I use skincare as a tool to improve my day to day mental health. But how, you may ask, do I do it? Why would I align my mental well-being with an industry that is feeding us the promise of everlasting youth? The beauty industry, as we all very well know, is a conglomerate that is estimated to be worth $532 billion according to a recent analysis. In 2019, many new skincare trends rocked the industry. From beautiful jade rollers, glitter masks, CBD infused products (and everything in between) the sheer amount of new and innovative products available to the consumer market was astounding—and unnavigable. Not to mention high-end skincare brands, such as Drunk Elephant, Tatcha, or GLAMGLOW, flooded everyone’s social media feeds with influencer testimonies, try-ons, and the promise of Instagram-able skin. So, again with all of this in mind, why am I using skincare to improve my mental health? What does this type of self-care have to offer me?
Over the recent holiday break, I had the opportunity to stay with my family in Vancouver. On Christmas Eve, I found myself looking at my eldest sister’s skin. Despite being ten years older than myself, she didn’t have a wrinkle or imperfection in sight. I noticed her skin was smooth, glowy, and had the perfect placement of freckles. As I was looking at her, I thought about my own skin, which had been through a lot. I had visible acne scars, large, clogged pores, newly formed acne, and dull skin. Rather than making me feel insecure about my appearance, my sister inspired me to ask how she had attained that ideal “natural beauty.” She then gushed over her skincare regimen, and how I could have better skin practices with a bit of work and time. After that, I put myself to research different products, ingredients, and routines. I quickly discovered that I was swimming in a wealth of information. It was overwhelming and contradictory at times. Should I buy this $100 cream? Should I be worried about wrinkles? What type of sunscreen is the best for the price?
After feeling lost for a short while, I came across credible sources such as dermatologists and reputable skincare blogs that shared helpful information. As I was in the process of discovering what was right and wrong for my skin, I found that the best thing for me was simplicity. I stuck to a basic procedure (cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen) and then worked my way up to include a few serums. Through this process, I started to notice rapid changes in my skin’s health. My skin became smoother; the acne scars went away; my pores shrunk slightly; and, I had a nice glow to my skin. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw myself as authentically beautiful. I went two weeks without a drop of makeup on my face. I am not saying that makeup is inherently a necessity or unnecessary for people’s presentation. Your body, your choice. What I am saying is that I made a choice to wear my face as it is. For me, wearing makeup is no longer a requirement for me to be in public, but a creative outlet and a way for me to express my aesthetic to the next level. Improving my skin allowed me to notice how my mental health is reflected through my physical health. When I get stressed, I break out all over my cheeks. When I take five minutes every morning and night to apply moisturizers and serums, I feel like I am taking care of my health and happiness. I am making sure that I am connecting with my natural self. Even if I have bad skin days, I try to remind myself that it is a process. Much like my own mental health, I try to deal with things step-by-step. Through this type of self-care, I am making sure that I am taken care of, and that is written on my skin.
The ultimate takeaway from this article is that despite the negativity of consumer-culture that is driven by the beauty industry, we have the power to participate in it in a meaningful way. We can be conscious consumers; start simple; invest in what works for us, and avoid gimmicky trends. Self-care is reflected in many forms of practice. Find your own outlet for self-care and record how it has changed your outlook!
Thanks for reading,
The views expressed in this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the University of Victoria. I monitor posts and comments to ensure all content complies with the University of Victoria Guidelines on Blogging.