Neada Deters Simplifies the Art of Personal Ritual

CUUP interviewed Neada Deters, founder of LESSE, in January 2020, before the words ‘ritual’ and ‘self-care’ had become intertwined with ‘social-distancing.’ Two months later, Neada’s gentle advice for creating ritual is more relevant than ever. Less really is more.
Neada Deters Simplifies the Art of Personal Ritual

“A ritual is something that makes you feel like ‘you’ no matter where you are. It can provide a sense of home that you take with you wherever you go. Or a ritual can provide a sense of coming home to yourself; a way of feeling that you are safe and taken care of.” 

Neada Deters is the founder and creative director of LESSE, an organic skincare company focused on creating sustainable products that are truly essential. Ritual, intention, self-care and simplicity are woven into Neada’s personal and professional ethos, but her quest to take care of herself is linked to a much wider goal of helping us all take care of ourselves – and, in turn, to take care of the world we share. 

NEADA WEARS THE BALC IN BLACK

“I can only imagine how hard it is for the people who are out there fighting every single day [on issues like climate change or racial injustice] to maintain their balance [between self-care and caring for the world]. I don’t want to put myself in that bucket. I’m not changing policy or saving lives – but I have learned the importance of ritual in balancing mental health against the weight of the news we hear each day.” 

“In an age of so much access and information, a lot of us can feel helpless; that we aren’t doing enough. We really feel the weight and injustice of the world around us. Taking care of one’s self becomes a struggle. It’s easy to become absorbed in the news, reach a point where it’s too much, and then just want to push it all away; to completely ignore it; to follow the ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach.” 

NEADA WEARS THE PLUNGE IN TAUPE

“I find the best way to strike a balance is to set aside specific times to read the news and be well-informed. But, it is just as important to create space and time where that news is not feeding into or taking over your happiness, your sense of grounding, or the things that make you feel like ‘you.’” 

“Your ritual might be to call a member of Congress every Friday morning. That might make you feel great. Or it might be to donate the five dollars you would have spent on Monday morning coffee to the ACLU or a nonprofit that you feel passionately about. If that makes you feel great, those are great rituals.” 

NEADA WEARS THE BALC IN BLACK

“All that being said, it’s so important to carve out time to take care of yourself. Ritual is not just about beauty and how you look, it's about your mental health. And your mental health is more connected to what’s happening in the world than you may think. If we don't find the time and space to value ourselves, we will never feel good enough to take action around the issues we care about.” 

“Rituals are important, even if it’s just waking up and making a cup of tea; washing your face and brushing your teeth. Making rituals out of the basic necessities helps to make you feel human. Those small things are setting a balanced framework for the way you show up for yourself, for others, and for society at large.” 

NEADA WEARS THE PLUNGE IN TAUPE

“At LESSE, we emphasize ritual, not routine. The essential tasks – washing your face, applying your serums, taking a shower – can all easily become routine. But, when we see these tasks as an investment in ourselves, as a way of taking care of ourselves from the inside out, we transform monotonous routine into a ritual that benefits us physically, emotionally and mentally.” 

In an age where self-care has become a commodity – and a never-ending to-do list – Neada’s manner of measuring ritual makes her message all the more refreshing. Less is more, she says. Her company LESSE does not create a fleet of 40 products or herald a multi-step choreographed skincare dance. They release a few key products, all carefully considered in ingredients, packaging and philosophy. 

‘Less is more’ is the guiding principle of Neada's business, but it also informs the different rituals in her own personal life – from her beauty regimen to her wakeup call, her workday to the relationships she keeps. 

“When it comes to my beauty ritual, I don't wash my face in the morning. I just apply serum, Sometimes I use toner and I always use a gentle SPF. It’s really important to protect yourself from the sun. At night, I do a thorough cleanse, tone and serum. It's really, really minimal, but less really is more. Your skin knows what it needs to do. Sometimes it needs a little guidance, but you don't need 12 to 15 products.”

“When it comes to my morning ritual –  again – less is more. I try not to do too much in the mornings. It's just about waking up, being with myself and taking a quiet moment before the day gets busy. Making coffee and really enjoying that ritual, which is very slow and quiet. Essential.” 

“To bring attention and simplicity into my workday, I write a quick list of the three to five things I'm really not looking forward to for the day. I power through those items first, getting them out of the way. After that, every hour of my workday has so much positivity, excitement, creativity and intention behind it.”

“And I really do carve out time for those things – the creativity and space for intention. All of us get so absorbed in emails. Our worst work is done when our email is constantly lighting up. Being able to carve out specific time for things that will really push you forward and create great results is always my best approach.” 

“[To bring simplicity into relationships,] I always make a phone call. Always. True friendships and relationships are not built on an Instagram DM conversation. They're built through one-on-one experiences where you really get to know someone.” 

“A human voice actually lights up the same part of your brain that lights up when you get a hug from someone you care about. When you get a phone call from an old friend or a relative, that part of your brain is lighting up and filling you with positivity and comfort. When I found that out, I started picking up the phone and calling people back in Australia at random times just for a catch up.” 

Everyone loves good advice for self-improvement, but like the news that can weigh us down, the concept of perfection can derail the benefits of personal rituals. A slower, more simplified approach to improvement is Neada’s antidote to perfection. 

“We don’t talk enough about perfection, or the problem with perfection. Perfection is so incredibly subjective. We are all perfectly imperfect. We are all doing the best that we can every day. The other day, my friend told me that she is constantly focusing on improving a little bit more each day. Do one percent better than you did yesterday. And then one percent better the next day. 

“We are all going through something, we have all been through something, and we are simply the product of our experiences. The moment we start accepting those experiences is the moment we can begin to focus on being a better person for ourselves, our families, our friends, our community and for this world.” 

“Maybe that means walking to work, instead of driving. Or helping someone carry their stroller up the stairs. Just do one thing today that is better than what you did yesterday, and let yourself feel one percent better about yourself than how you felt yesterday. Over time, that will become enough.” 


Interview and Article by Molly Virostek. Photographed by Ira Chernova.

Tags: bodytalk , Self

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