoderant.  I also wear a perfumed lavender oil.  I use 1/4 ounce jojoba oil and 25-30 drops of lavender essential oil. I also love grapefruit essential oil.  When I purchase the raw ingredients, I save money. Plus, it’s fun!  You know how some people have a scent whether it be their perfume, shampoo etc?  You get a little wiff and you know exactly who it is (and I’m not talking about the overpowering scent, just the scent that makes you know someone), well I don’t have a scent though I wish I did.  I’ve tried different unclean and clean perfumes, and my skin just does not hold a scent very long.  I suppose smelling clean is better than having a bad odor!

On my lips I use Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer in plum but I suspect it’s what causing small pimples on m lip line.  For $5 to $6, you can’t go wrong.  I will be trying out W3LL lip and other face products since they sell samples for a $1.50 which means you can try lots of items without making a financial commitment.

I don’t wear make up — the last time I wore make up with regularity was in high school, and here and there I would purchase a mineral powder.  I see other women wearing a mascara or a little shadow and think wouldn’t that be fun or wouldn’t I look better!  Now I don’t have the time to experiment much less shower and eat on most days. And when I have down time, I sleep which is probably what I need more of for my complexion, and emotional and physical well being than anything else.

Nutritionally, I take a multivitamin, lecithin (to help plugged ducts due to breastfeeding), and I eat 1 T of rosehips c/s per day. Rosehips is high in vitamin c.  I soak a bunch of rosehips c/s in water and keep in the fridge.  It’s tart and tangy, easy to add into a smoothie if you don’t like it straight.

And now that I have baby, I keep it clean for her too.

I wrote a lot.  Thanks for reading. In sum:

Face, neck, decolletage: Evan Healy Blue Lavendar Cleansing Milk, aloe vera juice, Evan Healy Blue Rosehip Serum, Skinceuticals sunscreen

Body: Either glycerin bar or Whole Wallet Triple Milled Organic Soap, fragranced jojoba oil, Soapwalla deoderent

Hair:  Baking soda shampoo, ACV conditioner, aloe vera juice

Makeup: none except for Burt’s Bees lip shimmer

21 Responses to “Nina’s Morning Skin And Hair Routine… Exposed!”
  1. KammyH says:

    I love the idea of getting more mom routines! Especially since getting pregnant with my first son was what got me looking into all of this clean business in the first place!

  2. Britta says:

    My favorite sunscreen that I have been using religiously for about a year now is Beyond Coastal Active Sunscreen SPF 30, which scores a 2 on the EWG website. I think you can buy smaller trial/travel sizes at health food stores for a few dollars. This is one of the few clean “sport” sunscreens I have found and it performs amazingly! I use it on my face every day, and it moisturizes just enough and is not greasy and doesn’t leave a white cast.

  3. Stefanie says:

    So happy to see a mom routine!:) Loved reading it!Thank you!

  4. Audreiana says:

    I hate that some companies don’t offer samples on a lot of their products too, especially those that don’t have them for makeup. I think that is just crazy considering the fact that a lot of the makeup or even skincare a lot of us buy is available online only, most of the time. I too end up feeling robbed when I have to toss a whole bottle of something out. Also thanks for the link to the article! It was such an interesting read. Xo, Audreiana from True Beauty By Nature

  5. Charlotte D says:

    Nina! You’re from the bay! You’re lucky, because Marie Veroniques gives COPIOUS samples out. FREE! But only when you visit the store and ask to try it out. She’s very generous with these, so go visit! She’s in Mill Valley now (her store used to be in Berkeley). If you want a cleaner sunscreen, her’s is definitely one worth trying.

  6. Charlotte D says:

    I have a list of companies that do free samples here:

    You might find it useful. Specifically helpful to you might be the sampling program that Spirit Beauty Lounge does. They have a program that allows you to buy 9 samples of almost anything on their site for only $25 with free shipping. They hand packaged them personally. I’ve done it and it’s a life saver! Try this link to get to the sample page:

  7. Jenni says:

    Thanks for the share, Nina! I have the same problem with Aveeno. I’ve been slathering lotion all over my super-dry skin since I was really young, and sometimes, my skin will start cracking after less than a day.

    When you first stopped using the Aveeno, did you go completely cold turkey and use nothing for a week, or did you immediately start using the oil? Can’t wait to try it out!

  8. Rebecca Bailey says:

    Yay for the Evan Healy love! And thanks for sharing this : )

    For sunscreen, since you are in Berkeley, go by 100% Pure’s boutique on College Ave and try out the sunscreen. I don’t think they sell a small size, but you can try it right there in the store (as with all their products). Also, different Whole Foods sometimes have testers of their sunscreens available, I like Badger though you might find it a little heavy for face (Actually John Master’s is my fave, sorry that one didn’t work out for you!)

  9. Jade says:

    DeVita’s Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+ goes on as if it isn’t sunscreen–no white face screen with this. Badger’s sunscreens are also great but they are a little thicker and take a little more patting to help them sink in.

  10. Kristine says:

    A big reason of why I love Whole Foods is because I’m able to sample most of their products in store before I commit to buying them. The sales clerks are happy to give you little containers for face washes and other things that you can’t exactly test on the spot. Glad to know I’m not the only sample freak out there!

    As for a nice texturizer for thin/fine hair, I love using a homemade sea salt spray (1 tsp of salt for every 8 oz. of water, maybe a couple drops of lavender for scent) in a spray bottle on damp hair. It gives my very fine hair some decent volume and beachy texture. I also occasionally use John Master’s Organics bourbon vanilla and tangerine hair texturizer… it smells fabulous! Unfortunately, there are no trial sizes that I know of, but Whole Foods carries it so perhaps you can try a little there :)

  11. Elizabeth says:

    If you don’t mind me asking, do you add the rosehips to your diet just for the vitamin C or does it have other benefits too? Also, I’ll probably sound dumb, but what does c / s mean?

  12. Silvy says:

    Amen on the sleep! Sleep is so underrated in our society, and so incredibly important to one’s health.

  13. Frankie says:

    Hi Nina, I am a working mother too, although my wee one is now taller than me. Both my thirteen-year-old daughter and I are brown, and we use Keys Solar Rx SPF Moisturizer for sunscreen, and the zinc in it does not turn us into clowns, if you know what I mean. I bit the bullet and bought it off their site (you also get a free travel size along with each purchase, which is nice if you travel). And it’s a 1 on the Skin Deep website. I just got carded a few days ago, and I’m about to turn 50. So I would say, it works. And thanks for the homemade shampoo and conditioner recipes!

  14. GG says:

    I love this well-laid-out and simple routine! Thanks for sharing. I also don’t know what “c/s” is and want to know more about why to add it to the diet….

  15. Nicole says:

    I am in love with Marie Organique’s Face Screen! For anyone looking for spf 30, but that doesn’t wear like typical sunscreen, give it a shot!

  16. linda says:

    your sharing proves that motherhood and age do help to prioritize and make wise choices in life, including what skin care that really does us good and what just intrigue us to get because that feeling of \missing out\.

    This has been 5 full months for me living in the plethora of organic skin care lines. After 10 years of clean skin even though I used toxic skin care, I have been in a roaler coaster of less-than-stellar skin conditions during the five months I was with these various skin care line bought from SBL. I have to admit that everytime that there was a posting such these morning routines, or a pretty face posting videos in Youtube, or even books about clean skin care, something inside me screamed, urging me to try it, because maybe..just maybe I would finally find the one that would make me….perfect.

    But after months of reading product reviews of various clean skin care products who can and cannot make difference in real people’s skin, including mine, a conclusion suddenly came to my mind: Everybody, every skin is just unique. Not one single product line is suitable for all people, just like not one single cream creates the same effect to different part of my face (e.g.: when I put face oil on my cheek it makes them gloriously glowing and flawless, but acne sprouts all over my chin!).

    The key words is like what you say: If it works for you: stop canvassing for another ‘perfect’ product! Stick with it. You can save alot of hard-earned money too. I like the title minimalist approach to clean skin care! Yes, that’s what we are supposed to aim for.
    And the key attitude to adopt is to learn the message your skin give you. Stop using it immediately when they start send bad signal. Believe me: there is no such thing as temporary purging.

    Kudos to wise woman!

  17. Ny says:

    I too find I have been using way too many products which maybe (or maybe not) had contributed to some break outs on my face. I’ve pared it back a lot, and my face has calmed down a lot.

  18. bunni says:

    ooooh, I can’t wait to try the aloe vera trick! I always feel like my skin wants/needs a toner after showering. Especially now with the drier weather.

  19. Autumn says:

    I also have been wanting to try Marie Veronique’s products as well – specifically the face screen/sheer coverage. I’m not sure which would be better for my skin and am wary to spend the money on something I’ve never tried. Especially since my skin tends to be very reactive and sensitive. I guess I’ll just have to wait until I’m in San Francisco in a couple of months.

  20. nancy says:

    @ Nina, wouldn’t be nice if you could include the products you use on your baby? It might be helpful for all other mothers…
    And being near Marie Veronique Boutique is quite handy for the samples. For those far, MVO has a wonderful policy for exchanges and /or returns… although I doubt anyone will do returns :) Their Everyday Sheer Coverage is really awesome!

  21. Nina says:

    @ Nancy — I didn’t see your question before. On my baby I do not use anything but water. I do not use soap, lotions, shampoos. She has the softest hair and skin, or at least other parents tell me so. She has no baby eczema, nothing. She does have cracked ears and a dry patch of skin next to ears which comes and goes, and I apply aquaphor on those areas. You could use straight glycerin.

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