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Why This Skin Care Expert Wants You To Change The Way You Talk About Skin

Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty Director
Alexandra Engler is the Beauty Director. Previously she worked at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and
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One of my most consistent talking points here is that you need to be thoughtful and intentional with your beauty habits. For example, shifting your skin care habits based on trends: Doing what's trendy isn't inherently bad (especially if said trend is a step in the right direction), but trends aren't created to serve your personalized needs—they're created to drive the market. Likewise, I also caution against doing what you've always done: It's important to check in with your skin regularly to make sure you're doing the right thing in that time and place of your life.

These are all ways to be thoughtful. But what I've also come to learn is that being thoughtful with your routine isn't just about the routines you keep. It's about the words you use when talking about your skin, your skin care, and how you feel about yourself. 

See, how you talk about yourself affects how you treat yourself. We often reference this concept in the well-being space: It comes in the form of mantras, affirmations, and so on. The idea is that if you change your thought pattern, you change your actions. It's exactly what holistic esthetician Hayley Wood and I discussed this week on Clean Beauty School. Here, three must-share tips for building a more thoughtful conversation around beauty:  

1. Positive self-talk influences how you take care of your skin. 

"Whenever I have a great skin success story, I find that one of the biggest hurdles that they finally get over is just the way they speak about themselves, their skin, and the skin care experience as a whole," says Wood. "Once people actually understand what's happening with their skin, they get the right language to talk about it, then choices are made differently."

Think about it: If you're constantly thinking about what might be wrong with your skin, then you're constantly looking for "imperfections." You may even find some "faults" that you may not otherwise have noticed: The next thing you know, you're picking, applying products that don't serve you, and doing more harm than good. And thus the cycle of damage begins. 

But if you fundamentally believe that your skin has a purpose and that your skin care routine's job is to help it fulfill that purpose, you're less likely to tear it apart with your words and actions. A good skin care routine starts from a place of love and respect for yourself and skin. 


2. You might be holding on to old skin care woes. 

One of the biggest hang-ups that may be getting in the way of your skin care goals is you're stuck in the past. "There's a lot of misdiagnosing going around, and I think that perpetuates some of that negative self-talk as well," says Wood. 

One example, she explains, is if you grew up with acne—often, she finds that people are trapped in that mindset well into adulthood. This self-imposed skin identity then may be counterproductive to how the person should be taking care of their skin now. "I find that it takes a lot to break through what they've already self-diagnosed themselves with to find out what's actually going on," she says. "Maybe it's something they've experienced in the past and they just haven't let that identity go. Those past skin concerns are not something they have to hold on to forever." 

Our skin changes and evolves over time—and we should be willing to evolve our own language and self-talk with it. 

3. Opt for longevity over quick fixes. 

There's an immediacy that's baked into the way we talk about beauty routines. ("Fix this overnight!" "Get clear skin in three days!" "Brighten your complexion now!") This can get us into the mindset that unless we see immediate results, then the product or service is ineffective. 

This is setting us up for failure. "We need to look at our routine through the lens of love over the lens of quick fixes," says Wood. Not only is it the kinder thing to do for yourself, but there's a practicality to it: Often the skin care tips, tricks, and products that promise immediate results aren't the ones that are going to sustain you long term.

Now, that's not to say you can't do the occasional quick skin boost (those are valid, too!), but it does mean that focusing on longevity over immediacy yields better results.

The takeaway.

The ways in which we talk about skin and ourselves influence our actions. So if you want to form a better relationship with your skin and develop better beauty habits, it may be time you start evaluating your word choices. 

If you're looking for more engaging beauty conversations, listen to our new beauty podcast, Clean Beauty School. Subscribe on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or Spotify.

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