Spiritual Beauty Culture – Appropriating Hoax or Authentic Brand Futures?

All consumers want more from their skincare brands—ethical transparency; all killer actives, no filler junk; sustainable production and packaging; and last but not least, a heartfelt and genuine ethos. One might speculate that in the age of brand altruism, spiritual skincare could become the “clean” skincare of 2021; however, the category isn’t simply summarized with the wave of a magic wand or a bit of pentagram-covered packaging.

“When I see brands using items that are clearly inspired by witchcraft, my first instinct is to be excited that these things are becoming more accepted, because it hasn’t always been that way, even in the very recent past. But, I do get very frustrated when I see them missing the mark by veering into cultural appropriation,” practicing witch Amelia Quint tells Dazed Beauty (the site hosted a Witch Week initiative in 2019 to highlight the intersection of magick, witchcraft, and beauty).

Sephora pulled a Starter Witch Kit by Pinrose (a $42 kit containing tarot cards, white sage, a rose quartz crystal, and 9 perfumes) from its shelves after customer backlash. When Kat von D launched a tarot-inspired collection, the launch was met with a polarized reception. Demand for overseas gemstones and crystals have doubled in the US, but many stones are mined in unethical conditions. Smudging, a purifying ritual of burning white sage originating in North American Indigenous cultures, was illegal until 1978, so seeing it vastly commodified by the mainstream can be understandably upsetting. Magic in itself has had a turbulent history—one need only think of the witch hunts of the Middle Ages to realize that the subject requires a certain amount of nuance.

One option for brands wanting to explore the Wiccan (or any spiritual) space is to consult and/or collaborate with practicing experts from that realm. Bri Luna, aka the Hoodwitch, collaborated with Smashbox on The Crystallized Collection and Essie on a mercurial-inspired nail polish range. There is also the inherent incongruity of fusing consumer products with ancient practices that are largely based in the immaterial. “We have to be a bit careful of spiritual materialism and thinking that there is something we need to buy to feel spiritual, rather than simply recognising that just through our ability to love ourselves, others, and the world we live in, we are already magnificently spiritual,” states shaman Deborah Hanekamp.

It takes more than a few crystal-infused products to make an authentic mystical beauty brand. There’s a big difference between the magic that the beauty industry has thrived on for hundreds of years (the powers of transformation, wrinkle-erasing creams, etc.) and actual magick. Those successfully occupying the space have expert backing and a cohesive brand DNA.

Strange Bird is a spiritual skincare line using the power of botanicals and crystals, building on Dr. Edward Bach’s homeopathic remedies he developed in the early 1900s using minerals and flower essences to treat anxiety and pain. The brand has incorporated these practices into products such as their Inner Clarity Cleanser containing clear quartz and crab apple essence to dispel negative energy, an Inner Balance Serum with amethyst and oak essence to center one’s thinking, and an Inner Light Moisturizer with rose quartz and olive essence to aid in giving and receiving love and support (all three are available in a recently launched Mini Inner Ritual Kit). “Coming at it from a chemistry standpoint, some of the crystal essences contain trace minerals, like calcium and magnesium, which are beneficial for the skin. They help to energize the cells and assist the ATP [adenosine-triphosphate] cycle,” states cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson. ATP cycles support skin turnover, while magnesium has been shown to reduce inflammation.

Mimi Young, a shamanic intuitive, occultist, witch, and spiritual guide, created Ceremonie, which has an Aura Care and Skin Care line, both using the powers of plant actives and “made in rituals that weave elements of core shamanism, witchcraft, and the occult.” Examples include an Astral Dream Mist with mugwort, laurel, and clary sage, and a Unity Facial Serum formulated with parsley and yarrow. LOLI Beauty founder Tina Hedges emphasizes the importance of locally grown, organic ingredients and a return to principles of self- and environmental improvement. “Peel back a beauty label far enough, and you’ll see that it’s lost its connection to what really nourishes us—food—and in its place is a blend of 95% water, preservatives and synthetics,” she states. Hedges uses upcycled food waste to craft skincare products, contained in food-grade jars and packaged with compostable labels, bags, and boxes. LOLI Beauty is also the first beauty brand to work with Made in a Free World, an organization that combats human trafficking.

Tarot priestess meets beauty brand founder Melinda Lee Holm crafts products such as Energy Setting Spray, infused with frankincense for openness, ginger for positive action promotion, and palo santo for purification purposes; and Transformative Face Oil containing baby’s breath root extract to promote peace and pomegranate to increase inner focus (in addition to skincare benefits). “We all anoint ourselves with creams and oils and potions every day. Now everyone has the opportunity to do so with products that support energetic and spiritual wellness as well as physical,” Holm tells BeautyMatter.

One could argue that a COVID-stricken world that has had space to question its motivations and performance-driven ethos is the perfect target market for these more considered approaches to product production and creation. Mystical services constitute a $2.2 billion industry, and 54% of millennials and Gen Zers look for brands that enrich their soul and spirit. 42% of Americans believe that spiritual energy can be located in physical objects. Whether one is a spiritual naysayer or complete convert, more considered consumption is never a bad thing.

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