A Day in the Life: What's Inside My Minimalist Medicine Cabinet?

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Welcome to the first of "A Day in the Life" post, where we pull back the curtain on small habits, routines, and objects that make a New Minimalist's life go round.

The reason for "A Day in the Life" is simple: this is the information I wish were around when I was making my transition to a simplified lifestyle.   

Back in 2010 I was able to read some amazing books and websites on the reasons for going minimalist (time for your inner work, for your relationships, for your passions) and the biggest rewards of this lifestyle (lightness, ease, freedom, $$$).  But there were virtually no examples of what this life actually looks like, day-to-day.  

I had this longing to follow around a minimalist and learn the straight up details of this lifestyle I'd never witnessed in person.  

What's in your medicine cabinet?  How many pairs of socks do you own?  Do you have formal event wear?  Where do your guests sleep?  What do you clean your kitchen with?  

And while I used to think I was alone in this curiosity, the majority of questions we get on this site and from clients are about this exactly -- the small things.

So I'm pulling back the curtain and sharing these day-to-day experiences with you.  My life is not meant to be a rule of how you must do things if you want to be a minimalist.  Not at all.  But it's one version of New Minimalism and is full of little things that I've spent the majority of the past 5 years thinking about, researching, testing out and living with.  

So, much like how we feel about things, please take whatever is useful to you and leave the rest.

What's Inside My Minimalist Medicine Cabinet?

Cleanliness makes me happy.  I like visual order, I love crisp sheets, I wash my feet each night before going to sleep and I lose it a little when my husband puts something that goes on the ground outside (work bags, shoes, suitcases) on our the bed.  

But in the past few years as I've focused on creating simple routines and removing excessive/unwanted/duplicative objects from my life, toiletries and medicines were one of the biggest areas of change.

Inside our shower 


Conspicuously missing from our shower is one item: shampoo.  Both Cam (my better half) and I are 'Poo Free and I must say our hair has never looked better.  Turns out shampoo is full of harsh chemicals and detergents that clean dirt but also strip our hair and scalp of crucial natural oils.  Then we apply conditioner full of artificial oils and chemicals to deal with how dry and brittle we've made it.  And our scalps go crazy producing tons more oil that they would like to because we've dried them out so badly.  Then we need more shampoo...

Cam has been totally shampoo free for almost five years after reading one article about the benefits (though he occasionally uses traditional conditioner when his hair feels dry).  I didn't get on board until about 16 months ago when I started with the baking soda and vinegar routine (I just wasn't ready for a multi-week adjustment period that happens when you go cold turkey).  This left my hair still feeling dry and a little bit overly textured (though people swear by it).  

I began using Cleansing Creme by Purely Perfect at Kyle's recommendation 9 months ago, and guys, I am in love.  My whole life I've had dry, curly hair that errs on the side of serious frizz whenever there is moisture in the air.  Cleansing Creme has made my hair texture completely change: it's thicker, stronger, with softer waves, no oil and no friz.  

It's not cheap by any means at $40 a pop, but I only use 2.5 bottles a year (and find I can continue to use less and wash less often).  And my new frizz-free, crazy healthy hair makes me really happy.  Also, for those of us in this California drought, it's pretty great to only have one hair treatment rather than two!  

Behind our mirror: my stuff on the top shelf, Cam's on the bottom.


  • Activated charcoal cleansing bar: Much to my dismay, troubled skin seems to be in my DNA.  I've tried every product under the moon (including $100+ .5 oz serums and drying agents that made my skin flake off daily).  It still blows my mind, but the best product I've ever used is a bar soap containing activated charcoal.  Putting black suds on your face is weird at first, but activated charcoal is deeply purifying, all-natural and not drying at all.  Win-win-win.
  • Lotion: Before bed I like to put on a layer of a light, gentle lotion after washing.  The routine is pampering and it helps offset the drying effects of sun exposure and any spot treatments I might use.
  • Sunscreen: This is a must for both Cam and I since we're outside all year long.  He's cool with drugstore versions, I go for San Francisco's SkinSalvation brand for my sensitive skin.
  • Spot treatment: I use Murad's Acne Clearing Solution for any stubborn spots that pop up.  Shit worrrrrrks.


  • Glycerin bar soap (Whole Foods 365 Vegetable Glycerin Soap or Dr. Bronner's are my favorites): Glycerin soap is a great natural cleanser but also quite gentle and often scented with yummy essential oils.  
  • Coconut oil: Since I've made the switch to bar soaps with natural moisturizers (glycerin) and absent of harsh detergents (sodium lauryl sulfate) I really don't need to moisturize my skin.  And this is coming from a woman who used to do a head to toe lotioning routine after every shower. If my skin does happen to get dry for some reason, like we're visiting friends in really dry climates, long flights, a lot of time in the sun hiking or camping, I use coconut oil as a moisturizer.  The same coconut oil I cook with -- how awesome is that?  Side note: coconut oil is also an incredible makeup remover for your face/eyes and great for taming stray flyaway hairs.  
  • Deodorant: 'Cause, you know, stinkies.


Our medical stash.


As for actual meds, we have very few.  Our real focus is on prevention: making sure we exercise and get out in nature, eating food our bodies like, reducing stress wherever possible.  If we ever start to feel crummy our go to is lots of sleep and tea with honey.  However, a few things are musts in our home:

  • Poison Oak Cream + Wash:  Cam and I love to hike and trail run.  Where we live in Northern California that simply means that we're consistently exposed to poison oak.  We keep Tecnu in our shower for washing off oils after being on the trails and a prescription steroid cream for the worst rashes.
  • Bandages:  Necessary for the cooking injuries, skinned knees, and scraped shins that all seem to be a weekly occurrence in our household.  
  • Pain Med:  My mom, sorry, I mean Santa, gives us the little mini travel bottles of Advil or Motrin in our stockings each Christmas and this stash of 20 pills lasts us all year.  


What's in your medicine cabinet?  Take stock of any areas where you have the following and see if you can do some clearing this weekend:

  • Multiple versions of the same type of product, like: four different types of conditioners or hair masks
  • Backstock of one item, e.g.: three Crest toothpaste tubes
  • Just in case items, for example: medicines you purchased or keep in fear that an illness might occur
  • Items consistently expiring before use, often things that fit into the categories above!