Skincare Soul Searching

When aesthetics meets ethics....

More cosmeceutical than cosmically inclined, Editor Amy Heffernan takes a leap of faith into crystal-infused beauty, that promises to soothe the soul, as well as the skin.

I’ve never really been that ‘holistic’ a person. Typically, I'll invest in a horoscope if I like the future prospect it suggests, crystals cause me undue cynicism and the mere mention of a chakra induces eye-rolling in the extreme.

Hell, even yoga seemed a bit new age-y to me at first. (I have softened on this one; there’s only so long one can resist the joy of Happy Baby pose).

But when it comes to beauty, I’m a science nerd – give me products with a hefty list of unpronounceable ingredients, preferably backed by stats and percentages gleaned from a thorough clinical trial that’s been review-journal published and I’m a happy woman.

But as society’s expectations for beauty shift towards self-care, now we not only want products that make us look better, but feel better too. 

What was once simply ‘Beauty’ is now packaged ‘Beauty and Wellness’ or ‘Beauty and Health’ and in an ever stressful world, it’s no wonder there’s an increasing interest in products that nurture our psyche as well as our skin.

The internet, as usual, turns up some pretty weird, wonderful and out-there stuff, from vibration frequency-specific products to shamanic sessions to call on your beauty spirit-allies, and it turns out that the connection between the mystic and the beautiful is nothing new.

The Ancient Egyptians used crystals to manifest health, keep their skin looking youthful and increase focus, while the goddess Isis was said to harness rose quartz to restore and brighten her complexion, rubbing the stones in an upward motion over her cheeks and around her eyes.

From rejuvenating bath soaks to healing facial oils, there are a number of beauty brands now incorporating crystals, be they milled into their formulas or placed whole in the packaging to supercharge efficacy.

Scientifically speaking, (I know, I can’t help it), there is little evidence to back up the skin benefits of crystals, but believers are resolute on their powers of energy, clarity and harmony.

But can the debatable spiritual power of crystals actually bring anything to your skincare regime? And if so, how do you know which stone is right for you?

According to research, rose quartz is ideal for taking down redness and brings comfort, jade is the stone of serenity and will work to balance your skin, malachite is great for detoxification and diamond is most beneficial for warding off wrinkles.

But as a crystal-newbie, tourmaline piques my interest the most. Boasting the largest colour spectrum of all the gemstones, it comes in a variety of hues from violet to green and, as an energising stone, it’s believed to vitalise the skin, making it appear more radiant and youthful.

Now for the science bit: when tourmaline crystals warm on contact with the skin, they become positively charged on one end and negatively charged on the other, and it’s due to this unique feature that has the special gem worked into moisturisers, exfoliates, and anti-ageing treatments, to increase the absorption of nutrients into the skin.

Clean beauty is another verticle of the industry that came to recognise that addressing things from a purely aesthetic standpoint had left consumers wanting.

Generations of people, now more conscious than their elders of the quality, ethics and provenance of everything they buy, has forced cosmetic companies to raise the bar in every way possible.

Cruelty-free (no animal testing), not distributing products in China (where it’s a legal requirement for imported cosmetics to be tested on animals), vegetarian (no by-products of animal slaughter) and vegan (no animal ingredients at all) are just some of the parameters that exist in this diverse and exciting market.

Here, there’s no space for the hemp-y, homemade concoctions and tinctures that one might associate with a weekend market. Instead, only luxurious, sophisticated and high-tech products, that are as effective as they are sustainable.

In a world where there’s an emphasis on buying Fairtrade and efforts are made to sage auras, it makes sense that we should no longer have to choose between ethics and aesthetics.

And much like my yogic experience, even if you’re not convinced of the movement’s airy fairy-ness at first, all it takes is a little faith. 

Originally published in the July '18 issue of Irish Tatler. 

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