Wabi-sabi – 侘寂 – the art of perfect imperfection. Wabi-sabi can be described as a way of life that combines aesthetic, spirituality and togetherness. This concept originated from Japan and is still fairly present within Nippon culture.
Historically, the term wabi-sabi comes from a Japanese legend. Sen Rikyu, a tea master, asks his student to get ready for the tea ceremony. The student takes care of the garden until it’s utterly perfect. Sen Rikyu comes and checks the garden. Suddenly, the tea master moves the branch of a maple tree to spread a few leaves on the ground. The garden is now perfectly imperfect and Sen Rikyu is eventually satisfied with the work of his student.
Now, literally speaking, wabi-sabi translates to bleakness and loneliness. Wabi is the fact of living alone in nature and Sabi embodies the idea of cold and thinness.
Although, when we speak about the wabi-sabi concept, we don’t speak about the literal sense of these words. Wabi would refer to subtle elegance. Humbleness, the beauty we can find in nature whether we’re speaking about natural or artificial elements. The idea of singularity is pretty important as it is what makes a Wabi element unique and perfectly imperfect.
Sabi is all about equanimity, the fact that time leaves charming marks over things. The calmness you feel when you accept things as impermanent.
Aesthetically speaking, you can find the concept of wabi-sabi in Japanese rock gardens, bonsai-trimming, ceramic work, etc. Putting the imperfections in the spotlight is a way to celebrate and appreciate them. Damaging or even breaking an object can be seen not as something negative but on the contrary as something positive as it is in a certain manner a rebirth of this object. If you crack a mug, it won’t ever really be the same and, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Quite the contrary, the mug now has a story.
From a spiritual point of view, the wabi-sabi concept can be bittersweet. Accepting life as something imperfect and beautiful is also a way of accepting our own finiteness. By accepting that, we can also appreciate even more humble moments and see the beauty of our life and environment. Wabi-sabi can be similar to meditation as it puts us in a form of full consciousness to appreciate the beauty of things, life and continuous change. Wabi-sabi is a way to relieve us from the pursuit of perfection to allow us to find true satisfaction through authentic and simple things.
In our daily life, we can easily get caught in the crazy race of consumerism and illusionary perfection. Although we can buy ten cars and hundreds of clothes, that will not satisfy us in the long run. That phenomenon is present in skincare as well. We can find new beauty routines and miraculous new molecules every day. Skincare can be wabi-sabi if you do it to enjoy a moment with yourself and to give a gift to your body. If you’re fleeing what you would call “flaws” maybe you could take a step back and look at these annoying wrinkles and say to yourself “that’s a trace of my story”. Now, understand us, you can definitely be willing to make it less visible but in the process of doing so, do not judge it negatively and be grateful for it. It’s the proof that you’re here, living and that’s a wonderful thing.
That’s for the spiritual point of view. Now, about the material aspect of wabi-sabi, you can try to keep your routine respectful and minimalist. Do you really need to buy illuminating serum now? Or maybe you can stick to your already fairly efficient routine! Do you see the idea? Do not consume what you don’t really need. Finish your beauty products before buying new ones. That would be a reasonable and easy wabi-sabi approach to skincare routine