Welcome to the next installment from my series all about holistic beauty! I’m sharing interviews with a variety of women asking about their holistic beauty rituals. Some are beauty experts, some are just regular gals like you and me. Let the holistic beauty secrets begin!
Meet Beth, an old friend and co-founder of the web site What’s Your Grief. I’ll let Beth tell you her background in her own words below. Beth may have convinced me to try a session in a sensory deprivation tank, something I’ve been curious about, but a little scared to try!
My name is Litsa Williams (though those who know me best call me Beth). I have taken a long, winding road to where I am now both personally and professionally. I am a therapist who specializes in grief and loss and the co-founder of the grief website What’s Your Grief.
When I was 18 years old my father died and, on an early grief-driven search for meaning in the world, I studied Philosophy and Religious Studies in college, with a deep interest in Phenomenology and Eastern Philosophy/Religion. I moved to England and got master’s degree in Philosophy before realizing what brought me true joy was working with people in a way that could more directly impact their lives. I moved back to Baltimore and began working in homeless services, an area where grief was pervasive. I ultimately went back to school for clinical social work and have spent the ten years working in grief and loss.
How do you approach aging and beauty?
I have actually been thinking about this a lot lately. When I was in my twenties I truly believed I wouldn’t be one of those people that worried about physical beauty as I aged. I was raised by a mother who was valedictorian of her high school, college, and pharmacy school classes and who also happens to be the kindest, most compassionate, and giving person I have ever known. She drilled in to me the idea that beauty is internal – it is the things we learn, create, and give to others. I never thought that my identity was particularly tied to my physical appearance, age, or beauty, and I never spent much time or energy thinking about in my teens and twenties.
Interestingly, at 36 I am far more aware of my physical self than I was at 22. If I could tell my 22 year old self that, she would probably think that was a bad thing. She would tell me I shouldn’t be worried about age or beauty. She would have a hard time understanding my 36 year old perspective, which has grown to feel that the mind, the physical body inside, and the physical body outside are far more connected that I understood then. Beauty for me is found in a healthy balance of all those things in the self – the physical, emotional, and intellectual. Age has let me embrace that idea, rather than seeing beauty and the physical body as something lesser than the emotional and intellectual self.
What are your daily beauty rituals?
My rituals are basic and, with more than a touch of ADHD I struggle to do the same things every day (except brush my teeth!). I know this is generic, but I swear by water – tons of it. I don’t hold myself to an exact amount, but I use an old-school 32oz nalgene bottle that I have had since high school and I usually drink about four of them a day. I can tell a huge difference on days when I drink less water, both in how I look and feel.
My skin has always been wonky -it is uneven, dry in some places, oily in others, and mild acne has always been a challenge. I have tried products and diet changes and a few prescription products over the years, all with little success. The two skin rituals that finally changed my skin for the better were tea tree oil and jojoba oil. I put jojoba oil on every night before bed it is the single biggest thing that has made my skin even and clear. I use tea tree oil as a spot treatment and it almost always clears breakouts for me in a day. I also use a vitamin C serum a few days a week.
What are some rituals that you feel all women should be doing?
I have been on and off of the meditation bandwagon for years. This year has been a very chaotic and unsettled year and meditation has been one of the things that has kept me healthy and sane. As someone with ADHD (the non-hyperactive, but unfocused type) I have trouble meditating, so I feel strongly that if I can do it, anyone can!
Do you have any beauty rituals or natural products that you have recently tried and/or incorporated into your routine?
Well, I don’t know if you can consider this a beauty ritual or a natural product, but I recently tried a sensory deprivation tank for the first time. I know it may sound crazy, but it was absolutely amazing! I can’t think of the last time I felt that calm and relaxed. I also thought my skin felt great and really smooth after, though that could have been all in my head!
How do you eat for beauty?
As I already mentioned, water is a big part of my daily routine. I don’t restrict anything from my diet (except meat, which I ditched 20 years ago for ethical reasons), but I am a huge believer in whole foods, cooking from scratch, and avoiding processed foods whenever possible.
Any beauty secrets you want to share?
Though this is become a standard practice for more and more people I talk to, cutting down on how often I wash my hair was an amazing change I made several years ago. My sister is a hair stylist and was the first person to suggest that daily and even every other day washing is probably too much. I cut down to twice a week and love it. The first couple weeks my hair was an oily mess, but once it settled out it has been smooth sailing!
What else do you do to support vibrancy and beauty?
Wow, I wish I had a really amazing answer to this question. I am not sure if these support beauty and vibrancy, but I sure hope they help: I say hi to nearly every person I pass on the street; I support women and minority owned businesses; I walk around barefoot way too much; I speak loudly about my distain for Donald Trump, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and inequality; I live in Baltimore and love it for the city it is and for the city it is fighting to become; I make an effort to write thank you notes and emails when I get great service; I talk about death and grief and addiction and mental illness and suicide so others know they are normal and they aren’t alone; I try to embrace and laugh at my flaws rather than beat myself up over them; I do my best to remember to tell friends how much I love and appreciate them; I grossly over-tip.
What’s Your Grief is a supportive online community dealing with a topic we all deal with, but is not really talked about in our culture – grief.