If you've dipped your toes in the world of skin-care TikTok, you might have seen a video of someone sharing how they have supposedly "manifested" clear skin. The hashtag #Manifestingclearskin has more than 7 million views, with thousands of videos of people detailing how they purportedly changed their mindset and thought their way to good skin via daily positive affirmations such as "My skin is beautiful" or "I trust my skin's healing process."
The broader concept itself is nothing new. Made famous by 2006's "The Secret" — a self-help book that's sold 30 million copies on the idea that anything you wish for in life can be attained via the law of attraction — manifesting has had a resurgence with a younger audience online in the past few years. The practice is traditionally used in connection with love, careers or finances, but as the worlds of beauty, wellness and spirituality increasingly collide and many seek alternative beauty solutions, manifesting a healthy and clear complexion is a natural next step.
"Consumers have a much more holistic, 360 view of skin care now," Clare Varga, Head of Beauty at Trend Forecasters WGSN, explains. "Self care is seen as a natural extension of skin care and taps into the idea that how you feel mentally and physically shows on the outside." This has only been intensified by recent world events. "The pandemic and the subsequent polycrisis have left many people feeling out of control and anxious, which of course can reflect in complexions. Concepts such as manifesting give people a sense of control amidst the chaos, and when it's then linked to skin-care benefits, it's doubly appealing," she adds.
Naturally, beauty brands are keen to get in on the action. Murad, founded by the dermatologist and wellness expert of the same name, was one of the first brands to promote positive thinking as a skin-care step. The brand released eleven affirmation cards as a free download after Dr. Murad himself used affirmations while recovering from major eye surgery in the hospital. The quotes, such as, "Be thrilled with who you are," and, "Happiness resides within," focus on general wellbeing as opposed to skin care, but are designed to reduce stress and therefore improve health — including the skin.
While asking the universe for better skin may seem like a farfetched approach, the mind and skin are more connected than we might think. After all, it's no coincidence when we break out before an important meeting or look glowing after a vacation. It's what Dr. Amy Wechsler, dermatologist, psychiatrist and author of "The Mind-Beauty Connection," calls a bidirectional relationship. "The brain, the spinal cord and the skin are all formed from the same layer of cells and the mind can impact the skin both positively and negatively," she says. "Too much cortisol (the stress hormone) causes inflammation, but it also breaks down collagen which leads to premature signs of aging," she adds. On the flip side endorphins, those happy chemicals, can boost the skin's health.
The skin-stress connection is well researched, but the link between positive thinking and the complexion is less so. However, a small study conducted by Dr. Murad does support this idea. He claims that when women repeated his eleven affirmations twice a day alongside journaling for five minutes for eight weeks, their skin showed significant improvement. "Affirmations give us the strength from inside to have the appropriate strength on the outside. We can go further when we minimize our stress because we can improve our sleep, which allows us to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles and more," Dr. Murad points out.
Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr, who uses affirmations in her personal routine, made this a core part of her skin-care brand Kora Organics. "Feed your mind with positive affirmations and self-love," is one of the brand's three pillars, and each product features a word, like love or peace, to focus on while using the product. Kerr also released a set of Treasure Yourself Affirmation Cards; and on the brand's website, you can receive a new affirmation each day.
In a similar vein, singer Alicia Keys described affirmations as her "secret weapon" and her brand Keys Soulcare is built on the idea of turning routine into ritual with products designed to be used alongside positive thinking. For example, the Skin Transformation Cream prompts you to "honor the connection between skin and soul by shifting your mindset" by asking, "how will you transform yourself today?" Mama Moon, a British spirituality-meets-beauty brand, is based on a similar idea. Its latest collection is designed specifically for self-love and includes products like The Serpent Body Scrub, "for when you need to let sh*t go and embrace new beginnings."
The movement to make skin care into self care is something we have seen play out across the industry. The pandemic "pause" drove increased interest in self-reflection and wellbeing, which has inevitably led to a new breed of brands looking to cash in on these ideas. Whether it's using masks as a moment of calm (see: Merigold's monthly mask subscription) or face oils as a stress-busting massage (like Djusie's facial massage tutorials), ritualizing skin care is becoming the norm.
As skin-care trends go, this isn't inherently a bad one. Experimenting with stress-busting routines can be transformative for some, but it's important to remember no one thing is a panacea. After all, if things were as easy as manifestation gurus or beauty brands claim, the world — and our skin — would have far fewer problems. More research is certainly needed into the link between positive thinking and healthy skin, and other factors like genetics, hormones and diet will always play a part. Similarly, hoping your mindset can solve your skin issues can put a good deal of pressure on yourself.
File this one under the "if it works for you, go with it" category. And although there are plenty of brands at the ready to help guide you on your manifestation journey, remember that one of the most appealing things about the practice is that, in fact, it doesn't cost a dime.
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