You step in front of the mirror, hand reaches down to turn on the faucet, you pick out your favorite cleanser and pump twice. The routine has begun. For the next 5 minutes or so you're in the flow, wiping away makeup, patting in serums, and gently massaging on your moisturizer.
Lately I've been thinking about how our skincare routines go beyond hygiene, beyond a vain desire to have good skin. They are a way to connect with ourselves at the beginning and end of every day, a way to stay present in a busy world.
So much of our days are spent thinking through what we did yesterday and planning for what we need to do today and tomorrow. But there is one thing that forces us to slow down and settle into what we are doing right NOW and it's our skincare routine.
It doesn't matter if we washed our face at the end of yesterday, it still needs to be done today. Sure we can try to make up for skincare mistakes in the past by taking extra care in the future, but the best way to insure a healthy complexion is by sticking to a routine day in and day out.
There is another reason why your skincare routine can bring presence into your daily life and that is the focused nature of it. You can only do one thing at a time. You can't cleanse and put on moisturizer simultaneously. Each step and each product have their own role in the routine and must be given the time and respect in order to achieve the desired outcome.
Sure, you can be thinking about other things while you complete your skincare routine, but I find that I'm usually focusing on what I'm doing, which brings we squarely into the present moment. Brushing your teeth can be one of those mindless tasks that you do while walking around the house, but skincare requires an examination. Did I get all of my mascara off or do I need to go in with another cleanser? Is my skin looking dry today and should I add a hyaluronic acid serum? Does my eye cream appear to be working or do I need to look for a new one? None of these steps are mindless. They all require an evaluation of the present circumstances.
As you do your skincare routine tonight, take some time to be present in your body and mind. It's these small rituals, these self-care practices, that help us to connect to ourselves and to recenter after a day in the sea of thoughts and busy actions.
How do you stay present in your busy day?