I was never the teenager dealing with tons of acne, nor did I have flawlessly even and glowing skin. When living in a dryer climate I lean toward ‘combination’ skin, but in more humid environments it becomes oily. My makeup routine over the past 15 years has ranged at any point in time to include daily foundation, powder, BB cream with SPF to nothing. I’ve lived in and traveled to different places with different weather systems, sweated without showering, worn SPF, burned the hell out of my face and tried countless high end and do it yourself remedies to keep my skin balanced. Some worked and some didn’t, but I always tried to maintain some kind of beauty routine while being willing to try new things as my skin and preferences changed. But I was still well under 30 and I felt like my poor face had seen it all.

The one thing I was never able to beat (until more recently) was Cairo, however. Cairo made my complexion oily, irritated, unbalanced and enlarged and clogged my pores. The pollution of Cairo alone is terrible for skin to deal with, topped with high heat and humidity for most months and heavily treated water, it’s no wonder finding balance was a struggle I couldn’t keep up with. Over several years I tried heavier, creamier washes and moisturizers, lighter ones ‘for oily skin’, numerous exfoliation techniques, face masks, make up with SPF and makeup without (my skin doesn’t love SPF to be honest), but nothing seemed to ease the daily irritation and unpredictability the city caused my complexion.

One day, a couple of years back, a friend of mine came back from abroad with a Scandinavian skin line she hoped would fix her admittedly worse skin issues. The selling point of this line was to actually put oil on your skin to balance it out, whether it was too oily or too dry. As someone with already oily skin I was more than doubtful, it seemed illogical to put more of something where there was already too much, but one night I decided to try some of the products out. The next day my face was noticeably less oily, smoother and glowing. Um, sold! The downside was the products were obviously not available here in Egypt, so what was a girl to do?

After a while of doing some research on this questionable method and also beginning to experiment with and embrace the natural products Egypt does have to offer, I took the plunge into an incredibly minimalist daily beauty regimen; bar soap and oil. Literally so simple that it’s also what I now use for my entire body. Now much closer to 30, I’ve cut out the daily use of preservative loaded and overpriced beauty products and moisturizers and my skin looks and feels all the better for it, to the point where I rarely wear face makeup and am more than happy to leave the house without much more than manicured brows and a little blush. When you go from blotting your face multiple times daily to maybe once a day and weekly extractions and blemish treatments to bi-weekly maintenance and a once a month face mask, there really is no reason to look back.

Though I can’t say my skin is perfect (guys, I am human) I can say that my face and skin has 100% responded kindly to this relaxed care regimen, to where it at least stays balanced-less grease, closed pores and no pimples- no matter what climate or location I find myself in or what time of the month it is. As someone who loves to pack a bag and go, it also keeps my toiletry bag light and uncluttered and saves a ton of time and money in general.

Here’s a breakdown of the products I use, how I often I use them and where you can find them: