The Deceptive Reality of the Self-Care Industry

By: Sarah Offenberg  |  November 22, 2023

By Sarah Offenberg, Staff Writer

Chances are, you’ve encountered someone justifying their actions with the phrase “but, I’m doing it in the name of self-care.” The trend of self-care, which has gained popularity on the internet over the past few years, initially emerged as a seemingly innocent concept of taking time for oneself and prioritizing mental health. While self-care is not all bad, and I’m not villainizing the idea of bubble baths or simply needing a break, this idea of self-care has since evolved into a thriving industry on the internet and a convenient excuse for individuals to escape stressful situations.

According to ASD Market Week, the self-care industry is predicted to bring in a whopping 13 billion by 2026, and “when overlaid with technology, that number grows to $450 billion. And as self-care and ritual has become synonymous with wellness, the number grows to $1.5 trillion.” With anything, when people recognize the potential to profit from something, there is a tendency to exploit and deceive others for financial gain. When I looked up on the internet “self-care products,” I was met with an influx of bath bombs, body scrubs, skin care products, and crystals. And while I understand the importance of relaxation for mental health, buying these sorts of products will not do anything to help further any actual betterment of your physical and mental well-being. Being roped into buying these products in the sole name of self-care can be harmful, especially when social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok are throwing them in your face, making it as though you need these products to function. 

As well as products, the idea of self-care has been tainted into something that it originally, at its core, was not supposed to be. Google defines self-care as, “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” However, over time social media has spun this into, “it’s okay to blow off plans last minute, spend money on unnecessary items and watch lots of movies instead of being productive, in the name of self-care.” This idea can be harmful and inevitably backfire. This distorted interpretation, propagated by the echo chambers of social media, poses a considerable risk. The potential harm lies in the dilution of self-care into a justification for indulgence and escapism, fostering a culture that prioritizes immediate gratification over the long-term well-being it was originally intended to support. The idea that taking care of oneself involves the abandonment of responsibilities, the buying of unnecessary products, and the mindless consumption of entertainment can, ultimately, lead to adverse consequences.

My advice to you: If you truly want to practice self-care, stick to the basics. You do not need expensive products to be your best self. Go outside, get exercise, care about what you are putting in your body, limit screen time, focus on friendships, and get a therapist.