How Conscious Skin Care is a lesson in Stoicism
This year has tested all our abilities to remain strong amidst the chaos. My offering is to acknowledge and expect the storm while building the rituals that centre and protect you
I’ve always loved being a low fuss kind of gal. Identifying with beauty and femininity when the mood struck me- instead of out of obligation to the systems that value me in relationship to my appearance.
For most of my life this has meant rolling out of bed and getting ready in as long as it takes to brush my teeth and apply my deodorant. Grabbing a coffee on my way to wherever I am running late! This approach to grooming and self-care has kept me feeling grounded and naturally beautiful. However, (and I hate to admit it) there’s something about my 30’s that’s got me taking a new approach.
As I approached 30, echoes of friend’s voices filled my head.
And for me it was total bullshit.
Of course, turning 30 wasn’t a magical switch that gets flipped and suddenly you understand yourself and your life’s purpose. What a lie! I feel as confused on this side of my 30’s as I did in the last few years of my 20’s. All of this to say, I want to tell you what has changed for me in my 30’s and how I carved out rituals that centre me in who I am today and where I want to be. Fine print: turning 30 is not the key, it’s just when I started to do the work.
Now, I am not a morning person. I cannot overstate this. So, a lot of my effort has been put into finding a way to start the day that helps me feel calm and centred. I have found layering in small rituals to be deeply grounding. These days, I wake up and make a pot of coffee. I make pour-over coffee in the morning because I find it the most delicious but recently, I have been appreciating the time it takes to make my coffee as a quiet and focussed moment to come around to the day. Next, I water the plants and sweep the floor. I can’t fully explain this one but it just feels so good. It’s a form of care for my space and in return it feels like care for myself.
Lastly, the indulgence. I step into the bathroom and rub really nice things on my face.
I take this time to pay attention to how I’m feeling. Investing in my senses. I take a look in the mirror and do my best to practice gratitude (easier some days than others). I wet my face and feel the textures of my skin. And then I reach for my products and treat myself based on what it feels I need that day. I think about the product’s ingredients and purpose: the antioxidants that fight and build, the ceramides that nourish and soothe, and the SPF that shields and protects. I remind myself not to overdo it with the chemical exfoliates and retinol, that it is my commitment and practice that will yield results.
My love of skin care is quite recent and certainly the combined outcome of thinking more about my appearance (okay- aging) and needing a respite from the chaos that is 2020.
As a skincare novice I felt quite intimidated at the beginning.
I just knew that the fine lines arriving between my brows could use some love and my under eyes weren’t going to depuff themselves (I’d already asked). So, I consulted with some skin care obsessed friends and forked over a lot of money to a few clean beauty brands. Then the pandemic hit- and my once secure income disappeared. Knowing my precious products would soon run out and with a surplus of time on my hands I dove into the world of skincare knowledge. I wanted to learn how it works and if I could maintain my routine and still pay my rent. That’s where the conscious consumption comes in.
Not only do I make educated choices on which products I use I do the same with those I do not.
Avoiding sensitizing ingredients and favouring science over fear-mongering claims of ‘toxic beauty’. I realized that putting 10 things on my face twice a day was fuelled by marketing, not science. I learned how to read an ingredient list and understand a formulation, I learned which ingredients were backed by years of research and which were the new fads, and I learned that it is possible to have affordable and effective skincare. Most importantly I began to consciously ‘consume’. I use less products and enjoy them more. I use them to celebrate and shape my experience of beauty not to meet someone else’s. This brings me to stoicism and my own philosophy of beauty and self.
My favourite explanation of stoicism is that it is the umbrella one uses when it rains. We don’t try and stop the rain- that would be a waste of energy. Instead, we expect it. We find tools that centre and protect us during the storm. Or as Marcus Aurelius put it, “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Sounds great right? Just be a stoic marble bust and you’ll never feel sad again. I know, it’s a lot easier said than done. What I am talking about (and can manage for right now) are stoic moments. 2020 has tested all our abilities to remain strong amidst the chaos. My offering is to acknowledge and expect the storm while building the rituals that centre and protect you.
Allow your age and experience to line your face. There’s no point in fighting it- what a waste of effort. Instead take care of your beautiful skin. Enjoy it. Witness the small changes in yourself from day to day. Pay attention and make time to appreciate it. What time does to the body is stunning. Time is powerful and it’s measured in our very selves.
I must admit there’s just something about my 30’s that’s got me feeling a little more grounded and little more committed to the rituals that breed stoic moments. Investing in my beauty as I define it through a practice of care and conscious consumption.