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 love this mix of DIY and clean products! Enjoy this lovely routine from the Rocky Mountains. If your skin is dry this winter, Silvy’s got you covered.

Name: Silvy

Age: 25

City: Denver, Colorado

Current weather: Very cold, and very, very dry, but the snow is pretty!

Hair: Shoulder length, mostly straight but waves with a bit of humidity. Tends to be oilier, and a bit fine. I’ve been using a mixture of indigo and henna on it about twice a year and love how it’s made my hair thicker and shinier. Also can’t sing the praises of a coconut oil hair mask enough, even if you do have to shampoo a couple of times!

Skin: Skin has been good and balanced, though tends towards dry and sensitive, especially in winter. I do break out sometimes if I’m tired or stressed and get some redness around the nose.

Favorite star from the past: Myrna Loy

In the shower…

I shower in the evening and not every day, so I’ll just say what I use in the shower and then talk about my morning and night routines. I love the Acure Mint Echinacea shampoo and conditioner because they do add volume and have made my hair so much healthier over the past year. And no more dandruff! I always have another shampoo in rotation, however, and in Europe this summer it was the Lavera Basis Sensitive shampoo. It’s great for adding shine and body, and really affordable in Europe. (Side note: I wash my hair about every other or third day, when it goes flat.) I also tried the Melvita shampoo for normal hair (available in France). Though it didn’t do anything incredible for my hair, I liked it as a basic, clarifying shampoo.

In the US, I’ve been experimenting with the Rahua and Rahua Volumizing shampoos and conditioners. I really like the volumizing one but am still deciding whether to bring that one or the regular into rotation. I guess I should also mention that, as shampoo tester extraordinaire this year, I also tried out Yarok. It really weighed down my hair, so I don’t recommend it if you have hair that tends to be fine, limp, or dandruff-prone. Finally for hair, I use conditioner only a few times a week as a mask. Using just shampoo most of the time, my hair doesn’t go flat as quickly after washing.

For face, I’ve been finishing up Burt’s Bees Deep Cleansing Cream. I like it a lot, but I won’t be repurchasing. I’m not comfortable supporting a company owned by Clorox (animal testing, etc.). So, most likely I will go back to my more pricey but awesome Pangea Organics facial scrub.

I dry off a bit while I’m in the shower and moisturize then as well. I’m actually on the hunt for a good lotion or body oil that’s moisturizing enough (preferably no more than $40/bottle). I’ve been trying some of the Acure lotions, some DIY body oils, and a Dr. Hauschka one. I like them, but it’s just not enough for my dry skin in winter. Then I end up combining them, and my skin feels sticky and… well, I’m looking for a better option! So holla at ya girl in the comments, please!

Outside the shower…

So this is going to be my face section of “outside the shower.” I really like my current face routine, so wanted to share morning and night!

In the morning, I wash my face with just water or splash some rose water. Or, I might swipe some DermaE Glycolic toner over my skin some mornings if my skin is a bit dull. Then, I follow up with an oil. Lately, it’s been my own DIY that I am obsessed with! I infused calendula and vanilla in jojoba as a base and mixed in some other goodies, and it’s a dream! It also has no essential oils. I use EOs on my skin only a couple times a week, because it’s too sensitive for any more than that. I take the oil all over the eye area too (since no EOs). Over the oil, I put a sun screen, mixed with Pai Rosehip Chamomile cream if needed. I really like all of the Badger ones (especially the “daily” line without wax). THEN, if I need even more than that (like for a day outside in the mountains), I top off with some raw shea butter melted between my fingers or Weleda Skin Food.

Around my eyes, I use a layer of the shea butter or, most often RMS Uncover-up in 11 and then maybe a bit of Living Luminizer too. I have quite dark circles that I don’t bother trying to eliminate (and kind of like, weirdly enough). I find that the Uncover-up works to brighten the area and is also a great treatment for firming and fine lines. If I need foundation, I useJuice Beauty in Ivory. I’ve been using it for years, and it’s a great product. I’ve also stayed faithful to the Hemp Organics lip tint in Berry for years. It’s so cheap and is great on lips and as a blush, (I use it mostly as a blush). I line my eyes with Dr. Hauschka eyeliner in Charcoal Grey or Zuzu Luxe liquid liner in Raven. For mascara, I’ve been using Dr. Hauschka in Aubergine for years and can’t complain there. My favorite lip balm isZambeezi in Tangerine; you know it’s good when your lips don’t chap in Colorado winter!

My night routine is really quite simple, but I enjoy it so much! I do this some mornings when I have time as well, in place of rose water. I fill a bowl with warm/hot water and then put a few drops of Dr. Hauschka Lemon Bath or Sage Bath (now Bath Essence??), or any of their others. Then I soak a wash cloth in it and hold it to my face a few times for several seconds. It’s kind of like oil cleansing but without the oil. If I need it, I use a cleanser; I like grainy ones like Queen of the Meadow Herbal Facial Cleanser—local brand again! Most nights though, just the wash cloth is enough to cleanse my skin. Then, I just follow with my DIY facial oil and call it a night. I love this little ritual, soothing and uplifting, and just the thing to end (or start!) the day.

We want to hear from you! Send your morning routine to to be featured on the site. We’re always looking for fresh ideas.

Need a break from preparing for the holidays? Relax with this lovely routine from Ariel. It’s delicious.
Name: Ariel
Age: 27
City: Portland, Maine
Current weather: Frosty with snow flurries
Skin: Sensitive, combination skin. Fair and freckled.
Hair: Light brunette, chin-length bob
Favorite star: Georgia O’Keeffe. I admire her creativity and connection to the natural world.
In the shower…
Here in Maine where we have such frigid winters, I especially like to start my day with a hot shower. Although I adore my John Masters hair products, on most days I use Shikai Volumizing Shampoo and Everyday Conditioner because it’s easier on my wallet. For soap, my favorite is Leap Organics Lavender — smells like a lavender field! I cleanse my face with Origins Checks and Balances, which is frothy and gentle. For years I have been using Kiss My Face unscented shave cream. It doesn’t bother my sensitive skin and creates a smooth glide for my razor.
Outside the shower…
Lately I’ve been moisturizing with Farmaesthetics Midnight Honey Body Oil when I get out of the shower. It has a subtle scent and leaves my dry winter legs feeling soft.  On my face, I use Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Toner and Pai Geranium & Thistle Cream, which both smell like a greenhouse and get me in a good mood.

I then put on my cozy plaid robe and have some oatmeal and green tea while snuggling with my cat before doing my hair and makeup. It’s my time to relax before my hectic workday begins.

To do my hair, I spray it with Yarok Feed Your Ends, which reminds me of mint and lemon drops. Then I work through a small drop of Aveda Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair from roots to ends. This smooths my hair and makes it more manageable before blowdrying and brushing.
Each season I find products I’m gaga over and then get into a routine where I wear almost the same thing every day for a few months. This fall and winter, I start with Dr. Hauschka Translucent Makeup. This evens out my complexion, but isn’t heavy at all, and I love the herbal scent of it. Most days I top this off with a dusting of Laura Mercier’s loose powder, and pat on some RMS Uncoverup under my eyes. My blush is Mineral Fusion in the color Pale, which is a flattering way to give natural-looking color to a pasty face! On my lashes I wear Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Mascara. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll put on a wash of Bare Minerals eyeshadow in Vanilla Sugar on my lids and line my eyes with Alima Pure’s Denali, which is the perfect color for hazel eyes. On my lips I wear Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner in Arabian Knights, a lovely berry red for the holiday season.
Thanks for sharing Ariel! Love the sound of the Midnight Honey Body Oil and cuddling with cats, too.

We think you’re going to enjoy this one. You may know Sonja from her blog Life in Blush, where she talks about green beauty, health, and fashion. You’ll find some tried and true favorites in her routine, plus some new items to try—like the coffee she drinks! Want some.

Name: Sonja

Age: 32

City: Toronto, Ontario

Current weather: after a stint of Fall temperatures it’s back to hot and muggy!

Hair: long, wavy and thick

Skin: snow white fairness and for the most part balanced

Favorite star from the past: Vivien Leigh

I wish I was a morning person. My friend Ivona can wake up with little to no sleep and still be the most adorably cheerful person.  Me? I’m like the turtle in the race – give me time and I’ll eventually get there.

First thing I do is reach for my iPhone and check my email, twitter and facebook accounts. I know what you’re thinking, but my job (and I guess my generation?) has hardwired me to be connected, so until I feel like I’ve caught up with the world I can’t pass GO.

Once out of bed, I head to the kitchen and pour myself a big glass of water.  After squeezing half a lemon into it, and taking a few sips, I put on a pot of coffee. I discovered these organic, fair trade beans from Balzacs Coffee in the Distillery District of Toronto and now I can’t drink anything else! It truly is a hug in a cup. Ok, back to my lemon water.  After drinking about half the glass I then head to the shower. I usually shower every other day, so as to not strip my skin and hair of the oils that keep it hydrated.  I wash my hair with Yarok Feed Your Volume Shampoo, and then apply either Rahua (in the shower) or Yarok Feed Your Ends (after shower) conditioner. Using a bar of Hugo shea butter soap and a loofah I suds up my body, and if necessary I’ll apply a homemade body scrub (coffee grounds and coconut oil) to get rid of any areas that feel congested. Having cleansed with Province Apothecary Moisturizing Cleanser + Makeup Remover the night before, I gently wash my face with the Binchotan Charcoal Facial Puff. Face washed, hair and body rinsed I dry off and wrap my hair in a towel.

Spritz-spritz. Lightly scented and refreshing, Kahina Giving Beauty Toning Mist was a mid-summer discovery, and the perfect product to help my skin absorb the Lina Hanson Global Face Serum before applying the La Bella Figura Barbary Fig Seed Oil. Next up my body is treated to One Love Organics Rose Body Serum, and for extra dry areas I use Graydon Clinical Luxury By Nature The Balm. My lips get a dab of my homemade lip balm (lime + manuka honey!) and my hair, once out of its towel, is spritzed with a DIY sea salt spray from the ladies at La Bella Figura; the combination of the incredibly hydrating conditioner and the sea salt spray gives my hair the perfect soft-to-touch beachy look.

I grab the rest of my lemon water (waiting patiently for me in the kitchen) and head to the bedroom, where I apply earth science deodorant, Graydon Clinical Luxury By Nature Sun Cream, and figure out how to make myself presentable to the world.  Fully dressed and accessorized I head back to the bathroom to start on my makeup.

My makeup routine is fairly simple and I can usually do my morning look in about five minutes.  A green beauty convert for several years now, I start off by applying rms beauty un-cover up in #11 underneath my eyes and on my eyelids. I set the concealer, and proactively prevent shine from creeping up throughout the day with rms beauty ‘un’ powder. Next, I apply Kjaer Weis cream blush in ‘desired glow’ – using Sephora’s brush #54 – in the hollows of my cheeks, temples, jaw line for a healthy ‘just got back from capri’ glow (I’ve been very impressed with the staying power of this product and how natural it looks on my very fair skin!). To create cheekbone definition I dust Jane Iredale purepressed blush in ‘whisper’ to the apples of my cheeks and dab rms beauty living luminizer to the top of my cheekbone and around the small C area of my eye.  Tightlining my eyes with Pure +Simple eye crayon in ‘black opal’ and using Kjaer Weis eyeshadow in ‘pretty purple’ to line my top and bottom lashes,  I finish off with Kjaer Weis mascara and one of the following lip colours (depending on my mood that day!) – ‘neon angel’, ‘dress me up’, ‘peek a boo’ or ‘femme fatale’ by ILIA Beauty; ‘corvina’ or ‘velvet’ by BITE Beauty;, ‘soft peach’ by Jane Iredale; ‘illusive’ or ‘rapture’ by rms beauty .

Makeup on and hair pulled off my face, I have breakfast (greek yogurt, granola and berries), brush my teeth, grab my coffee mug and purse and head out to begin the day!

DIY lime + manuka honey lip balm? Yes please! Thanks for sharing, Sonja!

Meet Caitie, a natural beauty blogger who shares our passion for great clean products!

Name: Caitie

Age: 25

Hometown: Toronto, ON, Canada

Current Weather: Moody—hot and humid one day, cool the next.

Hair: Curly and very prone to frizz.  I’ve happily found products that keep it under control, but when I deviate, bad, pouffy things happen!

Skin: Pretty normal.  I struggled with acne until about 21, but since then, my skin has been fairly easygoing.  It can be a little sensitive at times, but generally my biggest skin concerns are pores that I wish were less visible, and a couple fine lines on my forehead.

Icon: I’m not sure I have one!  But, let’s go with Amanda Seyfried.  I don’t see it, but ever since Mamma Mia came out, I regularly have strangers come up to me and tell me how much I look like her.  It’s very strange…

The night before…

I take my makeup off with jojoba oil and then double cleanse with some kind of cleanser.  I’ve been looking for a new one and trying out a few different ones in the meantime, but none seem quite right.  I like Pretty’s Black Tea and Raw Cocoa Cleansing Grains and Weleda’s Soothing Almond Cleansing Lotion, but I’m not convinced either of them gets my skin clean enough to use just it, all the time.  After cleansing, I use a homemade witch hazel toner, and follow with KYI’s Argan + Vitamin C Serum, which is a light oil, but still very hydrating.  I’ve actually noticed an improvement in the lines on my forehead in the two months or so I’ve been using it.  I also use Pure + Simple’s Eye Brightening Cream, which is great for dark circles, but not quite as effective for puffiness.

In the morning…

About once a week, I mix up a homemade clay mask and apply that about 10 minutes before jumping in the shower.  When I remember, I’ll also do a quick dry brush.  On days when I don’t do a mask, I like to use a face scrub in the shower – either Devita’s Gentle Aloe Scrub or Sukin’s Revitalizing Facial Scrub (which contains phenoxyethanol but is otherwise very clean).  Next, I wash my hair with Acure’s Moroccan Argan Oil + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo and leave the matching conditioner on until the very end of my shower.  I change body washes all the time, but right now I’m using Nourish’s Almond Vanilla, which is lovely and creamy, and smells like decadent cake batter.  On shaving days, I use Desert Essence’s Fragrance Free Conditioner, which I hated on my hair, but which works surprisingly well as a shaving cream.

Outside of the shower…

If I don’t deal with my hair while it’s very wet, it frizzes up, so after quickly toweling off, the first thing I do is apply Aura Cacia’s Organic Argan Oil, focusing it mainly on my ends.  Then, I scrunch with either Yarok’s Feed Your Roots Mousse or Intelligent Nutrients’ Styling Gel.  Both control frizz and define my curls, without leaving my hair sticky or crunchy.  Both also have mild scents, which I love since scented hair products usually start to drive me crazy midway through the day.  The Intelligent Nutrients gives a little more hold and makes for better second day hair, but either one is fine day to day.

On my face, I use my homemade witch hazel toner again, followed by Skin Essence’s Nourish Serum/Moisturizer and Pure + Simple’s Eye Brightening Cream.  I also moisturize my body with an unscented lotion.  Right now I’m using Seed’s Nourishing Body Lotion, but my favorite is Acure’s Cocoa Butter + CoQ10.

Finishing Touches…

I enjoy playing around with makeup, but my everyday look is pretty neutral.  Eye shadow varies day to day, but it’s usually a light, shimmery beige or gold on the lid and a medium brown or plum in the crease.  My favorite mascara is Zuzu Luxe’s Onyx, and while I don’t wear liner every day, when I do, it’s a pencil from either Honeybee Gardens or Benecos.  Lips are usually pretty subtle.  I like Badger’s lip balms (particularly the cocoa butter ones), Yes to Carrot’s Tinted Colorbalms, Vapour’s lip glosses, and a recent discovery, Ecco Bella’s FlowerColor lipsticks (Tuscany Rose is my favorite).  Most days I wear a powder foundation, either Honeybee Gardens’ Pressed Mineral Foundation or Lucy Minerals’ Lucy Light Foundation.  For a cream/liquid product, I’m a big fan of The All Natural Face’s Cream Foundation.  I also use Une’s Skin Glow Pencil and Silk Naturals’ Sleep in a Jar Concealer under my eyes.  My blush is usually from one of my homemade pressed palettes, which I made a couple months ago when I was feeling especially adventurous.  I top everything off with Lucy Minerals’ Light Finishing Powder, which blurs fine lines and imperfections and helps my makeup last longer.

Whew, sounds like a lot when you write it all out!  Overall, I’m pretty happy with my routine, but I’m still searching for a perfect cleanser and eye cream.  Any suggestions are very welcome!