I'm an only child who grew up off Laurel Canyon in a house that frequently smelled of pot. One would think I'd be a hippie-dippie, tree-hugging, crystal collector — and yet, I was skeptical (fine, cynical) about the whole chakra-aura-energy movement until about six months ago. That's when I met Mashell Tabe, a crystal healer-meets-facialist who divides her time between New Mexico, L.A., and New York.
Within minutes of lying down on her table for the first time, closing my eyes, and tuning in to her voice, I drifted into this warm place of white light. (You know how certain people can touch your back or arm and you get that full-body tingly feeling? I get that every time I walk into Tabe's room now. It's weird.) I found myself opening up about my personal struggles and desires as Tabe microneedled my skin, prayed over me, and walked me through visualization exercises. I left with glowing skin and the sense that I'd just gotten to a place of understanding and calm at which one only arrives after years of therapy. I've been a convert ever since.
For whatever reason, Tabe helped me get in touch with my spirituality, but that's not to say I don't think there's a lot of bullshit out there capitalizing on the somewhat recent trend of young women, at least in major cities like L.A. and NYC, gravitating toward all things New Age. It seems you can't walk into a beauty boutique nowadays without passing a quartz-infused cream in a recycled-glass jar with a crescent moon on the label. So I asked cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson, along with Tabe, to weigh in on spiritual skin care: Do crystal infusions really do anything, or is it all a matter of just believing?
"Look," said Wilson to me over the phone, "I'm never one to say what someone believes is complete BS. Coming at it from a chemistry standpoint, some of the crystal essences contain trace minerals, like calcium and magnesium, which are beneficial for the skin. They help to energize the cells and assist the ATP [adenosine-triphosphate] cycle." Basically, according to Wilson, the minerals found in crystals like amber, malachite, and quartz can work to strengthen the cells' metaphorical batteries and increase cell turnover, and when the batteries are working better, the skin looks better.
"If you're tired and dragging, your skin shows it and doesn't have as much vitality. So there is a science behind why your skin looks healthier and has more of a glow when you use these products," says Wilson. As for products that also claim to improve your mood or reduce stress, well, the chemist isn't sold: "Feeling is much more subjective. It could be a placebo effect because you know it's in there, so you're perceiving it to have that effect on you," she says, adding that it's usually just the aromatherapeutic scents giving one a sense of calm.
Tabe echoes Wilson's claim that crystals, which she views as "a pure form of God energy," enhance the nutrients going into the skin, but for her, it starts with intentions. "You would hope that the creator of the product, who is taking the essence of something really pure and healing, and infusing it into products, would have the right intentions," she says. (The founder of shamanic beauty line Ceremonie is an example of someone who takes this seriously, according to Tabe.)
Before dipping into any crystal-infused product, Tabe recommends connecting to your heart center — which happens "anytime you think about something you love or that brings you joy" — and setting the intention for the product to heal in whatever way you want it to. "If you're believing that the product can nourish your skin or help with hyperpigmentation, what's the harm in believing it can heal, too? What do you have to lose?"
Ahead, seven of our favorite spiritual serums, fragrances, and oils for believers and skeptics alike.