Why Taking Half an Hour to Wash My Face is a Form of Self-care

face washing routine

I believe I’ve spent some time carping about my nightly ablutions here on the blog. I have very, VERY sensitive, fussy, breakout-prone skin and over time I’ve learned that if I don’t take meticulous care of it, it will punish me. With large, painful zits. And for years, I resented the time it took me to prepare my face for sleeping. I resented my Clairsonic and the system of washcloths and the fancy cleansers and lotions I need to use to keep the infuriatingly delicate balance necessary to prevent breakouts. I dreaded the whole rigamarole.

And I would never have been able to predict that adding more steps and more time to my routine would be what turned this activity from a chore into a pleasure.

The fashion mags I read have been raving about Korean beauty products for a while now, and somewhere in my readings I came across the 10-step Korean skincare routine, and absolutely balked. It had to be expensive! It had to take forever! How could it possibly be effective?!? But many of the products listed in the magazines were cheaper than stuff I could buy at Walgreens, and claimed to be made with natural and naturally derived ingredients. Amazon has hundreds of them, including many expert and editor faves. But you know what really sent me over the edge? Snails. Lots of these products include snail slime, and I was just so amused by the idea of smearing that on my face that I bought a snail toner. And since I’d heard about bee venom for years, I bought a bee venom essence. I already had a serum I liked and was gifted this marvelous facial oil by the Kiehl’s folks, so I was shy of 10 steps but had at least six going for me.

And you know what? I love washing my face now. LOVE IT. It takes forever since you have to apply and wait for each product to dry before applying the next one, but it’s actually enjoyable now. Some of it is the scents – the bee venom mist is spicy and the face oil smells deliciously of ginger – and some of it is the ceremony. But I eventually realized it also has to do with self-care.

Before, I hated that my skin was so fussy. I felt like I had to slog through all of these annoying steps just to keep it from rebelling. But now – and bear with me here, because I know this may sound a little goofy – I feel like I’m honoring my skin. Stewarding it. I’m pampering myself each and every night by applying all of these cleansers and toners and moisturizers, and it makes me feel calm and happy and like I’m living an abundant life.

My acne is directly tied to my hormones and my hormones are STUBBORN AS HELL, so I still break out. I would say that this new, multi-step routine has made my skin less irritated, kept it moist and supple, and helped the zits that show up heal faster. But even if there was virtually no difference in my skin, there’s a strong possibility that I’d stick to this routine. Because it’s made the difference between feeling like I’m weeding the overgrown courtyard of my crappy rented apartment and tending the lush flowers in my own home’s backyard.

A long, multi-step face-washing routine isn’t for everyone. It’s not outrageously expensive, but it’s also not cheap. And if your life and your kids and your health mean that you don’t actually have a half hour to spare for skin care, it might not be possible. But if you can find one little self-care ritual to help you center yourself each day – applying hand lotion before bed, brushing your hair before leaving the house, anything no matter how small – I’d wager it’ll make you feel calmer and happier and more abundant, too.

Image courtesy Dan Watson/Unsplash

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3 Responses to “Why Taking Half an Hour to Wash My Face is a Form of Self-care”

  1. Ginger

    This really does make sense! I guess I actually do a similar thing with my hair. It’s barely wavy and doesn’t straighten well, and I prefer it with more curl than straight anyway. So I wash it once every 4-5 days, in early evening, set it in pincurls, sit under the dryer for an hour, and go to bed. By morning it’s dry and I carefully brush it out and am ready for the day. It’s sort of like your face care routine. Over 2 hours is a long time to spend on hair! But that investment is worth it to have easy and pretty brush and go hair every morning. And instead of being impatient with the tediousness of curling, and being stuck to the bonnet dryer, I just enjoy it. I like tweaking the setting pattern or curl size slightly to see what happens. I watch TV or play on the computer or even do handsewing while using the dryer. It’s can be very relaxing.

  2. Nebraskim

    I love the odd Korean products and use a Korean shampoo that is spendy and hard to find other than in beauty supply stores. My nail salon gets it for me. I spend absolutely zero time on skin care, lucky me. I know I should put more effort into it but since I wear no makeup, my nightly routine is a splash of water and a wee bit of gentle cleanser around my eyelashes to deal with an eyelash-dandruff problem called blepharitis, and then a schmear of whatever body lotion is currently on my counter. More often than not, just plain old lubriderm. I wash my hair daily with a conditioning non-shampoo cleanser OR the weird Korean shampoo that contains squid ink. It’s black in the bottle. I only use it once a week or so. I love the smell and how it leaves my hair very shiny.

  3. Heidi/FranticButFab

    At first I was daunted by the idea of so many steps, but then I realized that some of them are weekly, not daily, and I was already doing at least 4 steps in my ordinary routine (cleanser, toner, serum, cream). Now I’m having fun trying to incorporate other products, like sheet masks. I also like the idea of thinking of it more as a ritual than a task, especially by massaging in the creams and lotions, not just swiping them on.