In my mid-twenties, I was diagnosed with depression.
I was 24, overweight, unmotivated, and ridiculously and constantly tired. I saw all the signs that things weren't right in my life and decided to go see a therapist. It's not an exaggeration to say that she changed my life. Long story short, she gave me the courage to quit my job to travel, and I've now been living in Asia for the past four years.
But just because I'm seemingly living my dream life doesn't mean that my depression doesn't like to appear in my life from time to time. I have various methods for coping and making myself feel better, including exercising, treating myself to a healthy lunch, or spending time with friends. But my favorite way to make myself feel better is my own special form of meditation – my treat yo' self skincare ritual. For some people, yoga, morning coffee, daily journaling is their thing, their ritual.
Cleansing my face and carefully applying my skincare products is my thing. I know to some this might seem silly, but for me, it's the perfect way to show myself some love.
When I moved to Korea, I learned all about the elaborate and famous 10-step Korean skincare routine. I was initially hesitant, because really, who the hell has time to do 10 steps of skincare every day and night? But curiosity got the best of me, and I slowly started adding steps to my routine: oil cleansers, serums, sheet masks, oils, night creams, sunscreens, hydrating toners… the list goes on.
I even started applying my skincare in a different way, lightly tapping or pressing products into my skin using my fingertips and palms, instead of just rubbing it all over. I became obsessed with skincare, in the best way. Not only is my skincare routine responsible for making my skin look the best it's ever looked, but I've discovered it's one of the best ways to help me cope during my bad days with depression.
The great thing about a Korean skincare routine is that you don't have to specifically use Korean or Asian skincare products. The basic principle of a Korean skincare routine is layering – that is, putting on your skincare products in order from lightest consistency, to heaviest consistency, or least hydrating to most hydrating. You can use any products you'd like, from natural and organic to something you bought from CVS.
I use all Korean products because A) I love them, and B) I live in Asia and it's much easier for me to get Korean products rather than items from Sephora.
Below is my routine for having a healthy mind and healthy skin.
In the Morning:
- Cleanser – Cleanse with a gentle, pH balanced foaming cleanser.
- Toner – Tone to make sure my face is completely clean.
- Hydrating toner – A lightweight, watery, yet hydrating toner to balance the skin
- Hydrating serum – An extra layer of hydration
- Moisturizer – I use a gel cream type moisturizer, since it's pretty lightweight and not greasy.
- Sunscreen – There are a lot of articles arguing against whether or not you should put on sunscreen before or after your moisturizer, but I choose to use it after my moisturizer.
- Makeup – This includes primer, foundation, lip and eye makeup
In the Evening:
- Oil cleanser to remove makeup – One of the major commandants of the Korean skincare is double cleansing, or first using an oil based cleanser to remove makeup, followed by a foaming cleanser.
- Cleanser – A low pH foaming cleanser
- Toner -Tone to make sure my face is completely clean.
- Actives (AHA, BHA, Retinol, Vitamin C treatment/serum) – During this step, you normally allow your AHAs and BHAs time to work their magic.
- Hydrating toner – My skin is very dry after my actives, so I use a lightweight hydrating toner.
- Sheet mask – Sheet masks are magical. I use them every night, and leave on for at least 15 minutes.
- Serum – I use all sorts of serums, from hydrating to anti-aging. Serums typically target specific skin problems, such as aging, dry skin, acne, or dark spots.
- Eye cream/serum – Once you get older, I think eye cream is essential. I dab it on lightly with my pinky fingers.
- Night cream – At night, I use a thicker moisturizer. If I'm feeling really fancy, I'll add a few drops of oil to my cream for that extra boost of hydration.
I've always had a difficult time with traditional meditation, but my skincare routine is my ritual. It isn't just a way to justify my product junkie tendencies, but it's my own personal form of meditation. All of the steps on my skincare routine are my way of grounding myself. Every morning and night, I devote from 15 to 30 minutes to myself. I breathe. I sit quietly and reflect as I wait for my AHAs to do their thing. I repeat mantras as I cleanse my face. I read. I blast music and dance in my underwear while wearing a sheet mask. I marvel at how smooth and soft my skin is. I take selfies. I love myself.
On my bad days, my skincare routine is the one thing that I can look forward to. In today's busy world, it's sometimes hard to find time to focus on you, but my skincare routine is a non-negotiable. It doesn't matter how tired I am, how many drinks I've had, or how sad I feel, I always find that time in my day to take care of me.
What do you do to show yourself love?