It’s that time of the week: Self-Care Sunday! Here on my blog, and over on my Instagram account, I talk about self-care, not just on Sundays, but I’ll share inspiring messages and self-care tips. In my Stories, I post snippets about my skincare routine and products used. And, sometimes you’ll see me with a sheet mask on my face while my daughter works her magic with a jade roller! But, I never really talked about WHY I self-care through skincare, and that’s what today’s blog post is about.
Skin and Hormones
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The primary reason why I self-care through skincare is because there’s a literal science to skincare, my skin, hormones, and menstrual cycle.
My first postpartum period happened maybe a year after my daughter was born. I was still breastfeeding, and my cycle was very irregular. Around the 2 year mark my cycle finally returned to normal. I’m very lucky that my cycle length doesn’t vary much. Honestly, I can look at a calendar and predict the start of a new cycle.
Because I’m in tune with my cycle, I now know the physical effects that hormones have on my skin and can adjust my skincare routine accordingly.
At the start of my cycle, I’m still dealing with PMS blemishes so I want to do spot treatments.
My skin is absolutely flawless in week 2 of my cycle in the days leading up to ovulation. I don’t need to do much for my skin and emotionally I’m a very good state (overall).
Sometimes, I get dressed in the morning and notice that my clothes are feeling snug. I know that’s caused by bloating and water retention in the week leading up to my period. I also know if I step on a scale, I can naturally expect that number to be 2 kilograms more than the previous day’s weight! And, I know if I look in the mirror, I can expect to see a puffy, oily mess.
If I take time to focus on my emotions… Well, naturally, I’m upset that I “got fat” overnight. I’m crampy and irritable and I’ve got a few painful pimples on my forehead. And, I also get random hairs on my chin! They literally pop up in the same spot every month! I wonder if I should just laser them away?
This is the time of the month that I go all in with self-care. I adjust my workload so that I don’t get overwhelmed. (I’m a “highly sensitive person,” so it doesn’t take much for me to reach those levels!) I know that I need to watch my carb intake in the evening because I will feel even more bloated after dinner time.
Basically, every month, I get 2 weeks of awesome skin and clothes that fit and 2 weeks of bloating and blemishes.
Skincare = Physical and Mental Self-Care
My skincare routine also allows me to give myself physical and mental self-care. There are so many affordable, effective, and innovative J-beauty skincare products on the market that I have fun in. My subscriptions to RAXY and My Little Box push me outside my comfort zone to try new products.
In my new career as a content creator, I get to push my creative boundaries through photography and video editing. These products aren’t just items that look good on a shelfie, though I admit that I do get a bit of an endorphin rush when a PR package, beauty box, or online order arrives.
It’s very humbling to look in the mirror at my bare face, exposed skin, and imperfections. Catching myself in the front camera of my phone at an unflattering angle is one thing, but looking at my face straight-on really used to make me feel uncomfortable. I can’t really put a finger on it, but it just did.
Nowadays, when I’m looking in the mirror, I no longer focus on my “flaws”, and why should I?
I don’t go up to strangers and say, “Damn, your nose is huge,” or “That (pointing to acne) looks painful!”
Never have I pointed out a coworker’s crow’s feet or the dark circles under their eyes.
I certainly do not go into the comments section of someone’s social media to “roast” them about their appearance.
So, why should I look in the mirror, nitpick over everything on my face? Why subject myself to such cruelty when I would never do the same to another person?
I don’t do skincare to be beautiful — though clear skin is a wonderful side effect!
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I spent my 20s as an impeccably fashionable gyaru. Looking back on those years, I basically used makeup to become someone I wasn’t so I could fit in.
Being comfortable in my skin as a foreigner in Japan is a long process. I distinctly remember having an “identity crisis” at not having a sense of self and place where I belong. But, as I detailed in my “colorism and black experience in Japan” post, if I can’t accept and love myself, I am doing my daughter a disservice. This doesn’t mean that you won’t see me with straightened hair and a full face of makeup. But, it means self-love and confidence starts at home,
When you look at the Japanese approach to aging, you’ll see it’s such a privilege that being afraid of wrinkles is so silly. While I haven’t ruled out “procedures” but I think I will stick with “aging care” products for now.
I treat skincare as “ritualized healing,” especially on Sundays.
I started using a matcha powder clay mask (details on my community-based brand coming soon!). Let me tell you, the act of measuring, mixing and applying the mask is incredibly soothing. I don’t even try to multitask. In fact, I take a bath when my daughter is sleeping. I just soak in the tub and take in all that matcha goodness.
Especially in the time of COVID, lockdown, tiers, State of Emergency, all the terminology that’s floating out there, things can be overwhelming. Skincare obviously won’t solve all my problems. However, a 15-20 minute reset can do wonders as a quick mental health check-in.
How Do You Self-Care?
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Before I end this post, I want to use this space to gently remind you to take care of yourself by doing a self-care check-in. Especially if you are the primary caretaker in your household, watch out for the signs of burnout. My post, “Maternal Mental Health and Self-Care in the Time of COVID” goes deeper into my personal struggle with a new work-life balance. Please give it a read if you find yourself lost these days.
Why I Self-Care Though Skincare