When Did Self-Help Become Self-Care?


But other wellness entrepreneurs serve the kinds of seekers who want spirituality and connection and self-awareness along with, say, great skin. These include Amanda Chantal Bacon of Moon Juice, a nu-groovy operation that specializes in juices and adaptogenic “dusts”; Erica Chidi Cohen, a co-founder of LOOM in Los Angeles, which offers support around sexual and reproductive health and parenting; Ty Haney, the founder of Outdoor Voices, the Austin, Tex.-based “you-do-you” apparel brand; and Liz Tran, who founded Reset, a new wellness space, or “sanctuary,” in Manhattan that offers classes and workshops in the “formation of the integrated self,” with corporate career coaching, sound baths and astrology. (The space could be a sign of what’s next: Instead of millennial pinks and modernist clutter, here are jewel tones, warm wood and an 800-pound smoky quartz crystal from Madagascar.)

CreditSamuel Bristow for The New York Times

Many of the newer wellness products are direct-to-consumer. The individualization of self-care wellness includes custom vitamins from subscription services, like Ritual and Care/of, as well as curated boxes filled with candles, jade rollers and succulents.

Wellness might currently be code for “thin,” according to Jessica Knoll writing in The New York Times, but it’s also a superstructure for those who feel ignored or condescended to by Western medicine. While self-help-styled wellness involved a top-down, rules-based wellness orthodoxy — which does, of course, work for many women — newer, self-care-specific wellness is an easy sell for women on a heroine’s journey with their bodies and feelings, through sun signs, human design, snail-mucus face masks or blunts. Whatever works.

While self-help-oriented wellness products were straight out of the health-food store with utilitarian or medicinal packaging, the aesthetic of self-care wellness branding is often minimalist, sans-serif and streamlined. A good example is the packaging of the brand Dosist, which sells pens with precise doses of CBD and THC. The company pitches itself as health-adjacent, like many other savvy cannabis brands that are attempting to appeal to a new market with a clean, high-tone look and feel.

Dosist just opened a second brick-and-mortar location in L.A. to create “wellness experiences” (with the help of a “wellness concierge”), joining Saks, Neiman Marcus and the now-bankrupt Barneys New York, all of which have capitalized on the potential of luxe wellness, the natural extension of the self-care wellness model.

Many self-care-oriented wellness products, including those from CAP Beauty, Tulura, Golde, Tata Harper and Tatcha, look like a new kind of high-end beauty product. Others channel happy, kiddo vibes (see: Kopari Beauty, Supergoop, Moon Juice and Drunk Elephant). Those could respond to another feeling many who respond to self-care are seeking: a childlike lightness that momentarily distracts from the grown-up problems of the every day.


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