The Mental Health Benefits of Maintaining a Skin-Care Routine

In the COVID-19 era, you need a pandemic skin-care self-care plan. Simply put, it’s establishing and maintaining a routine that benefits your body’s largest organ (your skin, according to Berkeley Wellness) while also benefiting your mental health.

“Taking care of my skin is an important part of my self-care routine,” says Erum Ilyas, MD, of Montgomery Dermatology in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

She’s a dermatologist, so she’s naturally skin-focused, but there’s a reason. “Our skin is a ‘check engine light’ for our internal health in many ways. “Good skin makes us feel good about ourselves,” she says.

The Mental Health Benefits of Maintaining a Skin-Care Routine - Photo by Polina Kovaleva
The Mental Health Benefits of Maintaining a Skin-Care Routine – Photo by Polina Kovaleva

Here are 5 compelling reasons.

1. A Skin-Care Routine Provides Mental Health Benefits

A big change we’re going through right now is going from being out and about to being at home all the time. During that change, you lose your daily structure and routine. Dr. Matt Traube is a licensed clinical psychologist and psychodermatologist in Santa Barbara, California. Those habits are vital for your physical and mental well-being. According to a June 2018 Lancet Psychiatry study, people who lack consistency in their daily routines are more prone to major depressive and bipolar disorders, mood disorders, loneliness, and unhappiness.

These habits feel good and provide a sense of security in your life, says Traube. On a small scale, you may even feel accomplished. It’s vital now, with COVID-19, to keep some weekly routines, or the days will start to blend together. “Now is a great time to benefit from these habits,” he says.

2. Focusing on Self-Care Stops Worry Spiral

Certain times of the day may trigger intrusive thoughts, but self-care can help break the negative thoughts. “Anxiety and depression often worsen 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. “They have more free time, which increases anxiety,” says Traube. You can get out of your head and focus on what you’re doing when you’re washing, toning, and moisturizing your face. (This includes working on a new project, cooking dinner, or walking your dog around the neighborhood.)

Skin care also promotes mindfulness. Mindfulness is focusing on present-moment sensations without judgment (the soothing feel of warm water, for instance). A study of over 1100 adults published in March 2019 in Frontiers in Psychology found that this practice reduces depression and anxiety by reducing worry and ruminating. “A few minutes of this activity can help your brain unhook from less healthy spiraling thinking patterns,” Traube says.

3. Regular Skin Care It boosts your mood by releasing chemicals into your brain.

Make a routine that you enjoy using and that feels good. For example, don’t underestimate the power of a warm washcloth to cleanse, a silky moisturizer to smooth your face, or a mask. “Taking care of my skin during quarantine has definitely given me something to look forward to,” says Melanie Moreno, head of aesthetics at Mario Tricoci in Chicago. “When we do at-home facials, my significant other and I like to set the mood with candles, wine, and relaxing music,” she says.

For a more concentrated skin treatment, Joyce Davis, MD, a dermatologist in New York City, recommends sticking with a mask. Masks are safer now. “A peel is more likely to cause a skin reaction, and you can’t rely on a dermatologist to solve your problems right now,” she says. Masks are generally gentler and can help temporarily plump the skin for a more youthful appearance.

An at-home facial or treatment is certainly relaxing, but the anticipation is also rewarding. Traube claims that anticipating happy events releases feel-good neurotransmitters. A study published in January 2018 in Frontiers in Psychology found that expecting positive outcomes activates a prefrontal cortex region associated with happiness. It’s a simple little high.

Baths are naturally calming for this reason. Second, the warm water naturally relaxes muscles. According to Traube, physical relaxation tells the brain to relax and calm down, reducing stress.

Dr. Davis recommends adding oatmeal to your bath water to make it a self-care act while improving skin health. Look for colloidal oatmeal, which soothes eczema, psoriasis, and dry skin. Soak for ten minutes.

4. Skin Care Encourages Family Bonding, which Benefits Mental Health

Moreno and her partner had a good idea about the masks. A study published in May 2018 in the journal Psychological Science linked spending concentrated time with loved ones doing hobbies and enjoyable activities to higher levels of happiness. It’s possible to create meaningful time together even when you’re too close for comfort with your family members.

Dr. Ilyas has seen it too. “I’ve been sharing this routine with my teenage kids,” she says. “I find that spending time with my kids helps me achieve the ultimate goal of self-care — a balance of physical and mental well-being,” she says.

You can make this enjoyable for all. No need to buy a new product case. Instead, focus on the loved ones you already have at home. Or, you can make a DIY mask with coconut oil, mashed avocado, or a milk compress and make it a fun family activity.

5. Taking Care of Your Skin Is a Powerful Act of Kindness

The world is currently stressful. So you may be tempted to watch late-night TV and then roll into bed without even washing your face — you’re too tired. But what if you focused on this small aspect of self-care? Spending five minutes extra on your skin says, “I’m worth it,” says Traube. This is similar to the feeling you get when you apply mascara in the morning, color your cheeks to make them pop, or apply a tinted moisturizer to make your skin glow.

Finding a moisturizer that you really like is a big step. “Moisturizing improves the skin’s overall appearance and functions as a barrier to the environment. This increases circulation to the skin and improves general well-being, “says Ilyas.

Why Self-Care, Including Skin Care, is Vital Now

The benefits of improving skin health extend to improving mental and emotional health, which is critical in the wake of COVID-19. “I find a link between my skin care routine and my mood,” says Moreno. “Taking care of my skin benefits my mind and body. It gives me confidence and control over my day. “

Must Read