The Absolute Bare Minimum


Beauty operates on a cause and effect basis—its standards acting in response to stimuli. Ideal eyebrows in 2018, for example, are natural and abundant, in response to the CGI-rendered blocks which used to sit squarely below peoples foreheads in 2013. Those blocks were, of course, a direct result of twin parentheses popularized by Scream-era Drew Barrymore.

This principle can be applied to the sheer number of products people use, too. Fifteen years ago, drugstore aisles and had dominion. Options were scarce. Today, there’s an enormous selection of products to choose from at every turn. And everyone wants to talk about it. It’s difficult to think you shouldn’t use them all. At the time of publishing, upwards of 25 products have passed on or through my person. So, what do I actually need? This question is obviously rhetorical and subjective, but a minimalist cleansing routine is a good place to start.

A tidy body

In the very complex microcosm of beauty and grooming, the modest bar of soap sits at its nucleus. Even folks of the lowest maintenance can attest to its sanctity. It’s effective, serviceable, and self-contained. I can never say no to an emollient body wash that’s two-thirds cold cream, but recently I discovered the spoils of an astringent bar of soap. This time of year, in this hemisphere, the profoundly cleansing feel of bar soap is an unparalleled reset. Citron de Vigne by Fresh is a delightful soft musky citrus soap with a residue-free lather. The bar has the very rough dimensions of an avocado, and while nestled into the corner of my shower, it almost acts as an objet.

Manageable hair

Co-wash (cleansing conditioner) isn’t the same as the 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner hybrid (haircare that passed through The Shimmer). The former is a conditioner that gently removes oil and dirt build-up without heavy detergents. The latter is mostly just dish soap loaded with dimethicone, which the comment section tells me I should avoid. This one product cleans, moisturizes, and requires less product afterward to undo all the stripping of regular shampoos, with none of the build-up you’re imagining. I’ve tried plenty from expensive brands, but I’ve had equally good luck with this one from L’Oréal. I saw it once at Bed, Bath & Beyond, decided to risk it for the biscuit, and haven’t looked back since.

A moisturized face

If you take most of the selling points above and apply them to a facial cleanser, you get Avène’s Cleansing Lotion. The concept is clown-shit crazy—"washing” your face with a lotion (??) that you don’t rinse off (!!!). The application is simple—rub it around, and wipe it off with a cotton pad. You might be surprised by how soiled the pad gets. I was! It doesn’t even require following up with moisturizer, toner, or essence. What’s more minimal than washing your face without water? (Probably those guys that wash their face with VO5 run-off and still have perfect skin, but that’s for another article.)

That’s it. Simple, yes, but that’s kind of the point.

—Or Gotham

Photo via ITG.