I grew up with girls . . . girls everywhere. There were my four sisters, with their exponential network of friends, there was grandma and her rowdy pinochle crew, and then there was my mom, a “welcome-wayward-stranger” type who kept her home open to women of all stripes who might need some kind of looking after. So my young life was filled with – and surrounded by – girls and all the things they seemed to be interested in. Even though I was the designated ‘spider-taker-outer’ and could be counted on to tell lies to out-of-favor boyfriends, this was indeed a house o’girls. I am no stranger to pantyhose in the shower, bobby pins in the drain, long hairs in the scrambled eggs and piles of cosmetic goo crowding all possible horizontal surfaces in the bathroom. So it’s no surprise to me (or anyone else in my family for that matter) that I ended up making skin care.
Given my life-long love and study of plants and this general female ambiance that filled my developmental stages, I seem to approach this odd field of skin care from more of a ‘naturalist supporter of women’ perspective than the ‘innovative chemist in the lab’ stance. Perhaps, this has given me a little leeway in examining this issue of effective skin care. I do know that it has given me a fierce and protective posture, so it could be that my views are extreme, unfashionable, or even unpalatable to some. I guess I’m requesting clemency in advance.
I spent a while examining this word ‘effective’ and have decided it’s a little tricky. I’m sure there’s some general agreement on the meaning of the word; my dictionary says, “producing, or capable of producing, an intended result or benefit”. But still there’s a hazy area; this pen I’m writing with is effective and the lamp illuminating my notepad is effective, but what about this cucumber I’m eating? Is my salad effective? Evidently, I would need to distinguish between different types of effective. After a bit, I decided there was an ‘obvious effective’ – where the results were clearly evident & observable, and a ‘hidden effective’ – where results are less perceptible but accepted with confidence. I started to look around me and group things into obvious and hidden effective. The bike leaning in the corner there, now that the tire is fixed: obvious effective; my cat sitting on my book table watching me: hidden effective, and so on.
It came to me that all makers of skin care claim their products are effective. It would be silly to profess otherwise. But what type of effective; obvious or hidden? This designation seems to be the crux of the matter, for in this culture, at this time, we are habituated to the obvious. In matters of consumer goods of all kinds, we demand immediate and apparent results. An ‘obvious effective’ must be clearly built into product marketing. The funeral gong will be clanging for all companies foolish enough to manufacture a product that didn’t somehow soothe the consumer’s unconscious need for an instant and gratifying effect.
Anyway, back to my cucumber. This tasty, lightly seasoned chunk of transformed protons is certainly offering me subtle, but true results. I can rest easy knowing that in some mysterious but instinctive way, my body is methodically pulling some vital, life-giving substance from my garden fare. As nature spins her fabric of forest, river and rock, one can see there’s a certain pace – the pace of life. A flower grows, a wave rolls, the wind blows. All unfolding, all healing, all growing, all transforming follows this mysterious pace of life.
But it seems that we are in some type of hurry. Rushing around, dizzy with desires – it occurs to me that skin care might be an enabling accomplice to this agitated lifestyle. So I must ask myself, what am I getting into if I want my skin care to be effective? What generally impossible standards of appearance are motivating me? What kind of effective am I talking about? What exactly are the results I’m after?
Rolling these ideas around in my mind and heart for a while, I did come to some understanding of what is effective skin care. In fact, it becomes exceedingly clear: effective skin care nurtures an instinctive desire towards health and vitality. Ineffective skin care feeds on my fear of aging and lack of acceptance of myself as I am. Effective skin care honors an encompassing life force of which I am part. Ineffective skin care says to hell with earth, water and sky – my body, this is about Me. Effective skin care kindles a remembering of something right behind the veil, ineffective skin care reminds me of the frightened face in the mirror. One is about the actual present, the other about an imagined future. Using effective skin care is no different from watering the garden, steaming the greens, nursing the baby or washing the feet of our elderly mother. Using ineffective skin care is no different from being in a constant state of busyness and distraction.
When I was in grade school, I remember being corralled several times in the play yard by a dozen or so wild girls. They would dance around me, singing, “ring around the rosies, pocket full of posies . . . It’s a sweet memory and it reminds me that I’ve always been surrounded by the healing power of women and nature. And for that, I’m a Grateful Body.
Shannon Schroter is founder and formulator for Grateful Body Skin Care.
. . . following the intelligence of nature rather than the intellect of the laboratory