The ‘skincare industry’ has been booming in recent years, young women like me are constantly being marketed the next miracle product, with social media influencers boasting the merits of their favourite lotions and eye-catching advertisements featuring everywhere from ad breaks to bus stops. After all, what else is there to do but perfect your skincare regime when you’re stuck inside during a pandemic?
As Christians however, we are called to be ‘in the world, but not of the world’. This requires us to carefully assess which aspects of the culture around us we want to adopt or reject.
So how should Christian women be responding to the growth of skincare? Is using your favourite tinted moisturiser buying into worldly consumerism, or is it simply self-care?
The real ‘care’ in skincare
There are lots of reasons to be critical of the beauty industry. At its core, the industry communicates that our worth comes from physical beauty and that feeling beautiful about ourselves will make us happy.
This is clearly at odds with the Bible’s teaching that God doesn’t look at the outside, but the heart. Proverbs 31 praises qualities such as fearing the Lord, working hard, and showing hospitality to others. Our identity is not founded in exterior things like our skin, but in knowing that we are children of God, saved completely and undeservedly through Jesus.
Secondly, a large focus of skincare is to reduce or even reverse the effects of ageing. Our culture says that wrinkles are unattractive, that there is something broken in the female appearance. Yet the Bible tells us this isn’t the case. We are taught that ‘grey hair is a crown of glory, it is gained in a righteous life’ (Proverbs 16:31). We are called to celebrate the God-given gift of age rather than diminish it.
We should also consider the price tag of buying expensive serums regularly. Advertisements tell us that we are ‘worth it’, yet spending our savings on physical possessions may indicate that we are storing up treasures on earth. When we think about how to be wise stewards of the money God has given us, a nightly 7-step skincare regime may not fit into this picture.
More than skin deep
It is easy to be concerned about the many dangers of buying into the beauty industry. However, before we banish our skincare products to the bin, we should examine our hearts for why we use them.
There is a tendency in Christian culture to see ‘self-care’ as a non-Christian term. We typically see it on Buzzfeed or lifestyle blogs, where it exudes an air of selfishness and self-service.
Yet, the Bible does not tell us to neglect our own needs. Of course, Christian self-care should start and end with looking after our spiritual health. Nonetheless, we should be good stewards of our emotional and physical health too. As women, that can rightfully include looking after our skin with particular products or doing a face mask to boost our mental health. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, and so we are called to honour God with them! (1 Corinthians 6:19)
When we think about self-care, we can also look to Jesus. He preached and healed thousands daily - and he was God! Still, he took time to be alone with God, to sleep, and to seek nourishment.
Most importantly, caring for our physical and mental needs allows us to best serve people, ministries, and our Lord. We are only human, we have limits to our energy and time, and we need to humbly acknowledge these to glorify God as best we can.
Finding the balance
God’s word instructs us to do all things for his glory. So how can we do this through skincare? On one hand, rejecting consumerist notions of beauty gives Christian women the opportunity to stand out from the world, proclaiming that our self-worth comes from being made in God’s image rather than outward appearance.
Yet, we can also show stewardship for our bodies and our service to God through skincare. Caring for ourselves properly allows us to fully serve him by having more energy and love to invest in our ministries and our friendships. In our service to these, our skincare regime can truly be done to the glory of God.