North Carolina-based Jessamyn Stanley has always been one of our favorite people to follow on Instagram. Over the past couple years, the yoga teacher and author has taken off, becoming a body-positive icon and powerful advocate, making the world of yoga (and the internet) a more inclusive place. Here she shares the $8 mask she swears by, her beauty motto, and the joy of CBD baths…
What’s your take on beauty, in a nutshell?
I’ve always been into it, but my understanding of beauty has changed a lot. I grew up in the era of Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, frosted eyeshadow — so I had a very late-90s/early 2000s idea of what beautiful looked like. As I got older, I began to understand that beauty isn’t something that can be marketed. It’s about highlighting the most unique and pure parts of every person. My attitude has morphed from ‘How can I make myself look beautiful’ into ‘How can I understand that everything about me already is beautiful?’
You’ve talked a lot about how photographing yourself doing yoga has helped with that.
Yeah, definitely. For a long time, I was very afraid to look at my body in an objective way. There are years of my life where there are very few photos of me, because I avoided them so much. But when I started doing yoga, I would photograph myself to check my form. Being forced to look at those photos had a profound impact on me — I mean, when you’re looking at your reflection in a mirror or window, it’s easy to change the angle or the way you’re standing. But a photo is a moment frozen in time. Those photos helped me come to terms with parts of my body and created a sense of love that probably wouldn’t be there otherwise.
And now you have zillions of people looking at those photos on Instagram! Do you think that platform is helpful?
It has definitely been helpful for me to see other women, especially black women, on social media, who are going through the same experience. L. Shauntay Snell and Lizzo photograph themselves at angles that we’re taught not to see — like, from underneath where you can see all the chins or full body shots from a low angle, so you can see the cellulite. Seeing them having these genuine connections with themselves has been inspiring.
What does your beauty routine look like these days?
Because I travel for work, I’m constantly dealing with dehydration and not getting enough sleep — and that immediately shows up in my skin. I’m very specific about what I put on my body. I’ve tried a ton of cleansers and they always seem to leave a film on my skin. So, now I just use Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap to wash my face. After that, I use a toner to get a deep clean (I always have a bit of excess oil). I recently starting using the Nubian Heritage toner, and I also love the Heritage rosewater that you can get at Whole Foods.
What about moisturizers?
After the toner, I put on Weleda’s Soothing Almond Oil, and then let that set for a minute. Then lately I’ve been using Weleda’s Day Cream — or their Night Cream, depending on the time of day. And that’s pretty much it.
Any other treatments you love?
Oh, yes! There’s this great mask, which you can also get at Whole Foods. It’s just pure bentonite clay and you mix it with apple cider vinegar before putting it on. That’s my favorite mask. It’s like I can feel it pulling stuff out of my pores.
On Instagram, you’ve made a point of showing your face and body in a natural state. Do you ever wear makeup?
Yes, but not every day. I’ve gone through periods of my life where I wore makeup all the time — like, would not go outside without a full face. Now, I’ve gotten to a place where I’m getting comfortable with what my face actually looks like. When I do wear makeup, I have fun and try different colors. For eyeliners, I’m always drawn to blues and greens — shades that are a bit of a surprise.
Do you have a favorite lipstick?
I’ve been enjoying the Fenty Beauty Mattemoiselle line. The colors are so bold. I used to be very timid with lip color because I was self-conscious about my large lips. But I’m finally at the stage where I’m like, ‘No, it’s cool! I have thick lips, it’s great!’ I’ve also used Black Radiance lipstick from the drugstore since I was a kid. Most of my makeup is stuff you can get at the drugstore or Target.
Let’s talk about hair. How do you typically care for yours?
If I use shampoo, I like Lush’s honey shampoo, which looks and SMELLS like straight honey. But I don’t use shampoo very often ‘cause my hair is really dry. Instead, I usually co-wash, which is conditioner-only washing. My typical routine is to detangle and co-wash with coconut oil. Sometimes I use Shea Moisture’s Rescue + Repair co-wash for natural hair. And then I’ll use Miss Jessie’s Leave-in Condish and Jane Carter Solution Nourish & Shine hair butter.
You have a physically demanding job. Do you have any tips on treating sore muscles?
Oh my gosh, YES. I love bubble baths. I recently started using a brand called Kush Queen. Their CBD bath bombs, I mean… there are no words. You will get in the bathtub and never get out again.
What else do you do for self-care?
I think my biggest self-care tactic is just turning off — unabashedly. Being able to just carve out time where it’s like — phone, gone. The internet is not a thing. I’m just going to be in silence and not interact with people unless you’re right in front of me. That’s hard for me, but so important. Self-care isn’t about doing one specific thing, but remembering that if you’re not taking care of yourself, no one else will. That’s been the biggest lesson for me. You have to go to bat for yourself.
Thank you so much, Jessamyn!