The Life-Changing Magic Of Multipurpose Products


Marie Kondo started a quasi-revolution with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up— garnering zealots, haters, think pieces, and—the point of it all—impressive book sales. Because I am pop-culturally conscious citizen, I, too, purchased the book (then read it, then regifted it to my mother on her birthday) but ultimately attribute my striving for a pared-down life to my roommate Blair.

We met on freshman move-in day and she possessed a Puritanical pragmatism I'd previously never witnessed: frequent closet cleaning, discarding of any useless items, transforming meals into palatable leftovers. Her behavior quickly became my own. Now, I ruthlessly edit my closet, grocery shop four days after I think I need to, and annoy everyone by extolling the virtues of sparse living.

Though I consume less this way, I ironically trick myself into thinking I can afford to spend more. This is the pitfall of “essential' thinking—you rationalize the cost according to the item's versatility, then calculate absurdly low price-per-wear derivatives or the time saved from shopping or ferreting around your apartment.

A few brands capitalize on such thinking and embrace the shift in consumer consciousness with, ironically, consumerism (albeit the more conscious type) and the allure of multipurpose products. The reviews:

Purely Perfect Cleansing Creme

Created by the man previously responsible for the company that made salt water obsolete and shampoo/conditioner/smoothing cream/prep spray/hairspray/etc. routines a normality, Michael Gordon (the founder and ex-president of Bumble and bumble), Purely Perfect is atonement bottled. In opposition to the sinful multi-product line masses, Purely Perfect only offers three, and the Cleansing Creme, “is the only cleanser the world needs.” While “need” is might be hyperbolic, Cleansing Creme does the job, and we've been satisfied with that job for a good, long while now. Your hair will be clean; it will feel soft; it will look silky. Once accustomed to the lack of lather, using a creamy cleanser will feel good. At $40, it’s moderately expensive, but if you use name-brand hair products anyway, think of all the money you’ll save on conditioner.

Jao Refresher

Listed as a hand sanitizer, but also suitable as an aftershave and facial astringent, I like using this one best as a deodorant and bug-bite alleviator. Vaguely alcoholic smelling (it’s 65 percent ethyl alcohol), its miscellaneous scent is derviced from essential oils. Like any “natural” deodorant, its efficacy is questionable (though by the end of the day, I was told I only “mildly” smelled of B.O.). However, your clothing will remain streak-free forever, and carrying the ultramarine bottle in your purse feels fancy (it comes in a spray version, too, which makes it easier to use as deodorant). Since it’s a “refresher,” reapplication isn’t masking unappealing odors, but instead cleansing them away entirely. With such gentle treatment, maybe your armpit will respond accordingly?

Cosmetics 27 by M.E. Skin Lab Cleanser 27

The packaging is quiet, the scent is subtle, but this waxy balm cleanser screams efficacy. Sleek and minimal in its smooth white container, it claims to cleanse, exfoliate, and hydrate skin in one. While the cleansing experience feels restorative (versus stripping) and very luxe, medical aesthetician Jordana Mattioli says she would only recommend this product to those with dry skin (mine is combo) that isn’t super sensitive (irritants limonene, linalool, and geraniol are toward the end of the ingredient list, although they’re inevitably washed off, causing little irritation) and who don’t mind shelling out a lot for skincare that works for them.

Davines SU/Hair & Body Wash

The multipurpose product category that started it all—this hair and body wash is a lightly scented floral soap that suds nicely. There's nothing spectacular about it, but it does the job when you want a one-and-done shower session.

—Alexis Cheung

Photographed by Tom Newton. Your summer makeup bag is noticeably smaller. What do you switch out for summer?