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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