From Tarot Cards to Double Cleansing with Ingrid Kesa
Ingrid here. I work in media, an industry notoriously linked to burnout and stress. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I do. But if you don’t exert meticulous time management skills it can get pretty crazy pretty quickly, with work/life binaries sometimes veering dangerously into one. So skincare and beauty for me aren’t just aesthetic (although that is an important, valid part). For me, it’s deeply linked to ritual and reflection.
Applying products and abiding by regimes provides still and solitude. In an act so simple as washing my face, I take a rare moment to hold my own gaze. How often do we truly see ourselves? It’s not vanity; it’s confronting. I believe that these self-focused practices allow us the time and space to honour ourselves—to both set intentions and take stock of how we’re feeling, how we’re doing.
A year ago I made some huge lifestyle changes. I left partying behind me. This involved cutting out alcohol (which you can read more about here), a weighted cloak I had worn throughout my teenage years and twenties. I felt my mind and body transform through the practice of yoga. I became more aware than ever of what I was consuming—from the foods I ate to the company I kept—and in turn what this allowed me to put back out into the world.
During this time, I’ve connected even further with the overarching concept of ritual and the associated products, turning to them for affirmation. Ostensibly skin deep, they’ve become cornerstones of my overall approach to health and wellbeing. I feel privileged to share with you some of my favourites.
To me, mental and spiritual health is the most important part of wellness. Everything else is secondary, a nice-to-have. I was introduced to the teachings of Ram Dass through my close friend Kashi Somers. We lay on her bed and flicked through his book Be Here Now. At once accessible and psychedelic, his teachings are about dissolving the ego and being present. “We’re all just walking each other home.” I’ve since turned to this book in times of struggle, to help me feel my feelings and put them into perspective.
I am definitely no expert in tarot but my beautiful boyfriend gifted me this deck for Christmas and pulling a card from it has become integral to my nightly ritual. I especially treasure the nights when him and I share this moment together. Photographer Bea Nettles had a dream about creating the deck in the summer of 1970 during an artist’s residency in North Carolina. She spent the next five years bringing ‘Mountain Dream Tarot‘ to life. I appreciate the guidance the cards offer but it’s about taking time off the screen to connect with myself and one another.
I read something recently that a Cancer’s version of luxury is a well-kept house and a supportive partner. Sums it up, really. My home is my sanctuary. My bedroom is where I have, and create, my dreams. When it is messy, my brain feels messy. I know it’s materialistic, but I love being surrounded by my things. Not even expensive things, just sentimental things—like matches I have collected on travels, handwritten notes from friends, shells and small items that evoke nostalgia.
A key part of my relaxation routine at home is lighting incense. I do this before bed while engaging in Viparita Karani (laying on the floor with legs propped up against the wall) to relieve stress and aid digestion. I’m usually playing music and patting my dog throughout this. It floods me with joy just thinking about it. I recommend Japanese brand Kuumba International. They have so many different fragrances and the names are cute—like Love Supreme and Playboy Bunny. My favourite, though, is White Linen. The swirly brass incense holder is by Subtle Bodies and ceramic tray by CCLAUDD.
I love skincare and no matter what sort of a day I’ve had in the boardroom or in my personal life, engaging in a regime provides grounding. I’ve experienced cystic/hormonal acne since my mid-20s (I’m almost 30). I was at a point where it was as if I had tried everything. It was taking a toll on my self-esteem. But I feel as though I’m on the cusp of a breakthrough thanks to a triumvirate of medication, consultations with a nutritionist, and, of course, skincare. I am fascinated in the area where clean/organic beauty and science intersects.
I double cleanse with One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Oil Cleanser, which I picked up from my holy grail New York store CAP, and follow with Caudalie Gentle Cleansing Milk, which I found in a French pharmacy. Then I use Dr. Alkaitis Organic Herbal Toner, excellent for inflammation. I finalise with moisturiser, alternating between One Love Organic Skin Dew Coconut Water Cream and One Love Organic Skin Savior Balm (when especially dry). Weekly I use Marie Veronique Probiotic+Exfoliation Mask, a gentle and non-stripping AHA.
I’m obsessed with oils. The texture and sensation feels so luxe. Favourites include Glossier Vitamin C Face Serum: Super Glow and Go-To Face Hero, scented like a field of flowers. In summer I have a bottle of Avène Thermal Spring Water next to my bed and on my desk.
My beauty routine is low-touch. This is largely due to time restrictions in the mornings before work and… technical restrictions. I’m still learning to apply beauty products and throughout this process I’ve grown even more to appreciate the well-deserved ‘makeup artist’ title—it truly is a skill.
After applying SPF50+ sunscreen (Mecca Comestica To Save Face Superscreen) I use Charlotte Tilbury Brightening Youth Glow as a primer. Next I take NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer and blend with Mecca Max All Over Eye Enhancer Expert Eyeshadow Brush. It’s the best product I have used to soften the blow of any cystic acne breakouts. If I want to glow-up I will layer with Josie Maran Vibrancy Argan Oil Foundation Fluid using Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Brush. It is liquid gold and leaves you feeling like a dewy Botticelli baby that just crawled out of a clamshell.
My favourite mascaras for my naturally pale lashes are Burberry Beauty Cat Lashes in Midnight Blonde or Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara. If I’m feeling glam I will add a slick of Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow in Kitten Karma. The newest product I’ve incorporated into my routine is Perricone MD No Makeup Lipstick after borrowing it constantly from my beloved friend Elissa McGowan. Thanks Lissy.
My favourite Aesop product is the Redemption Body Scrub. The smell is captivating and fresh, like alpine air. I use it all the time, before and after shaving (with Dr. Bronner Organic Unscented Shaving Soap). I switch between fragrances, turning back to brands like Byredo and Maison Louis Marie. But at the moment I’m all about Bastide Neroli Lumiere EDT. I can’t tell you how many purse-sized bottles of these I tore through before investing in a full-size (and this is about my third bottle of that). I reward my hands for hard work at the end of the day by using Le Labo Hinoki Hand Lotion as a final step before sleeping.
A renewed focus on nutrition is imperative to my personal wellness philosophy. I strongly believe in the healing power of food, eating for your hormones (I found a book called Healthy Hormones to be a helpful starting point), and listening to physical feedback to inform a happy relationship with food. I’m interested in learning more about gut health and how microbes affect mood and memory. This area of holistic health is amazing to me; the thought that our microorganisms can shape how we see and experience the world—and how we have the power to shift that… Like, hello! Huge. I am a fan of Melbourne-based company Holy Mountain. Their range of powders (add to smoothies, juice, or water) harnesses ancient healing properties and medicinal herbs, roots, and mushrooms. I add a dash of Moon Juice Brain Dust into my morning coffee when I’m going through my emails first thing at work. I’m not sure if it’s psychosomatic, but it seems to make the task a little more enjoyable.