Yoga, a warm bath, reading a good book, and listening to music are all ways of winding down after a long day and putting your mind at ease. But, did you know that your skincare routine may actually benefit your mental health?
What is Self-Care?
A quick look at Google Trends tells us that Google searches for “self-care” have more than doubled in the past 5 years and, with that, queries for self-care tips, strategies and ideas have been on the rise as well.
So, what exactly is self-care? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
Not to be confused with selfishness or self-indulgence, self-care focuses on mindfulness, self-compassion, setting boundaries, and prioritizing your mental well-being. It’s important to remember, too, that self-care is actually quite necessary for overall wellness, since it includes everything from hygiene to nutrition, lifestyle, social habits, and more.
Examples of Self-Care
Practicing self-care looks different for everyone, but here are just a few examples:
- Meditation or prayer
- Eating nourishing foods
- Exercising or moving your body
- Planting a garden
- Turning your phone off
- Watching a movie
- Listening to a podcast
- Decluttering your home or office
- Taking a break from social media
- Sitting in nature
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Writing or journaling
- Exploring a new place
- Completing a puzzle
- Starting a new hobby
- Learning a new skill or language
- Catching up with friends
Skin & Mental Health
We know, we know. We haven’t started talking about where skincare comes into play with all this yet. But, that’s because skincare as self-care is much deeper than what it seems on the surface.
There is no denying the intimate and intricate connection between the brain and skin, according to Dr. Keira Barr, M.D. “What we think, feel, and see can play a significant role in what shows up on our skin,” she explains.
This leads us to the brain-skin connection.
By definition, the brain-skin connection (or brain-skin axis) is an “interconnected, bidirectional pathway that can translate psychological stress from the brain to the skin and vice versa,” says Neera Nathan, MD, MSHS.
Have you ever been so nervous or embarrassed that you felt your face turn bright red? If so, you experienced an acute, temporary stress response. Stress can exert a number of negative effects on overall skin wellness, as well as amplify various skin conditions like eczema, hair loss, acne, and psoriasis.
Psychological stress also plays important roles in skin’s inflammation responses, barrier function and wound healing. Plus, long-term chronic stress can lead to premature skin aging.
How Skincare Can Benefit Your Mental Health
Dermatologists have long endorsed the benefits of skincare for the health of your skin, but here we’ll be exploring how using your skincare routine as a form of self-care can also benefit your mental health, reduce stress and increase your self-confidence.
Skincare Can Reduce Stress
While a small amount of stress is normal -- and expected -- too much stress can wear you down physically and make you emotionally and physically sick. Symptoms of stress can include everything from headaches and high blood pressure, to anxiety and depression, trouble sleeping, a weakened immune system, and more.
And, while skincare may not be the entire answer, studies show it may, at least, be part of it. Experts have found that following a simple three-step skincare routine can lower the amount of cortisol (also known as the stress hormone) in your body by up to 83%.
In addition to that, the way in which you massage your face when applying a skincare product can both lower your heart rate and reduce feelings of anxiety.
Skincare Can Help Boost Your Confidence
There’s no denying that having a bad skin day can take a huge toll on your self-esteem. A study done by InStyle found that 76% of the women that they surveyed said they felt good about themselves if they thought their skin looked good, regardless of age.
Self-esteem is a struggle especially well-known to those who suffer from acne. “The connection between acne lesions and the impact it has on one’s self-confidence is well known and scientifically demonstrated,” explains Dr. Timothy Falla. “Acne is a particularly debilitating condition that is known to have a strong influence on self-confidence and stress levels. By establishing a correlation between improving acne-prone skin and stress, we could provide an objective measure related to how someone feels once their acne has been treated and has improved.”
Routines Can Provide Stability
Many of us find comfort in routine, so it’s no surprise that having skincare as part of your self-care routine may also help with stress management.
Our brains need structure and stability in order to relax, and habits and routines can provide that for us. Certain repetitive actions can actually help reduce stress in addition to giving us a deeper sense of peace.
Actually, forming any type of positive habit or routine can really benefit your mental health -- and a simple skincare routine is a great place to start. “By having a set routine, one knows what to expect, and this is a relief. The more of a routine it becomes, the less stress it becomes. In the process, you also look better,” says Marie Jihn, a dermatologist in San Carlos, California.
What Should Your Skincare Routine Consist Of?
Looking for a simple place to start with your skincare routine? Here’s what we recommend:
Step 1: Cleanse
Our Cleanser is formulated with prebiotics from chicory root and rose water to remove excess oil, dirt and impurities without stripping your skin. It’s also oil-free, sulfate-free, paraben-free, and has been dermatologically and clinically tested.
Step 2: Moisturize
Our Serum is specially formulated to nourish your skin and rebalance your skin microbiome. It contains ingredients like squalane and essential fatty acids to nourish and moisturize. It also has been dermatologically approved and helps soothe dry skin without feeling greasy.
Step 3: Balance
The patented ingredient in our AO+ Restorative Mist, live Ammonia-Oxidizing Bacteria (also known as AOB), interacts with elements naturally found on your skin and in sweat to produce two powerful byproducts -- Nitrite and Nitric Oxide -- that are essential to a balanced skin microbiome. By restoring this essential component to your skin, the Mist helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles, combat blemish-causing bacteria and improve skin clarity, tone and smoothness.
Don’t forget to make self-care a priority -- your mental health (and your skin) are depending on it!