Once the dust has settled from the busy holiday season, we can enjoy a change of pace and unwind as we start a new year. This is a perfect time to offer ourselves some self-care to recover from short-days-doldrums, seasonal stresses, and harsh winter weather. Since these factors can wreak havoc on the condition of our skin and hair, it’s a good opportunity to pay those areas some attention!
Taking a moment for yourself to fully relax and experience self-care can increase your chosen activities’ de-stressing effectiveness. Spending time intentionally treating yourself can be more impactful than hastily dashing through one or two steps during your morning routine. I embrace every opportunity for ritual in my life, so I’ve got a few go-to’s when it comes to multi-step pampering and self-care techniques.
The delineation from “skincare” to “self-care” is intentionality: prioritizing your experience by shifting your space is an essential aspect of ritual. Some easy options include dimming the lights, lighting candles, adding some calming essential oils to the air via a spray or nebulizer, and playing rain sounds or some relaxing music without lyrics. Try one of the above or pick something else that helps you unwind; the important part is curating an atmosphere of calm for yourself, and taking your time to sit with it.
1. Whip up a masque and kick back
Sure, applying a face or hair masque is your basic first stop on the “treat yourself” express, right? Even the basics can be elevated for nourishing self-care! I forgo mass-produced masques, which are often formulated with ingredients that can harm your skin like alcohols, preservatives, or excessive fragrance - your home can be scented, but what you apply to your skin shouldn’t be. Depending on my skin’s current concerns, I pick from amongst my favorite homemade face masque ingredients:
- Avocado is incredibly nourishing and packed with healthy fats and vitamins, good for you inside and out, especially if your skin is experiencing winter dryness. Mashed avo makes for a great masque base!
- Bentonite clay is ideal if you’ve been dealing with acne breakouts or your skin is overproducing oil. However, it should be rinsed off shortly after it dries to prevent dehydration, and it’s not the best if you’re needing extra moisture for dry winter skin.
- Raw honey makes a great face masque on its own or can be combined with other ingredients. Raw honey is moisturizing and antimicrobial, and rich in antioxidants.
- Matcha powder, aside from being an energizing coffee alternative, can also be a great face masque base, as it’s packed with beneficial antioxidants.
- Rose hydrosol is versatile for many reasons! It is enriching as a skincare ingredient, supporting your skin’s moisture barrier, is high in antioxidants, and has an aromatherapeutic component; the scent of rose is both calming and uplifting. (Since true rose hydrosol is distilled rosewater, as opposed to water made with diluted rose essential oil, its scent isn’t a problem for your skin in this case!)
2. Keep it cool
While it may feel counterintuitive to get chilly in winter, the lower humidity from indoor heating can be very drying and hard on your skin and hair - especially when they may already be out of whack due to cold and stress. Try out one of these cooling techniques and stay warm with a heated blanket, warmed magic bag, or towels and a robe fresh from the dryer!
- Use a face roller from the freezer to stimulate circulation to your face and reduce under-eye puffiness.
- Chill your face product before application, such as a masque or toner, by leaving it in the fridge (or outside).
- Try an ice facial - you can use regular ice, or freeze rosewater or green tea to maximize the benefits to your skin. Run it gently over your face - the chill can help reduce inflammation. I suggest wrapping the ice in a bamboo cloth instead of applying it directly, which can be a little intense for your delicate facial skin.
3. Get greasy
I love slathering myself up with a rich oil at this time of year. Many people experience dehydration of their skin and hair in winter, so it can be very enjoyable and beneficial to be generous with moisturizer! My go-to is unscented rosehip oil, which is lightweight and may be used on either face or hair, but you can try others such as argan oil, sweet almond oil, sea buckthorn oil, or jojoba oil. (Some people swear by coconut oil; while it is moisturizing, it is comedogenic for some skin types, so if you are acne-prone you may wish to steer clear.)
4. Touch is magic
A wonderful way to infuse your luxurious oil application with ritual is to combine it with self-massage or reflexology tool use. These techniques can help with draining your facial lymph nodes and facial muscle release or improving area circulation and hair growth, besides just being straight-up soothing and grounding.
5. Self-care inside and out
Our self-care and skincare rituals don’t all have to involve topical applications. As you have a beverage alongside your vitamins, taking this time to yourself to mindfully enjoy a break in your day can offer a moment of calm and help reinforce a consistent supplementation routine. Making sure you get plenty of water throughout the day, or sipping a hot green tea, will help you stay hydrated which can also benefit your skin, alongside your specially-formulated supplements for glowing skin and strong, healthy hair.
If you have a masque or oil applied and it needs time on your face, spend those minutes on bonus self-care for your relaxation ritual. I like to engage in breathwork and gentle yin yoga to release tension - upwards-facing, so as not to muss my face product! - such as cat-cow repetitions, or butterfly pose. Be sure to enjoy a screen-free activity to stay immersed in your ritual space. You can try some solo or guided meditation, read, write in a journal, or just sit back and get lost in your music - whatever helps you sink into the calm of the moment you’ve created for yourself.