c/w: mental health, triggers
Scent is a funny thing, isn’t it? The mere whisper of a familiar smell can instantly take you back to place where all of your other senses are triggered. The smell of an ocean breeze can send you to a place in your head where you can hear the waves crash and almost feel the salty mist grace your face. But what about when those scent memories are tied to something not so delightful like the Pacific, but of a painful, scary, lonely period in your life?
Reviewing skincare products can be pretty hit or miss, sometimes you get something awesome, sometimes terrible, but I never expected to end up having to unravel childhood trauma and do some dedicated reframing of the way my brain reacts to a certain smell.
Enter Butters Hygienics Anti-aging face oil. Since its label boldly announces its primary ingredients as Red Raspberry, Jojoba and Almond Oil, I was surprised by the strong scent of tea tree oil. I like tea tree oil. As a stylist, I have always recommended it to my clients since it’s good for your scalp and it deters lice (you know, the sworn nemesis of the stylist.) But I hadn’t used it on my skin since I was a teenager. And something about the combination of smelling it while I was rubbing it into my face made my stomach hurt.
Closing my eyes, I was at my father’s house, in the Midwest summer with no air conditioning, the overwhelming smell of tea tree in my nose while the undiluted oil burned on my blemished face and a heavy pit of despair churned in my stomach. A small part of me wanted to put that bottle down and never pick it back up again. For just a moment, I was walking through the scenario in which I tell them I can’t review this product. I could just forget about it and push all that uncomfortableness to the back of my head and move on.
Fuck. Nope. Even in that dark moment I was able to see this for what it was. An opportunity. An opportunity for growth. How great.
If I was going to have to work through some mental shit, at least I’d be able to do it while using a product that made my skin look and feel good. It really is all about perspective, isn’t it?
So that’s what I did. Every day when I used this oil I consciously stayed present and kept my thoughts positive. Going over things I was thankful for, and looking forward to. For weeks. Essentially reprogramming how my brain responded to the scent of tea tree oil on my face.
It made it easier that it really did have some great effects on my skin. It was brighter all around, remained moisturized and my recurring psoriasis stayed away for the most part.
The oil is really light so it wears okay under my makeup, especially if I give it an hour or so after application, but slippery enough to allow for a gentle face massage for some focused self-care.
Sometimes the right product comes along at the right time and for me, this time, it was the Butters Hygienics anti-aging face oil. I’m not suggesting you slap it on and go digging through some childhood trauma, but if you do happen to dive down any rabbit holes, then I’ll see you on the other side with better skin and a different perspective, my friends.
Disclaimer: I am in no way qualified to offer mental health advice nor do I advise anyone to do any kind of exposure therapy without the assistance and support of a medical professional. Please, if you are struggling, reach out to someone you trust or seek medical assistance.
Nikki is a photographer, writer, artist, and advocate of radical self-love. She writes about mental health, gaming, sex, and inclusivity.