Do you ever trace back the small bits of advice you’ve collected over the years? To remember who and where you were when you first received them?
A subway platform. The Bronx.
I was riding the 1 train with a friend from work.
“So…what’s your secret?” I asked, practically shaking in anticipation, hoping that her answer would unlock some dark mystery box and solve all my problems.
I was in college at the time, working part-time at a photography nonprofit that put me in touch with people and artists and images I will never forget. One of those people was L.
She was radiant and graceful, with an eye for design and red lipstick. She was older, savvier, hilarious, and I clung to everything she said.
One day over lunch, she told me she had been trained as a skin esthetician. This explained a lot, since she had gorgeous flawless skin. This also made me insanely curious, because although I was in my adult-blossoming twenties I was struck with troublesome, confidence-crushing skin.
I hated my skin so much. It makes me shrink even to remember it now.
So one day, on the 1 train, I finally got the nerve to ask: “So….what’s your secret?”
I guess I was expecting a magic potion or a secret ingredient. Because her answer totally surprised me:
No matter what happens… No matter how tired or sick or lazy you feel…
Always always ALWAYS wash your face at night. Every day. Do it, no matter what.
For the past ten years, this has been the single piece of skin advice that has truly, honest-to-goddess stuck with me. Even as I’ve learned more about holistic skincare, made my own products, and even started to sell my creations, this advice — from L., on the subway, ten years ago — has been foundational.
As I was tracing this advice back to its origin this week I realized why it’s so solid:
It’s about more than skincare.
It’s about self-care.
It’s about taking two minutes, “no matter what,” to care for your delicate body.
It’s about committing to your daily rituals, particularly the ones that make you feel fresh and whole and cared for. It’s about coming home to yourself, in whatever way you can, every single day.
a daily ritual of self-care
Over the past three months I have been diving into a deeper meditation practice. It’s been challenging, since there are so many pulls on my attention and so many convincing reasons not to do it every day. My advice to myself throughout the process has been remarkably similar to L.’s wisdom: “No matter how tired or sick or lazy you feel….Do it, no mater what.” And so I do it. One day. And the next. And again. I commit to those minutes and to that ritual. I come home to myself, every single day.
We need this right now. I need this right now.
The distractions are epic. The worldly trauma is grand scale.
Your daily rituals — as simple as washing your face — are your entry points into mindfulness. They are the connective tissues between Day and Self. They are the moments that hold you together and bring you back into your skin.
This week, let your skincare routine be an act of love and grace towards yourself. Wrap your reflection in kindness, breathe as you rinse, and take a moment to meet yourself exactly as you are.
No matter what.
Love and homecoming,
P.S. If this post struck a chord with you, either because you have struggled with skincare or self-care or both, let this be a seed planted in your heart. I’ll be sharing more this week and next about how to nourish your relationship to your skin and invite more self-love into your day. And in August, I’ll be co-teaching a four-week Skin Camp with Melanie St. Ours that will introduce you to the beauty and ease of natural skincare as well as the inner elements (food, herbs & lifestyle) to support healthy skin. You can read more about Skin Camp here, or email me with any questions katie [at] katiebraja.com.