Taking a leaf out of Alicia Keys’ book of combining mindfulness and skincare was an easy, attainable way to making one writer feel almost instantly calmer. And her sleep quality has improved tenfold.
I have a gift. Even when I’m at my most stressed, or struggling mentally, I rarely show it. As a writer in New York, even at the height of the pandemic, I believed my introverted self was coping just fine with the harsh restrictions and months on end spent indoors. But coupled with the fact that I still work in Australian east coast time, my sleep quality began to suffer.
Finishing work at 10/11pm every night does take its toll eventually and a few months ago I was finding I’d get my eight hours, only to wake up the next morning feeling exhausted, physically and mentally (I think I was probably suffering mild depression, too). The difficulty in finishing late is that, compared to finishing a normal workday at 5/5.30pm, you have several hours to relax before jumping into bed.
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And because I was adamant my circadian rhythm would not be compromised, so I would log off, brush my teeth, hastily wash my face, and get between the sheets, only to spend a couple of hours wide awake while my mind kept ticking over.
Skincare has been a part of my morning and nighttime routine for years now but stumbling upon YouTuber Hyram Yarbro’s channel months ago and watching him react to Alicia Keys’ Guide to Wellness-Inspired Beauty by Vogue, I became enamoured with the concept of mindful skincare. Perhaps this would be the ticket to more restful sleep?
It’s rather simple. By incorporating mindful practices into skincare, you can effectively tick off two important daily rituals in one: meditation and taking care of your face.
So, I committed to performing a skincare ritual of sorts. Every night when I finish work, I brush my teeth to get the monotonous activity out of the way, turn on some calming music, I turn off the bathroom lights, and light a candle.
“I light my candle and I believe in setting an intention,” she says in the Vogue video.
“There’s something about lighting something, burning something, that’s very sacred.”
Then, with eyes closed, I take five slow, deep breaths.
Cleansing is less hasty now and much more deliberate. I use a cleansing balm (Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm) to remove my tinted moisturiser, taking my time and using long, gentle strokes across my face.
Using a warm, damp towel, I gently pat away the cleanser and go in with a gel cleanser (Fresh Soy Face Cleanser) and rinse this off with warm water, leaving my skin slightly damp to prepare it for my favourite serum (Whimsy Official Halcyon Botanic Serum, a new indie brand that only ships within the US right now, sorry!), a delightfully nourishing face oil that’s formulated to mimic the skin’s natural oil production, while providing supportive nutrients and essential fatty acids like omega 3.
Now it’s time for gua sha, which is an ancient part of traditional Chinese medicine that uses smooth, blunt tools for lymphatic drainage and to stimulate blood flow. You’re probably familiar with the jade and rose quartz tools influencers have made famous on Instagram, and while I’m not sure how effective it is in facial slimming, it does feel fantastic and soothing, particularly across the jaw where I tend to clench.
All in all, this easy-to-attain ritual takes me about 10 minutes. The first night I did it I was asleep within half an hour of hitting the pillow and now, it’s a non-negotiable part of my nighttime routine because it’s a small amount of time that is dedicated solely to me. And I think we forget how important that is sometimes.