I’ve been into skin care for as long as I can remember. My mom would always take care of her skin and use all organic multiple-use products to pamper and moisturize her body.
There was always an abundance of products in our home, including shea butter, cocoa butter, extra virgin olive oil, and different types of essential oils, along with incense and candles.
As her daughter, I aspired to be like her. And being a lady of color, hydrating my skin and keeping it moisturized was a key part of our culture.
No ashy Ashley allowed.
But while moisturizing is an important part of a skin care regime, it can also be a great way to tune in to what your body needs — sometimes referred to as mindful moisturizing or moisturizing meditation.
Admittedly, while I try to be in tune with my body as often as possible, I sometimes neglect the touch my body craves. So, I decided to try mindful moisturizing for five days to see if and how it might change my connection to — and maybe even my personal view of — my body.
Here’s what I found.
Mindful moisturizing helped me to relieve tension and improved my mood
For the five days of mindful moisturizing, I decided to use sweet almond oil — one of my favorite oils ever. Seven minutes of intention really connecting with my body to see what would come up. I even closed my eyes during the practice.
While moisturizing is nothing new for me, moisturizing with a purpose was. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel a bit weird on the first day to just rub oil all over my body for that long.
But then I remembered my intention and I truly started to feel more relaxed as time went on.
The next day I noticed that my neck and shoulders needed a lot more attention because they felt really tense, so I massaged that area for about three minutes. I already knew that I tend to carry stress and worry in this area, and typically I’d look to my normal yoga and exercise routines for relief. But I found that moisturizing really helped to relieve this tension as well.
The previous days of mindful moisturizing left me with such a high that on day four I decided to moisturize for almost 10 minutes. And by my final day, I found myself looking forward to engaging in this practice as soon as I got out of the shower.
It was at this point I knew it’d become a part of my everyday routine.
Subconsciously, I already knew that I tend to carry stress and worry in this area. Typically I’d look to my normal yoga and exercise routines for relief, but I found that mindful moisturizing really helped to relieve this tension.
I was left feeling more connected to my body
After the five days, I realized how much self-touch my body was lacking. I also felt more connected to my body and more aware that I need to pay extra attention to my neck and shoulder area. I also learned that I’m not as ticklish as I thought I was!
Overall, I really enjoyed participating in this practice. In fact, I found it to be really empowering because I was able to add a new ritual to my self-love practice.
The need for touch, specifically self-touch
There's actually science behind the importance of touch and self-touch, and in my case mindful moisturizing was something that helped keep me grounded.
“Touch is a physiological need, which varies in degree person to person, and connects us to our communities,” explains Melissa A. Fabello, PhD, a body acceptance activist, sexuality scholar, and patriarchy smasher living in Philadelphia.
“The act of engaging in touch with oneself, through anything from self-massage to masturbation, is a way to partially gratify our own physical needs. By listening to our body's intuitive wisdom and creating space to satiate our desires, we practice an important aspect of self-love.”
Sometimes, however, we neglect this need for touch, which can lead to what Fabello describes as “skin hunger.”
“Skin hunger is the extent to which we crave sensual touch. We’ve evolved to crave touch because it helps form bonds between people through the release of oxytocin and because it’s a way to show care and create safety in groups. When we’re in need of touch, our body signals that to us through skin hunger — similar to how we feel thirst when we need water or tired when we need sleep.”
Getting started with your own mindful moisturizing routine
I’d honestly encourage anyone who could use some self-care to try this out. And if you’re looking for inspiration to get you started, here are three tips for trying out this technique:
- Go into it with an open mind. It might feel weird at first, but just remember this practice won’t hurt you.
- If you’re thinking “I don’t have time for this,” scratch that. You can take 7 to 10 minutes from your time scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, and put it toward this practice.
- When it comes to finding the best products to use, I’d suggest opting for an all-natural, organic oil like sweet almond or jojoba if you can.
Ashley is the creator of EatThriftLove, a minimalist lifestyle brand with a mission to simplify wellness. She’s a plant-based foodie, mental health advocate, and self-love enthusiast born and raised in Chicago. By connecting spirituality to success, she’s dedicated to guiding others on a journey to wealth and holistic wellness. Ashley applies her expertise in client engagement and strategic consulting to her passion for wellness and spiritual leadership. Ultimately, Ashley is driven by progressive behavioral influence that encourages people of color to live more simply and intentionally. Her motto: Live to eat and be well. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.