black history month

How I Self-Care: Blending Cultures in Beauty

Jasmine Wicks Stephens
This Black History Month, Beauty Writer Ata-Owaji Victor shares her personal self-care habits and the beauty of rediscovering heritage rituals.

Self-care has become somewhat of a buzz word over the past few years and although the impact of the practice is universal – intrinsic link between radical self-care and black community is undeniable.

Radical Self Care, championed by the likes of Angela Davis and civil rights activist Audre Lorde who described the practice as “an act of political warfare” has been the driving force behind the creation safe spaces both in beauty and wellness for black and brown people for decades. Hair salons, Barbers and even community telephone recommendations for the best nearby markets, have been vital for providing respite from some of the injustices faced by black people daily.

Despite its intrinsic connection to healing and grounding rituals for black people as a community, for me self-care is still something that remains deeply personal. Straddling two cultures can be a complex feeling and at times difficult to navigate for many immigrants and children the diaspora. Finding a balance and embracing both is one of the many ways that black people, including myself cultivate ‘radical resistance’, through self-care that centralises Joy and Community – when faced with an injustice world.

As a beauty journalist, taking time for myself…

Looks a lot less luxe or glamourous than you would think, despite being able to try and test out some of the best products on the market. I find that self-care looks like a weekend with no work and time to check in with myself – what do my dreams look like this week? Do I feel physically present? And did I feel fulfilled this week?

The Menopause treatment mask, mostly because for my mother it has been a gamechanger and for a lifelong skincare lover like her it’s rare to see her excited by a new brand

What’s your ultimate self-care evening?

My ultimate self -care evening is a – possibly clichéd- Sunday winddown. My mother now lives out in Nigeria but is currently visiting and we try to try a new mask/ treatment every Sunday evening. A long bath with oils and a great body scrub are also always a good idea on a Sunday evening – but you might find me soaking in the tub on the odd Tuesday because I love the idea of ‘finding daily luxuries.’

When it comes to mindfulness and moving my body…

I wish I was more consistent with a body movement practice. I do start my day with a Line a day Journal I received as a gift from my best friend this year and try to stress at least for 10 minutes in the AM and PM. I have however been reading a lot about some Igbo self-care pregnancy rituals, although I am not pregnant – the empathise on mind-body-skin is something I am keen to integrate within my own self-care practices. I’ve also been reading a lot about Psychodermatology and have been seeing so many commonalities in wellness practice by Igbo and Andoni people – further confirmation that I need to start including more of my heritage into my version of self-care.

A typical day with for me looks…

Drastically different, mostly due to my job. Emails, Interviewing, writing up pieces and diving into brilliant new brands take up the chunk of my day but now – since I work primarily at home – I try to go on walks at lunch or meet with friends at a café near me, so I don’t feel so go-go-go. Fridays are the start of the weekend for me, and I’ll generally try and go out dancing or to dinner with friends – including with my two older sisters who will never admit that I am their best friend!

Although my favourite Faace mask is the Period one, my favourite to recommend now is…

The Menopause treatment mask, mostly because for my mother it has been a gamechanger and for a lifelong skincare lover like her it’s rare to see her excited by a new brand.

This year I would like to add in some more of my heritage to my routine…

Although I constantly make quips about the fact that inside to four walls of my house growing up it was like my parents had managed to replicate Nigeria, as my mum has now migrated back home, I’ve noticed how easily some practices – be it the soap from the hair shop or drinking Zobo or Moringa tea have been replaced by other alternatives. The mixing of wellness products, e.g. a long African net sponge and a great shower oil, has always been important in my household so I now making a conscious effort to keep blending the two.

You can find Ata’s words in Vogue, Elle, Black Ballad and The Stack and on Instagram @ataowaji

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