'THINK' Yourself Well

How Your Beauty Routine Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

+ Pamela Friedman

How do you feel when you’re taking care of your skin?

According to a thread on Reddit’s Makeup Addiction, a lot of people feel like their skin care and makeup routines do more than simply boost their appearance.

Responders referred to their routines as “self-care,” noting they made them feel better on bad days, helped improve their mood when suffering from chronic pain, provided stress relief, and eased symptoms of depression.

Could it be that our skin care and makeup routines do more for us than we thought?

The Link Between the Skin and the Mind

According to scientific research, there is an interesting link between the brain and the skin. You’ve experienced it already, when blushing from embarrassment or breaking out in periods of stress.

Harvard Health notes that the relationship between the mind and skin has become so fascinating to scientists and dermatologists that they now have a field of study called “psychodermatology.” It’s a relatively new discipline in psychosomatic medicine, which is a subspecialty in the field of psychiatry dealing with the relation between mental and physical illness.

Estimates are that the prevalence of psychological factors that can actually affect skin disease is between 25 and 33 percent. Though psychodermatology isn’t yet an established medical specialty in the U.S., there are some professionals that specialize in helping people manage the emotional aspects of their skin care issues.

These individuals might provide psychological treatment to address acne symptoms that don’t clear up with regular treatment, or example, or with embarrassing rosacea symptoms.

There is also research showing that our emotions, including stress, depression, and anxiety, can increase skin, hair, and nail problems. When speaking of that research, dermatologist and clinical psychologist Richard G. Fried, M.D., said: “When patients are going through a rough period in their lives, negative emotions can wreak havoc on their appearance.”

Stress, for example, can make skin more sensitive and reactive, and is known to be a trigger for rosacea and psoriasis flare-ups. Fried recommended that traditional dermatologic therapies be used in conjunction with stress-relieving strategies to better manage these conditions.

“When dermatologists treat both the skin and stress, the skin often clears more quickly and completely as the native influences of stress are diminished,” he said.

Considering all this evidence, it’s not too big a leap to imagine that caring for the skin, or improving its appearance, might also help affect us, psychologically.

5 Ways Your Beauty Routine Can Benefit Your Mental Health

Though we don’t have studies yet on how your beauty routine may help improve your mood, we do have a lot of testimonials from real people saying that it does just that. We also know that slowing down, being mindful about your routine, and focusing on making your skin-care into self-care can provide the following five benefits:

1. Skin Care Can Help Ease Stress

The simple act of slowing down and doing something physically calming like cleansing your face, closing your eyes while a mask works, or spreading some luxuriously silky and soothing lotion all over your body can help you shed the stress of your day.

2. Makeup Can Help Boost Confidence

The magic of makeup is that it can help you look good even when you don’t necessarily feel all that good. It can hide your flaws, brighten your eyes, and restore radiance, so when you look in the mirror, your confidence increases.

In a 2017 study, researchers found that wearing makeup helped women feel smarter and enhanced their confidence. In fact, those wearing makeup performed better on tests than those who listened to positive music before the test.

3. Skin Care Eases Anxiety

Beauty guru Jaclyn Hill tweeted the following about her beauty routine: “I swear doing my makeup helps my anxiety so much!! If I start getting anxious for no reason & just sit down & start doing makeup, my anxiety settles down within 10 minutes. Every time! Thankful for makeup.”

4. Skin Care Gives You a Sense of Control

For many people, when other things in life seem beyond their control, skin care can provide a sanctuary where they actually can control exactly what happens and how. Having that sense of control somewhere can help ease stress and increase resilience.

“For me,” wrote writer Gina Way, “it’s about control. When I was going through a divorce, my routine kept me sane. It was one of the things I could count on. Every liquid layer I put on comforted me like a soothing security blanket. To this day, my beauty ritual remains an effective coping mechanism.”

5. Skin Care and Makeup Can Ease Symptoms of Depression

Though clinical depression is a serious disease requiring psychiatric treatment, it may still benefit from a focused, mindful skin care and makeup routine. Those who are simply feeling the blues, or going through a rough time, can also find solace in a beauty routine.

Psychiatrists typically advise those who are feeling down to do something productive or pleasurable to get themselves out of negative feedback loops. The brain tends to ruminate over negative emotions, and taking some time to focus on something else you enjoy can help pull you out of that negative place.

“When I’m doing my makeup,” a 20-year-old woman told Teen Vogue, “the only person who expects something from it is me, and the only person I can let down is me. I am in complete control of whatever I am doing, contrary to life….”

Let Your Beauty Routine Do More Than Beautify!

So the next time you’re feeling rushed and find yourself hurrying through your skin care routine, stop. See if you can take just five minutes to slow down and enjoy the process. You may find that it does a lot more for you than simply improve your appearance.

Does your beauty routine help boost your mood?

Wearing Makeup Gives Women Confidence And Makes Them Feel Smarter. (2017, August 1). Retrieved from http://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/17703/20170801/wearing-makeup-gives-women-confidence-and-makes-them-feel-smarter.htm

Chapman, G. (2017, February 14). Why Your Beauty Routine Can Help With Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-makeup-affects-depression-anxiety

Christensen, C. (2009, February 20). Study Shows Care of Skin, Hair Affects Emotional Health. Retrieved from https://www.skininc.com/skinscience/physiology/39908417.html

Harvard Health Publishing. (2015, May 20). Recognizing the mind-skin connection – Harvard Health. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Recognizing_the_mind-skin_connection

Prinzivalli, L. (2018, May 4). Is Your Beauty Routine Helping or Hurting Anxiety? Retrieved from https://www.newbeauty.com/blog/dailybeauty/12213-beauty-routine-anxiety-mental-health/

Reddit. (n.d.). r/MakeupAddiction – What (physical or mental) ailments has makeup helped you with? Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/MakeupAddiction/comments/6qrgih/what_physical_or_mental_ailments_has_makeup/

Way, G. (2018, December 4). “My Skincare Routine Got Me Through My Divorce”. Retrieved from https://www.marieclaire.com/beauty/a25380942/skincare-ritual-mental-health-benefits/

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