DiscoverSuperFeast Podcast#152 Deconstructing The Beauty Industry with Jessica DeFino
#152 Deconstructing The Beauty Industry with Jessica DeFino

#152 Deconstructing The Beauty Industry with Jessica DeFino

Update: 2022-03-15
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They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but how much of our perception of what we perceive as 'beautiful' is being prescribed, moulded, and manipulated through marketing campaigns and products? What if beauty brands were regulated by a set of ethical standards that didn't allow them to prey on our insecurities to sell their products? Let's be real, beauty brands have a vested interest in you not feeling good about yourself, in you wanting to change something about your appearance or enhance your features; It's how they sell their products.   

 

We're exploring all these topics and more today on the podcast, as Tahnee chats with prolific beauty industry journalist and author of The Unpublishable, Jessica DeFino. You may have read some of Jessica's articles in Vogue, Harper's BAZAAR, Allure, The New York Times, Elle, Cosmopolitan, or Marie Claire. Jessica has earned herself a reputation for debunking marketing myths, exposing the ugly truths behind beauty product ingredient lists, and as the HuffPost once put it, "basically giving the middle finger to the entire beauty industry". We love Jess for this and are so excited to share this podcast with you.

 

In this episode, Tahnee and Jessica deconstruct the beauty industry as we currently know it. The insidious impact patriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism have on the industry, how things like colourism, sexism, and ageism are enforced constantly through marketing campaigns, the ethical dilemma of dermatologists offering (and often suggesting) aesthetic cosmetic procedures like Botox and fillers, the role of self-care as we age, and so much more. Most importantly, Jessica talks about the power individual behaviours have when it comes to shaping culture and the future of beauty culture for the better. Jessica also breaks down how and why we need to stop participating in this psychologically damaging industry that is the root cause of so many physiological and psychological disorders. There is so much in this episode; Jessica inspires transparency, truth, and the kind of beauty that can only come from within.

 

 

"I want the next generation of humans to feel worthy, to raise their voices, be seen, heard, acknowledged, accepted, and embraced by the people around them without worrying if they're pretty enough to ask for that acknowledgment and acceptance. And I mean, that's my whole motivation. I don't think anybody should feel the way myself and billions of people around the world currently feel. I want that to change. And the only way I know how to do it is to change myself and inspire the change in others". 


- Jessica DeFino

 

 

Host and Guest discuss:

 

  • Botox.
  • Topical steroids.
  • Filter vs. Reality.
  • Psychodermatology.
  • The Skin/Brain connection.
  • How meditation benefits the Skin barrier.
  • The ploy of 'community' used in branding.
  • The problem with the clean beauty industry.
  • Jess's natural skincare routine and suggestions.
  • The culture of consumerism and the beauty industry.
  • Performative beauty masquerading as empowerment.
  • Self Care; What It Means and How It Changes As We Age.
  • Racism, colourism, sexism and ageism in the beauty industry.
  • The Kardashian's, and the beauty standards they perpetuate.
  • The most pressing health issue in beauty is the psychological harm of beauty standards.

 

Who is Jessica Defino?

Jessica DeFino is a beauty reporter working to dismantle beauty standards, debunk marketing myths, and explore how beauty culture impacts people — physically, psychologically, and psychospiritually. Her work can be found in the New York Times, Vogue, Allure, and more. She also writes the beauty newsletter The Unpublishable. 

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ON APPLE PODCAST 

 

Resources:

Jessica's website

The Unpublishable

Jessica's Instagram 

 

Q: How Can I Support The SuperFeast Podcast?

A: Tell all your friends and family and share online! We’d also love it if you could subscribe and review this podcast on iTunes. Or  check us out on Stitcher :)! Plus  we're on Spotify!

 

Check Out The Transcript Here:

 

Tahnee: (00:00 )

Hi everyone, and welcome to the SuperFeast Podcast. I'm here today with Jessica DeFino, who is one of my favourite follows on socials. She's also the author of The Unpublishable, which is this amazing newsletter you guys should all sign up to. I've heard you describe yourself as pro-skin/anti-beauty product. I love that. So yeah, thanks for joining us here, Jess. I'm really excited to have you.

 

Jessica DeFino: (00:23 )

Thank you so much for having me.

 

Tahnee: (00:25 )

Yeah, really, really cool. And you're such a prolific writer. You've been in the New York Times, Vogue, Marie Claire, all over the place, plus all of those amazing online platforms we have access to today. But then you're kind of this punk, which I love. You're sort of in the beauty world, but also tearing it apart from the inside. So would that be fair to say?

 

Jessica DeFino: (00:45 )

Yeah, I think that is fair to say. It's definitely a balancing act and a tight line to walk.

 

Tahnee: (00:56 )

Yeah. I often say to my husband, because I really respect that line you're walking, and I think any of us in any industry, it's really important to be critical of like the work that we do and the kind of culture and everything, and also to love and enjoy what we do. And I do get a sense that there's that sort of dance there for you. You really love what you do, but then there's also this like.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:23 )

Exactly. I mean, the whole reason that I got into the beauty industry is out of love and out of a passion for it. And yeah, I think we do critique the things that we love the most because we want them to be the best possible version of what they can be and sort of serve the highest good. And currently, I don't think the beauty industry serves the highest good, and I think it can, and I would love to be part of that transition.

 

Tahnee: (01:47 )

Well, you're doing a good job of getting us there. So thank you. So how did that sort of manifest for you? You are obviously a writer. Did you sort of always want to get into the beauty space or were you drawn into it for a certain reason or?

 

Jessica DeFino: (02:01 )

No. I was always interested in writing. In college, I studied songwriting. I went to the Berkeley College of Music in Boston. And I sang, I played guitar and songwriting was my main passion. After school, I decided I wanted to be more in the music industry. So I pivoted. I moved to Los Angeles and I decided to work for a wardrobe stylist in the music industry. So I was assisting her on shoots and helping to cultivate the look for rock stars like Green Day and Linkin Park and Daughtry.

 

Jessica DeFino: (02:34 )

And that was really fun. And eventually I missed writing. And because I sort of had this foothold in the celebrity space, I pivoted it into celebrity lifestyle writing for magazines, which eventually led me to a job working for the Kardashians, which eventually led me into the beauty space. So it was a long winding path.

 

Tahnee: (02:58 )

Okay. So I have to stop at the Kardashians because I've never watched that show. But no matter how avoiding the Kardashians you are in life, they seem to be everywhere. What were you doing for them? What was that?

 

Jessica DeFino: (03:10 )

I was part of the launch team that created content for their official apps. So in 2015, all the Kardashian and Jenner sisters launched their own individual apps. And they had content that was fashion related, beauty related, lifestyle. I mostly did Khloe's app. I wrote her sex column. I wrote her beauty column.

 

Jessica DeFino: (03:32 )

So it was really funny. It was really fun. It was definitely a learning experience for me. And I think looking back that's part of what inspired me to get into the beauty industry. Well, for one, it was a high stress environment and my skin kind of freaked out during the time I was working there. So I started independently researching a lot about skincare and beauty.

 

Jessica DeFino: (03:57 )

And then working for these women, you sort of see how beauty standards are created, and how they are consumed, and how that is a very strategic thing in order to get clicks and sell products. And so I started deconstructing that in my head and applying it to different aspects of the beauty industry. And eventually I was like, "You know what? This is super messed up. I want to do something about it."

 

Tahnee: (04:27 )

Well, that's kind of what made me start with that, that name in particular because I feel like they've really shaped, I guess ... Again, I'm not sort of someone who's super across all the trends with face things. But people have the skin that's really shiny and the implants and all the injections and all of these things these days. And it's like I really see they were part of that first wave of celebrities that were really, I guess, pushing that. And they're such an interesting family because they have sort of darker skin, but they're not black and they're sort of in this weird world. What sort of has come from that for you? You are obviously, I love how you call it dewy, diet culture. It's one of my favourite things. But where have you landed after this sort of journey from the Kardashians to now?

 

Jessica DeFino: (05:17 )

From the Kardashians? Well, when I started, I truly did think that they were great examples of empowered business women. I really thought like, "Wow! These people started out with not much talent to work with, and they've created these huge empires. And how amazing is that?" And that was definitely an early part of my own feminist learning and understanding, and journey.

 

Jessica DeFino: (05:43 )

And now where I am is recognising that those things aren't necessarily empowerment because that sort of empowerment within a patriarchal culture, what kind of power is that truly. I'm less interested in those forms of power and beauty as capital, and infiltrating the male business world as capital. And I'm more interested in chasing collective liberation, which I think looks very different.

 

Tahnee: (06:16 )

So where does beauty even sit in that, because I think that's such an interesting ... My partner and I talk about this as well. We're both white, fairly attractive people who run a Taoist tonic herb company. And I have to think if I was Chinese, I probably wouldn't be as successful as I am just because of the way our culture reflects back that sort of stereotype. And it's something I sit with a lot and I don't have any answers about yet. But I think it's a really interesting time because beauty does give us leverage and it does give us space in the world to take up.

 

Jessica DeFino: (06:53 )

I think an interesting path to go down, if you are interested in learn more about that and learning more about beauty and how these standards evolved, is just getting into the history of beauty standards. And when you do dive into the history, I wrote a pretty long article on that for Teen Vogue, if anybody wants to Google it, about the origins of beauty standards. But basically beauty standards all came about through four particular forces in society, patriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism and capitalism. Any beauty standard from the beginning of time can be traced back to one of those things.

 

Jessica DeFino: (07:35 )

Beauty standards are how things like racism, colorism, sexism and ageism are enforced. These aren't just fun things, even though we tend to think of them that way now. These standards emerged to support these sort of more nefarious societal forces and to, not to get too conspiracy theorists about it, but convince us to reinforce these social structures. So when we are participating in beauty standards, a lot of the time we are reinforcing the very societal structures that oppress us and we don't even know it.

 

Tahnee: (08:16 )

I think that's such an important mic drop moment because we are all co-creating and participating in the ongoing perpetuation of these forms without any awareness around how we're actually contributing to that. And that's what I've loved about your work. You're really trying to bring that to the fore. And for me, it's been a big sort of, I think obviously that's been happening in my life for a while. But then your work has really helped me give words, I guess, to sort of some of the stuff that's been brewing in my thinking, because I did some modelling when I was younger and it was quite toxic for me.

 

Tahnee: (08:55 )

I know some people don't have that experience. But I had an eating disorder. I felt like people were constantly looking at me and judging me and just it really turned this kind of cog in me that made me very self aware and very uncomfortable. And I've noticed myself over the last probably 20 years just like I don't by stuff anymore. I barely use anything on my skin. My skin seems to be about the same as when I used all the things. It's really funny. Kind of as I decondition myself, it's like my life becomes a lot simpler.

 

Jessica DeFino: (09:29 )

Yeah. What strikes me there is that we often hear in the mainstream media beauty sort of touted as this path to empowerment, and beauty is empowering, and beauty builds confidence. And sometimes those things can be true. But more often what beauty culture does is it disempowers us because studies show that it contributes to things like anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, self harm, and even suicide.

 

Jessica DeFino: (10:00 )

So it's really important to examine when we hear this beauty product is empowering or this thing is self care, because the flip side of that is that this disproportionate focus on our physical bodies actually leads to all of those things that I just mentioned. So we sort of have to weigh that and say, "Okay. Is the confidence that I get from getting this injection of Botox worth the anxiety that I get from now constantly worrying about my wrinkles for the rest of my life?"

 

Tahnee: (10:39 )

That's a tricky one. I know people in their twenties now getting Botox and I'm like, "Woo." And I think that's ... I mean, you've lived in LA. There's certain pockets where that pressure is really high for people. And I think it's definitely an interesting time to be a human. And that's something I really appreciate about your critique is you talk about this idea of brands and how they perpetuate this idea of community. And again, my brand is probably contributing to that in some way. But I think that's a really interesting conversation again around well, if someone is just getting money out of you and really selling you a narrative, is that actually a community, and is that actually sort of something you want to be a part of? Can you speak a little bit to that sort of, cause I see that as a theme in your work?

 

Jessica DeFino: (11:27 )

Yeah. I mean, I think community has become this sort of catch phrase that brands are using now. And it's an attractive one and it's one that really grabs our attention because I think as humans we crave community. Humans are creatures of community. We crave it on a biological, instinctual level. And because we have been so steeped in this culture of consumerism, we can't really see out of it. We don't really see any different. And it's really easy to latch onto this idea that this brand is my community and the other people that buy from this brand are also my community.

 

Jessica DeFino: (12:08 )

But it's not a community. There's inherently a power and balance in that relationship in that a brand's main interest is always going to be their financial interest. Brands don't do things unless they further the brand and make the brand money and further their reach. If something that is good for the customer also comes out of it, that's a bonus. But that is never the initial goal. The initial goal is to make a living. And so that inherently creates this power imbalance with brand and customer. And to call that a community is just, I think it's a little bit a psychological mind fuckery. I don't know if I can say that on you podcast.

 

Tahnee: (12:49 )

Of course, you can. Feel free. I think that's a really interesting ... So you probably don't know this, but I used to be a yoga teacher full-time and had a studio. And I found that really interesting when I worked in yoga before having my own business that, this is probably not a great thing to say. I won't name names. But people would talk behind students' backs and kind of be quite critical. But then to their faces, do the whole yoga thing.

 

Tahnee: (13:21 )

And similarly, within the teaching community, there was a lot of backstabbing and kind of really awful behaviour, and then this front facing kumbaya, look how spiritual we all are kind of stuff. And I found it really challenging and kind of went off and did my own thing. It was financially successful enough for me, but I really notice that when you focus on that community aspect, so much energy, so much time, so much of yourself and you can see why that's not a commercial proposition for most businesses. It's not a way to go and make you millions. But rewarding for other reasons. But I think it's like that word has become so loaded and so misused that it's really tricky now to even know what people mean when they say community, especially.

 

Jessica DeFino: (14:10 )

I mean, it's just, especially with beauty, beauty brands have a vested interest in you not feeling good about yourself. They have a vested interest in you wanting to change something about your appearance or not thinking your current appearance is enough as it is. And whether they frame that as "fixing your flaws" or "enhancing your good features", which sort of means the same thing, the baseline has to be there in order for them to be successful. You have to think your good features aren't enhanced enough. You have to think that your flaws aren't fixed.

 

Jessica DeFino: (14:50 )

I always like to use the Dove campaign, that everybody is beautiful campaign from years and years ago. That was kind of their first body positive thing. It was founded on this marketing idea of empowerment, and we're going to make everybody feel beautiful. But again, in order for a campaign like that to succeed long term, depends on most customers not feeling beautiful and needing to buy into this message of confidence and empowerment. So your insecurity has to be there in order for these brands to survive even if their marketing message seems positive.

 

Tahnee: (15:28 )

I do know. And I don't see that much difference you in the wellness space, if I'm honest. I know I seem to make those comparisons. And I think that's something that I'm aware of in terms of the world we live in, which I guess like you Americans, that sort of we are a version of Moon Juice or those kinds of companies here, obviously with less of a fashion focus than they have. But I think it's a really interesting thing because it's like the premise can be literally there's something wrong with you. You need to buy X, Y and Z to be healthier, or better, or in this perpetual grind toward optimization and stuff, kind of improvement. So can you speak a little bit to that, how you see that overlap up between wellness and beauty in what's happening?

 

Jessica DeFino: (16:16 )

Well, I think what has been happening more so is that the shift in messaging is less about outer beauty and physical appearance as it is health. Health has sort of become the beauty standard. And now of course we associate health with having all of these aesthetic markers that are not necessarily signs of health. For instance, beauty brands will use glowing glass skin, healthy skin, and glass skin. That look is not a marker of health. That's not what healthy skin looks like.

 

Jessica DeFino: (16:57 )

And I think wellness brands will do the same thing. They'll use health as this marker, but the things that they're positioning as health are not necessarily health, or maybe they are, but it's not going to be fixed by a supplement or a tincture. A lot of the problems that wellness brands are trying to solve are structural societal problems that require collective action and policy change, and not just a stress relieving tincture. So sure, a stress relieving tincture might help. But it's not actually solving the underlying problem. And I think if brands don't acknowledge that, it's pretty disingenuous.

 

Tahnee: (17:39 )

So it's really pointing to root cause, which is one of those foundations of neuropathy. And all of these, in theory, wellness things anyway, rather than going at what's the outside symptom.

 

Jessica DeFino: (17:51 )

Exactly. Which is so ironic for a lot of wellness brands because they claim to be treating root cause. A lot of the wellness philosophy comes from root cause medicine and holisticism and or holism and and all of that. And still, they're stopping at individual solutions rather than looking wider to systemic solutions. And again, that's not to say you can't do both. As a brand, you can of course say, "Hey, this blend of ashwagandha and whatever might help you feel less stressed throughout the day. And also-

 

Tahnee: (18:28 )

So you can go tackle the patriarchy.

 

Jessica DeFino: (18:31 )

Here are the systemic reasons why you're feeling stressed, and here is how we as a brand are going to encourage change in those areas too.

 

Tahnee: (18:41 )

Well, I think that's such a, not trying to point the finger at America, but that individual pull yourself up by bootstraps. That's such a cultural ... When I was at uni, we studied cultural colonialism. And it's something that really landed for me is how much we've digested that American like, "You can do it." But then it really takes out that we do need to come together as a community and there's this sort of usefulness in us having these conversations to together and sharing them widely. So I noticed that's changing in America slowly, I think, maybe. Are you saying that?

 

Jessica DeFino: (19:21 )

I think so. I think, again, it starts with buzzword. And that's not exactly a bad thing. But like just how we set ed brands are starting to use community. Okay, it feels a little disingenuous. But also, okay, it's getting the idea of community out into the collective consciousness and we can start valuing that more. So I am hearing more community, collectivism, collective care. And that feels really good. And I think what needs to happen is just sort of taking that next step from absorbing it as a marketing term and adopting it as a way of life.

 

Tahnee: (20:00 )

Yeah. And actually changing culture and letting that filter through. I wanted to step back to self care because you mentioned that before and it's something. I guess we both using Instagram. It's kind of one of those things that always makes me cringe a little bit when I see someone with their bubble bath and their face mask, whatever. And for me, self care has a pretty different definition, especially being a mom. It's usually like my practise and meditation and sleep. They're my pillars. But I'm interested for you obviously having been in the beauty industry and now sort of holding this space of holding up a mirror literally to this strange industry, how has self-care changed or been redefined for you over the last sort of decade or so?

 

Jessica DeFino: (20:47 )

I think for sure, I used to definitely give into the brand focused definition of self care as being like, "I'm going to do a face mask, and I'm going to take a bubble bath, and even I'm going to go for a run, or I'm going to exercise." And I mean, those are all valid things. It took me a really long time to realise, or not to realise, but to embody and incorporate the idea that yourself isn't your skin, and yourself isn't your body. Yourself is your values, your purpose, your passions, your deeper wants and needs, your emotions. And all of those things require care too.

 

Jessica DeFino: (21:33 )

So if my self-care stops at a face mask, it's literally stopping at the surface, not actually addressing the self. It's just addressing the fleshy coating that encapsulates my spiritual self. So just having that sort of aha moment was huge for me, which is not to say that I'm necessarily great at self-care. I still work too much and don't take time every day to meditate, and don't particularly feel like I'm in a season of my life where I am actively caring for myself the way that I should. But at least I have an awareness about it now. Is that any better? I don't know.

 

Tahnee: (22:16 )

I think so. I think that's a step. I mean, my experience is similar of being this, even though I'm a yoga teacher, been practising since I was 15. At the beginning, if I'm really truly honest, I was practising because I didn't want to get fat and I wanted to have a strong body and a healthy body. But it was quite an external motivation. It wasn't to connect to myself or to feel more calm in my existence or whatever. Now it's literally this thing that reminds me of my spaciousness and my connection to life and nature and all of it, and why I'm a mother, and why I'm ... But that took me, I'm 36. I would say in the last 10 years, that's really landed for me. But that's a long time with one discipline really to get to a place of not using it to beat myself up, I suppose. And I think it's a process.

 

Jessica DeFino: (23:15 )

Yeah. And it's also fine because I have said many times before that vanity was my entry point to wellness. So the reason I started meditating was because my skin was so inflamed, and I had been through the ringer with dermatologist. I had been on a prescription steroid treatment. It actually really damaged my skin. I went to topical steroid withdrawal and I couldn't put products on my skin.

 

Jessica DeFino: (23:40 )

And so I started looking at stress reducing exercises to sort of minimise the impact of stress on my skin because you get stress breakouts, stress can cause acne and rosacea, all of that. So I was like, "Okay, I'm going to clear my skin." So I started meditating. And it was for purely vein reasons. And then once I got into the practice, it expanded and it became so much more. And it became not about my appearance at all. So I think it's fine to have these sort of vein superficial pursuits be your entry point, as long as you are able to cultivate that awareness and allow yourself to expand further and maybe even use it to let go of the original vanity and the original superficial reason why.

 

Tahnee: (24:33 )

I think that's so true because that sort of evolution of self has to be honoured and acknowledged. And I think that's probably what I see as so insidious about the kind of those four pillars you were talking about of patriarch and white supremacy and all these things. It's like it's so insidious and it's designed to really trap us in this cycle. And I actually do think it takes quite a lot of strength and self awareness to step out of that. And then I think what you are doing to sort of help raise collective awareness about these things, it's a big task and it's not ... So I think however people get there, it's great.

 

Jessica DeFino: (25:14 )

And it's also not easy. So I know like my work and my writing can come off as very harsh. And people will sort of come at me for it and be like, "I don't want to let of this certain beauty procedure or my Botox appointment or my lipstick. And I don't think you should be telling people to let go of these things. And how dare you? And blah, blah, blah." And that's a valid perspective too. And I think what we all need to realise is that so many of us have formed these beauty habit and these beauty behaviours as a coping mechanism. We are coping in a world where we are judged by our beauty. And it has material effects on the quality of our life. "Pretty people" make more money, get better jobs, have better social standings, have better legal outcomes even. There are material benefits to performing beauty.

 

Jessica DeFino: (26:11 )

And so when we develop these habits and these behaviours, those are natural and totally understandable reactions to living within a world that judges us based on our outside appearance. And then I also think we need to acknowledge that as we slowly let go of these behaviours, we are changing the culture that instilled them within us. We have that power collectively to change the way things are. And I personally think that it has to start with us individually and collectively deciding to stop participating if and when that is emotionally available to us.

 

Jessica DeFino: (27:00 )

If abandoning a beauty behaviour is giving you extreme anxiety and affecting the quality of your life, don't do that. Work on the anxiety thing first. And then maybe later in your life, you will start to let go of the beauty behaviour that prompted it. But there's a balance there where you have to protect your mental wellbeing, while also divesting from this industry and this culture that tells us our appearance is the most important thing about us.

 

Tahnee: (27:33 )

So you're still a fairly young woman like me. I often think, I'm not going to speak about other people. But for myself, I've often been like, "When I'm 60, I'll just kick around with my grey hair and not worry about how I look." But that was definitely more so in my 20s. As I'm getting older, I'm sort of integrating more. But how do you personally dance this dance between performative beauty and, I suppose, I guess wanting to present? I love mascara. I have blonde eyelashes. Mascara makes me happy. Those are things that I don't want to give up. Are there things for you that sort of still draw you into this world or?

 

Jessica DeFino: (28:14 )

Yeah. I mean, I think the big thing for me is my eyebrows. So I have, it's a mental disorder called trichotillomania, called hair pulling disorder. So when I get really anxious, I actually pick out my eyebrows. And I can't help it. I can't stop it. There is no approved treatment for it. It's just something that I do, and I've done since I was 16. And seeing my bald eyebrows is really traumatising for me. It makes me even more anxious, and then I pick even more.

 

Jessica DeFino: (28:51 )

So for me, eyebrow makeup and microblading is something that I'm currently not emotionally able to let go of because it does affect my quality of life if my eyebrows are completely bald, because it triggers the trichotillomania. It makes me remember of like, "Look what you've done to yourself." It starts it all over again. And so I always use that as an example of like this is not a safe beauty behaviour for me to let go of because it harms me to let go of it at this point. I'm working on that emotionally and maybe be someday I will be able to let go of that. And that would be a beautiful thing.

 

Jessica DeFino: (29:30 )

And I think I also still have a lot of anxiety around my acne scars. I have had pretty severe cystic acne since I was 14, 15. I've gone through the ringer for treatments of it. And I've done a lot of work to not have to wear a full face of makeup every day. I mean, in my early 20s, I would put on liquid foundation, concealer powder, lipstick, eye line, all of it to go to CVS for toilet paper. I could not be seen without it.

 

Jessica DeFino: (30:00 )

And now I pretty much don't wear makeup. But in social situations where I need like a little bit of cushioning to not feel different or weird or ugly, I have gotten down to just tinted moisturiser, a little concealer, blush and eyebrows. Those are my four. And I would love to be at a place where I felt like I didn't need makeup in those situations. But I still do feel like I need it. And so I'm slowly easing my way out of it and being gentle with myself when I do need that sort of skincare security blanket.

 

Tahnee: (30:42 )

I think it's such an important thing to talk about because I have a little girl. She's five, or she'll be five in two days. I'm making a rainbow cake right now. It's highly stressful.

 

Jessica DeFino: (30:53 )

Oh, so cute.

 

Tahnee: (30:56 )

But I watch her. I'm like you. My makeup kit is literally tinted moisturiser, a blush thing, mascara and an eyebrow grooming tool. But I will put that stuff on before we go out for dinner or do some kind of an event of some kind. And I've just watched her, without any encouragement from me, sort of integrate this idea that she now has to ... She doesn't sort of want to put it on every day or whatever. But if she sees my little makeup kit lying there, she'll grab it and she'll start putting on blush. And she'll ask me if she looks pretty, and this part of me dies. I'm like, "Oh my God! What have I done to her?" And then this other part of me is like, "This is life and we kind of have to navigate these things with our kids."

 

Tahnee: (31:46 )

But it's been a really interesting dance because I've sort of, I was raised with a mom who didn't really wear makeup at all. And in many ways, I found her lack of self care and presentation almost a bit confronting. It was like can you at least try? Can you put on some ... So it's this sort of interesting thing. And I haven't got any answers at all. But I think we all have to find a space where we're comfortable with what we're putting out there. And I think the piece that you really have been pointing to and we've been dancing around is it's that conscious awareness and choosing what we engage with and what we don't, as opposed to being unconsciously moulded by an industry that's designed to be very toxic for us.

 

Jessica DeFino: (32:27 )

Yeah. I mean, I think the mother daughter pipeline is such a powerful example of how individual behaviours shape culture, and how working on our individual behaviours and changing our individual behaviours can shape the future of beauty culture to be better, to be safer, to not be as stifling and suffocating. I think a lot of times people read my work and they think that I have completely freed myself from the pressure of beauty standards. And that's not true at all. I feel so weighed down by the pressure to be beautiful or to look a certain way or to ... I feel that all the time, that I'm not good enough, I'm not pretty enough, I'm not beautiful enough to use my voice in the particular space. I am not pretty enough to be looked at and to be like a public figure or whatever.

 

Jessica DeFino: (33:25 )

And so many people feel that. And that is my main motivation, is like nobody should feel that way. I want the next generation of humans to feel worthy raising of their voice and being seen, and heard, and acknowledged, and accepted, and just embraced by the people around them without worrying about if they're pretty enough to ask for that acknowledgement and acceptance. And I mean, that's my whole motivation. I don't think anybody should feel the way that I know I feel, and it sounds like you have felt and millions and billions of people around the world feel currently. I just want that to change. And the only way I know how to do it is to change myself and inspire it in others.

 

Tahnee:  (34:15 )

Yeah. I think that one thing, this is weird. It's sort of a segue, but it's linked. My husband, when I first got with him, I was like, "You don't use anything." Literally, the guy doesn't use shampoo, he doesn't use soap. He doesn't. He literally goes in the shower, kind of maybe every now and then he'll use Dr. Bronner's on his armpits or something. Seriously, his little man bag when we travel is toothbrush, toothpaste, not even a hairbrush, a hair tie. And I'm like, "Hang on a second. This person-

 

Jessica DeFino: (34:49 )

And I bet he has fine hair and skin.

 

Tahnee: (34:52 )

No, beautiful hair and skin. I'm always like, "What the fuck? How come you have this amazing hair and this amazing skin and you've never used any of the stuff?"

 

Jessica DeFino: (35:06 )

That's the secret.

 

Tahnee: (35:08 )

I know. So I'm interested in this because my daughter, we've never used shampoo and things on her. We've used some conditioner because she has my hand. It gets really tangled. And she barely uses soap, all of these things. And I guess kind of inspired by my husband. I haven't quite got to his level of self corporation. But I'm really interested in that because I mean, yes, patriarchy. But bodies, they're sort of not these filthy beasts that can't take care of themselves. They have these self cleaning mechanisms. You speak about this a little bit. What's your kind of current deep dive into this world? How is that?

 

Jessica DeFino: (35:46 )

Sure. Well, I always like to say human skin survived and thrived for literally millennia before pre-bottled products were invented. So it's fine. It's truly fine to not use almost anything. The skin has built-in mechanisms to self cleanse, self moisturise, self exfoliate, self heal, and self protect. And oftentimes what we do when we apply all of these products, and again, not again, but a reminder, your scalp is skin. So this stuff applies to hair as well. When we add all of these external products, we actually interrupt the skin's inherent functions and we change the signals they get, because sort of the extension of your skin is the environment. It gets a lot of its cues out how much sebum to produce or how many dead skin cells to shed from the environment it's in.

 

Jessica DeFino: (36:42 )

So when you sort of cut off the connection to that environment with skincare products, you interrupt these mechanisms and they kind of go haywire. And then you become dependent on the products to keep your skin in that cycle because your skin hasn't needed to interact with its actual environment and figure out how to regulate itself. So oftentimes when you just stop using products, it'll take a week, two weeks, sometimes a month. A skin cycle is 28 days. So that's what I generally recommend. When you stop using these products, you'll find that skin self regulates and you actually don't need many products or sometimes even any products. Of course there are like some modern changes to the environment that we can account for. For instance, pollution levels are a lot higher, sun exposure is a lot more harsh.

 

Tahnee: (37:37 )

Air conditioning.

 

Jessica DeFino: (37:37 )

Yeah, exactly. So SPF, great. Sometimes your skin will need a little bit more moisture in that case. I love to use Jojoba oil on damp skin. Jojoba oil is like a 97% chemical match to human sebum. So your skin really responds well to it as if it were it's own. And I personally cleanse with Manuka Honey, and really-

 

Tahnee:  (38:03 )

I've seen you talk about that.

 

Jessica DeFino: (38:04 )

I love Manuka, but-

 

Tahnee:  (38:05 )

Well, I love it too. But I mean, I tend to use it on wounds and internally. So what's your take on skincare? I've used as a mask before.

 

Jessica DeFino: (38:14 )

Yeah. Well, exactly. It's used in hospitals for wound healing, for burn healing. And that's because it really supports the skin's inherent repair and healing mechanisms. So if your skin is acne prone or eczema prone, or psoriasis, rosacea, any of those big skin issues, Manuka is beautiful. It's so great for it because it supports your skin's inherent healing. It's a prebiotic. So it supports your skin's microbiome. It's food for all of those great beneficial bacteria that live on your skin. It's full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are great for fighting free radicals like pollution particles. There are just so many things. It's also humectant. So it draws moisture into your skin. So your skin is able to stay moisturised on its own. It's just, to me, a perfect product. Of course, if you don't have prevalent skin issues, a normal honey will usually do the trick. It has a lot of the same properties. It's just that Manuka has really special healing properties.

 

Tahnee: (39:25 )

Yeah. So you're talking about, they're the ones we use medicinally, they're the ones with the pluses. I can't remember what the compound is right now. I should know.

 

Jessica DeFino: (39:33 )

It's called the UMF rating. Unique Manuka Factor. So for skincare, if you're using it topically for its healing properties, you want to look for a UMF plus rating of 15 or higher.

 

Tahnee: (39:47 )

Yeah. Because I think it can go quite higher from memory. The New Zealand honey industry is thanking you right now for the plug. Well, I guess on a really practical note, it's very sticky. So how do you get around that?

 

Jessica DeFino: (40:01 )

Well, I mean I use it as a cleanser. So I will splash my face with water and then just take like a finger full and massage it onto your face for about a minute, and then wash it off. It's really not sticky at all. If you're doing it as a face mask, yeah, it'll be a little sticky. You're not going to be running around the house in it. But you also can't run around the house in a sheet mask. So take those 15 minutes to just chill. Don't touch your face. You'll be fine.

 

Tahnee: (40:31 )

Yeah, great. And I mean, are there other things you've sort of changed in your routine from your little research dives? Or like what else are you looking into?

 

Jessica DeFino: (40:41 )

Yeah. I mean, the bulk of my like "skincare routine" is mindfulness practices because one of the most fascinating finds of my skincare research has been the field of psychodermatology, which focuses on the skin brain connection. So the skin, the gut and the brain, it's called the gut brain skin axis, are all connected. They form from the same bit of embryonic tissue in utero, and there they form these pathways and these connections that are there for life. So that's why what you eat can affect your skin. It's the gut skin connection. And even what you think can affect your skin. That's the skin brain connection. And we usually see this in more negative settings. So if you're stressed out, and you get a stress pimple, anxiety acne, or when you're embarrassed and you blush, or when you're scared and the colour drains from your face. These are all everyday examples of the skin brain connection.

 

Jessica DeFino: (41:39 )

What I found in my research is that it actually goes the other way. So if you actively cultivate a calmer mindset, it results in calmer skin. So for instance, meditation strengthens the skin barrier. It makes your skin are able to hold in moisture. So it actually does create that, we call it, an inner glow. But it's actually an outer glow. It's actually your skin barrier getting stronger and being better able to hold onto moisture and producing balanced levels of oils. So that has been fascinating to me. So I try to incorporate practices like that in my routine.

 

Jessica DeFino: (42:15 )

And then a big thing for me was researching the skin barrier and realising that, it sounds so obvious. But your skin is built from within. Your skin cells come from the deepest layer of your skin, work their way out and then eventually shut off. So you're focusing on putting skincare on your face, you're caring for them at the final stages of their life.

 

Tahnee: (42:41 )

It's like palliative care.

 

Jessica DeFino: (42:45 )

Exactly. If you focus on consuming the nutrients that your skin needs to create healthy skin cells, you're great and you're actually not irritating your skin barrier with external products. So omega-3s and omega-6s are huge for the skin barrier. They're essential fatty acids. They are integral to skin barrier function and the body can't produce them on its own. It can only get them via diet. So once I started incorporating omega-3s into my diet through a supplement, but also through like salmon, nuts and seeds are huge sources of omegas, my skin saw the results of that very quickly. And that's goes onto your skin.

 

Tahnee: (43:29 )

And that's going to be overall. Yeah. I was going to say feel better.

 

Jessica DeFino: (43:30 )

Exactly. I mean, it's great for brain function, for hormones, for heart health. They're so important. And also yeah, it makes you glow. So why not?

 

Tahnee: : (43:40 )

Win-win.

 

Jessica DeFino: (43:42 )

Exactly.

 

Tahnee: (43:44 )

And topically, you're sort of just sticking to really simple stuff like you.

 

Jessica DeFino: (43:47 )

Yeah. Topically, I don't do much. Honestly, the best thing you can do for your skin is leave it alone. It does so much for you, and it doesn't really want to be bothered. So I really don't wash my face in the mornings. Sometimes I'll spritz it with water if I need to, and I'll put on a little bit of jojoba oil if it's feeling dry. On damp skin and if I'm going outside, mineral SPF. And then at night, I'll wash off the SPF or any makeup that I have on with jojoba oil as an oil cleanser, Manuka honey as a cleanser. And then that's it. I love to leave my skin bare overnight because overnight is when a lot of the skin's repair and renewal processes take place. And again, it needs to interact with your environment in order to do those to the best of its ability. So I just love a skincare free evening.

 

Tahnee: (44:43 )

Well, it's so interesting you say all of that because I've landed at a similar place. I basically use jojoba, if I do wear mascara, to get that off and then I wipe my face with a cloth at night, and then I wipe my face with water in the morning. And that's pretty much it. If it's dry, I'll use oil.

 

Jessica DeFino: (45:02 )

I love that.

 

Tahnee: (45:05 )

Like you said, it took a little while for my skin to sort of, I think probably like a month, just to feel like it was ... It was a bit patchy, I think, or something. I just remember it not being amazing for a little bit. And then it was totally fine.

 

Jessica DeFino: (45:19 )

Yeah. And part of that process is also like letting go of these arbitrary aesthetic expectations that we have placed on our skin. Your skin's not going to glow like a piece of freshly polished glass from doing nothing to it. But that's also because your skin is not supposed to glow like a freshly polished piece of glass. Things-

 

Tahnee: (45:41 )

Does that basically mean you've taken off, because it sort of seems to me you're taking off that protective ... My understanding is the skin's more mechanical. But it's a protective area and it's meant to be there, and you shouldn't probably be exactly deleting it.

 

Jessica DeFino: (45:53 )

Yeah, exactly. Everything that's happening on your skin is happening for a reason. It's meant to have a barrier for a reason. Dead skin cells are there for a reason. They're actually really important to skin functioning. And actually, your dead skin cells are the only skin cells that are equipped to hold external moisture. So when you absorb moisture from the environment rather than drinking it, your dead skin cells are the only cells that can actually do that. So if you're exfoliating them away every day, your skin is going to be dry.

 

Tahnee: (46:24 )

Then you need more moisturising things, and vicious cycle.

 

Jessica DeFino: (46:29 )

Yeah, it's important. Yes. It's important to just keep everything in place. And the reason that we have, part of the reason that we have come to repeatedly damage our skin through skincare and think that it looks good is because we're actually creating these micro injuries on the surface of our skin every time we do that. So for instance, intense exfoliation will often make you look very smooth and shiny. And we like that. And so we keep chasing that. What that is is your skin's repair process kicking in. When it's injured, your skin, your body, sends all of these healing nutrients and molecules to the surface, collagen, hyaluronic acid, which are supposed to be in the deeper layers of your skin, all of these other things. They flood the injured area with nutrients to sort of heal and repair. And we think that looks good because suddenly we're getting this rush of blood to the surface and all of these good molecules. And what it is is it's a response to injury. And we shouldn't have that happening all the time. [crosstalk 00:47:37 ].

 

Tahnee: (47:37 )

It sounds like a drain on our resources as well.

 

Jessica DeFino: (47:39 )

Exactly. Your skin doesn't want to be in repair mode constantly. So I think with glass skin and things like that, we've sort of normalised the look of injury, which again, traces back to capitalism because if you're constantly injuring your skin, you constantly have to repair your skin. And it's just a process that requires product after product, after product with no end in sight. And if you sort of chill and let your skin re-regulate, you can honestly wean yourself off of most of those products.

 

Tahnee: (48:10 )

It feels like it's gotten worse since Instagram. I don't know if I'm sort of ... Like I said, I don't really, my one kind of delve into this world, which my husband finds really funny is every now and then I read Into The Gloss Top Shelf, just because I find it incredibly amusing how much shit people have.

 

Jessica DeFino: (48:27 )

It is fascinating.

 

Tahnee: (48:29 )

Yeah. And I get down into this like, "Wow! This person uses 93 creams in the morning or whatever. And how do they have time? And they must be so rich." And anyway, it's just this funny little reality TV show world of mine. But that, sort of I've noticed. I remember when I first started reading, which would've probably been five or six years ago maybe, there was a lot more sort of, it was quite simple, I feel like, whereas now it feels like people are using a lot of different things. And you see these skin care routines that are 9,000 steps. And I wonder is that because, do you think that's in part because of this filter culture? And I mean, you call everyone dewy dust bunnies, which I love. But there does seem to be, and actually another thing you wrote, which I really loved was like is this fear of dead skin cells related to our fear of death?

 

Jessica DeFino: (49:21 )

Oh, yeah.

 

Tahnee: (49:24 )

I think it's a really interesting thing because it's like we've suddenly kind of got this platform where people are sharing these kind of quite synthetic versions of themselves. And then we're trying to match our 3D reality to this thing. And it's a bit of a concern.

 

Jessica DeFino: (49:38 )

It's so much. I think there are a lot of factors at play there. I think one of them is just that's the nature of consumerism. It's this constant need for more and more and more and more and more. And we've seen that grow in real time through Instagram. I think too, this skincare boom that sort of started with Glossier, beauty has always been messaged as this ethical, moral imperative. It's always been this ethical idea. Beauty historically has been associated with goodness. And so we sort of feel this moral obligation to be as beautiful as possible.

 

Jessica DeFino: (50:14 )

Recently, I think through the start of COVID, science has sort of been messaged as this ethical ideal as well, western science. And health has always been an ethical ideal. Of course, these things are not moral, but they have been messaged as such. And so with skincare, you get a lot. You get this sort of moral validation of, "Oh! This is something I'm doing for my health." Even though it's mostly just aesthetic, it's messaged as a healthcare thing and a self care thing. And so that feels really good. And so people are emboldened to share more of it and do more of it.

 

Jessica DeFino: (50:56 )

And then there's also this scientific intellectual aspect of skincare where people are just over the top about knowing everything about this particular active ingredient, and whether this ingredient mixes with this ingredient, and what this other ingredient does to your skin. So skincare offers a lot of ways to sort of show off and feel good about yourself. There's the science intellectual aspect, there's the health aspect and there's the beauty aspect. So I think all of those combined into this huge, just overwhelming mass of just skincare bullshit.

 

Jessica DeFino: (51:29 )

And then also, as you said, the filter thing is for sure part of it. We're seeing people through filters, and we're seeing less of people in person, especially again through COVID. So we're getting all of our information about what human skin looks like we're seeing through a screen, and we're actually not getting any validation of what real human skin looks like in person, because we're really not seeing people. Most of our interactions are through a screen, through a filter, through lighting, through all of these things that warp our perception of what our skin is supposed to look like.

 

Jessica DeFino: (52:07 )

So we're seeing everybody else out there looking "perfect" and we're seeing our actual skin, in an actual mirror, with no filter and we're saying, "Oh my God, what's wrong with me?" And so we start buying and applying all these products to try and match our real life skin to this sort of virtual ideal that doesn't exist in real life. And all of it is just this huge recipe you for, one, consumerism, and two, just skin stress.

 

Tahnee: (52:34 )

Insecurity. I think that filter, I'm thinking about the metaverse right now, whatever Facebook. I'm like, "Oh God, this is going to get more interesting." I mean, you've spoken a bit about, I guess we've sort of touched more on what I would say the conventional beauty industry. But clean beauty has become this thing in the last again maybe decade. I'm not really sure on the timelines. And it's sort of the same thing, right? Are you seeing any distinction in this clean beauty space or what's your rate on this trend?

 

Jessica DeFino: (53:11 )

I think the ethos behind clean beauty is admirable and necessary. There are a lot of unnecessary ingredients in our beauty products. There are a lot of potentially harmful ingredients in our beauty products and the science bears this out.

 

Tahnee:  (53:27 )

Well you also made a note of a dinner you went to where the person was sharing.

 

Jessica DeFino: (53:31 )

Oh, my gosh!

 

Tahnee: (53:31 )

I was like I wonder if you'd had a few wines when you wrote that?

 

Jessica DeFino: (53:37 )

Oh my God. I'm privy to some beauty industry insider information. And it's not good. There are-

 

Tahnee: (53:47 )

This particular comment was like, "Yeah, this is not good for people." And they're putting it in this mass produced product.

 

Jessica DeFino: (53:51 )

I was talking to a product engineer who was telling me that the ingredient that this cosmetic corporation was using as its star ingredient in a lot of new products was not safe. And they were trying to tell the company, "Hey, we can't use this." And the company was saying, "We're going to use it." So just know behind the scenes there's a lot of stuff going on. There are ingredients that just don't belong in beauty products that are in beauty products. They're not going to kill you, most of the time. They're just ...

 

Jessica DeFino: (54:22 )

And I say that talking about extreme examples of a couple of years ago, there was a moisturiser that was contaminated with mercury. That was a counterfeit product. And it actually did put a woman in a coma. Is that going to happen every day with the products you buy at CVS and Target? No. But there are these outlier cases. So I'm not trying to fear longer there. I'm just trying to say like, "Hey, stuff happens." So I do think that the ethos of clean beauty is a necessary one. But it has become this marketing monster and it has gotten so out of control. And a lot of the statistics that clean beauty brands and clean beauty influencers are using are actually scientifically incorrect. And so it undermines the more admirable overall mission of clean beauty.

 

Jessica DeFino: (55:16 )

And so I do have a lot of problems with that. I also think that the solution to most of our problems is not cleaner beauty, but just less beauty. We just need to be using less of everything. I see clean beauty products that have 52 natural ingredients in it. And it's like the skin doesn't want 52 ingredients on it. That's going to cause irritation. That's not a better product in any sense of the word.

 

Jessica DeFino: (55:41 )

And then finally, I think that in non-toxic beauty, we are focusing on the wrong toxicity. Sure, some of these ingredients can be harmful. But the most toxic thing in the beauty industry are beauty standards. And these products promote unrealistic beauty standards. And these beauty standards that these products are pushing, even clean products, are leading to physical and psychological health issues in humans all around the world, from anxiety, to depression, to eating disorders, to dysmorphia, to self harm and even suicide.

 

Jessica DeFino: (56:20 )

And that is what's toxic in the beauty industry more than anything. So I wish that the industry overall could adopt this attitude of clean beauty and apply it to the ideology of the industry and clean up the standards that we're selling people because if you're concerned is a health issue, the most pressing health issue in beauty is the psychological harm of beauty standards.

 

Tahnee: (56:48 )

And I mean, I'm just thinking about dermatology, because I know you've mentioned that before, and you've had your own experience with that. And the topical steroid piece you wrote was really interesting because I've not had any experience with it. But I've heard from a lot of people that come through our doors how damaging, and I guess my understanding is it's quite a commonly recommended first step is like, "Use this quite strong product. And I think what I've heard you point to a few times in this podcast is how much that psychological factor is influencing what's showing up on us.

 

Tahnee: (57:23 )

And I have a similar, I don't know if your stress was work related mine. I left a partner of 10 years. And it was a big life change for me, and came off the pill at the same time. So it was a combination. Or I'd come off the pill for years earlier. But it was a combination of things going on. But I can really trace my kind of emotional instability at that time to what was reflecting on my face.

 

Tahnee: (57:49 )

And I've studied all these practises, Taoist healing and things. And we speak about how these organs and these parts of body, like the emotion, if the body can't hold it, it comes out through these elimination channels. And I think that's a really interesting of an untouched topic. And I don't see dermatology really addressing that. I think what I tend to see as people getting trapped in these loops with prescriptions and kind of appointments. And is that sort of your experience? I mean, I don't know heaps about the dermatology world. But is that your experience?

 

Jessica DeFino: (58:20 )

Yeah. I mean, I will say that there are great dermatologists out there, and I do think dermatology is of course necessary for your annual skin cancer screening and anything relating to actual physical health issues that are manifesting specifically on the skin. That being said, in my experience in interviewing thousands of people or over the years and in researching the field of dermatology, the main goal for dermatologists day in day out with their patients is to eliminate the physical symptoms. That doesn't mean treating the root cause, and that doesn't even mean promoting skin health. So a lot of the very powerful drugs that dermatologists are describing will eliminate the physical skin symptoms for a time. And they often do this at the expense of overall skin health and skin functioning.

 

Jessica DeFino: (59:19 )

So for example, antibiotics are the number one prescription in skin care. Antibiotics actively kill the bacteria of your gut microbiome and your skin microbiome, which are huge factor in healthy skin long term. And that can lead to more skin issues down the road. Something like Accutane, while it can be very helpful for a lot of people psychologically because it can wipe out acne very quickly, it does this by destroying and damaging your sebaceous glands. And that's a direct quote from a dermatologist. A dermatologist told me in an interview that we damage and destroy sebaceous glands.

 

Jessica DeFino: (59:58 )

I was on Accutane in my early twenties before I knew much about it. And my skin still struggles to moisturise itself. I have not regained the sebaceous function at all. So again, this is an example of a prescription that sort of damages the skin long term. Steroids, for sure. I mean, there's a lot of scientific literature on how steroids damage the skin's inherent functions. So dermatology is still very much steeped in this world of aesthetics where it's just trying to create this certain aesthetic as quickly as possible, and that doesn't necessarily serve you or your skin in the long term.

 

Tahnee:  (01:00:36 )

So that's sort of making the problem go away without really addressing why it's cropped up in the first place.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:00:41 )

Exactly. I also think there's a huge ethical dilemma to the fact that a lot of aesthetic cosmetic procedures are offered by dermatologists like Botox and fillers. These things are not markers of health. And I do think it's a huge conflict of interest that healthcare providers are not only offering these services, but suggesting them. Offering them is one thing. If people are going to get them, they need to get them in a safe way. But I have heard from dozens and dozens of people who will go into their dermatologist for an annual screening and their dermatologist will say, "Hey. So you recently turned 28. Have you thought about Botox?" And this is your healthcare provider who is now planting this.

 

Tahnee:  (01:01:25 )

That's so unethical.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:01:26 )

It's so unethical. And planting the seed of doubt in your brain like, "Oh no, I look old. I need to do something about it. And my healthcare provider is telling me that this is an option. So it must be safe and it must be healthy." And it's equating aesthetic with health again. And it's creating this really, I think, toxic cycle of obsession with our appearance outside of health.

 

Tahnee: (01:01:56 )

Is there a long term effect to Botox? Because I've heard about people having preventative Botox, which I'm not ... So my husband's mom is disabled and she has Botox in her leg because it actually is a medical treatment, which was sort of new to me. I knew it had been developed for that, but I sort of figured it had become a beauty thing. But I've sort of been seeing it around that people use it preventatively. Does it actually? It doesn't work long term though, right? It stops after a few months.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:02:24 )

No, it doesn't work long term. It wears off after a while. So you have to keep getting these injections. And just applying common sense, there's no way to know that Botox is preventing anything. You say you're using it preventatively, but what are you preventing? Everybody ages in different ways. Some people get really deep lines and some people get no lines at all. And I mean, there is just no scientific way to prove that you're preventing something. So that is just a, that's marketing. That's nothing more than marketing.

 

Tahnee: (01:03:01 )

And kind of we haven't spoken a lot about race. But I'm obviously conscious of time with you. But with things like gua sha, and even I've been seeing face yoga on Instagram recently and these things. I'm interested in, again, from my understanding of yoga, maybe I'm wrong, and of Taoist practices, gua sha, yes, there's the aesthetic, but also it moves Chi, it helps move fluid. It's this really powerful ... I use it on my body because it's this really powerful way of clearing chafe from the meridians and stagnation, these kinds of things. But I'm seeing it a lot now as this really popular trend to get rid of wrinkles and do this and do that. So it's like we've sort of taken, I guess it's the same thing with this whole conversation. It's like we take the real root essence of something and turn it into just an aesthetic kind of.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:03:51 )

Yeah. I mean, to me, that is like the real tragedy of gua sha getting so huge and facial massage getting so huge is that there's been this focus place on it as this is a way to get rid of wrinkles, or it's a way to look younger, when actually these practices offer so many overall health benefits to not only you and your skin, but also your mind. Massage in any form is this huge form of stress relief. It sends a physiological chemical cascade through your whole body that lowers cortisol and promotes skin health and also promotes overall health. And there are just so many benefits to these practices beyond aesthetic.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:04:31 )

And I think we do them a real disservice by focusing on the aesthetic benefits rather than the fact that facial massage supports your skin's inherent cleansing mechanisms, it supports your skin's inherent moisturization and exfoliation mechanisms. It boosts blood circulation. It brings nutrients to your skin cells so that they are healthier and more efficient and better equipped to protect you and to heal you. These are all wonderful reasons to engage in these practices. And I think that should be the focus rather than you're going to look younger.

 

Tahnee: (01:05:06 )

Yes, it's funny. I mean, it crossed my mind when my daughter was born. She's got that porcelain baby skin. It's like, "Oh! It's a shame we don't get to keep that." But it's also very vulnerable, right? And so you're always trying to protect it as a parent. And it's just bizarre to me that we sort of grow this strong, awesome adult skin, and then we're just constantly like, "Oh my God! I wish I had my five year old skin again."

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:05:35 )

Well, that comes back to this idea of getting rid of your dead skin cells as a way to show-

 

Tahnee: (01:05:44 )

Avoid death.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:05:45 )

Yeah. It's like our constant struggle with our own mortality and our own death. And I do think that doing some deeper inner work on the meaning of life, and your purpose, and your happiness, and your joy alleviates a lot of these anxieties and insecurities we have about our skin because as psychodermatology has shown us through studies and the skin mind connection has shown us, our sense of identity is so deeply embedded in our skin because our skin is the connector. It is where our insides are connected to the outside world. The skin is the only place on the body that our mind can sense it's physical reality.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:06:27 )

So there's a lot tied up in our skin, and how it feels, and how it looks, and what we put on it, and how we treat it, that is really enmeshed with our sense of self and our sense of identity and our sense of our mortality. And I think working through some of those deeper issues, it sounds silly, but you will see it play out on your skin.

 

Speaker 1: (01:06:47 )

I really think getting comfortable with death was one of the big catalysts in my life for my own evolution, I think. And birth and death is very fine lines. I think going through my daughter's birth too, I think when we enter those luminal realms and I did it through meditation and plant medicine, there's different, you start to really connect. You see that this is meat suit.

 

Tahnee: (01:07:18 )

I don't know if you've ever done a psychedelic. If you look at your skin on psychedelics, you do not look normal. And it's like you start to really realise like, "I'm not just this vessel." And like you said, skin is this organ of perception. It helps us touch with babies, with adults. It's one of my big things. I'm a massage therapist as well. It's like when you touch someone, there's a transmission. And I think we sort of are putting all these things on us and taking away, and it's like we're really missing the essence of what skin is and human connection. It's more than just the initial judgment of aesthetics.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:07:56 )

Oh, it's so much more.

 

Tahnee: (01:07:58 )

Well, I'm so grateful you're reminding us of all of that all the time, and I really-

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:08:00 )

I'm so grateful for your questions.

 

Tahnee:  (01:08:05 )

It's been such a pleasure to talk to you. Like I said, I've really enjoyed the sort of way you've stimulated my own exploration of things. And I think I still have a lot of unpacking to do, but-

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:08:17 )

Oh! We all do.

 

Tahnee: (01:08:18 )

Yeah. And I love that you're so authentic around your own journey too. I think it's just a really important conversation because especially us women, it's been such an indoctrinated part of our growing up and we relate to the world. So thank you. And for those people who have enjoyed this, and I hope that's all of you, you can check out Jess's The Unpublishable. So it's this incredible Substack she sends out, these great newsletters, and Jessica-DeFino, D-E-F-I-N-O .com. You're also on Instagram, social media. Any other like Facebook, those kinds of places or?

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:09:00 )

No, I'm on Instagram and Twitter @jessicadefino_, but I am trying to spend less time on social media these days. So the newsletter is the best place to get in touch.

 

Tahnee: (01:09:09 )

That's good to get mental health.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:09:09 )

And thus one's skin.

 

Tahnee:  (01:09:14 )

Yes, totally. And I mean, the newsletter looks like you're just on a real great roll with that. So that's something you're really going to focus your energy on moving forward?

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:09:24 )

Yeah. I mean, that is the place where I'm trying to channel my energy instead of shooting off an Instagram post a day. I'll pick one that feels really important and I'll send out one short little newsletter a week. And then probably once a month is a longer in-depth article. And then I have special content for paid subscribers as well. So it's definitely not overwhelming, but not nothing.

 

Tahnee: (01:09:48 )

No, it's really great. And are you going to write a book, Jessica?

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:09:54 )

I am.

 

Tahnee: (01:09:54 )

You are?

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:09:55 )

Yes. I'm on deadline for the book as we speak.

 

Tahnee: (01:09:57 )

Amazing.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:09:58 )

So hopefully that will be done soon and out into the world sometime next year.

 

Tahnee: (01:10:02 )

Okay. Well, we'll keep an eye out for that and make sure we show that around. I'm so happy for you. Congratulations.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:10:10 )

Thank you.

 

Tahnee: (01:10:10 )

Well deserved. And thank you for your time today. I really appreciate that you spent it with us.

 

Jessica DeFino: (01:10:12 )

Yeah, I loved it.

 

Tahnee: (01:10:14 )

Okay. Thank you so much.

 

Dive deep into the mystical realms of Tonic Herbalism in the SuperFeast Podcast!

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#152 Deconstructing The Beauty Industry with Jessica DeFino

#152 Deconstructing The Beauty Industry with Jessica DeFino