I’ve been thinking a lot about rituals lately. Mostly because I’ve never really had any, and up until 2020 happened, was perfectly fine with that fact. While other people made lattes, meditated, and journaled in the morning, I was sleeping in until the last possible moment, haphazardly throwing on whatever caught my eye in my closet, and rushing out the door, already frazzled for my first meeting of the day. I was more than okay with this way of life though, because I told myself that’s “just how I am”;--until the pandemic hit, and everything changed. Suddenly, I was stuck in my house all day, feeling anxious about the state of the world and helpless about how little control I had over it and my own life. A few weeks in, I realized that rolling out of bed onto my couch-- where I would work for the next eight hours then continue to sit as I ate my dinner, then eventually roll back into bed--was not good for my mental health, and that I needed to change.
Enter: my nightly skincare routine. I’ve always loved testing products in the past, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I realized my nightly routine could become a ritual that put me in a calmer state of mind before bed each night. Taking a moment to breathe in my cleanser as I massaged it into my face or giving myself a gentle facial massage after I applied my face oil made such a huge difference in my state of mind and was able to ease a lot of the stress that had built up during the day; I physically felt my stress fade away when I took the time to create a ritual out of my regimen. That’s why I was immediately intrigued when I heard about Alicia Keys’ new line, Keys Soulcare, which is all about treating your skincare as a ritual to instill a moment of calm. I love that each product also has an affirmation to repeat to yourself as you apply, and the scent of the candle would instantly soothe me when I would light it before bed. Ahead, find out how I’ve been incorporating Keys Soulcare into my nightly soothing ritual.
Step One: Light a Candle
I knew before even lighting Keys Soulcare’s Sage + Oat Milk Candle that I would love the scent, and sure enough, I haven’t gone a night without lighting it before bed. Candles have become a huge source of comfort to me during the uncertainty of the world; I have a collection I light throughout the day depending on my mood (or how I want to change my mood). When I’m sluggish, I have a candle I light that brings me energy; when I’m anxious, I have a candle that soothes me. Key Soulcare’s candle is the first part of my nightly routine--I get a little thrill every time I strike a match and light it. I like to light it so the scent fills my entire bedroom, and I’ll have a moment of calm before starting my skincare ritual by meditating on the affirmation it comes with: I shine at full wattage.
Step Two: Cleanse
I have to admit, I’m quite a cleanser connoisseur. Most people might consider cleansing the most boring part of their skincare routine, but they are overlooking its ritualistic powers. There are so many different types of cleansers, from balms to oils to gels to milks, and over the years, I’ve been able to pinpoint which cleanser gets my stamp of approval immediately and which gets tossed to the wayside. Spoiler alert: Keys Soulcare’s Golden Cleanser is officially my new favorite. The texture feels thick like honey--which makes sense because it’s infused with the antioxidant-rich Manuka honey from New Zealand--but when you massage it into your skin, it melts into a light, creamy lather. The scent made me literally go, “Mmmmmmmm” the first time I used it--it’s intoxicating and smells so good; like a clean, soothing hug for your face. It’s one of the only cleansers that makes the ritual of cleansing actually feel like a grounding experience; when I wipe my face clean, I feel noticeably lighter. Plus, the turmeric and chamomile in the formula simultaneously cleans, clears, and calms the skin. Take it from me: don’t underestimate your cleanser as a way to calm your mind.
Step Three: Exfoliate
Twice a week, I use Keys Soulcare Be Luminous Exfoliator to gently slough away any rough skin texture or dullness. I’ve been a fan of water-activated powder exfoliators for years; they’ve been popular in Japan for a long time, and I’m so glad they’ve made their way over to the U.S. Unlike other physical exfoliators, there aren’t any harsh, gritty particles here. Instead, the antioxidant-filled Hojicha powder, mung beans and oats gently transform into a creamy foam to buff away impurities; plus, there’s AHAs and lactic acid in this too, so you get a very gentle chemical exfoliation. I love the ritual of pouring the powder into my hand, and adding a few droplets of water, then working it into my skin--almost as much as I love the way my skin looks noticeably clearer and more luminous after.
Step Four: Mask and Chill
These days, I’ve been trying to go to bed earlier to set myself up for a better routine in the morning. That means I’m starting my nightly routine around 8 or 9 p.m., and can take my time going through each of the steps and still be in bed by 10 p.m. (this is a huge feat, given I used to be someone who’d regularly go to bed past midnight). After I’ve cleansed and exfoliated my skin, once a week I’ll apply the Keys Soulcare Harmony Mask all over my face, then go back to my room (where my Keys Soulcare candle is still burning), and read a book. I’m usually very tempted to pick up my phone during this time, but I try my best not to; and if I do, it’s usually to put on some music or play a podcast, not scroll endlessly on Instagram. I’ve been dealing with adult acne and maskne lately, and this mask is a savior for keeping my skin clear. Like the cleanser, it’s also made with Manuka honey, which has antibacterial properties, as well as activated charcoal, which has been used for centuries to purify and balance the skin. And did I mention it has actual gold foil in it? True luxury.
Step Five: Massage and Sculpt
I’m a huge fan of doing gua sha, which is an ancient Chinese practice of massaging and sculpting the muscles on your face. I apply my serums, moisturizer, and face oil, then grab the Keys Soulcare Obsidian Facial Roller and glide it across my cheekbones, jawline, and down my neck to help with lymphatic drainage. The Obsidian stone is great for your skin because it revitalizes the look of your skin tone, texture, and suppleness. It lifts and sculpts my face, but I also love it for helping loosen up tight muscles around my jaw; I clench my jaw and grind my teeth when I sleep, so it feels amazing to massage my masseter with the Obsidian Roller and instantly feel the tension melt away.
Step Six: Sleep
Usually at this point, I’m extremely relaxed and can barely keep my eyes open. However, if I still am feeling awake or having a hard time falling asleep, I’ll take a soothing supplement that has ashwaganda, which is an adaptogen to help balance your mood and promote relaxation, or l-theanine or GABA, both of which help promote relaxation and rest; a lot of people who are insomniacs swear by these natural ingredients to help them fall asleep each night.
And there you have it--my easy, relaxing six-step nighttime routine. What used to be a rushed, haphazard regimen has turned into a thoughtful time of grounding and reflection, and my mood--and self--is all the better for it.