In 19th century Fyodor Dostoevsky said that “Beauty will save the world”. Today the world is being distracted by multiple challenges and crisis – pandemic, military conflicts, uncertainty. People have recognised that mental health issues may be as serious as the physical illness. Often mental health issues are less visible, than the physical ones. However according to National Alliance on Mental Illness 1 in 5 US adults experience mental illness each year, and suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 in the US. According to World Health Organisation, each year, 25% of the European population suffer from depression or anxiety, about 50% of major depressions are untreated, and the cost of mood disorders and anxiety in the EU is about €170 billion per year. Can beauty give us weapons in fighting with the mental health issues? Is this message sent by the beauty brands? Let’s have a look together.
1. The Lipstick Effect
Term “Lipstick effect” was used by Leonard Lauder to refer to a situation where consumers still manage to buy a small luxury product like premium lipstick in the times of an economic crisis. When there is a recession, consumers are expected to focus their purchase on goods that don’t impact their limited income. However, the consumers would want to reward themselves with a little luxury that helps them to forget their financial problems. Leonard Lauder seeing that during the tough times lipstick sale go up concluded that lipstick is a contrary indicator of an economy. If we think about this fact, is the lipstick sales growth really caused just by financial difficulties? Probably not only. Probably it is also a response to psychological challenges and a little treatment that makes you feel a bit happier? Maybe it is a way to fight fear, negativity, and stress and to protect your mental health?
Indeed, applying makeup is therapeutic. According to therapists and psychologists, there are reasons to back this notion up. I reviewed available articles on this subject from The Zoe Report and Her World and build a comprehensive list of these reasons.
1.1. Creativity Is an Art Therapy
Creative hobbies such as craft, colouring book or putting on makeup are good for the mind. Thus, Jane Polinski, PLMHP, PCMSW, a mental health therapist, says that makeup can be therapeutic because it’s a form of art. “Doing something like applying makeup can help the body and mind to slow down and focus intently on something,” she says.
Dr. Courtney Tracy, LCSW, PsyD, a licensed clinician and clinical entrepreneur, says that “Creativity and the movement of applying the makeup provides relief from traumatic responses, the anxious ‘freeze’ response and the depressive ’stagnant’ persona.” She relates makeup to both art and dance therapy: “Movement and creativity can significantly reduce stress, low self-esteem and trauma responses“
1.2. Putting Color on Your Face Boosts Positive Mood, Self-Esteem and Confidence
According to Studio 10 , 48% of women that prefer to wear makeup, do so because it makes them feel positive and strong. A study conducted by University of Chieti (Italy) and the Harvard Medical School (USA) showed that wearing makeup boosts a woman’s confidence. Wearing makeup for a job interview, business meeting or a first date puts you in the right frame of mind to be confident about yourself, no matter what the circumstances are.
Jane Polinski notes that dopamine can be released when you finish your makeup. “This can help to boost self-esteem, positive mood, and overall morale.”
In addition, applying vivid shades to your face can have the same impact as wearing colourful clothes. The brain responds to individual colours differently. For instance, blue can make you feel sad, while orange could spark energy. Jane Polinski said that “Applying bold colours on the face can help a person to feel more bold and confident… Colour attracts attention and this attention can boost confidence.”
1.3. Oxitocin Is Released and Makes Us Feeling Good and Relaxed
According to Valentina Dragomir, a psychotherapist and founder of PsihoSensus, human brain responds to our actions. “When you apply makeup, touching your skin helps release oxytocin. It is a hormone produced in the brain and is also called the cuddle hormone.” As the hormone impacts our mood and emotions, the body feels good and relaxed.
1.4. Makeup Routine Gives Sense of Control and Can Help With Anxiety & Depression
Of cause makeup cannot replace proper anxiety or depression treatment. However, it can help one manage unsettling feelings. Fashion psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell says: “Depression and anxiety are often worsened when people feel they’ve lost a sense of control. Rritualistic processes like applying makeup can help people cope with these negative emotions, mainly because you have complete control over the process and the outcome.” Since you can pick your colors, which products you use, and can count on a predictable results, this emboldens you and aids in managing emotions.
Dr. Jaime Zuckerman, a psychologist from Philadelphia, says that humans are creatures of habit, and that routine and structure are beneficial for them. “When our brains are able to predict what comes next, we naturally have less anxiety and worry,” she explains. In the process of putting on makeup there is a regimen, the order in which you layer on products. “It is this routine and organization of makeup application that can actually offer us some calming benefits.”
1.5. Applying Makeup Helps to Control Unsettling Thoughts & Overthinking
Anxiety may involve overthinking. The research from the National Science Foundation shows that the average person has between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day, 80 percent that are negative and 95 percent repetitive, causing a vicious cycle. However, when a person is applying makeup, all the overwhelming thinking taking over her brain tends to go away. “Applying makeup provides a much-needed break from that negative cycle as the process forces you to disengage from those thoughts and be present in the moment,” Forbes-Bell says
1.6. Makeup Is A Form Of Self-Care and Self-Expression
When the life is hard, treating yourself with a little nice thing as a piece of chocolate or applying makeup lifts your mood.
Jane Polinski said that “Allowing the space to express yourself gives you a sense of identity and personality… By figuring out who you are and what you’re about, it can lead to increased self-esteem and positive mindset.“
1.7. A Zen Moment – Much Needed Me Time
Makeup routine could also be a moment of zen. Makeup session may work exactly like a meditation session and help us to clear our mind. We are constantly rushing somewhere from doing one thing to another. Therefore, even ten minutes you spend every morning putting on makeup might just be the best way to start your day. It gives time to calm yourself and to get mentally prepared for the busy and sometimes stressful day.
Glamour magazine has defined a trend for mindful makeup, or “makeupfulness”. It emerged as we seek to find comfort and security in the ordinary tasks. Combining makeup with some headspace is the type of multitasking that can be beneficial for the mental health.
We can’t really see yet that the makeup brands play very actively in this field. They do sometimes via their visual communication and copy. However, there are certain examples when the brands are more vocal about the benefits they can bring to the mental health of their customers.
We can mention also Studio 10 is the brand who wants to redefine beauty for women as they age, with a PRO AGE narrative and minimalist makeup that is formulated with the best skincare ingredients, for mature skin. It says that the beauty is ageless and it talks about positive impact of makeup on the mood and self-esteem.
Another example is Glossier’s Haloscope highlighters that come in the shades “Topaz”, “Quartz” and “Moonstone”. They are infused with the crystals giving you glow while simultaneously providing you with internal enlightenment.
2. Skincare is Self-Care
Skincare also plays positive role in maintaining mental health. According to Everyday Health there are numerous ways to practice self-care, but focusing your efforts on improving skin health pays off for your mental and emotional health, too. “I find that there is a direct correlation between my skin-care routine and my mood,” says Melanie Moreno, head of aesthetics at Mario Tricoci. “Taking the time to nurture my skin affects my mind and body. It boosts my confidence and gives me a sense of control over how my day will go.”
2.1. Skincare Is a Form of Meditation
Kate Dillen from Birdie says that skincare is a form of mindfulness practice: “Taking the time to care for my skin gave me an opportunity to practice mindfulness and the ability to acknowledge the emotions I was experiencing in each present moment.”
Dr. Sanam Hafeez, Byrdie Review Board member and founder of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, points out that meditative or “quieting” tasks have been shown to decrease anxious or depressive thoughts. “While meditation can’t prevent a panic attack from coming on, what it can do is reduce the overall anxiety that contributes to a panic disorder,” she explains. “And if you do it regularly, it may actually positively impact your mental health.”
According to a study on more than 1,100 adults published in March 2019 in Frontiers in Psychology, skincare is a form of mindfulness practice that has been shown to buffer depression and anxiety by stopping worrisome thoughts. It gives us the ability to acknowledge the emotions the person is experiencing in each present moment.
2.2. Skincare Routine Reduce Stress and Helps Stop a Worry Spiral
In the same way as makeup “A skincare routine, like any other form of self-care, can be soothing and calming,” says Dr. Sanam Hafeez. “On a deeper level, it makes you feel like you’re honouring yourself aesthetically, by taking time out for yourself. Those few minutes, if spent going through steps in a rhythmic, calm, and purposeful manner, can almost be meditative.”
In a 2017 study, Uk researchers found that people who have less consistent routines throughout the active parts of their day were more likely to suffer from major depressive and bipolar disorders, mood problems, loneliness, and less happiness.
Ellen Diamond from Psychreg shared the fact that experts have found that a simple three-step routine can lower the amount of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, in your body by up to 83%. She mentioned that certain times of the day can trigger intrusive thoughts, but people can break the negative thoughts with self-care. She suggested a few reasons for that.
First, she refers to Matt Traube who sais that “Patients who experience anxiety and depression often report that their condition is exacerbated 30 minutes to one hour before bed. This is when they have more idle time, which increases worry for a lot of people” When someone is engaged in an activity, including washing, toning, and moisturizing her/his face, a person can get focus on what he/she is doing, and free up his/her mind from the negative thoughts. In this case skincare works as any activity that keeps someone busy, for example like cooking dinner or walking a dog.
Second, she explains that the way in which we massage the face when applying a product lowers our heart rate and reduces feelings of anxiety.
2.3. Skincare Routine Provides a Structure and Stability
IIn today permanently changing world any uncertainty can cause havoc in your brain, which quickly leads to mental health issues. The brain needs structure and stability to allow it to relax. Habits and routines help to occupy the mind, giving the feeling of being in control. By engaging in a mindful skincare routine, you gain some control back over your life! This will give you the confidence you need to be proactive in other areas of your life as well.
2.4. Skincare is a Positive Mood Booster
Skin is not only the largest organ of our body. It’s also an indicator of what’s happening internally with our health (both physical and emotional). Pampering skin on a regular basis triggers a cascade of chemicals in our brain to boost our mood.
In addition to that expecting positive events has also been shown to activate a certain area of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with a sense of well-being “Anticipation of happy events releases feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain,” says Traube. For instance, the calming property of bath can be explained in the following way. First, you expect to feel relaxed as you lower into one, and second, the warm water is naturally relaxing to muscles. “Physical relaxation sends your brain the message that it’s time to be calm and mellow, reducing the fight-or-flight stress response,” says Traube.
2.5. Skincare is a Self-Esteem and Confidence Booster
Like makeup, skincare can boost self-esteem. “Skincare is rewarding because with consistent skincare routines, you are likely to see visible effects such as smoothness or radiance, and that in itself can boost self-esteem, which in turn will boost mood,” says Dr. Hafeez. “As opposed to other types of meditation, skincare is a twofold way of feeling better, both on the inside and the outside.”
Ellen Diamond mentions that the simple act of taking some time out of your day to nurture your skin increases feelings of self-worth. In addition to that “there’s nothing quite as confidence-building as knowing that your skin looks absolutely amazing”! Confidence gives more positive outlook on life, and as a result it is a huge mental health booster.
Mindful Skincare Business
As in the case of makeup, mental wellbeing delivered with the help of the skincare is mainly touched via communication.
Thus Dr. Nikoleta Brankov board-certified dermatologist, CEO and Founder of Healthy Skin Blueprint promotes the idea of mindful skincare and talks about how a mindful skincare routine can boost mental health.
Revolution Skincare offers Overnight Calming Dream Mist. It is formulated with a blend of calming essential oils. It is recommended to use onto face, neck and pillow when you are feeling a little stressed or overwhelmed.
Rituals calls its skincare line The Ritual of Namaste. The brand says “We’re not here to sell you beauty, we are here to make you feel good”.
Brand Saeve in its manifest says “The botanical spirit is reinterpreted here with freshness and lightness through a magical forest universe. Positive thoughts and feel-good effect guaranteed...”
3. Scent of Emotional Well-Being
According to Air-Scent, a smell isn’t only a smell. It is a memory that becomes ingrained in our minds. Unlike other human senses, olfactory responses are linked to the emotional centre of our brains and correlate directly with our past experiences. This is why the smell of rain, or the ocean, or cookies baking, rocket us back to wherever we first experienced that particular smell and cause a veritable flood of warm and fuzzy feelings. Air-Scent refers to different studies and claims that:
- positive emotions, which can be elicited by certain fragrances, have been proven to lower stress levels and improve overall mental outlook,
- an aroma can significantly promote stress reduction and improve mood,
- a nostalgic fragrance (one that was considered personal to each individual), is able to bring us an autobiographic memory and alter the mood.
The olfactory cortex — which is also a part of our limbic system, located in the temporal lobe of the brain — processes all kinds of sensory inputs, thereby impacting our emotional responses and memories. This is precisely why a certain fragrance or smell can be so evocative and nostalgic, bringing back memories and emotions. While scents are subjective, some scents have a collective response. In that, they are used universally and have been accepted by people across the globe in the same fashion.
Several studies have shown that the effects of various fragrances on mood, physiology and behavior are due to the fragrance’s direct and intrinsic ability to interact and affect the central nervous system. In addition, fragrances highly influence the various mental and physical conditions of human. The EEG recording is the simplest and precise technique to understand the effect of fragrances on brain function. In the EEG study, the subject is seated quietly and asked to inhale a fragrance of interest to the investigator. Subsequently, EEG data are gathered during this olfactory stimulation and later analysed.
It’s scientifically proven that fragrances have significant and measurable effects on mood, irritation, stress, depression, apathy, happiness, sensuality, relaxation and stimulation. For example, the research conducted at Stevens Institute Of Technology affirms that the scent of coffee alone increases performance and the ability to focus. At the same time Japanese scientists discovered that diffusing lemon scent through an office increased productivity by 54%. This reinforces research conducted at Ohio State University that linked lemon to a rise in levels of norepinephrine, a brain chemical linked to easier decision-making and increased motivation.
Below you can find a list of the emotional wellbeing properties of some scents.
Apples: The scent of apples may help control feelings of anxiety.
Caraway Essential Oil: This pale yellow to brownish essential oil has a delightfully spicy and slightly sweet aroma and it is known for its soothing effect on the mind and feelings of harmony and trust. It is an energizing aid for stress reduction and the encouragement of positive thoughts.
Clary Sage: Clary sage essential oil is a sedative that helps with emotional issues such as anxiety, stress, and tension. Its floral, fruity, sweet, and herby scent uplifts mood. It can boost self-confidence strength, hope, and self-esteem. It also works to balance hormones and is helpful in combatting depression and anxiety.
Cinnamon: This sweet-smelling essential oil is known to boost brain power and improve cognitive functions.
Citrus Essential Oil: Scents like lemon and orange are energy boosters. Citrus oils can help reduce feelings of anxiety and irritability. Sometimes referred to as “liquid sunshine,” citrus essential oils are uplifting and ease stress and depression.
Eucalyptus: The smell of eucalyptus is powerful not just because it’s bold and fresh, but it also helps to boost energy level and minimise stress – the perfume equivalent to a morning of mindfulness.
Fennel: Fennel essential oil is believed to promote spiritual and emotional strength and in ancient cultures was used to bestow courage and strength upon warriors. It is known to improve self-esteem, motivation and self-worth.
Fresh-Cut Grass: Modern scent researchers have discovered that a chemical released by a newly-mowed lawn can make people feel joyful and relaxed. It makes people feel happy and may even prevent mental decline in old age. After seven years of research, Dr. Nick Lavidis, a neuroscientist at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, developed a perfume called Serenascent, which claims to relieve stress and boost memory. Its smell is identical to that of a freshly cut lawn.
Jasmine Essential Oil: Jasmine is one of the most expensive and exotic oils used in perfumery today. This essential oil is good for meditation, promoting harmony, reducing depression and inducing joy and happiness.
Lavender: Lavender is well known for easing the symptoms of anxiety, stress, melancholy, and insomnia. Lavender oil has a relaxing scent, which acts as both a sedative and a stimulant.
Peppermint Essential Oil: Peppermint oil has mood-elevating properties that make it useful for alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can help to enhance mood and mental performance and relieve feelings of sadness. A study from Wheeling Jesuit University suggested that smelling peppermint could be linked to greater cognitive stamina, motivation and overall performance. This essential oil also serves to ease stress, exhaustion and irritability. Known for invigorating the mind, peppermint is also used as an aid for students when taking tests.
Pine Essential Oil: A pine scent can decrease anxiety, and lower depression and stress levels. In aromatherapy applications, pine essential oil positively impacts mood by clearing the mind of stress, energizing the body to help eliminate fatigue, enhancing concentration, and promoting a positive outlook.
Rosemary: It is known to help reduce fatigue and stress.
Vanilla Essence: Technically, vanilla is not an essential oil but rather a solvent extracted from the plant’s pods or beans. It is widely used in perfumery and aromatherapy. Since the 17th century, it has been utilized to promote serenity, uplift bad spirits and reduce stress and anxiety. Neurological studies have revealed that the positive effects of vanilla are due to vanillin, which is its primary component.
Vetiver: If someone needs a quick calming fix, sweet and warm vetiver will help to relax
If we are thinking about the impact of perfumes in general on our mental health we may define a few directions of what is happening:
3.1. Perfumes Reinforce Our Sense Of Self
Historically we were chosing a perfume based on how we wanted to be perceived in the world. A sultry scent makes for a strong first date impression; whereas a bright, fresh fragrance gives a modern, fashionable vibe. With COVID the role of perfume has changed – but it hasn’t become less important. Applying a favourite scent helps to create a sense of ordinary life and can remind us of who we are. Taking the time to stop and enjoy the moment says that you matter. Perfume gives weight to your morning and helps shift your headspace, signalling that the work day is about to begin. Probably that’s why personal fragrances became very popular recently. They help us to express our personality through their unique formula.
“Smells through the olfactory system have strong ties to the memory and fear centred of the brain,” psychotherapist Daryl Appleton, MD, told. “Our signature scent is more than just something we like; it can be tied into our confidence and linked to our ability to self-soothe by reminding us of times when we felt powerful.”
3.2. Certain Fragrances Can Boost Mood
Fragrance is a mood booster and can leave us feeling happier and more energized with just one sniff. This is for two reasons: nostalgia (there is a close physical connection between our sense of smell and memory centre in the brain) and the fragrance notes themselves.
“Our research has shown that perfume enhances a person’s mood,” said Stephen Watkins, a fragrance application scientist for Givaudan, the world’s largest flavour and fragrance company. “By choosing to wear a fragrance, people are tapping into a way to enhance their well-being and self-esteem.”
3.3. The Daily Rituals Have A Grounding Effect
Something in common with makeup and skincare. When nothing is certain, daily rituals help create a sense of normalcy; as humans, our brains love routine. If you start the day right, you’ll reap the benefits all day long. Taking the time to move through the same wellness routine day in, day out will help you feel more calm and relaxed.
Mindful Fragrance Business
In mindful scents we can identify 2 large segments – essential oils and functional fragrances (for skin and ambiance)
Many studies are confirming healing effects of the essential oils, and the essential oil market is expected to reach $13 billion by 2024. In today’s complex life, consumers are seeking deeper meaning and mindfulness in every aspect of their lives. According to the Global Wellness Summit, this is a forceful trend that is not likely to abate soon. There are pure essential oils available in the market and the functional blends. For instance, Puressentiel offers different diffusor blends: Cocooning, Happy, Positive Energy, Meditation.
In the market there is a demand for products that serve more than one purpose. Functional fragrances are named and marketed as such because they do more than just make us smell good. It’s a buzzword for fragrances that affect the performance of our brains and bodies. This segment includes fragrance for personal use (perfumes) and ambiance fragrances (perfumes, diffusors, pillow sprays, candles). This segment is quite large, and I will give just a few examples.
The Nue Co have introduced Mind Energy, a gender-neutral fragrance supplement that’s designed to help hone your focus and limber up your mental energy. Harnessing patented neuroscience technology, the innovative scent helps to foster a shift in your mood by stimulating neural pathways. Mind Energy is here to help; formulated using sustainable and upcycled extracts, this vegan fragrance harnesses patented neuroscience technology to stimulate neural pathways and invigorate your focus.
The formula itself is centred around the knowledge that our sense of smell has a direct line to the three most important areas of the brain: the orbitofrontal cortex, which signifies awareness; the hippocampus, which is linked to memory; and the amygdala, which is directly associated with our emotions and mood. By stimulating these areas, this fragrance supplement helps to cut through mental fog and hone your focus. In consumer trials after 30 days of use, 86% of people felt they had more focus and 76% felt their productivity levels improved.
Another example is taken from Singapore-based fragrance house Scent by SIX thang has recently redefined its brand purpose as a mental wellness champion that advocates the use of fragrance to ‘heal, soothe and delight’.
Finally, it worths to pay attention for Heretic Parfum. In the product catalogue of the brand you can chose the fragrance by its function: Calming & Relaxing, Grounding & Centring, Self-Love & Healing, Sensuality & Seduction, Uplifting & Motivating
There is unlimited opportunity to play in the mental health support area almost for every fragrance brand and for the cross-category line-up development.
Beauty Will Save the World
To conclude, I would like to confirm that based on the healing properties of makeup skincare and fragrances, BEAUTY INDEED WILL SAVE THE WORLD. Thanks to the opportunity to bring the beauty products you love into one effective routine everyone can maintain or improve his/her mental health and save his/her own inner world and ability to build constructive relations with the external world. This will contribute into positive communication, harmony and peaceful conflict resolutions between people.