SS Founder Lauren Lee explores the connection between skincare and self love, and how following a skincare routine can help heal your skin and your heart.
A lot has been written lately about the connection between skincare and self love, particularly in the Asian Beauty community. Having struggled with debilitating cystic acne for years myself, I know first hand the powerful connection between loving your skin and loving yourself.
When you read about the Korean skincare routine in the media, it’s often in sensationalist terms – words like “elaborate” and “daunting” are used, with a focus on the “intricacy” of the steps.
For me, the Korean Beauty routine is so much more than a set of steps to be followed or the search for perfect skin. Instead, it’s about caring for the skin you’re in and learning how to love it – even though it may not be loving you back.
Others have spoken about the connection between skincare and mental illness, like Jude Chao at Fifty Shades of Snail.
Those who have struggled through anxiety and depression or painful skin conditions like acne and eczema know that there’s often a link between skincare and self esteem. There’s a healing process involved, as well as a learning one, as feelings of despair (and even self loathing) need to be replaced with acceptance, respect and self love.
This is where having an “elaborate” skincare routine comes in.
For me personally, learning to love my skin and discovering Korean Beauty products went hand in hand. After years of hiding my skin and feeling like my bad skin defined me as a person, the journey towards learning that I was more than my acne was a long one, and something I achieved through caring for my skin and finding products that I enjoyed using.
Skincare for me used to be a passive process and, if I’m honest, a bit of a pain – involving ‘anti-acne’ products and visits to doctors and dermatologists who would look at my skin for 15 seconds before recommending products I didn’t understand and didn’t enjoy using. The products would make my skin break out, then dry out, making it flakey and patchy and impossible to cover with makeup.
That only made me more self-conscious and want to hide my skin even more.
It was not until 2011, when I was on exchange at uni in Seoul that I discovered Korean Beauty products for the first time. Unlike my previous interactions with skincare, the process of discovering and learning about Korean skincare products was something I got excited about – each time I’d go into a store there would be new products I’d never even heard of, new ingredients I’d never tried and little samples to test, encouraging me on my journey.
I fell in love with each new store, each new brand and began gifting the products I’d found to friends and family back in Australia – to my delight, they loved them too! This kick-started my journey into researching new products, matching them to various skin types and problems and learning the science behind the skincare and the ingredients.
In short, I became an active participant in my skincare journey.
One of the things I love the most about discovering Korean beauty is picking out new products to incorporate into my routine. Unlike the uninspiring “dermatologist-recommended” products at my local chemist, Korean skincare products are beautifully packaged and beautiful to use. The dermatologist angle and scientifically proven part is still there, but it’s not the only appeal. The products themselves are a feast for the eyes, the skin and the heart.
Even the process of using Korean products is itself therapeutic and calming. My daily routine involves patting, rubbing and dabbing products into my skin, taking time to massage them in. Sheet masking, which I do 3 – 4 times a week, feels indulgent and relaxing, and helps me to take time out from my day. When I mask, I’m not focused on a million other things, but can instead enjoy 10 minutes to myself.
For me, the journey to self love has been inextricably linked to Korean skincare.
My K-Beauty obsession has given me far more than good skin (although that’s a bonus too!) More than that – it’s given me an appreciation for my skin and the power it has to heal and regenerate itself. It has given me the tools to take care of it, with products that I’ve researched, selected and look forward to using. It’s also given me a way to take time out for myself – to enjoy some “me time” as I do my skincare routine.
For me, skincare is not vanity – it’s about self love, self care and self appreciation.
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