8-Item Self-Care Routine for a Zero Waste Bathroom

Could you limit your self-care routine to only 8 items?

Every day advertisers brainwash you into buying their products. They create this urge to get your hands on a new miracle product, and you imagine all the amazing results.

The truth is, these products often do more harm than good, both to you and the environment. Not to mention that they cost you a fortune and clutter your bathroom.

By simplifying your personal care routine, you will get healthier skin, hair, and teeth. You will also save money and cut the waste in your bathroom.

In this article, I will give you a list of only 8 items that can replace everything in your bathroom.

8-Item Self-Care Routine for a Zero Waste Bathroom

Artificially created needs

Quick quiz: read the statements below and decide if you agree with them:

  • I need to apply sunscreen when I am out in the sun
  • I need a separate eye cream because my face cream is not “gentle enough”
  • I need to use both a “day cream” and a “night cream”
  • I need to apply conditioner to my hair after every wash
  • I need to deep condition my hair at least once a week

If you answered yes to any of these statements, you are not the only one.

Advertisers want you to buy their products. They try to convince you that you absolutely need this and that. And they do a pretty good job, so good that all these “rules” have now become the norm. In fact, few people question them.

Here’s the deal: you can exclude most of these products without any harm to your health or appearance.

Want to know the best part? You will actually end up with better skin, hair, teeth, and health. For example, a regular shampoo is drying for your hair. But, it coats your hair in silicone to mask the drying effect. Your hair will appear sleek and shiny (due to the silicone), but in reality, it’s dry and frizzy.

Don’t believe me? Test this: wash your hair with a simple soap that will wash away all the product residue, without adding anything. Don’t use conditioner or styling tools: just let it air dry. If you are like most of us, you will not be happy with the result. But, what you see is the true condition of your hair, without the camouflage of the products.

And that state of your hair - dry, dull, frizzy and breaking - is not how your hair should look like. It’s not normal. Your hair should look healthy and shiny naturally, without the help of products.

Imagine this scenario: you wash your hair with a simple soap, let it air dry, and walk out the house looking gorgeous. Don’t think it’s possible? This should be the norm. Imagine how much time and money you will save!

Now: this was just one example. I can go on and say that the same applies to the rest of your self-care routine. By destroying your skin, hair, and teeth, the products force you to continue using them.

Bathroom clutter

Bathroom blutter
Constantly buying new products often results in a cluttered, filthy bathroom. Photo credit: Leslie Gottlieb, Flickr.

You are most likely one of two types of people:

Type 1: Neat Organizer

You keep your bathroom clean and organized. Good for you!

But, keeping all your bathroom stuff organized takes time! The less stuff you have, the less time you need to spend keeping it in order.

Type 2: Messy Slob

Your bathroom is a hairy mess. On the plus side, you definitely don’t waste your time tidying. You have given up.

What if I told you that you could have a clean and organized bathroom without putting in any effort at all? Don’t give up on yourself.

The solution is not to clean more. It’s having less stuff to clean. If you only have a handful of items on your bathroom counter and shelves, the cleanup is super easy!

Here is a list of 8 items that will cover your entire personal care routine.

1. Sweet almond oil

Sweet almond oil
Sweet almond oil is a swiss knife of your minimalistic self-care routine

Sweet almond oil is made from pressed almonds. It contains fatty acids as well as vitamins A and E and absorbs easily into the skin. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and immune boosting properties, and a wide range of uses.

Here is how you will use it in your new, minimalistic routine:

Use 1: Facial cleanser

A regular face cleanser, no matter how “gentle” or “moisturizing” it is, will dry out your skin.

While removing dirt and oil, the [cleanser] interacts with the stratum corneum, the skin's outermost layer and protective barrier — and that is where problems begin. The [cleanser] can remove the good oils skin produces, resulting in overdrying. - Menas Kizoulis, scientific engagement leader on Johnson & Johnson Consumer Cos.' R&D team

Oil cleansing is a much more gentle way to clean your skin.

Here is how it works: oil dissolves oil. When you massage the oil into your skin, it dissolves the oils and dirt on your face. Then, you wash it off with a hot washcloth. This will remove the oil together with all the dirt. But, it will not strip away moisture from your skin, leaving it looking healthy and glowing.

Again, you don’t need to do this daily. Give your skin a break from time to time, and just use water.

Use 2: Hair serum

Because almond oil is not greasy and absorbs fast, it works as a perfect hair serum. Spread one drop of the oil in your palms, and apply to your hair. It will give it instant shine! The secret is to not use too much, or it will leave your hair looking greasy.

Alternatives: You can substitute almond oil with an oil of your choice. Keep in mind that some oils may clog the pores of your skin. If you are unsure which oil to use, check out this list of comedogenic (skin clogging) ratings for oils.

Aim for lower ratings, anywhere between 0 and 3. For example, coconut oil has a rating of 4, which can clog your pores and cause breakouts.

Zero-Waste Tip: Buy the oil in a glass bottle instead of a plastic bottle.

2. Castile bar soap or liquid soap

Liquid and bar castile soap
Castile soap can be used to clean your face, hands, body, hair, and even teeth!

Castile soap has been traditionally made from olive oil, but is now referred to soap made with any vegetable oil.

The basic castile soap is made from 100% vegetable oils, and contains no harsh chemicals, perfumes, or any other toxic ingredients. It is so safe that you can even brush your teeth with it!

Castile soap comes in liquid and solid form. Your personal preference will guide you to the type of soap to go with. Liquid soap is more versatile because it can also be used as a general purpose cleaner: simply dilute it in water and you have a non-toxic cleaner.

Dr. Bronner's liquid soap and bar soap are the most popular castile soaps on the market. They are made of 100% organic oils and their uses are countless. Here's what Dr. Bronner's write on their website:

What are the “18-in-1” uses? You can use Dr. Bronner’s soaps for washing your face, body, hands and hair, for bathing, shaving, brushing your teeth, rinsing fruit, aromatherapy, washing dishes by hand, doing laundry, mopping floors, all-purpose cleaning, washing windows, scrubbing toilets, washing dogs, controlling dust mites, and killing ants and aphids. Now, that’s eighteen uses right there,

Use 1: Face cleanser

Oil cleanse works wonders, but sometimes you may want to cut the grease and get your skin squeaky clean.

A gentle soap is perfect for this job. Just remember to moisturize your skin afterwards, as the soap will dry it out. You can use the sweet almond oil or the all-purpose moisturizer (listed below).

Again, this type of cleaning should be done on an "as-needed" basis. Washing with soaps or facial cleansers daily will dry your skin out and create skin problems like acne.

Use 2: Body cleanser

A simple soap will clean your body without adding any toxic ingredients to your skin. But, the secret to healthy and glowing skin is to not clean with soap too often.

Soap can strip the skin’s protective layer, and leave it exposed to disease. So spot-clean your skin in the shower, instead of applying soap all over your body. Water is your best friend!

Zero-Waste Tip: Bar soap in paper packaging (or without packaging at all) will be the best option. Liquid soap usually comes in a plastic container. If you go with liquid soap, buy as large container as you can, as this will use less plastic than buying many smaller bottles. You can recycle or re-purpose the container. Or, if you're up for it, make your own soap!

3. All-in-one moisturizer

Homemade all-in-one moisturizer
Replace all your creams, lotions and potions with a homemade all-in-one moisturizer!

Doesn’t having separate moisturizers for your face, eyes, neck, body, hands, feet, [insert any other bodypart] seem a bit silly? After all, it’s all skin, and it absorbs moisture and nutrients in the same way.

After you switch to oil cleansing, and reduce your use of soap, your skin will not need that much moisturizer. But, when it does, I recommend making your own.

It’s easy to make, and you can use only a few ingredients.

The benefits of a home-made moisturizer:

  • You know exactly what goes in it: no preservatives and other toxic ingredients
  • You can customize it to your needs and preferences
  • It’s way cheaper than any store-bought version
  • It's easier to make it "zero-waste" (no plastic packaging)

Here is a recipe for a cream from “Say not Sweet Anne” that I have been using for more than a year. It's advertized as a face cream but I've used it all over my body, and even as a hair serum!

You can customize its consistency from a thin lotion to a heavy cream, based on your taste.

Zero-Waste Tip: Some of the ingredients for this cream, like aloe vera gel, can be tricky to find without plastic packaging. In this case, get as large a container as you can, as this will reduce the waste of plastic. Keep the aloe gel in the refrigerator and it will last for many batches of the cream.

4. Shampoo bar

J.R. Liggettes Shampoo Bar
A shampoo bar will gently clean your hair without leaving any residue.

Some people wash their hair with liquid castile soap or baking soda. I find it a bit too drying.

A gentle shampoo bar will clean the hair without stripping its moisture. It also won't coat the hair with silicone and other chemicals.

Zero-Waste Tip: The advantage of using a solid shampoo bar instead of a liquid shampoo, is that you can get it in paper packaging. This will reduce the number of plastic bottles that you send to landfill.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 2 parts water in a spray bottle, and apply to your hair after shampooing for an instant shine boost!

Apple cider vinegar (or ACV) is a magical ingredient with countless uses. You may already have it at home, and you can easily find it online or at your local grocery store.

Use 1: Hair conditioner

While it’s optional, your hair will enjoy a rinse with apple cider vinegar. The acidity in the vinegar will bring down the PH value on your scalp that may be too high after using soap. It will add shine and will make the hair more manageable, especially if your hair is on the dry and frizzy side.

To make: mix 1 part ACV with 2 parts water in a spray bottle, and spray it all over your hair after shampooing. You can either leave it in or rinse out with cool water. If you leave the ACV in your hair, it will smell vinegar while it’s wet, but the smell will go away once your hair is dry.

Use 2: Skin toner

You can use ACV as a skin toner: apply to your face with a cotton round. It will help heal age spots and acne.

Zero-Waste Tip: Buy the vinegar in a glass bottle instead of plastic. Save the bottle and re-purpose. For example, you can use it for your homemade cleaner in a spray bottle.

6. Safety razor for shaving

Safety Razor
Stop sending disposable razor cartridges to landfill: invest in a stainless steel safety razor that will last you a lifetime!

This is an optional item, which you will need only if you are shaving.

A safety razor is a more sustainable option to disposable plastic razor heads. It will last for years if well taken care of. You can buy replacement blades when you need them.

And, you guessed it: you can use the castile soap as shaving cream!

Zero-Waste Tip: Since the razor doesn't have any plastic parts and lasts so long, it's much better for the environment.

7. Homemade toothpaste

Homemade toothpaste
A gentle and non-toxic homemade toothpaste can be customized to your taste.

As with a lot of products, the importance of toothpaste is overrated. It’s actually your brushing technique that is most important in your dental care. And I hope you have done your research about the danger of fluoride in the toothpaste:

There is enough fluoride in a typical tube of toothpaste to kill two small children if they consumed the entire tube at once. This really isn't rocket science. If it kills you in large doses, doesn't it stand to reason that in smaller doses it probably is not a wise choice? - Dr. Mercola

It doesn't end there, though. Glycerin in the commercial toothpaste coats the teeth and blocks the absorption of minerals. This can cause tooth decay. If you are interested to learn more, here is an interesting article on tooth remineralization.

Now that we have de-throned the commercial toothpaste, I hope you are more confident trying a homemade solution.

I have studied many recipes available online, and they all build upon a common formula.

There are three parts to any homemade toothpaste:

  1. A cleaner
  2. A moisturizer
  3. Something that gives it a fresh taste / smell

Cleaner: The cleaner can be baking soda, clay, hydrogen peroxide, and even liquid castile soap!

Moisturizer: The moisturizer is usually some kind of oil: coconut, sesame, almond.

Scent: The scent comes from peppermint oil, but I have seen varieties with cinnamon oil.

Some recipes add a sweetener for those who are used to the sweet taste of the traditional toothpaste.

You can start by following some of the available recipes to get a feel for what you like. After a few tries, I am now comfortable creating my own combinations, that vary based on what I have on hand.

Right now, I keep it simple and clean my teeth with liquid castile soap.

Zero-Waste Tip: Making your own toothpaste gives you control over ingredients, and you can make sure that you only buy sustainable options. No more toothpaste tubes in the garbage!

8. Bamboo toothbrush

Compostable bamboo toothbrush
This toothbrush is made of bamboo and vegetable base and is 100% compostable, including the packaging!

Your normal toothbrush is made of plastic, and plastic doesn’t degrade well in landfills. What can you do?

One solution is to use a biodegradable toothbrush. The handle is made of bamboo and the bristles are made of vegetable base. When it's time to dispose of it, all parts of this toothbrush are compostable.

Zero-Waste Tip: The bamboo toothbrush, including the packaging, is compostable. But before you "plant" your toothbrush, use the handle as a stirring stick or in your plant pot!


After you've simplified your self-care routine, you'll notice that your skin, hair, and teeth will start regain their natural health. This is a slow process, though, so you need to give it some time.

Watch the condition of your skin, hair and teeth and don't ignore the signs. Listen to your intuition and your gut more than any blog article's or friend's advice.

After all, we are all unique, and what work for some may not work for you.

If you are interested in making your home produce less waste, read about reducing food waste and transforming your kitchen into a zero-waste kitchen.

Did I miss out on anything? Which other changes did you make to simplify your personal care routine?

Other articles from the zero-waste series:

Cheers, Natalie

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and solutions mentioned on this website are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.