Nicolle's Morning Skin and Hair Routine... Exposed!

Though I’ve been writing for NMDL for more than a year and a half, I have yet to submit my morning routine! It’s changed a lot in the last year, as I struggled with some health complications and skin reactions, but I’m happy to report that my current routine has my skin looking better than ever. Whoo!

Name: Nicolle

Age: 27

Current weather: Ha. It’s snowing, and the temperature is well below zero.

City: Minneapolis, #Minnesnowta

Hair: Long-ish, ombre light brown to blonde, dry and thin.

Skin: Sensitive and dry—I’m allergic to a multitude of things, including beeswax, which is in SO. MANY. THINGS. (can we stop with that, brands?), so I’m pretty careful about my choices.

Favorite star or icon from the past: I’ve loved Grace Kelly since I did a report on her in third grade.

I’m not a morning person nor a shower-lover, so I’m a night shower-er when at all possible and I only wash my hair twice a week (dry shampoo is my best friend and the one from Tabitha James Kraan is my current love). Before I get into my night shower, I remove my makeup with an e-cloth because too many products messes with my sensitive skin and this gives a gentle exfoliation + removes all my foundation and mascara. Then I use Absolution’s Cleansing Water, which is fab because it’s really gentle and removes any remnants of makeup.

In the shower…

I wash my hair with Avalon Organics’ Itch and Flake Therapy Shampoo, which is the only thing that’s helped rid my scalp of the dry skin I was left with after a bad infection last spring. Then I use Rare E’lements’ Lite Conditioner, which is more moisturizing and volume-boosting than any hair product I’ve ever used. While that’s in, I lather up the same shampoo to shave my legs, pits + bits—the salicylic acid in the shampoo has helped prevent ingrown hairs during the winter and the pH-balanced shampoo doesn’t dry out my sensitive areas.

Outside the shower…

When I step out of the shower, I drench my still-wet skin in body oil. Right now, I’m using FIG + YARROW’s Bath + Body Oil in Woods, African Botanics’ Marula Firming Botanical Body Oil or Skin & Bones’ Luxurious Moisturizer. They all have wintery scents (read: musky and deep and multi-faceted).

I spot treat any blemishes with Osmia Organics’ Spot Treatment (best EVER—this is a desert-island product for me), then spritz on Graydon Clinical Luxury’s Face Food Mineral Mist, with copper, zinc and colloidal silver, which I think has really helped my breakouts. ARCONA’s Chamomile Balm goes on while my face is still damp (read my full review to know how much I love this balm) and then ED4OLO’s Vitamin E Eye Balm gets gentle patter under my eyes (another desert-island product for me). Oh and every other night, I switch up my moisturizer, using ARCONA’s The Gentle Solution (the product I’d say has done the most to change my skin) and True Nature Botanicals’ Pacific Night Serum with Retinol (just on my forehead + neck) instead, as an overnight anti-aging and exfoliation treatment.

I detangle my hair with Acure Organics’ Leave-In Conditioner and a Tangle Teezer, which is genius if you haven’t heard of it, and great for kids’ long hair. Then I use Dr. Haushka’s Neem Hair Oil to further moisturizer my scalp and to help my hair grow back from when some of it fell out last spring. I love this dry oil that you can put on when your hair is wet or dry (it’s more of a liquid than an oil and there’s no grease) and I’ll be repurchasing—it’s helped heal my scalp immensely. Then I use YAROK Hair’s Volumizing Foam and Rahua’s Voluminous Spray to give my limp hair lift. If you’re a thin-haired gal like myself, I highly recommend these two products if you want thicker hair that lasts til your next shampoo. I rough blowdry (bad for my hair, I KNOW) and twist it into a high bun for sleeping (keeps that volume up! I do this every night, as it maintains my curling-wand waves so I don’t have to use heat on my hair daily).

In the morning…

I have a slew of supplements I take to help build my nutrient levels back up after my celiac disease went undiagnosed for so long, so I start with a big glass of room-temperature water and my probiotics before I do anything. Then a warm mug of lemon water and Hope Gillerman’s Sinus Remedy help me wake up for the day and I fill up a bkr water bottle with 15 drops of Lotus Wei’s Inner Peace Flower Elixir to sip on while I get ready.

On mornings after using the anti-aging treatments, I exfoliate with ARCONA’s Brightening Gommage or some kind of mask, like Osmia Organics’ Detox Exfoliating Mask mixed with Kahina Giving Beauty’s Toning Mist. I also love Laurel Skin’s and Dr. Alkaitis’ masks and The Problem Solver from May Lindstrom Skin. If I’ve not used my anti-aging treatment, then I just use the Absolution Cleansing Water again and repeat the spot-treat/mist/moisturize routine from the night before, minus the eye balm and plus the Skin Owl Eye Concentrate (great for depuffing, though it does have phenoxyethanol, so be aware).

Before I touch my hair or makeup, I dry brush with an essential oil lymph tonic that Susannah created. Part of my health complications have to do with my body not clearing infection properly, and Susannah’s tonic + dry brushing helps flush everything out—and prevent those ingrown hairs I mentioned.

Then I take my hair out of its high bun and use a curling wand on it to get some beachy waves while my skincare settles. I only have to do this the morning after I’ve showered, which is super nice and saves my ends from splitting. I finish with Onesta’s Finish Hair Spray.

Finishing touches…

I work from home or from a coffee shop most days, so if I don’t have meetings, I keep makeup to a minimum. HAUT Cosmetics’ Brightener concealer in pink is my favorite, vegan under-eye highlighter. If you haven’t tried this, you’re missing out. INIKA Cosmetics’ Mineral Foundation is my current everyday foundation—it’s so easy, covers blemishes and doesn’t require adding blush, highlighter or bronzer to my skin on top of it. Oh, and if you wear mineral foundation of any kind, you have to watch (or re-watch) this application video that Kim Wallace shared on her blog a few weeks ago—saves you product and gives you flawless skin.

Once foundation is done, I do my brows with Zuzu Luxe’s Cream Brow Pencil in Russet (vegan, again, because anything with beeswax gives me little whiteheads), swiping Zuzu Luxe’s Clear Mascara on top of the pencil to hold brows in place. Mascara is the last official step, and I rarely skip it. 100% Pure’s Dark Chocolate Mascara is great for daily use, but I also love RMS Beauty’s Defining Mascara and W3LL People’s Expressionist Bio Extreme Mascara. And I just got the Antonym Cosmetics Mascara, which is rivaling all of the above. Yes, I have four mascaras in my makeup bag—and I just gave away two.

While I don’t wear a lip color every day, I am obsessed with sticks, glosses, stains and balms (though finding vegan formulas in as many shades and finishes as their beeswax-filled counterparts has been more of a task than I anticipated…). ILIA Beauty’s Lip Crayons, in all colors, are fab, cream/satin finishes. Red Apple Lipstick in Audrey is a fave, as is local Aromi Beauty’s Poppy. I heart Gressa Skin’s Lip Boosts, all shades, and Beautycounter’s Lip Sheers are perfect for everyday wear (Petal is my go-to). Oh, and my all-time-favorite balm is S.W. Basics’ Vegan Lip Balm. Please, Adina, never stop making that.

You’ll notice that deodorant is missing… I’ve had the hardest time switching this over! Everything irritates my sensitive skin—and I’ve tried them all! Any tips? I’m also all ears for new, beeswax-free makeup… Share! Share!

We are feeling oh so international these days! This routine comes from a reader in Singapore. She’s got the clean beauty thing down but needs a little advice from you, so keep reading.

Name: Boiling Wok (My blogging identity)

Age: 26

Hometown: Hyderabad, India

Currently Staying in: Singapore

Weather: Hot & humid. Rains often.

Hair: Dark brown, fine, wavy & prone to frizziness. I have seborrheic dermatitis in my scalp.

Skin: Brownish. Tans easily. Oily due to the humidity. Prone to blackheads. Sensitive.

First thing…

My first drink in the morning is a glass of warm water with the juice of half a lemon in it (a full lemon if I have a cold). That really makes a difference to my day and makes me feel so awake. I make it a point not to check any electronic devices the first thing in the morning.

In the shower…

I shower twice a day. I am usually rushing to work in the mornings, so my showers are short. I am constantly trying out various soaps. Currently, I am using Austin Natural Mountain Laurel soap and I love it. I also love Zum bars goat milk soaps. I dry brush using EcoTools, Sustainable Body Buff in the evenings as I found brushes too harsh for my skin.

For my face, I am using Acure Organics facial cleanser gel superfruit + chlorella growth factor currently. I use Konjac sponge for washing my face and neck and really love it. I can definitely see an increase in the blackheads on my nose when I am not using it.

I wash my hair alternate days. I mostly use Acure organics pure mint + echinacea stem cell volumizing shampoo. Sometimes, when my dermatitis is really bad, I use Selsun 2.5% but I try to use it as less as possible. I have tried several shampoos and definitely find Acure shampoo quite mild and not worsening my dermatitis. After washing my hair, most of the time, I try to rinse my hair with Bragg’s Apple cider vinegar and water.

Outside the shower…

I often use crystal deo on my underarms and spray not-clean body mists or perfumes on my clothes. I am trying to use them up before I switch to clean perfumes.

As it is very humid, I only use toner on my face and neck in the mornings—Avalon Organics, Essential Lift, Fortifying Toner and I like it so far.

I use a little of body moisturizer for my hands and legs. My skin does not get too dry out here due to the humidity. I use Deep Steep or EO or Acure depending on my mood.

I often mix my own essential oils and use them on my scalp or face when my skin feels bleh. I try to avoid bread, fried foods, junk food & milk as they worsen my dermatitis. The healthier I eat, the better my skin and scalp is. I would love to hear suggestions for dealing with SD from NMDL readers.

Send us your morning skin and hair routine!

Are you freezing, too? Kate’s description of the weather makes our teeth chatter, but this green beauty’s routine will warm you up in no time.
Name: Kate
Age: 34
City: Omaha
Current Weather: Bitterly, bitterly cold (I’m traumatized, my dog’s traumatized…we’re all traumatized here.)
Skin: First and foremost, it’s dry and pale. We’re talking desiccated. My skin can also be sensitive (I have allergies). Every once in a blue moon, I’ll get a hormonal breakout but that’s pretty rare.
Hair: Wavy, medium dark brown hair in a pixie cut. I color it about every 6-8 weeks (with a mix of henna and indigo) to keep the silver at bay. My hair is straight from my grandmother who started going silver at 17 – I was lucky enough to wait until I was 26 but I haven’t gotten brave enough to embrace it yet!
Star: I’m going to go with Myrna Loy – I love how quietly sardonic she was.
Quick note: I travel about one week every month for work, I’m on a budget, and I’m a vegetarian with vegan leanings (i.e. I won’t use carmine but if you are an ethical beekeeper, I’ll trust your beeswax or honey). All of those facts drive my beauty choices. I’m a sucker for design aesthetics and I’ve never met a parenthetical that I didn’t love.
First thing…
I swim or practice yoga everyday. I have rheumatoid arthritis so I have to choose workout routines pretty carefully. I also walk my dog between 1/2 mile and 1 mile in the morning (depending on the bitter, bitter cold) so with all that activity, I’ve usually had 3 glasses of water before I hop in the shower. I can really see the toll it takes on my skin when I don’t get enough fluid intake.
In the shower…
I need to exfoliate just about everyday in order to make the most of my facial moisturizer but I need to be careful about product or I’ll get a rash. My two favorites are Marble and Milkweed Rose & Chamomile Cleansing Grains or Chagrin Valley Co. Adzuki Micrograin Facial Scrub. These are both dry powders (don’t have to pack another liquid!) that I can customize with water, yogurt, honey, oil, etc. depending on what my skin needs. I try to minimize my dependence on palm oil (sad face for deforestation) and plastic packaging so I use body soaps from Moksa Organics, Meow Meow Tweet, and Freedom Soap Company. I really love any and all citrus, lavender or oatmeal soaps from any of these guys. I shave with avocado oil and shampoo with Acure Organics (the one with argan oil). I don’t typically need conditioner with the pixie cut but I do deep condition once a week with the avocado oil to ameliorate the effects of all that chlorine. I also reserve shampooing for days I swim and just scrub with water on the days I practice yoga. Once I cut the water off, I use the same avocado oil from forehead to toes as a base moisturizer.
Outside the shower…
Imoisturize my face with Keys Tortuga lotion, comb through my hair and I use a deodorant crystal. I often get angry rashes with the deodorants that use baking soda so I’ve just resigned myself to the crystal (which honestly works really well for me). I then use a wet muslin washcloth to exfoliate my face on top of the moisturizer (I know this sounds crazy but just go with it – it works for my weird skin) and reapply another layer of the Keys Tortuga lotion on top. My body gets an application of Acure Organics unscented lotionor Ellovi body butter (wherever it feels dry – my body isn’t as crazy as my face is and it’s already had a layer of avocado oil). I use this really great pomade from The October Union (smells like rosemary & lime and it uses clay to keep it all pretty matte) to keep my wavy hair in place while it dries – no crunchiness and it’s not another liquid for me to pack! Last but not least, my face gets ANOTHER layer of moisture (think good thoughts for me, friends – I need them) with Chagrin Valley Co. Butter Me Up (technically a body balm and seriously awesome). This sounds like a ton but it’s very few products and I promise it doesn’t take much time at all — it’s just about multiple hydrating layers for me.

Dentally, I take care of business with a Preserve toothbrush and tongue scraper and I use Jason Powersmile (sans flouride). I’m still trying to find better floss. I use those individual flossers right now because my RA-riddled fingers can’t handle real floss and I feel super guilty about the plastic. Any ideas?

A note about sunscreen: Sigh. I’m the person who zealously applied sunscreen every single day of my life and then — when I made the switch to clean — tarted using physical blocks. Yet for some reason, zinc, titanium, and I don’t seem to get along. When I use a physical block, it seems to dry out my skin even further. So now (at least for minimal daily sun), I try to make sure that everything I use (butters, oils, etc.) has some limited sun protection and I reserve the big guns (Badger’s baby sunscreen) for the beach, hikes, games, etc. Not the perfect solution so if anyone has ideas, I’m all ears!

Cosmetics and finishing touches…

I don’t use too much here. I used to love, love, love eye shadow but I have hooded eyes and so primer was a must and I haven’t found a good clean one so I’ve gone off of it entirely. I now just use a bit of blush (so pale that people ask me if I’m ill if I don’t have on blush). I really like RMS Lip Shine in Sacred for blush – it’s more moisturizing than the Lip2Cheek and this shade acts almost like a blush stain. It’s also economical — it’s so neon bright that if I lightly press my finger on top, it’s more than enough for both cheeks. I use a bit of RMS Living Luminizer on my eyelids and under my eyes/tops of cheekbones. I always curl my eyelashes and use ZuZu Luxe eyebrow pencil in Russet. I often skip mascara because I haven’t found a good clean one but when I use it, I go with a dirty waterproof one (but I only use a brand that does not test on animals or use animal ingredients). I like Ilia’s lippies: Bang Bang, Arabian Knights, and Heart Beat. I also like Intelligent Nutrients gloss in Pink Hibiscus and Osmia Organics Luster lip gloss. I’m psyched to try her other colors! Perfume-wise, I use Jasminas by Intelligent Nutrients or Blu Moon from The October Union. I love nail color so I use 5 free, vegan polishes that don’t test on animals (I likeZoya or RGB – lots of the other ones may test on animals, use carmine in their red polishes, or just be less than ideal chipperiffic polishes). That’s it for me!

Stay warm out there, Kate! We love your routine and your layering technique!


Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts Galore

It’s December, people. And though some of us maybe finished our holiday shopping over the long, sale-filled holiday weekend, others of us may not be that on top of things. Enter this gift guide.

I love gift-giving. I have an entire secret Pinterest board dedicated to gifts for others so when my husband or sister or best friend mentions something they’ve been coveting, I have a safe place to stash the idea for later. This year, I’m doing beauty-related gifts for many friends, so I wanted to share a few of my fave pressies. Check them out below (for all budgets, for all kinds of beauty gals).

For the clean beauty skeptic: Since swapping clean products into my whole beauty caboodle, I’ve tried to convert as many friends as possible to the clean beauty movement. Some are more hesitant than others, and the ones who I have the hardest time convincing are the ones most concerned about cost. So I point them to a multi-tasker that usually woos them to trying more clean products: Acure Organics’ Argan Oil. It’s a hair-smoother, a cuticle oil, a face moisturizer. And it has a friendly price point if they want to repurchase for themselves.

For the beauty aficionado: The Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Winter Glow Gift Set. I’ve talked before about how much I love the Vitamin D Mist, and this set boasts that toner, plus a yummy Vitamin C serum that even my mom loves (and she used to use only Vaseline to moisturize her face). Top those off with a colorless face powder and angled kabuki brush help you hit this season’s matte face look and you’ve got a great combo for a girlfriend who’s a tad more in-the-know.

Me Encanta in practice.

Me, wearing the Me Encanta, no filter.

For the makeup maven: I can’t say enough about loving Alima Pure’s wide range of mineral foundations, but now I love their eyeshadows and mascara as well. Their holiday set, Me Encanta, comes from a collaboration with green makeup artist Kristen Arnett. I love love love the navy shadow included in the kit (I used it as a liner) and the blush is my all-time favorite color (I wore it for my wedding, for Pete’s sake). There’s even a how-to video on creating a subtle look with the liner, contour powder and blush. Fool proof. And a perfectly well-rounded present.

For the jet-setter: This Travel Therapy Botanical Mood Booster from La Bella Figura Beauty is one of those things I’m not sure how to make it through the day without. It smells like sunshine, it sticks around for a looooong time and I’ve gotten dozens (not exaggerating) compliments on how I smell, even after not showering for four days, when I’m wearing this puppy. It calms me—and anyone who smells me—down and makes every hurried day, full of airplane travel or just regular old commuting, better.

If you’re on a budget: Much like I am. Alexandra once blogged about why she loves gifting aromatherapy, but let me add to her points by saying it’s a super easy way to customize gifts and to not have to pick out makeup colors. You know your best friends; you know what’s bugging them. Therefore, you know what aromatherapy might benefit them. (Plus, we have a kick-ass deal going on with Essence of Vali until the end of the year. Save your dollar bills and give gifts your peeps will love.)

Or, do a little DIY for the holidays. Get some cute plastic bottles and fill them with a DIY dry shampoo. Or a body scrub. Or a lip balm. The thought goes a long way (and if your friends are like mine, they’ll be thrilled you took time to make them something, not just swipe your credit card.)

For the boy: Olie Biologique JUST released a Whisker Oil for before and after shaving. It smells manly and helps reduce redness and irritation. Or check out the body soaps from Osmia Organics. I only got my husband to switch from Dove when he smelled these babies. (Get a body oil for yourself while you’re at it—Water Lily is my fave and I started wearing it as a perfume.)

What did I miss? What are you snagging for friends, family or S.O.s?

Meet Carla! She has a lovely routine, but got there the hard way. Can anyone relate to her experience with facials? We love her tips, especially her lazy girl version of oil cleansing—sounds so relaxing!

Name: Carla

Age: 30

Hometown: San Jose, California

Weather: Crisp, dry and sunny

Skin: Pale with yellow undertones

Hair: Thick, long and brown

Starlet: Lupe Vélez – the Mexican spitfire

I became obsessed with skincare when I had a bout of hormonal acne after getting on and off the pill in college. I tried everything from micro-dermabrasion to eating salmon everyday all in hopes of having clear skin. The more I visited my esthetician for glycolic acid peels and deep pore facials the worse my skin looked. I always felt horrible after a facial and resigned myself to hide for a week in its aftermath. There had to be a better, cheaper and more natural way.

The silver lining of unemployment is how inventive one can get on a budget. I ditched all the products with harsh, stripping ingredients, sugar and dairy and embraced simple skincare products and vegetables. My skin has never looked better. It’s been six years now but I no longer get facials or peels, use face wash or hide because of a break out. So for any girl out there suffering with hormonal acne, I hope my daily routine helps.

On a winter morning, I splash my face with lemon water. I found that using filtered water on my face has made it smoother and less dry. Then I spray it with some Evan Healy rose water tonic and apply DeVita Solar Protective in SPF 30 with Hyaluronic Acid on my face and neck. This brand is light, doesn’t leave a white mask and keeps skin plump and moist. If the weather is very dry, I use a moisturizer as well. I still haven’t found an ultimate winner but my fall back is MyChelle’s Unscented Pumpkin Renew Cream. It leaves skin moisturized all day and absorbs well for make up. Finally I apply MyChelle Magnolia Fresh Eyes. It’s more for those with puffy eyes than those who need something to combat wrinkles. After I have a warm cup of lemon water with a bit of cayenne. I make some blend of green juice like celery, cucumber, beet, lemon, fennel and cilantro. I also take Udo’s Choice probiotic and Green Pasture Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Blend capsule. In combination, both have done wonders for my skin tone and healing of old scars.

I don’t use make up everyday but when I do I use Well People Foundation Concealer around the eyes and nose, very natural coverage that blends easily. Then I apply Mineral Fusion Loose powder. It does have Phenoxyethanol but it has such a beautiful creamy coverage, so I use it anyway. I use Alima loose matte blush in Mimosa year round, a lovely pink that brings a natural flush to your cheeks. Alima makes the nicest make up brushes too. My favorite black eye pencil is Mineral Fusion in Coal. It goes on smoothly and is super dark. Most days I just curl my lashes and leave it at that but when I want to be fancy I use the Kjaer Weis mascara. I also use Kjaer Weis Cloud Nine as an eyeshadow base and am very happy with the subtle sparkle. Finally for lips, my new favorite color is Well People Universalist multi-use colorstick in No.6. It’s a golden red and looks perfect topped with Well People Paganist 2 Gold Twinkle. My lip balm is Acure Dark Chocolate and Mint argan oil lip balm, it does its job, is affordable and clean.

I never got into bathing in the morning so when my day is over I dry brush. Then I take a mineral bath with Dead Sea salt for magnesium and Aztec Secret Healing bentonite clay. These ingredients balance the tap water so it is not so harsh on the skin. I use a very diluted mixture of Dr. Bronners soap and wash with an Ayate fiber body cloth. I have skin that likes to be exfoliated often because I have keratosis pilaris on the back my arms and legs. I wash my hair 1 to 2 times a week with Acure Argan oil Shampoo and Conditioner. I’ve tried other expensive brands and this one is still the best for my thick and wavy hair that tangles easily. If I have had a pretty chill day, I don’t shower or bathe save the necessary places, a whore bath they call it. It has helped my skin retain moisture.

I do a lazy girl version of oil cleansing. I pour some olive or coconut oil in my hands and massage my face while filtered water is boiling in the kettle. Sometimes I add lemon juice or baking soda to the oil for gentle exfoliation. Then I pour the water onto a face towel and steam twice then wipe off the excess. I leave a little to moisturize and I am done. If I don’t use make up I sometimes don’t wash my face at all. Since I fuss with my skin less it’s clearer and calmer than it has ever been. About three times a week I massage a jojoba oil frankincense blend or Evan Healy Pomegranate Repair Serum with Sea Buckthorn oil. Always making sure to massage up and out and a circular motion around my mouth. When I camp or go on a trip I only take coconut oil for my beauty needs. A miracle.

Thank you Carla and everyone else who submitted routines over the last week! We can’t wait to share them all!