It feels like it was only yesterday…
Standing in front of her Tasmanian oak vanity in her bedroom, my mother cloaked in towels – one around her body and another wrapped around her head like a turban – she would apply moisturiser all over. There wasn’t one inch of her skin that she hadn’t meticulously and gently nourished with cream.
Her process, which took place every morning, was somewhat religious and to a daughter’s bright eyes, somewhat romantic. Every morning, my mother followed the same skincare routine and bathed in the 10 or so minutes that were hers and hers alone (I’m sure caring for two young daughters and a husband will do that to you).
I remember running my eyes (and tiny fingers) across open jewellery boxes, Elizabeth Arden Red Door eau de parfum and many different beauty products covered in Japanese or Korean writing I couldn’t understand, which sat on her doily-covered vanity. Doilies, mum? Really?
At the time, I was young (maybe 8 or 9) but thanks to my Filipino-born mother (who emigrated to Australia at the age of 29 after being pen pals with my father for a few years – cute!), I began to understand the importance of caring for one’s skin and one’s self. Those morning rituals spread out over past decades are evidence. Now aged 57, my beautiful mother looks as if she’s in her late 40’s. And, me? I’m not young anymore but I do practice what I was taught.
My first real brush with high-quality, efficacious skincare came at the age of 17. I was studying in my final year at high school (side note: I was a massive nerd, who truly believed the be-all and end-all lied with my final exams – FYI, it doesn’t, kids!). At the time, hormones and stress prompted the type of teen acne that makes you quiver. You know, the deep purple-red, inflamed type of pimples that makes you mutter the words “ouch” without even realising you’ve said it out loud. Yeah, I had that!
At the risk of being screamed at to get out of a room by her sullen, rebellious daughter for absolutely no apparent reason (sorry ma!), my mother gave me a half-used bottled of her SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. The bottle, which she would have friends and family bring home for her from Asia, was covered in Japanese writing. Most would’ve assumed it was fancy drinking water distilled in a Japanese onsen but through the lessons learned from my mother, I began soaking a cotton pad with the Essence – known affectionately as “miracle water” – and patted it gently onto my pimple-covered face. Combined with a gentle pH balancing cleanser, a spot treatment (which was, in retrospect, waaaaay too harsh for any teen’s skin and a long way from where product technology thankfully is today) and a Dove tinted moisturiser, after two weeks, my skin began to clear.
Within a month, I no longer had skin that made you say “ouch”. I had skin that began attracting compliments from friends. “What are you using?” people would ask. “Where can I get some of that stuff?”
Within three months, my complexion wasn’t just clear; it was glowing.
At 18 years of age and at the end of my battle with bitching hormones and stupid school stress, I had come out of the fight scathed with a couple of war scars. Truthfully, they were minor but they were visibly there on my cheeks. To you, they might’ve seemed insignificant but to a teenage girl, they were giant craters that could’ve been seen on the moon. Since that day, I have used SK-II Facial Treatment Essence every single morning and every single night and the scars have since disappeared (along with the lousy high school boyfriend – thank God!).
Ten years on, my entire skin care routine (which ranges through from cream cleanser, essence and serum to eye cream, day cream and treatment mask) is entirely SK-II. Those 10 minutes to myself each morning is where I mentally open and close the “tabs” in my brain ahead of my busy day as editor and publisher of Gritty Pretty.
It’s the time when I can give myself – and my skin – a moment of peace. Like mother, like daughter.