Ever since I could read, I’ve wanted to publish a book.
I read everything I could get my hands on. Books assigned at school, books checked out from the library, books acquired for quarters at the school book fair, glossy magazines (paying special attention to the skincare and beauty editorials, because some things don’t change), cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, you name it, I read it. I loved writing, too. My third grade teacher gave my primitive Miami Vice fanfiction story an A+ and planted the idea of becoming a writer in my head. My sixth grade teacher encouraged me to apply for a young writers’ camp at the local liberal arts college; I was accepted, and I loved it.
I flaked out on friends to read books. I skipped classes to write stories. By my twenties, I’d decided fiction writing was my thing. I think I was pretty okay at it. I went to a writers’ workshop every month, received positive feedback, sold one story for $25 to a tiny little zine. But, you know, life intervenes. I’m kind of an idiot, but the typical twentysomething struggles made me more practical. It wasn’t just about writing a book for me–I figured I could do that, and had finished a draft of a novel already–but about publishing it.
I knew how incredibly rare it is for a writer to actually sell a book to a publisher. Then there was the fact that fiction writing is, for me, entirely too intimate. I was a lit major, so I know how much the pretend stories we tell can inadvertently reveal truths about our souls. Writing a book was doable. Actually selling it sounded much less doable, and letting anyone in the world read it and look into my soul in ways I hadn’t specifically authorized was terrifying.
(Also, if we’re being totally honest, I mostly enjoyed describing things. Not so much the “creating interesting and consistent characters and figuring out how to arrange their motivations and actions into an interesting plot that makes logical sense” part, which seems kind of important in fiction.)
It didn’t actually hurt to shelve my fiction publishing dreams. I just wrote less and less and eventually decided that continuing to struggle with a manuscript I’d been fighting with for years wasn’t worth it. “Writer” stopped being a part of my identity, replaced by other occupations and vocations.
Some years later, this blog and the freelancing opportunities it created drew me back in to the writing life, but in a way that I found much more comfortable, much more authentic, and much more immediately rewarding than fiction writing ever had. And now, at the end of 2020, a year whose events would sound really fucking stupid in a work of fiction, here I am, to tell you guys: I’m publishing a book!
What makes this miraculous-feeling turn of luck even more special to me is that it isn’t just any book. Instead, it’s a book about one of my lifelong interests–skincare–and how that interest became a lifeline for me out of depressive slumps and gave me a crucial sense of control and agency in my life. Now I get to share that lifeline with anyone in the world who chooses to pick up the book. It feels unreal.
Practicing Self Care with Korean Skincare: Where It All Began
Those of you who have known me from the beginning may remember my essay, “How My Elaborate Korean Skincare Routine Helps Me Fight Depression,” which appeared on the now-defunct Fashionista.com in May of 2015. In the essay, I talked at length about how my version of the “10 step Korean skincare routine” did more than just improve my skin. All the way back then, I was learning how attending to my outer appearance helped me get closer to finding inner peace. I felt privileged to explain why to Fashionista’s readers.
My book, Skin Care for Your Soul, is kind of an extension of that essay. My routine has changed a lot in the intervening five years, but my overall approach has not. I still use skincare as a daily grounding ritual, and my routine still helps me remember to value and care for myself–now more than ever, after the ups and downs and major plot twists of the past five years. Since my publisher has graciously given me a book’s length of space to elaborate, however, I get to talk in so much more detail.
Skin Care for Your Soul is both a self-help book and an easy-to-follow skincare guide. On the practical side, I break down the purposes and benefits of the main skincare product categories to help you figure out what to add, what to change, and how to go about creating your ideal skincare routine with the least amount of risk. I talk about my favorite, tried-and-true ingredients and the basic parameters they need to function as expected.
Over on my Instagram, I often get questions like “how do I build a skin care routine for oily skin?”–my book will help you find those answers and make real progress in your skincare journey. As we progress through the different product categories, we’ll also discuss practical ways you can tackle deeper struggles through your skincare. I may think too much about my skincare routine, but it’s led me to revelations about how to use this supposedly superficial pursuit to heal ourselves from within.
And because there is an ugly side to the beauty industry, I also discuss the dangers of the cosmetics industry. Self care has become a buzzword, deployed by beauty capitalism to promote the idea of retail therapy (to the corporations’ benefit, naturally). That’s not what it’s supposed to be about, at least to me. So I talk about some of the most common and insidious marketing tricks and exploitative tactics. A little knowledge goes a long way towards preventing regrettable purchases.
Over the past few years, I’ve also become more and more aware of the need to decouple our interest in and enjoyment of skincare from toxic beauty standards. I want you guys to take care of your skin for yourselves, to use skincare and beauty (however you personally define it) in a way that enriches your lives rather than narrowing your goals to the impossible images in ads and on social media. So I talk about self image and self talk as well. We’re not in this to transform ourselves into someone else. We’re in this to benefit from becoming the best versions of ourselves. It’s different. The difference is crucial.
I signed with my publisher, Mango Publishing, in March of this year, about a week before the Covid lockdowns began. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work on a fresh version of my original book concept safely at home during the long months of the pandemic. I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if it weren’t for all of you guys who read my blog and follow my social media, who engage with me and enjoy my posts (even when they’re kind of stupid and primarily emphasize bizarrely naughty-looking fruit or refer to pores as face sphincters). So, thank you so much for that. I hope you love my book. I wrote it for you, and for all the people like you who might someday find their inner peace (and outer confidence) through skincare.
Skin Care for Your Soul will be released on March 16, 2021. In the meantime, you can pre-order your copy at:
While we wait, keep an eye on my social media. I’ll be working with my publisher to share tidbits and extra tips and recommendations that you won’t find in the book, as well as news and events for everyone to join!
I can’t wait for you to read it!