When it comes to caring for the skin there are fundamental words of wisdom that get passed from mother to daughter - drink lots of water, use sun protection, avoid fried food and “wash your face”. All practical “admonitions” but in a day and age when more moms are bringing their ever-younger daughters for manicures and pedicures, never mind facials, I am surprised to see how little knowledge is passed on. like lost recipes (or the importance of keeping them alive to tell a family story) self-care, as passed from parent to child, should be cultivated.
"I saw my mother in a different light. We all need to do that. You have to be displaced from what's comfortable and routine, and then you get to see things with fresh eyes, with new eyes."
I was astonished by the incredibly ritualistic traditions shared in the family I lived with years ago in Japan, where Kazumi Yamamoto shared a daily bathing and skincare ceremony with her daughter Aiko, age 13. Not only where there layers of washing, brushing and moisturizing with abundant ingredients that have deeply informed red flower - like rice bran (komenuka), soft-water, white clay, yuzu, charcoal and bamboo soaps, rice bran oil and extract of tea, but implements and tools of every variety. Best of all there was real technique - both in the application and in the flow of fingers over the face, eyes, neck and even ears to stimulate circulation and deep relaxation. Freshly washed and brushed hair, body fragrant and warm from the ofuro bath, Aiko and Kazumi sat together at the low, warm table (kotatsu) in the tatami mat living room - mirror on the table, practicing together the art of beautiful, healthy skin. I was mesmerized.
My mother taught me many things - some in opposition to all the rules, where her love of nature and sunshine made interest in suncare less relevant than absorbing every possible warm ray - not to tan but to drink in the heat. Some very much in keeping with the rules, primarily rules of folk medicine and herbology - vinegar to make your hair shine, whole avocado and eggs to make your hair and skin soft, oatmeal and baking soda to wash your face, that anything and everything can be made from the flowers and herbs in the garden - from violet liquors to flower waters. My mother’s approach was wild, wildcraft and beautiful chaos of everything is possible. for what it lacked in discipline it made up for in gusto.
"One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade."
My daughter is soon to turn 18, I have passed along the depth of rich knowledge I gained in Japan, the many years of professional experience in the wellness and beauty industry with exposure to 100s if not 10s of 100s of products, my mother’s lust for life and nature’s gifts and my own serious beliefs around empowerment and health all tempered by the fact that she is more interested in brushing a horse’s mane than her own…
“And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see -- or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.”
Children like simple structure, engaging routine and family stories - teaching is an art, and when it comes to creating a positive skin, hair and body care ritual, delight and opportunity abound. always look to nature first, explore how things work - for example, kids are literal - rose cream - can I just crush roses and put them on my face - well, let's break this down in the garden and make something that works together. some excellent, readily available ingredients to work with at home are oatmeal, lemon, salt and avocado. balance exploration and play with a more ceremonial practice of essential daily basics. depending on personal space by the sink have all products and tools set up and cleansed to encourage daily use. if space is an issue, do as the Yamamoto's do - store all products, mirror and face towels on a tray and bring fresh, warm water in a bowl.