Like it or not, witches are having a moment. From the reboots of Charmed and The Craft to AMC’s A Discovery of Witches and Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the archetype of the witch is making its way right back into mainstream culture. And from pop culture to folklore, witchcraft is often depicted as arcane and dark, a world of bubbling cauldrons and crystal balls.
But witchcraft means something very different to the modern day people who practice it.
In general, witchcraft is a “pre-Christian, tribal tradition” practiced across the globe according to the activist, author, and ecofeminist Starhawk, as quoted in Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals. She describes it as an intentional spiritual practice that enables individuals to manifest change in their lives through the observance of sacred rituals as well as their connections to the earth, themselves, and the communities that they inhabit. Witches practice ancient and pagan traditions in countless ways (vodou, wicca, santería, and stregheria, to name a few) to empower themselves and others and to foster change in the world around them.
That’s one reason that believers and skeptics alike are incorporating esoteric perfumes, salves infused with sacred smoke, and crystal-charged primers into their daily beauty routine and embracing their inner maiden, mother, and crone. To get a deeper understanding of witchcraft’s appeal and impact on the lives of modern women, we spoke to witches about their beauty rituals, self-care, and the power of intention.
“My nighttime ritual is more in depth when I’m feeling it and can range from homemade green tea or turmeric clay masks to honey yogurt masks.” —Debbie Allen
For Brooklyn based creative and shop owner Debbie Allen, her beauty ritual is synonymous with self-care and spellwork. From revitalizing face creams to crystal-infused face sprays, Allen’s relationship with beauty is interwoven with her reverence for nature.
“I barely wear makeup most days when I leave the house, so lately I’ve been into Drunken Elephant polypeptide cream and a lavender or rose face spray that I make on full moons with crystal infusions which I carry at my shop. My nighttime ritual is more in depth when I’m feeling it and can range from homemade green tea or turmeric clay masks to honey yogurt masks. I also make a Palo Santo infused oil [purchased from small markets in Ecuador where it is grown and harvested] that I use for everything, it’s my favorite.”
“I love my rose quartz face roller and feel like an old timey fancy witch whenever I use it,” says Allen. She also enjoys embracing her inner herbalist by making her own lavender coconut honey lip balm sourced from her family’s farm in Rhode Island. “The lavender is from my herb garden and my mom is a beekeeper, so the bees pollinate the lavender and it’s this whole beautiful cycle that I feel really gives it a special energy [and] magick.”
As a source of manifestation, protection, and inspiration, Allen’s beauty ritual keeps her grounded to the earth that surrounds her. “Self-care and beauty are a very creative process,” she says. “I love foraging plants, collecting green clay from Block Island, and making salves. I love using my beauty ritual as a chance to connect with nature.”
“So much of skin care is about harnessing the gifts from plant allies [and] learning about plants and their benefits to us both inside and outside is witchcraft.” —Liv Swenson
When it comes to beauty, makeup artist Liv Swenson is a firm believer in the power of plants. By incorporating natural oils and honoring ancestral traditions, Swenson’s beauty ritual seamlessly interweaves the contemporary with the ancient. Her penchant for herbalism helps keep her hydrated, centered, and ready to brave each day.
“My daily beauty ritual starts with splashing cold water on my face, which cleans off sleep and helps to wake me up,” Swenson says. “If I don’t do this, I feel like I haven’t really signified a start to a new day. Then, I moisturize with a face oil, usually organic chia oil as it is light on my skin. I also wear amber and sandalwood oil as perfume in the colder months, and lavender in the hotter months. The right scents create a strong emotional response and state of mind.”
Hydration isn’t just a key part of Swenson’s morning routine, but a year-round essential for keeping her skin healthy and happy. “I’ve always had dry skin, so moisturizer has always been important,” she says. “I’ve been using organic rosehip seed oil for my face and sometimes body for years now, after first learning about it at Flower Power in NYC. It’s very high in vitamin C and feels fantastic on my skin.”
“So much of skin care is about harnessing the gifts from plant allies [and] learning about plants and their benefits to us both inside and outside is witchcraft,” Swenson explains. “Humans have been discovering the ways plants affect us since the beginning of our species. Part of going back to more simple beauty products is revisiting how our ancestors looked to the earth for remedies, and how powerful they really are.”
Like many, Swenson’s embodied definition of being a witch is far from fixed. “My identity as a witch is always evolving,” she says. “As I discover how parts of my beauty ritual work or do not, I see [that dynamic] in other aspects of my life.” For Swenson, acknowledging the interconnectedness between beauty and ritual is an affirmation of her path as a practitioner, creative, and individual.
“Each step is important to me because there are so few steps.” —Dia Dynasty
A professional dominatrix, Dia Dynasty’s beauty ritual is two-fold: a form of restoration and a form of self-protection. By pairing revitalizing oils with meditative mantras, Dynasty stays centered by listening to her body and trusting her intuition.
Dynasty’s morning routine begins with brushing her teeth with Dr. Christopher’s Tooth Powder, scrubbing her face with a washcloth, and applying a plant-based moisturizer. “I like things simple, so my beauty rituals and approach to beauty in general are simple and effective, as is my approach to magick,” she admits. A lover of earth-based products, Dynasty’s nightly ritual is straightforward, yet revitalizing. After brushing her teeth, she removes her makeup with a homemade cleansing oil comprised of olive oil, coconut oil, lavender and tea tree essential oils, followed by an application of rose water and either La Mer or Andalou 1000 Roses Moroccan Beauty Oil.
“Each step is important to me because there are so few steps, so I can focus my intention for each product to do its thing,” says Dynasty. “While brushing my teeth, I imagine that they’re getting as clean as possible and all other matter is being brushed away, as well as anything residing in my mouth that isn’t supposed to be there, like mean words or harsh judgements. These morning and nightly rituals are super important to me as a way to demarcate the beginning and end of the day, and I never go to bed with makeup on or without brushing my teeth.”
The meaningful act of caring for oneself is not only a source of renewal but a way to pay homage to those who helped Dynasty become the woman and witch she is today. “The concept of ritual for me is doing an act repeatedly with intention, she says. “Since I was in fourth grade, I cultivated a habit of meticulous dental hygiene because my mother sacrificed her meager wages to put braces on my teeth, something she wanted for herself but could not afford. This taught me the value of maintaining something valuable.”
“I like to put a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil in my shower to help wake me up and cleanse my aura.” —Nicole Pivirotto
Nicole Pivirotto of IrisEyris is an art director, designer, tarot reader, Reiki Master, a reader of Akashic Records, and a practitioner of Breathwork. Through aromatherapy, rest, and mindfulness, Pivirotto’s beauty ritual has helped her discover a deeper sense of confidence that radiates from within.
“My beauty routine has been really varied ever since I started running my own business and freelancing. But what I never miss is taking a shower in the morning,” Pivirotto explains. “It helps me start each day fresh. I like to put a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil in my shower to help wake me up and cleanse my aura. Plus it smells great!”
After her shower, Pivirotto makes sure to moisturize before drying off and starting her day. “I’ve really embraced being makeup-free these days,” she says. “It’s been super liberating and a big confidence builder. I think everyone’s relationship with beauty is different and makeup/hair can be very empowering. But for a long time, I felt like I couldn’t show my face outside my apartment if I didn’t wear makeup or have perfect hair. That’s all changed though as I’ve grown older and gained more confidence, which I’m grateful for.”
When she does wear makeup, Pivirotto relies on four key things. “I’ll use concealer, foundation, blush, and mascara. I’ll also put some smoothing oil in my hair to cut down on frizz. If I decide to go all out, I’ll put on some eyeshadow and eyeliner to top off my look,” she says. “I had an art director once when I was an intern many years ago, that would always say, keep it simple and sophisticated. This mantra has really impacted all areas of my life, not just design.”
In addition to staying hydrated and cleansing her skin daily, CeraVe SA Cream for Rough & Bumpy Skin is an essential for Pivirotto. “I have very dry and sensitive skin and this is the only thing that helps,” she says. “It also keeps my skin smooth and even in tone.”
“I think that witchcraft has really impacted my self-care in so many ways,” Pivirotto says. “Being a spiritual practitioner really gave me the tools for [cultivating a] self-care practice and re-define[d] what self-care means. It taught me a lot about boundaries and the importance of taking care of yourself.”
“Body scrubs are great to use during a full moon, gently peeling away old layers, literally.” —Staci Ivori
Like the High Priestess of the tarot, Staci Ivori is many things: an intuitive guide, tarot reader, Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and educator. For Ivori, makeup, herbs, and oils are tools for adornment, protection, and honoring the self.
“A daily beauty regimen is the perfect introduction to ritual,” Ivori says, “[It’s a] realization that… painting our faces, bathing our bodies, and anointing and adorning ourselves provokes an honor within ourselves that is truly sacred. When I put makeup on, it’s truly for me and only me. When I do my hair or paint my nails, it’s all to my liking and no one else’s—my own personal luxury.”
As a New Yorker, Ivori’s beauty routine is adaptive and, sometimes, occurs on-the-go. “You can definitely catch me applying makeup on the subway,” she admits, ”and there’s always that one guy who says, ‘Oh, you don’t need all that, girl,” and he’s most likely the same guy demanding women to ‘smile’ when they’re just minding their business, living their life, trying to get from one place to the next… It makes me furious because this is for me, [it’s how] I honor myself.”
For Ivori, mascara is essential because it enhances one of her favorite features—her eyes. “A mascara brush is called a wand, after all,” she says. In addition to amplifying her lashes, Ivori loves to incorporate food and herbs into her beauty ritual to nourish her body and mind. “They’re essential in my beauty routines,” she says. “I’m constantly creating herbal salt baths, sugar or coffee scrubs, and moisturizing with coconut or almond oils. Ritual herbal bathing has become a sacred practice of mine especially if I can be in natural waters like a river. But at home, a few flowers, herbs, and oils in a bath or steaming in a shower can do wonders to liven up the senses, for relaxation or restoration. Body scrubs are great to use during a full moon, gently peeling away old layers, literally.”
“Moisturizing, quite frankly, is a daily anointing of ourselves. We are in ceremony with our divine bodies. I say words of affirmation and take my time to properly bless myself and the experience. Same with applying fragrances.”
Through community, self-care, and staying connected to the earth, Ivori’s rituals have become a reminder of how transformative cultivating a relationship with beauty can be. “You can enchant your makeup in spell work for more than just a glamour,” Ivori explains. “Eyeliner and mascara can be used to open your eyes so you may see beauty around you and the true beauty in others. To brighten your view or bring clarity to new vision. Lipstick can allow you to find your voice and speak your truth. Perfumes can attract positivity, call in new people into your life [and] certain fragrances can be used to ward off negativity.” A modern example of an ancient truth, Ivori’s seamless relationship with beauty and ritual is a testament to the power of self-love.
“Red lipstick makes me feel unapologetically bold and gives me a quick shot of confidence and glamour.” —Pam Grossman
Pam Grossman is the mastermind behind WitchEmoji and The Witch Wave. A lifelong practitioner of magick, Grossman is dedicated to honoring both her physical and spiritual self. Her beauty ritual is a reminder of how powerful intention can be.
“I try to spend as much time on internal care as I do on external care,” says Grossman. “Meditating for 20 minutes in the morning makes me feel clearer and more centered, and I always feel more beautiful when I’m less harried. I also drink a cup or two of some sort of herbal infusion, which is essentially a tea that steeps for at least four hours before you strain it.” Grossman’s go-to recipe is a mix of burdock root, oat straw, and nettles, which helps soothe her stress and makes her feel revitalized.
In addition to natural remedies, Grossman is also a fan of using CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and Cetaphil PRO Moisturizer with SPF 30 in the daytime, CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizer at night along with Epiduo Forte prescription cream to help combat breakouts. “I also love taking baths, and lately have been alternating between using Tosaryu’s Japanese Hinoki Cypress Soak and One With Nature’s Rose Petal Dead Sea Bath Salts,” she says.
Along with bath soaks and reviving moisturizers, Grossman loves to incorporate jewelry and perfume into her daily beauty ritual to ensure that she has “a bit of magic” with her during the day. “If I’m getting dolled up, I put on red lipstick,” she says. “I’ve been a devotee of Lipstick Queen’s Saint Rouge for years. I love that it can go on sheer but is pigmented enough to layer on for a more opaque look. And I love the packaging! Red lipstick makes me feel unapologetically bold and gives me a quick shot of confidence and glamour.”
When it comes to staying balanced, Grossman makes sure to be mindful about what she allows into her consciousness. “Like most people, and certainly most women, my self-image is prone to fluctuation depending on how I’m feeling or what kind of images or messages I’ve been ingesting. So, I try very hard to be mindful about what I’m paying attention to throughout the day,” she says. “My intuition is stronger when I’m attuned to positive energy and not obsessing about things that make me feel bad about myself. So, I make sure to fill myself up with lots of art and inspiration and surround myself with images that make me feel empowered. From the deities on my altar to the pictures on my Matron Saints Pinterest board, I surround myself with as many depictions of inspiring female power as I can. This helps me remember that beauty isn’t just about appearance or fitting into one mold.”
“Getting my nails done is literally my only break from my phone other than sleeping and I cherish every moment of the ritual.” —Sarah Potter
Tarot reader, curator, and practitioner of color magic, Sarah Potter is no stranger when it comes to harnessing the power of color and intention. As a business owner, artist, and intuitive, Potter’s beauty ritual gives her a chance to restore her energy and focus.
“I work all of the time so in the rare moments when I am not, I love to treat myself to beauty time and the ultimate luxury: the gift of time to take care of myself,” Potter explains. “I’m really into skin care, so a lot of my beauty rituals focus on that element. I only use vegan and cruelty-free products, which are in major abundance now, so I have hardly any issues finding amazing options that are friendly to all creatures in our universe.”
Potter’s routine includes applying a Hyaluronic Moisture boosting serum from Trader Joe’s before she uses Pacifica’s Dreamy Youth Day and Night Face Cream. “I follow that up with my Rose Quartz face roller. I was very resistant to embracing this crystal tool, but it is literally life changing and now I cannot even travel without it,” she admits. “I roll my face with it every day and every night and I don’t care what anyone thinks. It is incredible and you need one, too!” Potter’s choice of Rose Quartz as opposed to jade or crystal quartz is far from happenstance. “I teach a Color Magic workshop—the practice of intentional and conscious use if color—and my whole life is ruled by the intentional use of color, so I chose the Rose Quartz roller because it is pink, the color of love and self-care, much like the crystal itself, so of course it feels like the natural choice for my morning self-care routine.”
“I love makeup so much so even if I am just staying home,” says Potter. “I usually put Tarte’s tinted moisturizer on, brush my lash extensions. If I am leaving my home, I wear an intense cat eye with Kat Von D eyeliner or a Wet ‘n Wild one from the bottom of my purse, whichever I find first in my bag. I love to choose an eyeshadow based on the Color Magic intention I am currently invoking, most likely something sparkly or metallic from Urban Decay but I am also obsessed with The Hoodwitch’s eyeshadow palette for Smashbox.” At night, Potter removes her makeup with Pacifica’s micellar tonic and a makeup remover facial wipe by Trader Joe’s. Afterwards, she applies Herbivore’s Prism Glow Potion and Pacifica’s Wake Up Beautiful Super Hydration Sleepover Mask. “Beauty rituals aren’t just about cosmetics, I feel that it’s about taking care of yourself and feeling good, too, so I try to stay super hydrated and drink a fuck ton of water,” she says. “I can see it in my skin first if I am tired or dehydrated and I just have no time for that. Major hydration hides a multitude of sins.”
Along with hydration and a striking cat eye, Potter’s signature look would not be complete without a luminescent manicure. “My most significant beauty ritual is getting my nails done. I’ve been wearing acrylics since I was in middle school with the only break occurring when I was in art school and getting messy all the time,” she says. “I missed my nails every day those years and vowed that as soon as I got a fancy adult ‘professional job,’ I would go back to my long fake nails, and I haven’t taken a break since. We are in a very long-term relationship. Getting my nails done is literally my only break from my phone other than sleeping and I cherish every moment of the ritual.”
“It has taught me that small, simple, repeated actions can catalyze visible change.” —Kristen J. Sollee
Kristen J. Sollee is a writer, educator, and the founding editrix of Slutist. Well-known for her debut book Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive, Sollee’s beauty ritual includes meditation, anointing oils, liquid eyeliner, and vivid eyeshadows. A fusion of ancient wisdom and rock and roll glamour, Sollee’s aesthetic helps her channel her inner triple-faced goddess with ease.
“I consider meditation to be the beginning of my beauty ritual, followed by a shower that alternates between hot and freezing cold, which helps me feel energized,” Sollee explains. After that, Sollee turns her focus to moisturizing with Tatcha Firming Eye Serum and Kiehl’s with SPF before adding oils, makeup, and fragrance. “I’m a Capricorn, so I apply a bit of Capricorn by Intuitive Essence which is handmade with oud wood, blood orange, and tea rose and is meant to help heighten creative expression and help loosen you up and not be so damn serious, which I definitely need,” she says. “Depending on what I want to accomplish, I might also apply some Glamour oil or Jezebel oil, too. Of course, there’s concealer and sometimes foundation, but the next step I need to feel fully myself is applying Stila liquid liner for a winged cat eye, a little Kat Von D Metal Crush eyeshadow. These basics, along with my oils, help me set my intentions for the day and armor up before I enter the world.”
Inspired by the archetype of the witch since childhood, Sollee’s favorite lipstick stems from her love for Sleeping Beauty’s villainess queen. “MAC’s Maleficent lipstick in Violetta has been my beauty talisman since 2010,” Sollee adds. “The purple-fuchsia shade reminds me of my favorite Disney witch’s royally wicked aesthetic, and I get to admire her enviable horned visage when I put it on every morning, too. I’m so attached to it that even though MAC doesn’t make it anymore, I’ve scoured eBay and spent over $100 on a single tube just so I can always have it with me. My early obsession with Maleficent no doubt inspired me to not only explore witchcraft but a macabre, hard femme aesthetic, so I owe a lot to her.”
Sollee’s beauty ritual isn’t just an homage to badass witches like Maleficent but a way for her to feel more like herself. “It helps me fully drop into my body,” she says. “I’ve been shaving off my eyebrows since 2002 in a sort of ode to David Bowie and Marilyn Manson, so I feel like my face is truly a blank slate until I freshly Bic my brows and use makeup to transform into something that reflects my inner electricity, or magic, or power, or whatever you want to call it. I feel much more able to manifest and be exacting in my spellwork when I’ve taken time for aesthetic self-care versus the days when I’m too sick or lazy or busy and I’m forced to skip it.”
However Sollee chooses to outwardly embody her witchy-ness, she’s a steadfast believer in the power of ritual. “It has taught me that small, simple, repeated actions can catalyze visible change. It is also a reminder that although I may have little control over the outside world, I have everything at my fingertips to create, conjure, manifest or draw in what I want in my own life—and that, to me, is the essence of being an artist and a witch.”
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