Three extended arms of different skin colors holding self-made products against a yellow illustrated backgroundShare on Pinterest
Photography by Selfmade, Design by Alexis Lira

Baths are a popular self-care practice often touted on social media.

Sure, there’s something centering about luxuriating in water filled with bubbles and scented Epsom salts.

Think low lights, flickering candles: a veritable home spa awash in an amber glow.

But who has time for that?

If you’re stressed out because of your job, your children, your relationships, systemic racism, institutional oppression, or any number of internal and external factors, running a bath can seem like more of a burden than a gift.

But what if self-care didn’t feel like a chore you had to complete, another tick off your endless to-do list, or a multi-step routine copied from an influencer that doesn’t actually work for your real life?

What if self-care was grounded in self-love? A practice that nourished your body, refreshed your mind, and provided a salve for your weary soul?

Selfmade has entered the chat.

A socially conscious beauty brand founded by Stephanie Lee and science-backed by a team of doctors, Selfmade’s goal is to connect the act of self-care with the mindset of self-love and self-worth.

Lee said the impetus for Selfmade came out of her own experience working at the heart of the beauty industry while also battling a mental health crisis.

In that crisis, she found clarity about her role in the beauty industry.

In founding Selfmade, Lee has brought to market three skin care products that exfoliate, hydrate, tone, and moisturize. What’s more, Selfmade products encourage users to look beyond their own reflection in the mirror to connect with what’s happening in and to their bodies: specifically their skin.

Jeshana Avent-Johnson, Psy.D., specializes in mental health with a focus on intimacy and sexual well-being. As one of the experts working with Selfmade, she says the product line is grounded in the science of psychodermatology.

“Psychodermatology is the concept of how our skin is impacted by the things we experience psychologically and how it shows up in our skin,” says Avent-Johnson.

This can include a multitude of skin conditions, like:

While the word “psychodermatology” is new, the concept is not.

When you see an errant pimple or an eczema flare on your abdomen, you may instinctively intuit the connection between your outer presentation and your inner state of being. That connection is what psychodermatology is all about.

“Psychodermatology is the concept of how our skin is impacted by the things we experience psychologically and how it shows up in our skin.”

— Jeshana Avent-Johnson, Psy.D.

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The goal of Selfmade is to connect something as simple as caring for yourself with regulating your emotions and mental health to lessen the effects of stress.

“If we’re flooded with distressed hormones, it affects our skin,” says Avent-Jonshon. “Regulating our ability to effectively know if we’re in ‘fight or flight’ and then managing that can prevent us from having an overtaxed nervous system that’s constantly producing stress hormones that impact our skin.”

In this way, Selfmade offers an attempt at self-soothing.

Like a baby who wakes up cooing instead of crying because they know how to comfort themselves, Selfmade is a beauty product that seeks to help its users soothe themselves.

But couldn’t any product and any beauty routine do that?


That’s why the product is really only part of the equation, says Byron Young, M.D., another expert backing the mental and emotional science of Selfmade. He says mental health education is literally as important a part of the process as the product line.

“Skin care has long been a source of pampering and self-care and is deeply connected to self-esteem,” says Young. “Selfmade enhances that connection by sharing mental health knowledge and creating discourse that taps into the full potential of the synergy between skin care and mental health education.”

For Selfmade, mental health education starts on the back of the bottle. Each product offers questions to go along with the typical instructions and ingredients list.

Questions include:

  1. What does loving myself look like in action?
  2. What do I feel when I touch myself?
  3. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

These questions seek to teach users what it means to cultivate healthy attachments and establish secure boundaries.

Beyond products and education, Selfmade goes back to the root of why Stephanie Lee founded the company in the first place.

After examining her relationship with her own mental health in the middle of her traditional beauty career, she said she questioned societal standards.

They “make it nearly impossible for us to recognize and appreciate our inherent human value,” she says.

The conventional beauty standard is usually a tall, thin, white woman. For Selfmade, the standard is shifted on its head to center Black and brown women, femmes, and nonbinary people who have too long been pushed to the margins.

In centering those normally cast off to the sidelines, Selfmade hopes to create what it calls “community-powered healing.” This includes safe spaces where people from all backgrounds, in or out of binaries, can not only be themselves but love themselves.

“As humans, we are designed for connection,” says Avent-Johnson. “However, through trauma experiences and systematic oppression, the desire for connection becomes a desire for protection. Community provides the necessary space for individuals to heal and move back to our original design of connection.”

Community-powered healing includes safe spaces where people from all backgrounds, in or out of binaries, can not only be themselves but love themselves.

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You can cultivate your mental and emotional health during your skin care routine, with or without Selfmade products.

First, remind yourself of your ‘why.’ Sure, there may be a fresh breakout or a few dark spots motivating you to care for your skin, but what are the deeper reasons? When you get in touch with your deeper why, self-care becomes a positive rather than a corrective process.

For instance, your why might sound something like, “I’m radiant within and without, and I choose to share my radiance with the world.”

Next, focus on your why during your routine, even when you notice self-judgments coming up.

Instead of cursing your cellulite, remind yourself of that radiance with a sentiment like, “My so-called flaws are a part of my unique beauty.”

Finally, reward yourself when you complete your routine.

You can do this by simply taking a few moments to linger in front of the mirror and admire the things about you that you love. You can also throw in some extra ‘flair,’ like a bold red lip or a pair of statement earrings to announce to the world, “I’m here!”

By linking mental health and self-worth, redefining the standard of beauty, and imbuing seekers of good skin with not only the products to prevent breakouts but prompts to provide mental shifts, Selfmade as a company is living up to writer Audre Lorde’s definition of self-care.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

—Audre Lorde

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Caring for yourself, loving yourself, and spending time getting to know yourself and your body is not selfish. It’s a radical act of self-love that shifts the tides from marginalization to deeply mattering—to the person who matters most: You.

Nikesha Elise Williams is a two-time Emmy award-winning news producer and award-winning author. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and attended The Florida State University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in communication: mass media studies and honors English creative writing. Nikesha’s debut novel, “Four Women,” was awarded the 2018 Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Award in the category of Adult Contemporary/Literary Fiction. “Four Women” was also recognized by the National Association of Black Journalists as an Outstanding Literary Work. Nikesha is a full-time writer and writing coach and has freelanced for several publications including VOX, Very Smart Brothas, and Shadow and Act. Nikesha lives in Jacksonville, Florida, but you can always find her online at, or @Nikesha_Elise on Twitter and Instagram.