If you have dipped your toes into the world of skin care TikTok, you may have seen a video of someone sharing how they allegedly “manifested” clear skin. the hashtag #Manifesting clear skin has more than 7 million views with thousands of videos of people describing how they allegedly changed their thinking and thought their path 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 has sold 30 million copies on the idea that anything you want in life can be achieved 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, career or finances, but as the worlds of beauty, wellness and spirituality 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-degree view of skincare now,” Clare Varga, Head of Beauty at Trend Forecasters WGSN, explains. “Self-care is seen as a natural extension of skin care and is based on the idea that how you feel mentally and physically shows outward.” This has only been reinforced by recent world events. “The pandemic and subsequent polycrisis has left many people feeling out of control and anxious, which of course can be reflected in complexion. Concepts like manifesting give people a sense of control in the midst of chaos, and when coupled with skin care benefits , it’s doubly appealing,” she adds.
Naturally, beauty brands are eager 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 skincare step. The brand released eleven confirmation 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 excited about who you are,” and “Happiness resides within,” focus on general well-being as opposed to skin care, but are designed to reduce stress and therefore improve health—including the skin.
While it may seem far-fetched to ask the universe for better skin, the mind and skin are more connected than we might think. After all, it’s no accident when we break out before an important meeting or look radiant after a vacation. It is what Dr. Amy Wechsler, dermatologist, psychiatrist and author of “The Mind-Beauty Connection,” calls a two-way relationship. “The brain, spinal cord and skin are all made of the same layer of cells, and the mind can affect the skin both positively and negatively,” she says. “Too much cortisol (the stress hormone) causes inflammation, but it also breaks down collagen, leading to premature signs of aging,” she adds. On the other hand, endorphins, the happy chemicals, can boost skin health.
The skin-stress connection is well researched, but the connection between positive thinking and complexion is less so. A small study conducted by Dr. Murad supports this idea. He claims that when women repeated his eleven affirmations twice a day along with journaling for five minutes for eight weeks, their skin showed significant improvement. “Affirmations give us the strength from within 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.
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Australian supermodel Miranda Kerrwho uses affirmations in her personal routine, made this a core part of her skincare brand Kora Organics. “Feed your mind with positive affirmations and self-love,” is one of the brand’s three pillars, and each product includes a word, like love or peace, to focus on while using the product. Kerr also released a set of Tax yourself confirmation card; and on the brand’s website you can receive a new confirmation every day.
Likewise, singer Alicia Keys described affirmations as her “secret weapon” and her mark Keys Soulcare is built on the idea of turning routine into ritual with products designed to be used in conjunction with positive thinking. E.g Skin Transformation Cream asks you to “honor the connection between skin and soul by changing your thinking” 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 Snake body scrub“for when you need to let go and embrace new beginnings.”
The movement to make skincare self-care is something we’ve seen play out across the industry. The pandemic “pause” drove increased interest in self-reflection and wellness, 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: Marigold‘s monthly mask subscription) or facial oils as a stress-busting massage (like Jusie‘s facial massage tutorials), ritualizing skin care is becoming the norm.
As skincare 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 that nothing 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 definitely needed on the link between positive thinking and healthy skin, and other factors such as genetics, hormones and diet will always play a role. In the same way, it can put a lot of pressure on yourself if you hope that your thinking can solve your skin problems.
File this under the “if it works for you, go with it” category. And while there are plenty of brands ready to help guide you on your manifestation journey, remember that one of the most appealing things about the practice is that it doesn’t actually cost a dime.
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