Frivolous, time-wasting, pointless—some not-so-generous accusations that have, at one time or another, been levelled at the beauty industry.
Each to their own, of course. But this own/self prefers a world with beauty rituals included; with all the thoughtfully-scented, skin-nourishing, active-riddled creams, oils, gels, milks and serums it can take. But that’s not just it, is it?
Those five or 10 minutes a day are just mine. I can close the bathroom door and decompress, unwind and relax—insert all other verbs of the same ilk.
And as someone with a great level of anxiety, muddling through a pandemic and attempting to have a life/understand the meaning in White Lotus/socialise/pay taxes/recyclable responsibly/support Britney/do laundry, it certainly doesn’t feel frivolous, it feels necessary. And I’m sure I’m not alone.
“Rituals and routines are actually more important than we think and can truly set us up for success,” says Sydney-based clinical psychotherapist and psychologist, Noosha Anzab. “They can help us regulate emotions, regulate performance and regulate social connection. Essentially, they can really help in buffering against negative uncertainty and can play a big role in re-establishing feelings of lost control.”
Noosha explains that rituals, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential, help us experience a “sense of agency” and order amidst the reliable chaos that is life. Better yet, routines also help us feel we’re moving forward and can even help us confidently approach and accomplish all sorts of things.
“Routines and rituals can provide a sense of calm because we know exactly what’s to come, what is involved during the next phase and what we will experience,” says Noohsa, adding, “The flow on effect is massive too. This can make us feel confident and propels the motivation pendulum so we can actually believe we may do the subsequent tasks successfully too.”
Leaning into self-care comes with obvious physical benefits: happy skin, hygiene (important, non-negotiable), overall health etc. but it’s benefits from an internal perspective are sometimes, pun intended, glossed over.
“For both men and women alike, daily beauty routines can affect our mental health in a great way,” Noosha elaborates. “A beauty routine, whether used in the morning to set the intention for the day or used in the evening as a way to wind down, can really help us in achieving self-care, through its facilitation of routine.”
But it’s not all in your head or some serum-soaked placebo you’re reaping the benefits of, says Noosha. There’s legitimate and positive neurochemical responses, which are activated through touch, taking place when you make the time to go through the motions of your beauty routine and care for yourself physically.
“Whilst beauty routines can also become self-soothing rituals, they can aid reduce anxiety as they allow us to engage mindfully through our sense of touch, smell and sight, which can be incredibly grounding,” says Noosha.
I don’t need to be told twice that patting on Face Hero of an evening makes me feel at ease, somewhat calmer and detached from my stress. But regardless of what I know to be true about the benefits, it’s not always easy to find and fight for this time.
“Carving out a routine that keeps it to the basics is the best,” Noosha recommends when we prompt her for help on making time for self-care.
“You don’t need a fancy schmancy routine to preserve time or energy,” she continues. “For good health, consistency and familiarity is the key to success. Start super small, like deciding when you wake, where your morning coffee run will be, rough mealtimes and when you will exercise and/or sleep. It’s important to create a structure that involves less decision making.”
Once that’s all settled you can move onto other important things like how you can get honey skin with the least amount of effort.