For Deborah Hanekamp, who often goes by Mama Medicine, fueling your soul and skin are one and the same. The renowned New York–based spiritual healer has been name-checked by celebrities (Oprah and Alicia Keys to name a few), as well as most major media outlets—and this week she joins me on our beauty podcast, Clean Beauty School, to talk about the deep and profound intersection of beauty and spirituality.
And listen: Everyone has a different relationship with spirituality (certainly, I’m on my own journey!). Regardless, I do think the overlap of beautifying rituals that we do today and healing ceremonies of the past and present is fascinating. “There are some rituals that are universal to the human experience. Many of these fall in the intersection of where beauty rituals meet spirituality: In these we’re purifying our spirits, but we’re also cleansing our skin,” she tells me in this episode.
And throughout the episode, she shared her best tips on how she heals her skin—and no matter what your beliefs are, I think they’re universally beneficial, too:
1. Don’t perform self-care, live self-care.
Taking care of yourself shouldn’t be a chore, full stop. Nor should it be something you need to spend money on. And as Hanekamp says, it shouldn’t be a performance either.
“I think when we think about self-care now, and especially when it comes to the beauty aspect of self-care, there’s always so much we have to do. It’s become this laundry list,” she says. “Self-care should be lived, not something you ‘do.’ [Our modern version of self-care] has turned the importance of these practices into something more superficial and from a place of fixing yourself. It should come from a place of who we are.”
2. Learn from your family, culture & ancestors.
Traditions—be they from your immediate family, culture, or chosen family—are passed down for a reason: They serve you, help your body and soul, and offer a moment of comfort. Take these lessons, fold them into your daily routine, and embrace them. “Look back into your ancestry, what self-care rituals did they perform that you can follow?” she says. They’ll nurture you in more ways than one.
“I had a great example in my great-grandmother who lived to be 101 years old, who was Sicilian. She would have a glass of red wine every night, and she would always put olive oil on her skin and in her food,” she said. “Her skin was just so beautiful. Even when she was in her 90s, she had no wrinkles. It was really an inspiration of it being the little things and living the simple life that helps you to really take care of yourself.”
3. Never force a routine, product, or treatment.
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Intuitive skin care is a concept we often preach here at mindbodygreen. Your skin knows what it needs—and will send you big red flags when you’re treating it poorly. So you should pay attention to these signals and adjust your skin care accordingly.
Unfortunately, we have so long seen pain, adjustment periods, and putting up with side effects as a normal part of skin care. If you haven’t already, remove yourself from that mindset. Skin care should feel good—and should sustain you.
“Always ask your skin, ‘What do you need today?’ Every morning, just a little like tune-in and a little check. And not forcing ideas, putting force on the skin, or coming at my skin with that energy of fixing,” she says. “But rather tuning in and going, ‘OK, skin, what do you need today?’ And then allowing both my skin care practices and just my practices throughout the day to kind of evolve around that.”
Healing your skin is universal yet deeply personal. And we can all learn from one another in finding ways to care for our skin—be it through science, spirituality, or self-care. Tune in to the episode to learn more.