Minimalism, zero waste

Household items I don’t buy

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A popular topic in many zero waste social media sites concerns common products that people do not buy. I don’t particularly like following trends, but this topic is of interest, as it allows me to reflect on my progress in my sustainable lifestyle, and may inspire others to reconsider some of their shopping habits. In this post I will focus on common household items, related mostly to cleaning products and food storage.

Liquid dish detergent: I haven’t used liquid dish detergent for years. I use a 1 kilogram bar of Savon de Marseille to hand wash my dishes. For the dishwasher, I use earth-friendly dishwasher tabs that I buy in bulk from a local store.

Sponges or brushes: I use a Swedish dish cloth to wipe kitchen counters and cupboards. These cloths last several months, can be washed, are biodegradable, and can be placed in the compost once they become too worn for use. I use a locally-grown luffa to hand wash dishes; I simply wet it, swipe it over the bar soap, and clean the dishes.

Plastic wrap: I hate plastic wrap with every fibre in my body; it’s wasteful, frustrating to use, and unnecessary. I use my grandmother’s method of placing a plate on top of a bowl to store food, or use glass containers from jam, etc.

Plastic zip bags: I use the same methods as mentioned above under plastic wrap. I use glass jars to freeze food.

Aluminium foil: I use a reusable silicone mat to line baking and roasting dishes. I’ve used this mat as well to cover items in the oven (e.g., lasagna).

Paper towels: I use my wet Swedish dish cloth to wipe surfaces, and linen dish cloths to dry them. For messy spills, including cat vomit (cat guardians will understand), I used dish cloths that are very old and soiled, or simply rags made from old t-shirts.

Toilet paper: I use a hand-held bidet and small cloth towels. I’ve always thought that toilet paper was unhygienic and ineffective. A good way to think of it: If you smeared peanut butter on your arm, would you simply use a tissue to wipe it off? I have individual toilet rolls that I buy unpackaged from a local store for guests but I need to buy them only once a year.

Liquid soap and body wash: I’ve always disliked liquid soap and body wash, as I find them very wasteful. People generally use up far more liquid than they actually need. Instead, I use good old-fashioned bar soap.

Liquid shampoo and conditioner: I use solid shampoo and conditioner bars made in New Brunswick, and available in some local stores.

Liquid laundry detergent: I’ve been using Tru Earth laundry strips for a year now and have never looked back. So much space and water are saved.

Fabric softener and dryer sheets: I’ve never seen the point of these products. I air dry most of my laundry, including my bed sheets. I use the dryer only for the mattress pad.

Chlorine bleach: I don’t see the point of this product either. I’ve never been obsessed with sanitizing surfaces, as this lasts for only a few minutes. To whiten laundry, I use baking soda.

Specialty cleaners: I use Sal Suds concentrated cleaner to clean all surfaces. I simply mix a little bit of the concentrate with water in a spray bottle. Sal Suds is safe for all surfaces (and floors), including stone, marble, and granite. I clean windows and mirrors with a solution of 1 part water and 1 part isopropyl alcohol (which doubles as a disinfectant for cuts and scrapes). I use a simple combination of olive oil and lemon juice to nourish and polish my wood furniture when it needs it.

Bin liners: I don’t use bin liners in any of my kitchen or bathroom garbage bins; I simply toss items in the bins, then empty the bins weekly into one central garbage bag. I wait until this one bag is completely full before I toss it in the building waste container.

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Rejecting the culture and worship of busyness

Bartleby the Scrivener

Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener’s catch phrase “I would prefer not to,” leads to extreme behaviour for the character, but I think we could learn a thing or two from this phrase, as well as Scrivener’s belief that “We must cultivate a relationship with inactivity, and not become disoriented or panicked at how unlike work, or being at some task, our leisure actually is.”

There have been many excellent articles and posts written about the culture of busyness. The growing number of such articles is an indication, perhaps, of how much this culture has grown over the years. I use the term “worship” in my title, because I think that’s become a very common approach to busyness: we worship at the altar of busyness like acolytes looking for validation of their worth and reward for their efforts.

Busyness has become a competitive sport; we all seem to feel the need to tell others how busy we are. How many times do you hear (or say) “Busy,” when people ask you how you are? In my professional environment, it seems that the number of hours we dedicate to work are seen a badge of honour: we list the number of evenings that we work, as well as weekends. We say we can’t not look at work email when we are on holidays because we will spend too much time catching up afterwards. We feel the need to take on tasks that fill almost every hour of our working days. Time and time again, people say how tired they are and busy, yet they take no time to rest, or to say no to tasks.

I say none of this to offend anyone; I’ve done all these things as well. As I say, busyness has become engrained into our culture. We are expected, it seems, to take on task after task and to work evenings and weekends. We are always connected and must respond at the drop of a hat. We are also to blame to some extent for people’s expectations; so, for example, I make it very clear to people that I’m not joking when I say that I don’t read or respond to email when I’m on holidays and I have found that people tend to send me fewer messages as a result. I think spending a few hours catching up with email when I return is a small price to pay for taking a true holiday from work.

How much of this obsession with busyness is tied to our fragile egos? Do we keep busy, and let others know how busy we are, because we feel the constant need to receive validation of our worth? Is our self worth tied so strongly to public perception (and our declaration) of our productivity? Do we unknowingly use our busyness as a way of showing that we are somehow better or more valid that others? If we aren’t busy, then we can’t be important and contributing members of society. In many ways, we have reduced ourselves to commodities.

Have we fallen into the trap of measuring our self worth with what we do and how much we produce? How many of us tie our identity do our professions and what we produce? Again, I’m pointing the finger at myself when I say this. One of the reasons I’ve embraced minimalism over the past few years is because I’m simply tired of being a rat on an endlessly-spinning wheel. I simply cannot and will not accept that who I am is defined by what I do for a living. Who I am is a combination of the principles, beliefs, values, and morals that I hold. My professional career is something that I do and enjoy, but it does not define who I am. It’s a cliche, I know, but there really is more to life than work.

I’m not going to get all new age and “intentional” on you; that’s simply not who I am. My brain is hardwired to always seek the most efficient and effective ways of doing things. I’ve extended this lens to the quality of my life, and working all hours of the day and over weekends is simply an inefficient way to live. Being constantly busy is actually a failure on my part to be efficient, because it means that I’m spending too much time on what I do for a living, and neglecting who I am as a person. Spending 12-14 hours a day on my work life (the what) means that I have little to no time to devote to me (the who). Neglecting the who is the ultimate inefficiency. The less time I spend on the who, the less efficient I am dealing with the what.

Every day, I carve out time for the who and guard it jealously. I’m an early bird, so I spend quality time on the who before I work on the what. The what takes a hiatus in the evenings and over the weekend. Does this mean I will produce less than others? Perhaps. Does this make me less self worthy? This is the ultimate question I need to deal with because of my emphasis on efficiency. I’ve learned, however, that efficiency and productivity are only loosely correlated. One can produce a lot of things; the quality of these things may not be that good, however. Even if the quality of the output is good, what is the impact on the who? I’ve seen what has happened to my health when I’ve placed the what above the who; this is the ultimate inefficiency and something I’m not willing to live with.

The more time I spend on the what, the less satisfaction I feel with the who. Ultimately, for me it’s the who that counts more. If I can’t take the time for the who, and to work on expanding my horizon and knowledge, I have failed my ultimate test of efficiency. Yes, the work I produce adds to my knowledge and, I hope makes a contribution to others, but this is only one aspect of who I am. I simply need more than this. And yes, I’m worth it.

What I’ve written above relates to only my reflections on what is important to me. I realize that other people’s lives, realities, and priorities differ from mine, and that the choices I make are designed for my well-being. I do think, however, that a reflection on the impact of busyness on our lives is worth the effort.

Minimalism, Sustainability

Updating my wardrobe

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Over the past six years, I’ve pared down my wardrobe considerably. I keep track of what items of clothing I wear daily via Airtable, and at the end of every month, I take stock of what I wore and how often. This process allows me to decide which items I need to weed based on use. I see no point in holding onto clothes that I rarely wear. I highly recommend tracking your clothing wear, as the results can be very eye opening.

I normally buy very few items of clothing in a calendar year, as I have a one-in, one-out policy. I did need to refresh my wardrobe more than usual in the past twelve months for two reasons: some of my clothes were getting worn out after several years of wear, and I wanted to re-introduce trousers to my collection. I have worn dresses and skirts almost exclusively over the past six years, but I have missed wearing trousers.

When I decide to bring in a new-to-me item of clothing to my wardrobe, I first see if I can find something in a consignment store. I prefer consignment stores to thrift shops, as the quality of clothing is generally higher in the former. If I can’t find anything in a local consignment store, I will try Poshmark. I’ve had good luck with Poshmark, although I’ve learned to do my research, as I’ve caught a few vendors being less than honest about the original prices of the items being sold; as an example, I came across a vendor who was selling a pair of Burberry sunglasses and quoting the original price at twice what they actually cost (I have the same pair that I bought from a physical Burberry store), and a selling price of what these sunglasses actually retail for. If I don’t have any luck with consignment stores, I will turn to a retailer that meets my ideal criteria, if at all possible:

  • Canadian owned and operated
  • Independent
  • Uses sustainable fabrics and production practices
  • Items are made in Canada
  • B-certified

It is very difficult to find retailers in Halifax that meet all these criteria. Because of this, my purchases have been done online:

  • A shawl-collar navy cardigan and a brown tweed blazer (both second hand) from Poshmark.
  • A brown cardigan from Elsie’s a local consignment store.
  • Handmade linen tops: One each from BriaBLifestyle and Eloise and Lily (from whom I bought a linen bath towel, as well). I wear linen year-round. The top from Eloise and Lily is shown in the image above, only mine is in chocolate brown.
  • Two pairs of trousers from Helene Clarkson. I should note that this company produces travel-resistant business clothing in a polyester jersey. Synthetic fabric lasts a long time, so there is that element to consider, as keeping clothes for a long time contributes to less waste. I bought the Aro trousers, which are reversible (one side is black and the other is navy), and the Juniper wide-legged trousers.
  • One long-sleeve and one short-sleeve t-shirt from The Sleep Shirt. I buy my sleepwear from this company as well; it’s expensive, but of extremely high quality.  
  • A bamboo wrap dress from Miik.

Most of my clothes can be work year-round, so at this point, I don’t intend to add any more items to my wardrobe; in fact, I will be decluttering further based on the results of my Airtable tracking.

Recipes, Veganism

Chickpea salad

Ingredients

  • Cooked chickpeas. I used about 1.5 cups. I prefer to cook beans from dry in my pressure cooker, but tinned chickpeas as fine, as long as you rinse them well.
  • 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise, or to taste. I use Hellman‘s.
  • 1 tablespoon relish, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • Kala Namak salt

I use a food processor to pulse the ingredients, but you can simply mash the chickpeas with a fork if you’re not too fussy about having a consistent texture. I like to keep this salad simple, but you can add other items such as green onions and pepper. I always add fresh chives when they are at hand. Other variations include adding some avocado to the mix. The Kala Namak salt is a key ingredient, as it gives the salad an egg flavour; it can be hard to find, unfortunately, but I’m lucky that a local health food store carries it.

zero waste

Updated oral care

Oral care is an area where I find it a little more challenging to keep waste to a minimum. I refuse to use DIY toothpaste, which normally consists of a combination of baking soda and coconut oil, which is much too hard on tooth enamel. I’ve been told by people “but isn’t baking soda used in commercial toothpastes?” Yes, it is, but at much lower concentrations than one finds in DIY versions. Both my dentist and dental hygienist have warned me against using DIY toothpaste, as they say they’ve seen the longterm damage to teeth and gums in patients who use these products. I’ve tried dental tabs, but I found them too harsh on my teeth and gums as well. Most importantly, I’m a firm believer in using fluouride to protect my tooth enamel, and I’m not about to sacrifice the health of my teeth in order to save a few plastic tubes of toothpaste.

I use two types of toothbrushes. I use an electric toothbrush twice a day (morning and evening); it has a two-minute timer so that I can ensure that each quadrant of my mouth is cleaned properly. The replacable brush heads aren’t recyclable, but again, tooth health comes first. For during the day, I use a manual toothbrush after I eat lunch and dinner. Unlike most zero wasters, I do not use a bamboo toothbrush for a few reasons. I have tried bamboo toothbrushes, but I simply don’t like them. I hate the dry, raspy texture of the bamboo in my mouth, and the handle gets drier with use. No matter how many times I clean it, there is always some toothpaste residue on the handle, which makes the texture even worse. Second, since I replace manual toothbrushes every three months, I find that bamboo toothbrushes generate a lot of waste. I tried an experiment with burying a bamboo toothbrush in soil; four months later, the brush still hadn’t decomposed, so I can’t help but wonder how environmentally friendly this option actually is, as it can take years for one toothbrush to decompose. I found as well that most bamboo toothbrushes don’t last three months, as the bristles fray very quickly, which means putting more than 4 toothbrushes a year in the compost.

I prefer to use a manual toothbrush with replaceable heads, which is something I’ve used for years. My previous model was made by Radius; I had one for a few years until the handle (made from recycled plastic) cracked. The replacement brushes came in a plastic and cardboard container, which is not ideal, and the brushes could not be recycled. I have now switched to the Canadian Grin toothbrush, shown in the image above. The brush handle is made from aluminium, rather than plastic. I love the design of the handle, which ensures that the toothbrush never rolls over; it’s also a very sleek and elegant design. The handle comes in a variety of colours; mine is the slate grey shown above. The replacement heads can be recycled. I have enroled in the subscription program: I’m sent an email reminder every three months to replace the brush head, and four new brush heads are shipped out every year. Everything is packed in cardboard. You can send the used brush heads back to the company, which will recycle them. l like the smaller and sleeker brush head, as I find it does a better job of cleaning my teeth, especially as I have a small inner mouth. Customer service is outstanding, as the owner of the company reaches out to ensure that you are happy with the product and is very quick to respond to any questions.

I don’t use dental floss, as this generates far too much waste for my liking. You can get refillable dental floss, but the floss itself has to be thrown out. I tried compostable vegan floss, but it was a disaster, as it kept breaking whenever I used it. My teeth are packed very tightly (small inner mouth again), and I need to use a waxed floss to ensure that the floss can fit between my teeth. Waxed floss can’t decompose. Instead I use a Waterpick cordless flosser, which does a superior job of removing tartar and plaque. I’ve had this flosser for over two years and am very happy with it; further, it does a much better job than floss, which is the most important factor to consider.

zero waste

Trying an indoor gardening device

I live in a condominium, so I don’t have access to a garden. I don’t have a particularly green thumb and I have to battle a cat who nibbles on plants and greens. I regrow vegetables such as green onions and garlic, but the problem is finding a sunny spot that Calpurnia cannot reach.

I’ve considered indoor gardening devices, but have sat on the fence for a while. The ones that come without LED lights won’t work for me because of Calpurnia. I also want to support a Canadian company. I have found a solution that I think will work. I’ve ordered the Jardin device, shown in the image above, from Québec company Vegehome. This is the smaller model that contains 9 seedling pods; they have a larger model, the Oasis, that holds 28 seedling pods. Because of the LED lights, you can store the device in shaded and high areas, so this should help keep Calpurnia at bay. I’m experimenting with the smaller device for now to see if I am successful; if I’m happy with the results, I will likely invest in an Oasis model as well. Most of the pods are for greens and herbs.

I look forward to seeing the results, as I would like to grow my own herbs and greens without having to deal with a very feisty and determined cat. I’ve given up on container gardens in the balcony, too, since she likes to sit there in the summer; her son Atticus does like the odd nibble, as well. This garden will grow things all year, which is another bonus. Buying pods online is not ideal of course, but unfortunately, most of these devices don’t work with your own seeds. I am hopeful that I can find similar pods in one of the local gardening stores to save on future shipping. It’s another small step towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

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Holiday shopping in Halifax Regional Municipality

I am somewhat reluctant to write this post, as I encourage people to buy less, rather than more, but I realize that buying gifts is an inevitable part of the holiday season for most people. I’m a strong believer in supporting locally-owned businesses; I think this is particularly important during this COVID-19 period, where so many small businesses are struggling to survive. The list below are my favourite local stores that sell a variety of items that reflect my interests; most of these stores feature products made by local artisans. The stores are located in the Halifax Regional Municipality; all have online shopping options.

Bookmark. We are a locally owned, independent bookstore. We are passionate about books. Since 1972 in Charlottetown and 1989 in Halifax, the Bookmark people have promoted the benefits of the written word, the beauty the book as physical object, and the value of sharing stories and ideas. We see independence as a virtue and are doing our part to keep our communities interesting.

I am an avid reader, but I don’t buy a lot of physical books, as I prefer ebooks. For those who purchase physical books, this store has an excellent selection of titles in a variety of genres, and also a good collection of planners and stationery.

Biscuit General Store. Biscuit General Store is inspired by our love of beauty and by our community here in Halifax, N.S. This place is our heart and soul, and we are always evolving to offer what resonates for us and our customers. We opened the shop in 1996, in a tiny space with no money! We wanted to offer an alternative to shopping in mall chain stores that was more fashion-centric, more local, more human, and more fun.

This store sells primarily clothing for men and women. I don’t buy too many items of clothing from the store, but I have purchased accessories, soaps, and home goods. True to its name, this store sells a bit of everything in addition to clothes.

Duly Noted Stationery. Notebooks, stationery, pens, ink, planners, and much more. I’ve bought a few fountain pens from this store (a weakness of mine), and buy my ink and writing supplies here.

Independent Mercantile Company: Curating this jewel box of home decor, kitchen goods, bar provisions, plants, books, candles, stationery and personal care is a celebration. It’s offered up for your enjoyment. This store sells a wide variety of home goods, and many with a strong eco-focus.

Inkwell Modern Handmade. Inkwell is a modern handmade boutique and letterpress studio located in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, with an abundant selection of specialty printed paper products and handmade delights made with love, by artists from around the corner and across the world. Wonderful selection of handmade cards. I’ve bought some beautiful cushion covers as well.

Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia. Located in Halifax. Proudly Supporting Artists of Atlantic Canada since 1978. This Halifax staple features a wide variety of handmade products, including jewellery, scarves, gloves, plates, and decorative items.

Kept: This store has a large variety of items for the kitchen, children, home décor, and stationery. Many of the products are made in Canada.

Made in the Maritimes. Our curated collection includes pottery, fine art, prints, textiles, cards, woodwork, folk art, jewellery, housewares, soft furnishings, glass art, baby gifts, gourmet edibles, health and beauty, and many other items. Most items are made in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island. We also carry a curated collection of Canadian Made products. This description says it all.

Woozles. If children are on your gift list, you can’t go wrong with this independent bookstore with a focus on children.

Thornbloom. This store has a large variety of home goods, including linens, furniture, cookware, etc. I’ve bought a sofa from this store, as well as most of my kitchen linens.

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Another variation of vegan bolognese sauce

Ingredients

1 onion, finely diced

1 large carrot, finely shredded

3 cloves garlic, minced

Dried basil and oregano

Crushed tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

I used my food processor to dice the onion and carrots, and the fine shredder attachment for the carrot. You want the vegetables to be as fine and thin as possible.

Sauté the vegetables in olive oil for a few minutes. I like to add the herbs, as this brings out their flavour.

Add the crushed tomatoes and the remaining seasonings. Bring to the boil, then simmer on low until the vegetables are tender.

Continue reading “Another variation of vegan bolognese sauce”
Minimalism

Minimal skincare

As in all aspects of my life, I have tried to pare my skincare down to the bare essentials. I have sensitive skin that is prone to eczema, so I have to be very careful about what I use and avoid products that can provoke a skin reaction. Products must all be fragrance-free and as free as possible of sensitizing ingredients. I’ve gone through a lot of products in my life, and I am always resisting the temptation to try new products; this has led to a lot of wasted money as well as skin irritation. I have learned that (a) expensive does not necessarily mean high quality; (b) the longer the list of ingredients (which tends to be more common amongst expensive products), the greater the chance that my skin will be irritated; (c) eye creams are a complete waste of money, since regular moisturizer is all you need; (d) layering multiple products on your skin can lead to irritation; and (e) “natural” means very little. The term “natural” is not regulated in the cosmetics industry, so there are no assurances. Further a lot of “natural” ingredients can be very irritating, especially many essential oils that these products often contain. My goal is to use the fewest number of items, to use products for different purposes and, as always, to generate as little waste as possible

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Evening routine

I rinse with warm water, then apply CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser to damp skin, and wipe off with an Erase Your Face cloth, which I use also to remove any eye makeup. I rinse my face with warm water and pat dry with a microfibre facecloth, as I find cotton cloths too harsh on my skin. I know that these cloths can release microfibre particles into the water, but my face really can’t handle cotton well. The added advantage of both these cloths is that I can wash them in the evening and they will be dry for use the next day; this allows me to have only one of each. While my face is still slightly damp, I apply some hyaluronic acid from Canadian company The Ordinary, including to my neck and around the eyes. Once the serum has dried, I apply CeraVe moisturizing cream to my face, eye area, and neck. This moisturizing cream doubles as my hand and body cream.

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Morning routine

I don’t cleanse or rinse my face in the morning. I know this may sound a little shocking to some, but doing so dries out my face too much. I’ve checked with some dermatologists, who told me that it’s perfectly fine for me to do this. I simply apply a sunscreen on my face and neck, and some CeraVe cream around the eyes. I use the Canadian Live Clean Mineral Face Sunscreen SPF 45. Many mineral sunscreens are very greasy, but this one absorbs well. As is typical with mineral sunscreens, it leaves a bit of a white cast initially, but this is not a problem with my skin tone. I use this sunscreen on exposed body parts if I go outside during the day.

Exfoliation

I don’t exfoliate my face; my skin simply can’t tolerate it. I find that massaging the jojoba oil is enough to help shift any dead skin cells. I’ve had face burns from using exfoliators, even those that were marketed as gentle. The worst experience is when I used a facial clay; my skin was the colour of a ripe tomato and was very hot to the touch and inflamed for several hours. As for my body, I use a dry body brush once a week.

Tally of products:

  • 2 facecloths
  • Hyaluronic acid (glass bottle)
  • Moisturizing cream (face, hands, and body)
  • Facial sunscreen (doubles as body sunscreen)
  • Dry body brush (wood)
Minimalism

Paring down my makeup collection

I’ve been paring down my makeup up collection significantly over the past two years. The older I get, the less makeup I want to wear. I prefer to focus on taking very good care of my skin so that I don’t need products to cover it up.

Most of my makeup is made by Pure Anada, a Canadian company that sells vegan products with minimal packaging. I have the compact featured in the image above, which has a magnetic base. You buy items such as powder foundations, blush, and eye shadow that come in metal bases that you place in the compact to customize your mix. The refills come in cardboard containers that are infused with wildflower seeds that you can plant.

My entire makeup collection consists of the following items:

Eyebrow pencil: Pure Anada sells a loose eyebrow powder, but I’ve learned the hard way that loose powders around the eyes don’t work for me, as I invariably get some in my eyes. I have thin brows that need filling in. I prefer to use a pencil that you can sharpen, as this creates minimal waste. I use the Taupe eyebrow pencil by Annabelle, another Canadian company.

Concealer: I use concealer around my eyes. I use prescription eye drops that cause ocular hyperaemia and the darkening of the skin around my eyes. As a result, I need a concealer that has high coverage, is waterproof and won’t cake. The best concealer to meet my needs is Bye Bye Under Eye by It Cosmetics in Light Nude. The container is small, but you use very little, as the concealer is very concentrated.

Eyeliner: I use eyeliner sparingly. Most people think I’m wearing eyeliner when I’m not because I have a naturally dark lash line, especially on the lower lashes. I’m very lucky to have long, thick lashes. I will sometimes wear a very thin line on the upper lid. I use the Brown Pureline eye pencil from Pure Anada.

Eye shadow: I own only two shades, and I wear only one at a time. I couldn’t be bothered with contouring the eye area with 2-3 shades. My irises are almost black in colour, and if I wear too much around the eyes, they stand too much in contrast with my pale skin. I have the following shades: Harmony, which is matte lilac grey, and Mirage, which is a grey brown.

Mascara: Mascara is a must for me; it’s my proverbial desert island item. I use the KVD Go Big or Go Home mascara in black.

Blush: I don’t particularly like to wear blush, but if I don’t, I often get asked if I am feeling well, or told that I look tired. I use Sweet Pea pressed blush from Pure Anada.

Arrowroot starch: Yes, I know this sounds a little strange. I stopped wearing foundation over the past few months, as I got tired of staining my COVID-19 face masks. I’ve found that my skin looks better if I don’t wear foundation. I wear sunscreen every day (SPF 50) regardless of weather, and reapply it during the day; I would prefer not to do this over a layer of foundation. I wear sunscreen if I’m staying indoors, too, since UVA-A can penetrate windows. I’ve been wearing sunscreen daily since I was in my late teens, and I avoid the sun religiously at all times, which means my skin is in good shape with little discolouration. I do like a matte look to the face, however (sunscreen can add a sheen). The best translucent powder I’ve found is arrowroot starch, the plant-based starch that is used as a thickening agent for foods (similar to corn starch). I buy it in bulk and carry some in my handbag in a small container. It imparts no colour on the skin, but makes the skin look polished.

Lipstick: Lipstick is a difficult area for me, as I am very particular about what I wear. I hate lip glosses, as they always travel around the mouth. I don’t like satin lipsticks for the same reason. Because I’m pale, I need to avoid lipsticks that are too close to my lip colour, as otherwise I look too tired. My lipstick of choice is Gabriel Cosmetics in the shade walnut.

And that’s the extent of my makeup: 9 items. I have only two brushes: one for eye shadow, and one for blush and arrowroot application. Everything fits in a small bag and I use every item that I own.