Skincare = self-care
Your daily routine needn’t be chore-like or complicated. It can instead be a moving meditation, a moment of restoration, a sensory joy.
In my profession as a licensed holistic aesthetician, I’ve worked with hundreds of people and there is one seemingly simple question that evokes a kaleidoscope of responses: How do you care for your skin? How we care for and adorn our faces can be deeply personal, sometimes awakening memories of how Mum applied night cream or of Nan’s signature shade of lipstick. Bits of beauty advice passed down from older siblings and friends can become part of a patchwork that informs our own perceptions of beauty and identity.
The products and techniques we use to care for our skin are also susceptible to frequent pendulum swings based on what’s trending in beauty culture. Remember when ‘oil free’ was the marketing hype of the day? As if oil was the pore-clogging villain that needed to be vanquished at all costs. Fast forward to today and oil cleansing is the norm, along with oil-based serums that deliver phytonutrients for that sought-after light-reflecting glow. So how did the simple question of caring for our skin become so complicated?
SIMPLE GOT COMPLICATED
I believe that collectively we’ve lost touch with nature and communal wisdom. Instead, our heads are turned by the latest breakthrough ingredient, influencer recommendation, or heavily filtered and airbrushed ad campaigns. These usually promise to solve our skincare woes with the latest miracle-in-a-jar. It’s no wonder we all feel a bit misguided when trying to navigate the endless sea of product choices and marketing claims!
During my consultations with clients, most people express feeling overwhelmed by choosing what products are right for their skin and often view taking care of their skin as a chore. This sentiment is shared. According to a QV Skincare survey, “Two-thirds of women aren’t confident the products they use are the most suitable for their skin type.” Another survey conducted by OnePoll revealed, “67 percent aren’t comfortable in their skin”, and more than half of respondents admitted to feeling lost when it comes to skincare and to having wasted money on facial products that didn’t work.
Think about the industries that stand to profit from our collective confusion. They continue to peddle the idea that we must always strive to ‘fix’ our skin. But what if we stop chasing after miracle products and instead become empowered to simply find pleasure in the practice of a daily skincare routine? Perhaps how we apply skincare is equally as important as what we apply. For example, you can use the most expensive, luxury skincare while still feeling stressed out and that taking care of your skin is just another chore.
THE CULTIVATION OF CARE
Our skin health and mental health are inextricably intertwined. The way we care for our skin can be much more than a hygiene routine to be checked off our to-do list. Intentional skincare is a ritual – a moving meditation, an opportunity for restoration, a little sensory joy to bookend our days. Perhaps it’s time we all cultivate a new relationship with skincare. After all, skincare is self-care. Make the mindset shift by getting in touch with curiosity and compassion each time you apply your skincare.
What does curiosity look like?
Take one deep, nourishing breath in through your nose and then slowly exhale through your mouth. This may be the first time you’ve stopped all day to observe your breath. Feel your feet grounded on the floor. As you begin with your facial cleanser, notice the aroma and the texture. As you rinse, enjoy the warmth of the water and then pause for a moment in gratitude for the gift of accessible, clean water. Now, become aware of how your skin feels beneath your fingertips. Does it feel warm or cool to the touch? Smooth or textured in places? Are there any areas of tenderness, maybe from muscle tightness or acne under the surface? What is your skin communicating to you?
By adding curiosity into your routine, you’ll gain insight on how to support your skin, giving just what it needs – no more, no less. Many of us have been washing our faces and applying some kind of moisturiser for decades, so our relationship with skincare can easily become tedious or chore-like. When we stay open-minded and curious, we can reframe our thinking from ‘Ugh, I have to wash my face’ to ‘Nice! I get to care for my skin’. This mindset shift can be transformational, fostering a love of honouring yourself through the simple daily ritual of skincare.
What does compassion feel like?
Acknowledge all that your skin does to protect you – its complex and protective microbiome, its ability to self-heal, how it absorbs essential vitamin D to keep your bones and teeth healthy, and so much more. What an incredible organ that is always working for your greatest good! No matter the condition of your skin, try your best not to think of it as good or bad. Let that kind of thinking go each time you step up to the sink or mirror. We are often our own worst critics and imposing impossible standards on ourselves sets us up for suffering. Try to remember that caring for your skin is self-love in action. Choose self-compassion throughout the ritual to help you feel more centred, balanced, and loved.
It makes sense to extend your compassion outwards to foster a holistically joyful skincare practice. Using vegan-friendly, cruelty-free products filled with vibrant, antioxidant-rich plants are the perfect way to do this, and only increase the benefits for you. Seek out indulgent, natural skincare products that are minimally processed to delight your senses and care for your skin.
You don’t need a complicated 10-step product line-up for healthy skin. Aim to simplify your skincare ritual to the most beneficial basics: a gently cleanse, a soothing hydrosol mist for hydration, a facial massage with a lightweight plant oil to boost circulation, and a UV-blocking mineral sunscreen for protection. Skincare is a practice which, at its best, tethers us to nature and our own inner wisdom. Make skincare your self-care, adding moments of delight to each day through the intentional act of lovingly caring for your skin.
Lead image: Taryn Elliott on Pexels