Skincare Has Been My Reservoir Of Peace This Past Year — Here’s Why I Turn To It All The Time
I’ve ritualised the concept of indulging in a self-care regimen every day — and much of it involves entrusting my skin to lots of care. Vitamin C-dipped, Hyaluronic Acid-infused bottles of magic line my closet ambitiously — just waiting to prove their prowess on the skin. Crystal-infused rollers are assigned with the task of massaging the face before I turn in for the night, and overnight lip-masks are endowed with the responsibility of unravelling their buttery-soft goodness all over the lips every day. The act is a form of catharsis, and it’s the one thing my mother doesn’t have to nag me for — note that she follows me around the house with bowls of almonds and fruits throughout the day. Yes.
Assertions have been made about skincare’s association with one’s state of mind, and how it promotes a sense of well-being within a person — amongst many other positives. Mental-health practitioners and dermatologists alike concur. Dr. Manasi Shirolikar, Consultant Dermatologist and Founder, drmanasiskin.com, says, “When you massage your skin with a moisturizer or fragrance-infused cream, your mind and body feel at ease.” The fact is — skincare can alleviate your stress, enhance your self-worth, and more; but I’m not writing this story to state facts you can find on the Internet. I’ve relied on skincare on all of my low-energy days, and it has come through for me. Because the benefits of skincare go beyond the appeal of aesthetics. Here’s how it helped me.
Skincare Is The One Thing My Mother Doesn’t Need To Nag Me For
I Found That Skincare Anchored Me
I lost my Nanu (grandfather) to COVID last year. My ten-month-old cat passed a couple of months ago. A little before that — my previous place of employment informed me in a last-minute frenzy that they were terminating their services; following which I found a dream-come-true opportunity work-wise that I couldn’t follow through with. All of these back-to-back bumps crippled my health, and I lost a lot of weight over the course of a few months — and when a super-skinny girl loses weight, everyone notices, and everyone feels like it’s their responsibility to let her know that she is, in fact, thin.
While this went on in the background, I found an opportunity that felt like the perfect do-over for me (yes, I’m talking about my current job — s/o to my amazing editors), and it taught me so much about skincare. Can you imagine — my job rescued me in a way. Skincare grounded me, and I believe that’s true for any act of self-care — even if it means beginning with something as simple as drinking enough water every day. It’s a start.
I asked Arouba Kabir, Mental Health Counselor & Founder, Enso Wellness, what she felt about the subject, “Skincare enhances your sense of self-worth, and uplifts your health and mood. It’s highly recommended for men and women of all ages. It’ll help you feel better holistically too.” And what I said about any act of self-care having an impact on you — Kabir agrees. “Any kind of a routine works. It helps set a pace for your day, and keeps you in check.”
Dr. Manasi chimes in, “Any routine — not necessarily skincare — including activities like exercising, journaling, or going for a walk can bring you comfort by being an anchor. It can bring you stability as well as a sense of accomplishment.”
We Give Away So Much Of Ourselves
Not even the aesthetic of a newly-arrived product inspires me on low-energy days, and that’s normal. All I do is set aside a couple of minutes for my skin post-work. These moments are mine — and mine alone. I have control over my routine — and it stabilizes my day significantly.
I’ve also realised that much of what I do — much of what we do — is to the benefit of others. While I’m passionate about my work, it demands that I cultivate accountability for someone else. I write to pique someone else’s interest, and I meet targets for my seniors. While I love animals, my concern for their well-being demands that I check on my strays every day. But this — this is all me. I’m initiating an act of self-care, and I’m offering my body some respite because I want to. Not because it is expected of me.
The concept of prioritising your skin is innately indulgent and feel-good — it’s supposed to be. You don’t want something you turn to for comfort to riddle you with more anxiety. The idea is to turn it into something sustainable — without which you start regarding the act as a task.
10 Minutes — Even 5 Minutes, Is Enough
I don’t do a full-blown, 9-step routine twice a day every day — not even close. I think about how David from Schitt’s Creek nonchalantly mentions to Patrick that he commits to a multi-step routine twice every day. As much as I love this particular Rose, I don’t relate to him. Ask me — my job has me reaching out to dermatologists every day, and all of them advise me against overloading my face with multiple actives. They lecture me — “Cleanser, serum, moisturiser, and sunscreen are the essentials, and throwing more products into the equation is not going to do much for you”. I’m sure the 9-step regimen is proving to be quite the success for a lot of enthusiasts; but I’m sticking to my minimal one for now.
Even Rearranging My Space Helps
Not just skincare — I love arranging and re-arranging my serum-heavy, scrub-filled closet like I’m on an episode of The Home Edit. Section the space into steps: one box for my moisturisers, and another just for mists and toners, my perfectionism is only restricted to this aspect of my life.
I remember staying up until 3AM on a Sunday because it felt like I was losing control over an aspect of my life — and while I don’t recommend staying up like that, I felt normal and in touch with reality again after I was done.
If You Don’t Know Where To Start…
“Using products that you enjoy, and ones that show results on your skin releases feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain. According to a study published in Frontiers of Psychology in 2018, expecting positive events activates some areas of the prefrontal cortex — which is associated with a sense of well-being,” says Dr. Neha Dubey, Consultant Medical & Cosmetic Dermatologist, Medical Director at Meraki Skin Clinic, Gurugram.
Dr. Manasi leaves me with some routine-building tips for beginners, “The best way to start is by consulting a dermatologist; but if you want to start on your own, you need to identify your skin type as well as all the concerns you’d like to address. Once that is done, you can start with the basics: cleanse, hydrate, and protect. You use a face wash, moisturiser, and sunscreen based on your skin type — or if you want to go one step beyond, and treat your skin’s concerns, add in products accordingly (like Salicylic Acid for acne, Vitamin C for brightening, Hyaluronic Acid for dehydrated or dry skin). It is extremely important to make sure that the products you choose to treat your concerns match your skin type — or it could trigger breakouts or irritation.”
Dr. Neha adds that you must allow your skin a minimum of two weeks to accept or reject a particular product or a routine. Time is a variable for each individual. For some — a quick 5-7-minute routine can work in a similar way that a 10-15-minute routine does for someone else.
I read this piece about a writer talking about how her state of mind impacts her beauty routine. She wrote about her inability to do anything for herself on days she struggles with her mental health. Bathing was quite the task, and shampooing the hair felt impossible — and, sometimes, that’s okay. It’s okay to not do anything — to let yourself be.
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