Overcoming Self-Esteem and Body Image Issues With Skincare
This week, we go #inthemirra with Mirra reader Francisca Beija, a 31 year old skincare aficionado based in Portugal. After starting therapy to cope with body image issues, Francisca shares how taking care of her skin became the ultimate way to practice showing herself compassion.
Your passion for skincare came from a sensitive place. Can you tell us more about how you go into skincare?
When I was young, I was very self-conscious about my weight. I would repeatedly receive backhanded comments like, “you have such a pretty face. If you were to lose weight, you would be even more beautiful.” That sort of external pressure really took a toll on my self-esteem — If all of my worth is tied up in how my face looks, then I better start taking care of this one asset that I have, I thought. And so from then on, my obsession with skincare was born.
What role did skincare play in your life?
Tending to my skin provided a sort of escape from my struggle with mental health and body image, and gave me forum to feel beautiful.
I had a huge meltdown when I was 24. It all started on Christmas eve, when I overheard uncle tell my dad that my body was unattractive and that I essentially looked like a shapeless monster. His comment absolutely broke my heart and sent me into a really dark place.
In April of the following year, I started to see a psychiatrist where I was formally diagnosed with both an eating disorder and depression. I walked away with a prescription for both medication and therapy.
Therapy has helped me so, so much. I am still in therapy today. While traditional therapy has been a big reason for my recovery, my skincare ritual also played a big role in helping me boost my self-esteem. Skincare has evolved into a really healing force in my life.
Every time I look in the mirror and complete my skincare ritual, it’s a chance for me to show myself compassion. It’s a moment where I get to remind myself that at the end of the day, I do like me, no matter how many negative thoughts I may battle with. When I look in the mirror, I tell myself that I see you, I like you, and I’m going to take care of you.
I use skincare as a way to show my self love myself even in moments where I am tempted to think otherwise. It’s a way for me to tell myself that even when I don’t like me, I can love me.
What does your skincare routine look like?
For me, skincare started as a mechanism for healing, rather than for beauty. Now it’s for both, and admittedly, beauty has also taken the center stage! Skincare has traditionally brought me a sense of relief. Now, it’s like, obsessive relief! I am literally obsessed. I’m spending my weekend at my aunt’s house right now, and I literally brought a Mary-Poppins-esq bag filled with skincare products. Like, why did I feel the need to bring two sunscreens??! LOL.
When I first got into skincare, my first order of business was to clear my acne. I went to dermatologists, used a variety of prescriptions, and scoured the beauty isles of the local grocery store for products that could help rid me of my acne. I started investing in my skin far before my friends did, so I was really on my own in terms of navigating products and skincare advice. I’ve come a long way since, and now am very proud of the skincare expertise I’ve developed as a result (and now get to showcase on my Instagram).
If I’m really sleepy, I just wash my face with micellar water and leave it on as a toner. Then, I use a hyaluronic acid serum and follow with a moisturizer.
If I’m in a zen mood, I’ll do a double cleanse, and then use micellar water on any forgotten areas around my forehead/hairline, then apply toner, then a second toner that’s more hydrating.
Like what you all believe in at Mirra, I also don’t believe in skin types, and instead believe in skin moods! Right now, my skin hasn’t been in the mood for face oils. My skincare routine can either be a 20 step routine or a 3 step routine - it just really depends on what my skin is asking for in the moment.
What beauty advice do you swear by?
Always, always, always take your makeup off! In the past, when I would forget to take it off, I would look like I had aged 10 years for the next week! Cleansing my skin properly has really changed my skin for the better. I can’t emphasize proper cleansing hygiene enough.
Also, I think it’s really powerful to use skincare as a way to empower yourself to start your day from a place of compassion. Developing a ritual around your skincare practice, which incorporates both products and self-love, in my experience can really help to make you feel beautiful from the inside out!