This Is Why Swedish Girls Are So Happy All the Time
Korea gave us an unrivaled new approach to skincare.; French girls remain the utmost inspiration for effortlessly cool hair and makeup. But Scandinavia's offering to the global realm of beauty is a little less tangible and perhaps a tad more salient: In Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, there's a specific emphasis on self-care and general well-being. (There's a reason why these countries, in spite of freezing temps and near-constant darkness for part of the year, are among the happiest in the world.)
It became all too clear that the rest of the world was taking notice of this way of life when hygge became a buzzword last year—one could argue that the hype surrounding the Danish concept of coziness almost rivaled that of Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up ($10). But for the Scandi-obsessed, there's a new concept to consider—this time, out of Sweden. While hygge was about surrounding yourself only with objects, people, and rituals that evoked warmth and happiness, lagom employs the art of minimalism to achieve the same ends. It directly translates to "just the right amount."
And with high-profile endorsements from everywhere from Vogue to (of course) IKEA, the concept is rapidly picking up steam. "Lagom is very much a part of everyday life," Niki Brantmark, author of Modern Pastoral, tells our sister site MyDomaine. "The Scandinavian home strikes the perfect balance between minimalism and over-cluttered, resulting in a clean, calm space that is also warm and inviting." But while décor might seem like the most obvious outlet for lagom, there's no reason why this abstract notion can't be applied to all aspects of your daily routine—in turn, making you healthier and happier.
And, it must be said: It's a great way to get a head start on spring cleaning. Below, find our tips for applying lagom to your beauty regimen.
1. Pare down your vanity to just the essentials.
Fact: Clutter stresses us out, and letting go of clutter stresses us out even more. It's a vicious cycle, but starting with your beauty routine might be a good way to dip your toes into minimalism rather than diving straight in.
Your easiest plan of attack should be to clear out anything that has expired straight away—that means year-old lipstick and mascara, anything with a funky smell or color, and grimy makeup sponges. After that, you might have to make some tough decisions. No one likes to throw out money they spent, but it's not worth it if it's just taking up space on the off chance that you might need fuschia eye shadow one day. Be honest about the formulas that you really use on a daily or near-daily basis, and toss or give away the rest. If you're struggling, try a paradigm shift: You're not throwing stuff away, but simply curating the best of the best. In other words, you're your own beauty editor!
2. Choose formulas with simple, recognizable ingredients.
If only all beauty products had "just the right amount," right? We wouldn't have to worry about crazy additives and unnecessary toxins, and our skin (and hair and bodies) would only reap the benefits. To be fair, it does seem as if lagom is already infiltrating the market—there have never been so many plant-powered products that are as effective as they are clean, and dermatologists have noted a return to basic, tried-and-true formulas like Cetaphil. (Even bar soap is having a comeback.) Still, it's up to us to read labels and choose products with ingredient lists that are short and sweet.
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3. Prioritize sustainability.
On a similar note, lagom and an eco-friendly mindset go hand in hand. (After all, we certainly can't compromise wasting energy and resources with "just the right of amount.") IKEA even goes so far as to declare lagom "the secret to sustainable living." In addition to shopping smarter and sticking only to essentials in your regimen, you might consider recycling empty jars and containers for other uses—perhaps even for DIY formulas if you're looking to doubly commit. (FWIW, I like to infuse jojoba oil with lavender and tea tree essential oils for the ultimate winter moisturizer, and I store the finished mixture in a recycled spray bottle for easy application.)
4. Emphasize happiness and self-care over better skin and hair.
That's not to say that you're necessarily forgetting about vanity entirely; rather, the idea is that by putting the process of self-care first, you'll reap better results, and feel healthier and more content to boot. It's about recognizing that self-fulfillment is as much a part of your beauty routine as, say, washing your face—taking the time for a five-minute breathing exercise or to read your favorite book every night is constructive for your mind and body. And if you're really keeping score, you'd be surprised how much your skin behaves when you find ways to unwind every day.
Beyond that, a lot of self-care practices are minimal by nature (and free, too). Choosing experiences and feeling over things—that's the true essence of lagom.
See more simple ideas to take better care of yourself this year.