Are you addicted to products?

The struggle

I never forget to brush my teeth in the morning. My teeth are going to be squeaky clean and my breath sparkling fresh before I leave the house. Naturally, toothpaste is part of this process. I can’t remember the last time I was without toothpaste. If I ever run out, you better believe that I’m stopping at the store on my way home. I’ll make a special trip for that. Getting low on shampoo? I’d make sure to pick up a bottle in advance so that I didn’t run out.

You could say the same about how I eat breakfast in the morning. Breakfast is the one meal I can never skip, and I’d rather be late to work than go a morning without food. If I’m short on my morning smoothie ingredients, that’s also a stop to the store on my way home. But when did personal care products become as important as food?

For me, running out of lotion was equally discomforting. Dry skin and cracked hands? No thank you. Who has lotion that I can borrow? Anyone? Moisturizer for my face, hair, and body – I used to have it all. One late night when I was packing, I was trying to decide between taking a carry on or checking a bag. Lotions are liquids according to the TSA, and I didn’t have smaller bottles to transfer my existing stock. It was too much to think about and I wanted to go to bed. I had a small bottle of jojoba oil lying around and I thought, “eh, this will do.”

What else

On that fateful day, I started thinking about how to pack less for trips and how to take products with multiple uses, like jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is an effective moisturizer for hair, skin, and nails, and it can also be used as a makeup remover. I started thinking about how to use existing products in different ways, and so running out of a product became an experiment. Could I substitute it with something else? Bar soap for shaving cream?

When I allowed myself to repurchase something right away, I never got that trial period. And quite frankly, I wasn’t going to artificially create one. It was too comfortable to use which products I knew worked, instead of trying a new natural hair product that could potentially leave my hair looking greasy the next morning. But I was also on a mission to reduce bathroom clutter, and slowly, my mindset changed.

There are still some products that are high on my priority list. Deodorant is one of them (I like Schmidt’s Magnesium + Charcoal). But other things have become less important. It’s okay if I run out of face wash or never use it all. It’s okay if I run out of my preferred hair serum (plain jojoba oil), if I have another oil lying around. And it’s okay if I don’t have my preferred moisturizer as long as I have olive oil in my kitchen. There are other things to use, and life goes on.

Product freedom

But that relaxed feeling can be hard to achieve. It’s hard to let go of products that we find to be tried-and-true. What if I suddenly breakout without my preferred face wash? What if I can’t clean my house without paper towels? In a wealthy country, many of us get used to having access to these luxuries, which after a long period of time, seem to become necessities. Keeping our cabinets stocked comes to the forefront of our minds and grocery lists, with as much importance as the food we need to survive.

Phew! I’ve ditched a lot of these things and now keep my shower pretty minimalist. I’m currently working on doing the same with my medicine cabinet. It’s a freeing feeling and a more-cost effective way to live. I’m still learning the limits of what products I can substitute, but so far, lotion, hair serum, shaving cream, and shampoo have been a few of the successful ones. The next time you run out of something, test yourself to go without it for a day or two. If you decide that you miss it, it’ll be right at the store waiting for you.