When lockdown meant this beauty editor couldn’t rely on her little black book of skincare experts, she was surprised to discover the joy of going it alone.
As a beauty editor for well over a decade, it’s been my job to test products, review treatments and interview beauty experts from around the globe – and unsurprisingly, I’ve loved every minute. The maintenance of my skin took a village, but with the UK’s top facialists and aesthetic doctors on speed dial, I was in good hands.
But when the pandemic hit, life changed and lockdown meant a rethink of my beauty routine, and like for all of us, it also meant uncertainty, fear and stress. The first few weeks felt like a blur, I lived in my dressing gown and there were days when I didn’t even wash my face – yes, this beauty editor committed a cardinal skincare sin repeatedly!
My beauty regime of old had relied heavily on others, and had never really been focussed on self-care, so when I decided to take back control of my days and my skin, what I didn’t expect was how much joy and balance my new self-sufficient skincare regime would provide.
BACP-accredited counsellor and psychotherapist, Katerina Georgiou, however, is unsurprised as she shares that “our minds and bodies are inextricably linked. How we treat our bodies impacts our emotional health and vice versa. This means self-care in the right doses grounds us, makes us aware of ourselves and our bodies, encourages self-love and gives us a purpose. Whatever else is going on in the world, this remains a constant, and can encourage feelings of calm.”
The calm I can attest to, as I double cleansed, masked, toned, serumed, massaged and moisturised each morning and night I started to notice how I felt far less anxious. For around 30 minutes, twice a day, I got some respite from the butterflies that had camped out in my stomach during those early weeks of the pandemic, and I was hooked.
What I realised pretty quickly was how skincare regimes are truly a celebration of our skin and ourselves. I found I felt more positive as a person, as the sheer act of taking time out to look after my skin, and essentially show myself some love and attention, had far-reaching effects. Aromatherapist Simone Stevens believes what’s inside our skincare can have a part to play in that department too.
“Essential oils and extracts, when inhaled, can have a positive impact on our emotions, as when the scent of your favourite skincare is inhaled, the molecules travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the limbic system – the part of our brains involved in our behavioural and emotional responses. There they can then trigger the release of endorphins and serotonin, better known as feel-good hormones,” she adds.
The likes of eucalyptus and rosemary found in the Tropic Smoothing Cleanser will help you feel focussed and mentally relaxed, while the lemon essential oils in the Body Love Firming Body Cream, have an uplifting, relaxing and anti-depressant effect. And you’ll find the citrusy scents in the Tropic Face Smooth Brightening Polish even have mood-boosting abilities too.
So, just by giving your skincare a sniff, you can boost your feel-good hormones, and you can activate them even more by spending a little extra time on your application method. This I discovered when I started practicing the many massage techniques I’ve written the virtues of in countless articles, but never felt the need to do much of myself – since I spent so much time in the hands of experts instead (more fool me).
When we perform a repeated action we enjoy, our brains are flooded with dopamine. “The more we repeat said action – a facial massage for example – the more we want to repeat the action, and the better we feel,” explains psychologist, therapist and author of wellbeing guide, A Manual for Being Human, Dr Sophie Mort.
And that’s not the only hormone that’s released when we use our skincare. “When we’re touched by others or even when we touch ourselves, our brains release oxytocin. Known as the ‘bonding hormone’, oxytocin stimulates the release of other feel-good hormones, and reduces the stress hormone cortisol, leaving you feeling cared for and connected, which automatically lifts the mood,” adds Dr Mort.
So, from stress reduction to improved self-esteem, our skincare routines have far-reaching benefits that go way beyond ‘good’ skin. By taking care of your skin, you take care of yourself both mentally and physically and I for one won’t fall into the cycle of simply leaving my skin in the hands of the experts again.