How Exfoliating Became More about My Self-Care Practice than My Beauty Routine

By DeJanae Evins. Photography by Deun Ivory.

When I was a little girl I’d soak in the tub until my toes would wrinkle. I’d lather my legs with bubble bath and use a hair clip to pretend I was shaving. So much has changed since then. Now, I’m more conscious of the things I put into and onto my body. I can’t say I shave much. But I do make time for long baths. And I’ve since replaced soaking in bubble bath with basking in fragrant salt and sugar scrubs.

There’s no one definition of how one expresses self-care. It’s different for everyone. It’s personal. It’s intimate. It’s self-indulgent. And while we may be individual in our self-care practice, our bodies have a common process. It’s a 28-day cycle of shedding our outer layer of skin, dead cells constantly falling away, and making way for new cell production and replacement. As easily as this goes unnoticed, it can be just as easy to forget to unpack each day as it happens.

There is something to learn and grow from, and leave behind, every day. It’s a part of our evolution. Calling attention to this subtle physical process made me more attentive in how I care for my spiritual and emotional bodies on a daily basis.

Taking something as simple as exfoliating and intentionally incorporating it into my daily self-care routine became an exercise in reflection and restoration.

Taking the time each day to check in with myself and find the breath I started the day with is so important. Throughout the day we give a lot of our energy away. We’re busy communicating with others about what we need, what they need, trying to meet demands at work and the goals we’ve set for ourselves. It can be exhausting. The intention is always to process and let go.

Exfoliating is a kind of reset for my mind and body. It’s a reminder to always be mindful. Reflecting on each day allows me to evaluate my feelings, my work performance, my energy levels or whatever it is that was called to my attention over the course of that day. It helps me to better embrace each moment as it presents itself, knowing that I have every opportunity to take what I need from it and let it go.

There’s an aromatherapy component to exfoliating. I love peppermint because it increases spiritual attunement, supports intuition and overcoming resistance to change. I’ve also often used lavender for calming and restoring emotional balance.  

Essential oils and other all-natural products like honey and herbs have become a large part of my exfoliating routine. Essential oils are natural mood enhancers, brain stimulators and health aids. If I’m on a detox I might use rosemary oil for a boost in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory support. Since it’s summer I’ve been using scrubs with grapefruit oils, which act as a natural toner, and rose petals, that acts as tissue regenerators.

Exfoliating is essential to my skin’s wellbeing. Because of it, all of the other steps in my skincare routine are more effective. Unclogging my pores and removing dirt helps shea butters and coconut oils successfully penetrate and better nourish the deeper layers of my skin. I feel revitalized.

The same can be said about my mind and spirit. The more I care for my body, exfoliation being a prime example, the more I feel connected to myself, the more effective I become in everything that I do. Exfoliating helps me to penetrate deeper within by letting go of the things on the surface. I illuminate more inner beauty and cultivate an inner peace. Not only do I release bodily toxins but negativity and emotional blocks.

At every opportunity we are challenged to choose to be the best version of ourselves. This practice meets that challenge and encourages me to be gentle with myself. It’s the type of self-care that keeps me balanced and in tune.

Self-care is warm waves of sugar rolling off your skin.

DeJanae is a writer and creative. She contributes to BGIO because she lives and breathes in these spaces; spaces where black women share their stories, inspire one another and encourage higher levels of illumination. Her go-to self-love practice is bathing, whether it be in the sun or a tub surrounded by flowers. DeJanae believes that cleansing your physical and spiritual bodies daily restore purity and peace. She believes to bring forth and manifest anything, you must first water it with thought. Water yourself with thought. DeJanae resides in her hometown, Los Angeles, CA. Follow me @DeJanaeTanye.