I got excited about skincare and turned it into a habit pretty young, probably around 12 or 13. I have a vivid memory of getting to school in, I think, 8th grade and realizing I had forgotten to moisturize and being so annoyed with myself. How was I supposed to face this day filled with pre-teen angst without proper hydration!? I don’t know how this started exactly, my mom never told me this is something I should do, but I loved going into her bathroom and applying all of the potions. Around the age of 18, I upped my game from the pink bottle of Oil of Olay moisturizer to saving every penny from my paycheck to buy skincare from L’occitane. This time it went from a routine to a ritual. Everything from the packaging, the marketing, the scent, and the way my skin felt afterward made me look forward to this activity. Luckily, when I became an esthetician and learned about ingredient decks, I swiftly started using healthier products and realized that high price doesn’t mean high quality. Still, I will never forget the first time I used those fancy products. I was like, oooooh!
What does it mean for something to be a ritual? According to britannica.com, a ritual is the performance of ceremonial acts prescribed by tradition or by sacerdotal decree. To me, this means making something more of a celebration, making it sacred to you, being intentional about energy, mindset, and presence. Taking your skincare routine from a mindless chore to a ritual does not need to be pricey, but it does require some thought and intention.
For me, this is all about small energetic shifts. Start by noticing what could be dimming your energy when you are doing your routine. For me, I realized my bathroom was super unorganized and just being there made me feel frenetic. So I spent time organizing and purging stuff that I didn’t use or was expired.
Once you’ve targeted anything dimming your energy, pay attention to what could brighten your energy and make you feel excited!
Scent: Use products of which you enjoy the smell! Burn a clean candle or diffuse uplifting essential oils you like (such as lavender and lemon or sweet orange). Studies show that scent plays a huge role in both our mood and cognitive function. Plus, the scent can trigger pleasant memories (this is so apparent when you small a holiday scent blend that takes you immediately to that feeling from your past). I love to diffuse rose, geranium, orange, and neroli together because I feel like I’m walking through a garden in the summer.
Sound: make yourself a playlist, whether it be calm and relaxing or something that pumps you up to embody your fabulous self!
Visual appeal: Spruce up your bathroom to be aesthetically pleasing. Does this mean you need a whole trip to the store to throw down your entire paycheck? No! Small changes like organizing, cleaning, and getting rid of expired items or things you don’t use can go a long way! Check out this article for resources that you can donate unopened products to someone in need! For me, I have found minimalism with just a few pieces that inspire me, like a pretty painting or flowers feel so fresh and calms me. But if you want to make a trip to Home Goods to deck out your space, you do you!
Another approach to the visual appeal is to choose skincare products that have packaging that attracts you. At the risk of sounding materialistic, the packaging does affect how some people feel about a product. Of course, first and foremost, it needs to have ingredients suited to your skin goals, but luckily there is a HUGE plethora of skincare out there, so finding one that works for you and your budget and looks inviting to you is possible!
Touch: Slow down, engage in a quick or elongated facial massage, feel what your skin feels like. How do the muscles feel? Can you spot any tension?
Taste: brewing yourself a cup of tea can be a great addition to your routine, especially because many teas have ingredients that help support healthy skin, such as green, white, black tea for in the morning, marshmallow, dandelion, burdock, calendula, and chamomile for morning or evening!
2. Engage with the ingredients.
First of all, know what is in your skincare because some ingredients sit on top doing work, some do their work as they penetrate (penetrate the skin layers), others do their work as they absorb (absorb into the bloodstream). For me, the quality of what I put on my skin is just as important as what I put in my body. Sidebar: I’m pretty simple with my routine and choose to have just a couple of high-quality splurge items rather than a ten-step routine that may have been cheap, but either isn’t doing any favors or is creating harm. For example, low-quality or unstable vitamin c, oxidized oils because the company doesn’t get from a fresh supplier or package properly (you will be able to see and smell this), synthetic parfum/fragrance, etc. Whatever your routine is, look up the ingredients and connect with the plants if there are botanical ingredients. Just like everything else, plants have energy and a spirit. Considering this and tapping into it as you apply your products can increase mindfulness in your routine.
3. Engage with your gratitude
The skin does a lot for us. Take time to think about that, and thank your skin for all that it does! First and foremost, if we didn’t have our skin, we would completely evaporate and then disintegrate, so that’s a pretty big one. It holds in all of the water our body is made out of. The skin protects us from environmental damage from the sun, pollution, and other external factors. It allows us to feel all of the lovely textures like a soft cozy blanket, or hopefully the sweetness of your first kiss, or that spot of silky fur right behind your dog’s ear. It sends us messages from our bodies that something might be off. That hormonal acne you hate? It’s a huge favor that your skin is doing for you so that you know something is awry. (I’m not saying it’s not frustrating because it is, but maybe just a different lens to try peering through). It absorbs topical nutrients that can benefit us while filtering other topical ingredients that shouldn’t be absorbed. These are just a few of its magnificent features! This is a beautiful time to incorporate breath-work into your ritual!
These are just three steps that have changed my routine. I would encourage you to start by slowly adding in ideas from this list not to overwhelm yourself. The important thing is to pay close attention to the way your routine makes you feel. Please share what you are doing to turn your routine into a ritual by tagging me on social media, I can’t wait to see what you share!
Emily Davis is the owner of Stratum Aesthetics and has been a licensed esthetician since 2007. She is a holistic esthetician specializing in cannabis skin care.