As I have gotten older, my skin-care routine has become a vital part of my daily process. Aside from having a radiant and smooth face, the thing that brings me the most joy about this level of commitment is dedicating a productive amount of downtime to solely focus on myself. It's one of the few activities meant for doing alone and to be enjoyed by one's own company only.
When I wake up in the morning, I greet my face with a gentle cleanser followed by a toner, serum, and moisturizing creams. Every day, this is the first and last thing that I do. (Though my night routine differs per the 10 steps of Korean skin care.) After work, I always look forward to coming home and repeating my routine. Before I go to bed, I dab on an overnight mask and then I hit the sheets.
The time I spend on skin care is not only used to treat myself but to check in with the physical changes going on with my body. When a zit pops up that is unrelated to my menstrual cycle, it's usually an indication that I'm stressed more than I initially realized. That said, my skin-care routine has become a therapeutic process. Face masks take me to a high level of Zen that I am unable to tap into otherwise. Some nights, I'll also take a long, salt-soaked bath which is my ideal setting for meditation. It feels like the water has healing powers as the ingredients work their magic by easing my tense muscles and calming the chaos in my mind. When I'm all dried off, I feel clean with a pure state of mind. My bathroom is the gateway to pure bliss, and my medicine cabinet is a sanctuary. This is my safest space.
Back in middle school, I started seeing a dermatologist to help control my troubling acne. (My mom trusted a professional prescription over a celebrity-endorsed product like Proactiv.) For years, I was self-consciousness about the way in which others perceived me, and was willing to try almost anything over the counter that would fix my problem. Now that I've finally ditched the chemical concoctions in favor of natural and organic products, I look and feel better about myself.
For me, skin care is a form of self-care. The clothes I wear right now might not even make it to next season, but I'll be in this skin forever. It's cheesy, but you really should love the skin you're in. You're stuck in this body for the rest of your life, might as well take care of it.