Ashley Tisdale has worn many hats during her long career: actress (we all loved her in the High School Musical movies), singer, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. Now she's ready to take on the role of wellness expert and blogger. She's launching Frenshe, a health, wellness, and beauty blog that's derived from her married name, Ashley French.
Tisdale was inspired to create the blog to share what she's learned about wellness, self-love, and body positivity after struggling with anxiety and depression for years. She promises to be honest and vulnerable and get real about a lot of taboo topics. (Plastic surgery is one thing she wants to talk about.)
We got to chat with Tisdale about her new venture, how she's been taking care of her mental health during quarantine, and her self-care tips.
What was your inspiration for Frenshe? Why did you want to launch it?
The last couple of years, I've been very open about my mental health journey with my album Symptoms and finally was able to be vulnerable with my fans. Because even though I have social media, I've always kept a very separate private life and sharing almost everything at the same time. Over the last couple of years, with my anxiety and things that I had gone through—when I had taken over my makeup company and the pressure and the stress of that—I was seeing a lot of doctors, holistic and non-holistic. Unfortunately with Illuminate [ed. note: her makeup brand], I just got to the point where I couldn't keep going the way I was going because it wasn't good for my health. I looked back, and I said, "Gosh, it's either going to be the biggest lesson of taking over something like this or a big success." And to be honest, it was a big lesson. But it led me to this moment, which was creating Frenshe, the health-and-wellness blog of talking about my journey. I'm someone who always likes to dig deeper into health. I don't like to jump to medicine on everything. It's been a journey and a process. I've learned so much from all of the experts that I've been to.
And also, I have done so much and experienced so much that I wanted to start to share my journey with my fans. The health-and-wellness space is so overwhelming sometimes. I have started to really turn my house into a nontoxic household. And I believe there's a balance still. I'm not someone who's going to be completely pushing a nontoxic brand, but I do believe in a nontoxic kitchen and household items. I think that life is about balance and moderation and not just going one way or the other. I really wanted to create something that was about balance, that was relatable, and that was affordable, to be honest. Because it can get very expensive. What clicked for me was going to EWG and trying to find household items, like which ones were the best but most affordable. There are so many options, and I wish someone would just be like, "This is the best affordable cleaning supply." And I would just get it. And so that's kind of where Frenshe was born.
Are there any specific topics that you're very excited to talk about that you don't think get discussed in the wellness space?
I don't know if there's a lot on food sensitivities. A lot of people always ask me about my skin and how I have such clear skin. I did a post one time on my Instagram saying I'm dairy-free, and so obviously everyone thought just cut out dairy. But that is not what I was really trying to explain. It's more about, to me, dairy is a food sensitivity. And by limiting my food sensitivities in my body, it causes less inflammation. It's just learning about your body and what you're sensitive to and limiting those things. It's hard to take things out of your diet for sure. And it's not an easy task. I think about talking about all of those things, like food sensitivities and how it can affect gut issues.
And even plastic surgery. I'm excited to talk about that because I really haven't spoken much about it and about my path and my journey with it. I have to be honest; I really didn't have the most positive experience with it, and I think that that is something I would love to share.
I think that a lot of the stuff on my blog is going to be about self-love and how we can get to that point. Because it's not something that changes overnight, and it's definitely really hard, accepting your flaws. It's also just a space that's non-judgmental. So it's going to be just being able to have a community of people talking about things and being vulnerable and honest. I think my journey with mental health really was just such a great experience to be open and see the positive that I was getting from fans and hearing their point of view and their experiences, but it just caused me to want to be more vulnerable and more honest with my fans.
How do you practice self-love and positivity in your own life? Do you do any rituals?
I was always somebody who was really hard on myself growing up. I'm a perfectionist, and so I can be very critical of myself. There are rituals, like on Sunday, taking a bath and having "me" time. But really, the things that have helped me the most are meditation and allowing myself that time because I think that is such a self-love moment where you're giving up time to just really get in touch with yourself. I think it's really about communication with yourself. I learned the negative thought patterns. I don't know if we ever really know how to speak to ourselves, but someone said to me, "You should speak to yourself like you would speak to your best friend." If your best friend were going through something really hard, you wouldn't judge them; you wouldn't be super critical of them. You would be comforting. And you'd be like, "It's going to be okay. You're going to get past this." And I think that that is something I had to learn, that in moments where I feel I've failed, I had to be able to comfort myself and not be so harsh on myself. We're all going to have moments of failures in our lives, and that's what gets us to the next moment and the next success. That is such a huge thing for self-love. If you can just start to comfort yourself with your thoughts instead of being hard on yourself, that is when I think you're really heading in that great direction.
How do you take care of your own mental health?
I read a lot. I did this process called Attacking Anxiety and Depression. It's a book, and it comes with some old-school CDs. It's kind of like a therapy session on a CD. But I did that actually right before I wrote my album Symptoms. It really helped me because I was just in a moment of time where everything I was going through was coming to a head, and I knew something had to change; I could not keep going the way I was going. So I did that, and it really got me out of my way. It got me out of the anxiety and depression and learning how to use the right tools.
I also love this book called Your Power to Heal, which is about the idea that we're not victims of disease; we actually have the power within us to heal ourselves. It's not saying don't take medicine if you need to take something. It's mainly like, once we get over our traumas from our past that we're able to clear, we're able to just really move forward. So any time I'm having an anxious moment, I talk to myself and see what I'm having a moment about.
I actually started that Attacking Anxiety and Depression book again while I've been in quarantine because it's been about, let's say, three years since I did it the first time. I'm such an extrovert. I love social gatherings. I love hanging with friends, and just being home now and not being able to be around your friends, it's definitely been really hard. And so there have been those moments where it's like, "I'm fine." Then there are moments where I'm like, "I'm having a crappy day." So I was like, "You know what? I think I'm going to do that book again." It is really good because it gives you a good, different perspective. Sometimes, we're kind of caught in a feeling of being stuck in this moment, that this is going to last forever. And no, it's not going to last forever, and we need to not look at it in that way. So yeah, I love to read. I'm a fully committed person, so if there's something I've got to do homework-wise, I'm fully into it.
Speaking of quarantine, are there any new things that you've learned about yourself? How have you been taking care of yourself?
I am not someone who does well just being home all the time. I usually have multiple things going work-wise, so I'm always busy. The last year, I did two different series, one for Netflix and one for CBS, so I was just nonstop. I was filming a movie in Oklahoma when everything started to shut down, so we didn't even finish the movie. I flew back, and I think it was two days later, L.A. shut down. It was just so interesting how I have really acclimated and have been okay in some way. I thought I'd be super anxious, and yeah, I have those moments sometimes. I think the minute that we got here, I just started finding hobbies. I was learning Spanish, and I got to be home with my husband and my dogs.
We were also in the middle of renovating, so I think that did have something to do with it. There was a little bit of normalcy, even though we weren't around anybody. My dad's a contractor, so I did see him throughout the day. There was a lot going on, but I did find out actually I'm a huge fan of interior design. I mean, I've always been a fan of interior design, and I've flipped multiple homes in the past. I was like, "I really need to just focus on finding stuff for my backyard," and I started putting together these little design boards. Then, just a couple of months later, I actually got my first job in interior design with someone I know. It was just a side hobby, and it was an interesting thing that came out of having fun. I had helped a lot of my friends furnish their places during quarantine, but this is an actual job. They said, "We really want you to design, and your dad to do the kitchen." So that is something that has come out of quarantine that I was just really not expecting.
Are there any products or self-care finds that you picked up during quarantine that you're obsessed with?
Joanna Vargas has this magic wand. I miss getting facials, but I'm obsessed with her magic wand. It keeps up; it's smooth; there's a cooling mode. You just put a mask on and massage your face with this thing. It's so relaxing, and it's such a nice alternative to not being able to get a facial right now.
Also, I've been obsessed with Olive and June nail polishes. I have the kit. It has gotten me through quarantine. Every week, I pick a new color. So it is definitely something I have had fun with. For me, I've always been someone who loves to get manicures. And whenever I feel like my life is a mess, my nails are usually a mess. For me, getting a manicure and having your nails look great, I always feel like my life is put-together. Being in quarantine and not being able to get manicures, it's just nice to be able to do it yourself and be like, "Yeah. I've got my stuff together."
If you could tell the Ashley during the High School Musical frenzy one thing, what would it be?
I think it'd just be to love yourself more. I think that when we're younger, we are just, obviously, kind of basing ourselves off of relationships. I think that for me, I was always very confident, but unfortunately, sometimes I would allow people to treat me a certain way. And I think that was just the lack of self-love. It was, at that point, easy for people to prey on your insecurities. So I think that when we love ourselves more, we kind of step into our power, and we're all really powerful beings, so we just don't really know how to own our power. I think when I was younger, just having the best time of my life, I didn't really think I knew how powerful I was.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.