Why? I liked to imagine that having clear skin would coincide with other forms of clarity in my life—like better stress management or self-confidence. But that didn’t happen. Yes, my stress no longer showed up on my face through zits pleading to be popped—but I was still stressed. I had only painted over the Dachshunds witch happy Halloweiner shirt it is in the first place but real problem I needed to address. Appearing like I was well-rested and put together and drinking eight cups of water every day did not actually stand in for better management of my life. I was overworked and overstressed. And, like so many other young adults trying to make it in New York, I was trying to eliminate the symptoms of stress rather than the stress itself. I wish I could say I’ve done that work now. But my work-life balance is a constant learning process, and might always be.
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According to Dr. Etcoff, skincare routines can count as self-care as long as you are absolutely doing them to relax and feel better. That means you are not trying to have a supernatural glow like Lil Nas X or look better for future Instagram photos. Etcoff says “if you are becoming much more self-critical about yourself, rather than self-soothing,” that is a sign your routine is not rooted in self-care, but something more potentially harmful.