15 Must-Haves From the Skincare Minimalist Behind S.W. Basics

By Courtney Balestier |

© Brittany Travis

Nutritionist and skincare minimalist Adina Grigore founded the Brooklyn-based line S.W. Basics to meet the needs of her own sensitive skin—sensitive everything, actually. “I wanted to learn about food and wellness and try to cure myself,” she says. “When I came out of nutrition school, I was eating healthier, cooking more and using natural skincare products—and I’d experienced relief from almost everything except my skin ailments.” For Grigore, simpler was better, but she found that even the most holistic companies on the market relied on complex formulas. She decided to start crafting toners, makeup removers, cleansers and hydrating oils with as few ingredients as possible. (She’s also got a book on the subject, Skin Cleanse, coming out in February.) Here, she shares some of her must-haves, from trendy bulletproof coffee to carbs—no chance she'd give those up. 

How does food play a role in your skin regimen?
Oh my gosh, it’s huge. A big part of Skin Cleanse is food; you cannot separate how you’re eating from how your skin is responding. It’s not just about products. And the world of food inspired me to  go into skincare: It’s such a take-back-your-power kind of movement. I was like, "Wait, why should I know who made my bread and be excited that the ingredient list only has four things, but then I’m using a lotion that has 65 ingredients?"

What’s a typical food day?
I’ve been experimenting with (1) bulletproof coffee. The whole premise is that you’re adding fat to your coffee to make the caffeine smoother, so you don’t have crashes, and it helps regulate your blood sugar. My husband and I have been using goat butter and raw, organic coconut oil, then I’ve been adding honey. And it is the. Best. Thing. Ever. I feel more energetic after. It’s actually become my breakfast; I feel full.

In our office, we’re always eating toast and butter. I love (2) Ezekiel bread, and we just picked up some cinnamon bread from the farmer's market. I just could never part with bread. There are a couple bars I love to eat, too. I get aggravated, though, because similar to skincare, bars are so junky—it’s like I’m eating a candy bar that’s telling me it’s not. One that I’m super into is (3) Square Bar. It’s all coconut-based, so good and filling. And I love (4) Greens Plus bars. We have huge boxes of those at work, and I have them in my bag all the time.

For lunch, (5) Le Gamin has the best French food I’ve had outside France. All the teas come in bowls, too. I love that. In the winter, I’ll order French onion soup and Earl Grey tea, and these hot bowls come over and you’re like, “I feel better now!”

For dinner, (6) Scalino is a new Italian place in our neighborhood where they make all the pasta fresh. I’m actually a very indulgent person—I sounded healthy earlier! What’s nice about it, though, is that the portions are fairly small. I also really like (7) Five Leaves  in Greenpoint and (8) Roberta’s in Bushwick. You go to places in Brooklyn and you’re like, “It’s a pizza place, what’s the big deal?” And then you eat it, and you’re like, no, it’s not just a pizza place. This is like the best thing I’ve ever had.

What do you like to cook?
A lot of (9) sweet potatoes with coconut oil. Really you should just say that my whole diet is butter and coconut oil, because this is what it sounds like! Kale with coconut oil, balsamic vinegar and tamari is the best thing. This is what I mean…everything that I eat is, “What three ingredients can I put together for this?” Oh! And I make my own (10) counter sauerkraut.

Are you a sauerkraut junkie?
Well, a little bit, yes. [My husband] Adam and I make these huge, huge batches of it, because you can do so much with it. I’ve actually started putting it in soups, which might sound weird, but it’s just a really fun sour flavor. And I’ve done a bit of research about how the bacteria for the kind that you make yourself is sometimes healthier—since it’s from your environment—and a little more potent than what's in a jar that you buy. In the fridge right now, we have two jars from the farmers’ market and two jars that are ours. So, yes, kraut junkie, I think that’s accurate.

What else is always in your fridge?
We always have like three different kinds of milk, so rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk. It’s hard, when you have skincare issues, to ignore the dairy thing: Everyone I’ve ever worked with who has perfect skin does not touch dairy. And then like 80 different condiments, because I’m an absolute condiment junkie. We buy everything (11) Sir Kensington’s makes. Anytime I’m at the farmers’ market and there’s some kind of spread, I’m like, “Yeah, we need that.”

Where do you like to shop?
I’m not a fashionable human, but I wear scarves in all seasons. I love the handmade selection from (12) Scarf Shop

The (13) One Well carries our stuff, and I really love it! Everything in the store is either handmade or direct trade; the owner will travel to find stuff from other countries and then bring it back and sell it in the store. I really like places where you know no one’s going to be like, “Oh, I’ve seen that before.” And I’m actually a big fan of (14) Space Ninety 8, the new place owned by Urban Outfitters. It’s four floors, and it has a bar and restaurant on the roof. It’s kind of an Urban Outfitters but with a lot of local artists. Everywhere you turn, everything’s beautiful.

Shoutout to another creative lady?
Rachel Rector is hand-designing—and creating in the US—(15) beautiful, super-chic lingerie. It’s a little strange how many industries are meant for women but have men running them, and it’s lovely to see a young girl who’s like, “Well I want really beautiful lingerie, so I’m gonna create this line for myself.” You hear the word lingerie, and you think you know immediately what it’s going to look like. Because it’s not for women, right? Women buy lingerie for their partners. I’m really excited about what she’s doing because the first time that I opened it, I was like, “Oh, I would want this for myself. It’s really pretty and I would feel pretty in it.”

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