If we open our diaries these days, we’re lucky if we don’t see tumbleweed blowing across the page. Cancelled catch-ups with mates, postponed vacays, and crossed-out coffees with colleagues means that we’re lacking structure. On the other hand, it frees up time to invest in the areas of our life we do still have some control over. Alongside touching base with the fam and brushing up your culinary skills, this also includes going to town with our beauty regime.
“People are more tuned into their makeup and skincare, and creating rituals that are nurturing,” explains makeup pro-turned-trained psychotherapist, Lee Pycroft. “When there’s a prolonged sense of uncertainty – like we have now – our regular patterns become disrupted and it creates anxiety.” Many of us are looking for ways to reinstate structure to give us a sense of being in control. “Having a ritual that’s calming, that helps us to think more rationally, is only beneficial,” says Lee, “so for people who love beauty, this is a perfect opportunity to find a more mindful approach to looking after themselves.”
A new trend for mindful makeup, or ‘makeupfulness’ has emerged as we seek to find comfort and security in the ordinary tasks still available to us. Combining our makeup (which we’d likely be doing anyway) with some headspace is the type of multi-tasking we can very much get on board with, especially as it doubles up on TLC.
“I guess you could call it being more conscious with your ritual,” explains Lee. “And I guess it works in various ways. The fact that you can create a ritual is one thing, because that plays into the need for safety and control. And when you have that ritual at the same time everyday, that gives structure.” With the pandemic still open-ended and ongoing, “people have a lot of unfinished emotional threads in their minds,” says Lee. “A makeup ritual can be great because it’s got a beginning, a middle and an end, it reacquaints your mind with finishing tasks. It feels satisfying,” she says. Beyond that? It’s fun, stimulating and deliciously indulgent.
So how do we go about making our makeup more mindful?
1. Tune into your senses with your skin prep
While you’re prepping your skin with moisturiser, or primer, try tuning into your senses. “Think about the texture of whatever you’re massaging into your skin,” says Lee. “Is it cool, is it warm? Is there a tingling, is there a fuzzy sensation?” Tune into your sense of smell, close your eyes and breathe in the product deeply – it helps if your moisturiser has some aromatherapeutic benefits. At the same time, you could be doing some breathwork. “Deep diaphragmatic breathing really helps,” says Lee. “All of these put together are going to ignite a calming response in your body.”
2. Eyes equals focus
“When you’re doing your eye makeup, think about what you want to focus on today – for example, setting your intentions for the day,” says Lee. When we’re emotional, stressed or agitated, we tend to slip into catastrophising, which is distracting, and unhelpful. Often, if we’re upset we’ll look for things that help us back up the way we’re feeling. This does the opposite, and gets us in a better headspace. It helps to break the cycle of doom-mongering. “If you can create a makeup ritual that prompts you to ruminate on what you’d like to happen in the day – something achievable – it’s calming and productive,” says Lee. So, eyes equals focus.
3. Lips equals language
“When you’re doing your lipstick, for example, you might want to consider ‘what am I saying to myself?’” says Lee. “When we’re stressed, that’s often when our inner critic comes out. So be mindful of the language you’re using internally.” We have enough gloomy and dramatic language on the news, we don’t need more from ourselves. “Think about what you could be saying instead to create more of a calming response. For example, ‘I’m on my way, I’m making progress,’ or ‘I did a kind deed today’.” It’s the same method taught to navy seals to help them through testing circumstances. “They’ll say ‘I’m on my way, I’m making it,’” says Lee. “That internal dialogue can keep you going and give you motivation.” Or, you might want to focus in on an area of your face that you appreciate. “ Like ‘I have nice skin or eyelashes,’” says Lee. So, lips equals language. “Cultivate a more compassionate language to use with yourselves – a more gentle, nurturing approach.”
4. Experiment! Use makeup to bring out the character you’re feeling that day
Makeup is not meant to be serious, it’s supposed to be fun, expressive and an easy way to experiment. “People have so many different personalities. I always ask, which ‘you’ are you being at any time, because there’s so many aspects to us,” says Lee. Sometimes we might feel super confident, other times we might feel kooky, or shy, or vulnerable. “Often if we’re anxious, we lose connection to certain parts of ourselves. Makeup can help us reconnect with it,” says Lee. It’s a great way to bring out our characters, it can be a gateway to connecting us to a part of our personality that we want to amplify. “That’s why people will often say, when they put on red lipstick, they feel different. They put on a fresh face and it brings out a different memory or feeling.” So, fill one of those cancelled engagements by laying out all your makeup, and having a proper play. “We have to be mindful of which part of us is running the show on any given day,” says Lee. Our makeup can reflect that.
5. Get yourself a glam squad or organise a girls night in
As much as beauty is a solo act of self care, it can be a great source of community. “Obviously we can’t meet in person in the same way, so we’ve got to work with what we have,” says Lee. This could be attending Zoom gatherings with your friends (Lee created “Gloss And A Glass”, a group makeup class where everyone can create makeup looks together), it could be finding like-minded groups on Facebook (we’re biased, but our GLAMOUR Beauty Club is a great place to get stuck in with other beauty junkies). You could even create a virtual spa or girls night in.
“If you can learn to emotionally regulate your way through this pandemic by creating soothing rituals, you re-educate your nervous system,” says Lee. “We can expand our window of tolerance around this uncertainty.” And, we can look f*cking fantastic in the process.