Winter Wellness Rituals, A Mega Post

So. I’ve been ruminating and rewriting this post over the past few months. This is going to wrap up a lot of last year’s personal projects and what I’ve learned. And I’ve tried my best to organize it all in such a way that I don’t seem an incoherent, crazy person to you. I know, I’m such a good friend.


Have you ever started a small project in one area of your life, only to find it quietly take strong roots in other places? Each time I stand behind an idea and build a routine around it, something new in my core beliefs is also unearthed. Like a polaroid in the open air, I find that when I potter away on my little projects, the bigger picture develops all on its own.


And so if my mission to edit down my closet and the Nothing New project have taught me anything, it’s to more aggressively question what I buy and keep, and why. When I pointed that lens at my makeup drawer it led me to think more about the brands I’m supporting and to remember that skin is a living, breathing organism that needs a healthy diet to function well. If I wouldn’t put it in my mouth, how healthy is it to put on my face every day?


After cleaning out my beauty bag last summer I became more aware of social and environmental beauty purchasing impacts, and drew up a few body and home care guidelines. Combine them with an obsession with multi-purpose products and my beauty routine has started to resemble a pantry raid.

  • Phase out products that are tested on animals or contain any toxic ingredients
  • Support naturally-minded brands that give back
  • Feed my skin and body more vitamins


And speaking of the kitchen, last year led to a few diet changes, as well. Way less sugar. Way more greens! No more red meat, which many friends and family have questioned as I grew up on a farm with a herd of beef cattle. I am only eating animals I would willingly butcher myself, like chicken and fish. Mentioning that bit during a meal has led to many a squinched-up face, but really, it’s little different than any other purchase, isn’t it? If you’re uncomfortable with the means by which something ends up in your closet or medicine cabinet, why should that principle not apply to what’s on the grocery list?


Changing my diet was probably the point that I realized that all of these decisions are connected and need to live in agreement with one another – from the wardrobe, to the shower, to the pantry, to the dinner table. And in this process I am finally beginning to equalize the amount of respect, attention, and care that I give to myself and to the world around me. So without further ado, here are ten winter wellness rituals supporting a healthier and happier body and mind.


  • Beauty bag // I’ve continued to whittle my makeup routine, which is currently made up of RMS, Oille Natural, Eyeko, Kiehl’s, Trader Joe’s serum, and a tube of Yu-Be Japanese chapstick.
  • Layering creams // After hearing this tip over drinks with a friend one night, I’ve started layering face creams every morning and night. I start with Oille Natural face serum, brush my teeth, add Vitamin C filled Trader Joe’s serum, and finish a few minutes later with a lotion or coconut oil as an extra-strength moisturizer. Another friend who is also a dermatologist a-okayed this routine and lauded wearing a Vitamin C serum during the day. These steps have been my skin’s saving grace through a cold and dry winter.
  • Tea time // To fight tired eyes and clarify skin, I’ll squeeze the warmth of a leftover Earl Grey teabag all around my face, let it dry, and rinse off. This has been especially useful to get rid of problems spots after not-so-healthy holiday parties.
  • Eggscellent facial // When my face could use a nourishing reboot, I’ll brush on an egg white face mask. Just coat your face with one egg white and let it dry, gently rub off with a dry wash cloth, then rinse with warm water for a soft face that feels brand new. The protein and amino acids are so good on delicate skin.


  • Moisturizing // With the onset of winter I’ve switched to a heavier moisturizer (my old stand-by Kiehl’s Creme de Corps), but am still using coconut oil every few days as I did in Autumn Rituals.
  • The natural deodorant saga // Last month I switched to EO Citrus Organic Deodorant Spray, as my Piperwai cream wasn’t working well with lots of layers of clothing. I’ve also started taking a spoonful of each morning, which acts as a natural deodorant from the inside out and offers a bunch of other benefits (Make sure you opt for an organic brand, and of course, before you start taking any new supplement you should research it!).
  • Coffee scrub // Over the summer I’d save coffee grounds for a weekly body scrub in the shower (Northwest Pharmacy has it right – please say no to microbeads). Gemma of Buff Beauty had the fab idea to add coconut oil to the scrub. I love her.


  • Lazy waves // This is now one of my favorite hairstyles. Leave your hair french braided for two days, then pull off the elastic tie and shake your hair out. If you take a hot shower in between, don’t wash your hair – just let the steam soak into the braid and then air dry. Easiest beach waves of all time.
  • Heavy clarifying // Once a month, I’ll opt for a super clarifying treatment of mixing a tablespoon of baking soda into my shampoo (opening and scrubbing the hair shaft), massaging it all through my hair, rinsing it out with water, then rinsing again with half a cup of apple cider vinegar diluted into a few cups of water (sealing the hair shaft back). I’ve been doing this every month or two since high school, but have recently noticed a lot of people doing it twice a week as “no-poo” shampooing – you will wreak holy hell on your hair deep cleaning it eight times a month. All things in moderation!
  • Light clarifying // If my hair is feeling delicate I’ll skip the baking soda and apple cider, and instead I’ll pour a beer over my hair. Yep, a beer. If I’m feeling extra sassy I’ll bring two beers in the shower – one for me, one for the luscious locks.
  • Nourishing // Did you know you can condition your hair with raw honey? Mix a dollop of honey into a cup of hot water, then use the mixture like a combined shampoo/conditioner every couple of weeks. I like to use a local spicy honey, which has a little cayenne pepper and vinegar in it.


  • Activated Charcoal // I’m still all about brushing with activated charcoal once a week. Also loving my  and have ditched the electric toothbrush altogether.
  • Mouthwash // A few months ago I added to my cabinet. It is so, so lovely.
  • Chlorofresh // As mentioned in the skin section, I’ve started on a daily spoonful of Chlorofresh, which is touted to be good for your mouth, too!
  • Whitening // I’ve gotten better about drinking coffee and tea through a straw (no stains to remove = no need to use stain removers). This year I’ll likely get to tote around in my purse. Maybe I should also eat more teeth whitening foods, considering the courageous alternative of publicly stabbing a nice glass of Malbec with a personal metal straw.


  • Vata Calming // In keeping with a recent look at Ayurvedic living, this winter I am calming my Vata and sticking to warm and hot drinks. I can hardly stand to have any drink over ice!
  • Lemons // I’m also trying to start every day with hot water with half a lemon squeezed in. If I start to feel a little down, I revert to my Autumn Rituals super tea of hot lemon water, honey, lemon, ginger, and pepper.
  • Toddies // When out and about with friends, hot toddies are my go-to drink for a winter night of socializing. Here’s how I like to make them.


  • At the Grocery // As mentioned towards the start of this very long post, 2014 was the year I started to better understand the importance of feeding my mind and body from the inside out, and eating at one with my beliefs. No more red meat, way fewer processed foods. The grocery bill has gone up a tick, but I’m buying more raw and energy-packed foods than ever.
  • Ayurvedic Foods // In keeping with the calming of the Vata, I’m sticking to warm, mushy, nourshing foods this season – lots of soups. One of my favorite finds is this easy banana + eggs = pancake recipe.


  • Greens // Every morning I stir a scoop of Green Vibrance Powder into a citrus-based juice. The strong taste of citrus cuts out the grassy greens taste. I’ve also found it to taste just fine if you add a scoop to a blueberry smoothie or cup of flavored yogurt.
  • The Plague // After surviving everyone (everyone) in our office coming down with seasonal bugs, I’ve stopped taking as you’re only supposed to take it while your immune system is attacked. It was wonderful stuff. I ended up sharing it with colleagues and was able to avoid the worst of the strains that made their way from office to office. I’m now back on a good old Trader Joe’s women’s multivitamin.
  • Vitamin D // This year I’m trying to get more sunshine. My work office has no window, so I’m eating lunch outside as weather allows, telecommuting when possible, and spending more of my weekends outside until Daylight Savings gives me a little more sunlight after 5:00 pm.


  • Starting Slow // I fell off the fitness wagon altogether after what I now can see was an extraordinarily stressful 2013 that carried its way over into 2014. I am keen to start this year gently with more yoga, the occasional jog, long walks, and when it warms up a bit, biking more often. And maybe, maybe Ballet Beautiful. That Mary Helen means business.
  • Yoga Journaling // This hasn’t happened yet, but I’m hoping to start back on a yoga journal. I enjoy using yoga as a time for meditation, then afterward taking a few minutes to write down anything interesting that came to mind, notes on how my body and mind feels, finding my breath. That whole lot. I need to be more disciplined about making yoga and journaling happen every day.


  • Balance // This is my word for 2015, and it’s another ritual that I’m still working on. I have figured out a scheduling and to-do system that works well for me, have found the words to gracefully say no so that I have more room to say yes when I really want to – now I’m tackling productivity.
  • Media Diet // I have become more selective in my media consumption, and realized last week that I’d gone nearly a month without checking in on my Bloglovin’ feed. I’ve spent a lot of time catching up with family and friends over the holidays, and my introverted little soul is now building energy back with Ted Talks, Netflix, and getting back to blogging.
  • Resolutions // I’ve worked out my intentions for 2015, and am ready to start meditating with the Anamaya app.


  • Better home // I’ve set to work on making our home a better place. I’m adding , water and air purifiers, fresh bed linens, and continuing to green our kitchen and bath products. I know most home updates will be a test of patience, as many items are going onto our wedding registry and will have to wait until this fall!
  • Mini closet assessment // This weekend I went through a little round of closet cleaning and finally found the courage to toss everything with an underwire. Life is too short to wear uncomfortable underpinnings! And as my year of Nothing New is over, I’m in the market for a bathing suit and some basic tee shirts. I’m happy to report that the end of the project was anticlimactic and I haven’t gone on any shopping sprees. I think going a year of hunting for used clothing has permanently changed my approach to shopping – and that’s a good thing.
  • Minimalism // Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about minimalism, the idea of “enough”, and on fitting in versus standing out. I don’t have anything ground-breaking to report on this front, but would love to hear others’ thoughts on the subject.

Especially in winter, I’ve noticed that sticking to a good morning ritual completes my routine for a calm and content body and mind. Lou & Grey curated a band of eco-minded American beauty makers who brewed up the stuff of my beauty bag daydreams:

Find the ingredients label on any Oille Natural bottle and you’ll know why adore this company. Evening primrose. Roman chamomile. Safflower oil. Lavender. Patchouli! Every serum mixed up by clinical aromatherapist and SCAD fine arts grad Kirsten King is built from organic ingredients, and each one makes my skin feel and smell brand spanking new. Morning and night, Oille Natural’s nourishing face serum and body serum are keeping my skin soft and super clear. Oille Natural ℅: Available at Oille Naturals.

And speaking of organic ingredients, add bourbon vanilla, tobacco leaf, and balsam fir to the list. MCMC is very practiced in bringing vibrantly modern takes to old-world French perfumery recipes, and Hunter is just one example that offers no gender, age, or era bias. Although the company is only half a decade old, their perfumes feel like they’ve been around forever and ever.

The moment I first smelled MCMC Fragrances’ Hunter perfume oil, it was as if I’d just come home. Envelopingly warm yet also green and bright, Hunter is a bottled version of a favorite flannel shirt, a snowy walk with an old friend, sleepy mornings by a roaring fire. In Hunter you’ll catch notes of fresh fir resin, hot whiskey, dark tonka bean, and just a hint of sweet lavendar. There’s also something that instantly reminds you of a forest floor after a long rain, something lush and fern-like. The French like to call this fougère – I like to call it the only perfume I’m wearing for the foreseeable future.

MCMC Fragrances ℅: Available in , , and as a candle.

Rounding out the bunch is Buckler’s Chapped Lip Remedy. A little minty, a lot moisturizing, this is a big treat in a little tube for the inevitably dry lips that come with the transition from fall to winter. And at $7 a pop, I can grab a few for the coming months, and a few more for friends and family as gifting season draws near. Update: I ran out of Buckler’s and switched to .

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