Paris To Go

Zero Waste Beauty Routine

Weck jars with bulk coconut oil and baking soda for deodorant / oil pulling / toothpaste / moisturizer / makeup remover, handmade soap, Merkur razor

My sister tells this story from when we were in high school and I saw another girl wearing blue mascara. I made her stop wearing it because that was my thing. A fellow classmate claims I made her take it off in the bathroom, but more likely I simply issued a strong warning. I was such a horrible person then. I'm actually still horrible, it just doesn't translate as well on the internet. 

I have a complicated relationship with makeup, since I wasn't allowed to wear it until I was like 16. Of course, I sneaked around, applying friends' products as soon as I got to school in the morning. I loved experimenting with different eyeliner colors especially, lending a look that was less Kylie Jenner, more Alice Cooper / Diane Lane circa Fabulous Stains (I still don't know how to apply eyeliner). Now I go back and forth between wearing it and not. I don't usually use foundation anymore, but after saying I was giving up all makeup, I bought some almonds that tasted bad and turned them into homemade khol. I'm also using up some of my friends' unwanted cosmetics right now- blush and Burt's Bees lip balm- which would have gone to waste otherwise. I use Ecotools bamboo brushes to apply blush, foundation (Tarte Amazonian Clay foundation in two shades, the lighter shade as concealer) or eyeliner- it makes a big difference. If I want, I set everything with cornstarch. Sometimes I use beetroot powder instead of blush for a different shade.

I wear makeup for myself only though, when I feel like it. I don't really care if people see me with or without anymore. I find most guys, including my husband and brother and dad, are so clueless when it comes to cosmetics anyway. Whenever I hear some trifling white boy say he prefers a "natural look," he's usually referring to an array of contouring, highlighting, and translucent powder products requiring at least 40 minutes to apply.

This stupid picture is a screenshot from a video where I fell and broke that log

Still using nothing but water for face and hair- in April it will be two years without shampoo. I break out only when I'm severely stressed now, but everything heals quickly and doesn't scar. I'm not sorry to say that I love my hair finally. It's big and grows so fast and long and never falls out. I do nothing with it these days- no brushing, no more rag or pin curls, hardly any scalp massage. At most, I'll toss my hair when I wake up to restore body. I wear it loose to sleep and wash it once a month with water, rinsing after a workout (I don't really work out) or swim, or if I feel I've been in really polluted air. If I play sports or something, I tie it up just to keep it off my neck and it's fine. Before swimming, I coat my hair in oil first- olive oil, coconut oil, whatever I find in bulk.

I can't tell if using castor oil as an eyelash conditioner makes them longer or not, but they're definitely thicker and fall out less without the weird side effects of Latisse (coconut oil or coconut cream is fine if you can't find castor oil in bulk). Drinking 3L of water per day absolutely does wonders for skin and hair. Finer pores, less prominent dark circles, smoother skin- everything's better. I fill an old swingtop limonade bottle four times a day, drinking two in the morning and two at night. With Paris' hard water, I still get enough minerals for this to be ok.

So now my routine is: Wash my face at night with a washcloth, which is usually enough to remove any makeup that I wear. If it's not, coconut or olive oil removes eye makeup. My mascara is currently homemade because RMS Beauty changed the formula for the volumizing mascara and I didn't like Kjaer Weis. RMS Beauty is too clumpy, messy, and difficult to wash off; Kjaer Weis struck me as dry and useless. It didn't lengthen or anything :( This new batch of homemade mascara doesn't smudge in the pool but comes off easily with a washcloth and separates and defines lashes so well. It isn't always like that- sometimes I'm not paying attention and the recipe comes out way different- ah, the joys of homemade cosmetics. I still use Aleppo soap for showering and shaving whenever I can find it, and moisturize with oil if necessary, but since it's harder to come by now, I supplement with vegan, palm oil free lavender soap my friend made. I take the ends and stick them in my closet to freshen clothes until I get around to using them. Above, Levi's wedgie icon jeans, American Apparel cotton spandex off the shoulder top and high waist skirt, Nike Air Force 1 Flyknits, all secondhand except the shoes, a gift from my husband.

Paris to Go

Zero Waste Minimalist Wardrobe, Part MMMCMXCIX


The reaction people have when they find out how small my wardrobe is is usually the same as when ODB interrupted Shawn Colvin at the Grammys to say Wu Tang Clan is "for the children... we teach the children. You know what I mean?" Since my life is somehow following the same trajectory as both Becky Sharp and Dorothea Brooke (if you don't know who they are, watch Maggie Rogers' 'Alaska,' then listen to Beyonce's Lemonade), my style is changing considerably. Now instead of dressing like a senator's wife I need to dress like a real person who does stuff apart from picking out new wallpaper for the great room. Since we moved to Pigalle, my wardrobe has become nothing but black eco-rib tops from Reformation, cotton spandex, and vintage Levi's, all of which make sense for devouring Albert Camus’ unabridged works on the way to Playground Duperre. I haven't worn white sneakers since 5th grade and now I practically live in them- I love the sound they don't make when I don't play basketball in them. Only my trusty trench coat, which garners inspiration from John Cusack's character in Say Anything, and Dior dresses remain.

My accessories are mostly the same- six pairs shoes (Nike Dunks and Air Force 1's, Louboutins, boots, Ferragamos, espadrilles for summer), Longchamp bag, two rings. I lost my sunglasses in Oman and considered ethical options including a secondhand Gentle Monster pair (because I'm Korean) and secondhand Dior (because I'm basic), but my eyes ended up being squinty enough for me not to need them. I kept the white ribbed squareneck American Apparel tank top, white t-shirts, and plaid Isabel Marant shirt because they're useful, as appropriate in Sultan Qaboos' Grand Mosque as sitting on a bale of hay by the fire in Cleveland, roasting marshmallows and melting tires.


Since nobody makes eco-and-wallet-friendly lingerie in my size yet, my options resemble the plight of many single women today- to either exist without a supportive relationship forever or eventually be like, "This'll do." I've settled for non-vegan Stella McCartney: French Calais lace and silk, organic-cotton gussets, recycled metal hardware. I have the Clara Whispering and Isabel floating sets- like Asian eyelashes, my thoracic region essentially points straight down, so thick straps are important. I also wear old pure wool and solar powered Elin Nude / Stefanie seam Swedish Stockings.

Back to the new (secondhand) items. My jeans are 100% cotton Levi's, one Wedgie icon and one high rise short (thought they were both vintage but noticed they had tags). Both are size 25 and respond well to freezer washing (just stick in the freezer a day), but they stretch out a lot, so I recommend sizing down. I love pure cotton jeans so much. I love the marks they get and the nice sheen developing as a result of moisturizing with coconut oil before wearing. I still have the J Brand Maria high rise, which seem thin and disappointing after Levi's. For now, I mostly just wear them around the house. 

I heard mixed things about Reformation, specifically how high prices are for synthetic fabrics. The eco rib is substantial, warm, and durable; the sizing charts, spot on. You have to wash synthetics by hand and dump the water into a houseplant, but otherwise my shirts- an Edison dress shortened into a tunic (XS), and Piper top (S)- are perfect. You can throw them in the freezer to freshen them up too. Same for an American Apparel bodysuit, navy Ryder dress, henley dress, foil ponte dress, cropped top and high waist skirt; Petit Bateau black t-shirt, H&M ribbed lace-up shirt, and H&M tank. I got a Closet dress from Asos' Eco Edit because I wanted something red and I got attacked in my red Dior dress (also in my Prada shirtdress). Nothing bad happened to me and nothing was stolen; I just didn't want to wear those clothes after that. I gave one dress to my sister and sold the other.

I had my skirt and navy, black, and grey Dior dresses taken in, handwashed my alpaca hat, gloves, and sweater, and bought a black American Apparel bikini plus a purple wool coat. Those are all the wardrobe updates I have for now. If I'm not wrong, that's 40 items (including a bamboo slip dress and bandeau from TranquiliT), not counting socks or lingerie? I wear the henley dress and white t-shirts primarily at home- I used to wear the dress outside, but then my friend's daughter called it "pajamas" so it's a nightgown mostly now. If I need to run out or answer the door unexpectedly, it still looks okay. Anyway the links are really ugly in this post. Sorry. Pictured here are most of my outfits in the wild, undoubtedly inspired by all the images of Sarah Michelle Gellar I was exposed to during my formative years. I'll try to photograph the other new stuff soon.


Paris to Go

Ten Ways to Travel Zero Waste

One of the most exciting (and frustrating, for someone who needs control as much as me) things about my life is I never know where I’m going. I often need to be ready to pack up and move at a moment’s notice, and owning very few things makes this okay, so long as wherever I’m headed, there’s gluten free food. Traveling is the only time I find it easy to talk to people, because they always wonder what ethnicity I am and where else I've been. It takes so long explaining that, they never realize I'm actually very boring and simply managed to collect a bunch of crazy experiences, in much the same manner as Forrest Gump. Best of all, no matter what city I visit, whether it's Shanghai or Tokyo or Istanbul or Muscat, I always find something that reminds me of Cleveland- like flying over Paris at night and seeing the city lights sparkle reminds me of catching fireflies as a kid. Unfortunately, flying is one of the biggest carbon sins, accounting for over 3/4 of my emissions. One round trip flight from Cleveland to Paris creates at least 3 tons of carbon dioxide for which I alone am responsible. Written like this, it really sinks in, like that time I found out Gossip Girl was a guy :( Apart from doing my yearly Carbotax offset, there are things I try to do to minimize impact while traveling.

  1. Embrace e-tickets. Download tickets instead of printing them, and use electronic visas where possible. E-tickets are available for most attractions these days- at Versailles and Giverny, for instance. It's estimated one email emits 4 grams of CO2, whereas a letter-size sheet of paper emits 140 grams, embodied energy of smartphones and printers notwithstanding. Factoring in the fact that you can't compost airline tickets, e-tickets win.
  2. Carry on only. If you're water only and use baking soda as deodorant and rich bar soap for everything else, you can get away with not even using a plastic bag for liquids. That being said, I now travel with a Weck 080 mini mold jar of coconut oil (using the same size jar for baking soda) for oil pulling (it's also a great makeup remover, moisturizer, post-Brazilian treatment etc.). I take palm oil-free bar soap in a small linen drawstring bag and use a clear TSA approved zip bag from Muji that my mom gave me for liquids, which usually amounts to just coconut oil and hummus. Bonus points if your carry-on is secondhand- mine is a secondhand Rimowa.
  3. Refill drinking utensils after security. Sometimes they won't refill your cup or canteen on the plane, especially on short domestic flights. On longer flights, I find that if they won't refill at your seat, they will at the back of the plane. It still comes from those giant water bottles, but at least you're sparing a plastic cup and unnecessary napkin. And yes, mason jars are allowed on airplanes. They'll even let you take glass or ceramic mugs.
  4. Refuse amenities. Bring a napkin (mine is actually an Ikea Elly towel), headphones, a big scarf to use as blanket, eye mask (I don't even have one as my eyes are already squinty enough), pillow (I just use a bunched up sweater, but there are organic fill ones), and socks (my grandpa's pure wool hand-me-downs. Swedish Stockings is an ethical option). I'm as tempted by Givenchy shaving kits and oversized Van Laack pajamas as the next person, but increased vulnerability to climate change is not worth looking like a luxe version of that scary clown from Big Comfy Couch.
  5. Pack food and utensils. I always bring almonds, goji berries, apples, vegan peanut butter cups (I need them for writing), and dehydrated veggie chips purchased in bulk because they fill me up, fit nicely in light drawstring bags, and bypass even the tightest security. I should know- I'm apparently on a watch list because of some of the countries I've been to and an astonishing number of one way tickets / last minute flights. In the end, I don't have anything left to compost, since I eat apple cores and stems. Carry a lightweight stainless steel tiffin for compostables, call ahead to opt out of the airline meal, and bring some all natural, plastic-free Glee Gum so your ears don't pop. 
  6. Bring your own pen. The one I use is Caran d'Ache because you can buy refills in Paris. Midori's brass ballpoint pen looks nice and classy, like something Joan Collins would use to sign checks while sipping martinis in Dynasty.
  7. Take public transport. Or walk everywhere. Sorry to be obvious but I needed to put this in here to make ten steps. We rented a car for our last few trips though.
  8. Don't forget reusables. A few foldable shopping bags; a little tiffin to take away berries, gluten-free baklava, kimchi, or vegan GF matcha cookies; and a mason jar should be all you need, lightweight enough to carry all day. Pack a menstrual cup and handkerchiefs, as always. Regarding razors- I saved my last plastic cartridge for travel, but I've just been taking my regular safety razor for years now. Nobody's said anything (I'd recommend carrying the blade separately, however, or checking it in). Same with my bamboo toothbrush and makeup brushes, although one commenter pointed out you can get stopped at customs for bringing wood into some countries.
  9. Travel differently. Choose ecologically or culturally important destinations, and make the most of your time there by volunteering, staying in a homestay, or an Airbnb instead of a hotel. For instance, in Kuala Lumpur you can volunteer at Free Tree Society, or in Bali at Green School.
  10. Just say no. If none of these steps are possible, simply refuse a plastic straw when eating out or ask for a reusable mug instead of a disposable cup. And order vegan instead :) A latte emits 340g of carbon because of milk, and if one more person tries to tell me almond milk is worse than dairy because it uses a lot of water, I will lose it. I will dissolve into a mobile puddle of water and glow brightly like Alex Mack when she's angry!

Paris to Go