Why Your Skincare Ritual Might be More About Mental Health Than Your Face
We all know how important it is to make sure we're maintaining our mental health. Small rituals like taking a few minutes a day to focus on breathing or listening to your favourite podcast whilst on a walk are all vital to contributing to the bigger picture that is our mental and emotional wellbeing.
The way our skin looks and feels is undeniably connected to the state of our mental health — meaning our skincare routines are just as much a part of self care as they are about keeping our skin looking fresh. Taking the time out of our day to prioritise looking and feeling great is absolutely essential to the up-keep of our own happiness.
Having spent years as a beauty and skincare content creator, as well as working for over a decade as a hair and makeup artist in the fashion industry, Rachael Brook has a wholistic understanding of the connection between skincare and mental health. Whether it's how having a bad skin day can impact our self-esteem to the dulness that comes with heightened stress, it's fair to say Rachael has seen it all. She's worked with a diverse array of brands (including Swisse Beauty, who've gifted her with a variety of new products to incorporate into her daily skincare routine) with the goal of empowering women to achieve their beauty goals.
Rachael has openly spoken about mental health on her YouTube channel in the past, so we thought she'd have some incredible wisdom to impart when it comes to unpacking why our skincare rituals are so crucial in maintaining our mental health.
POPSUGAR Australia: When did you begin to notice that your skincare and mental health were connected?
Rachael Brook: I woke up with acne one day when I was 14. It was a huge change in my skin that happened literally overnight. I immediately felt self-conscious, and had to listen to silly names that friends would call me "as a joke" because of it.
At the time I wouldn't have been aware that this could affect my mental health, but by the time I was 18 with a second round of acne I certainly was. As an adult, I can now see clearly when my skin causes stress, and when stress can cause reactions in my skin.
PS: Why do you believe it's so important to dedicate time in your day to self-care?
RB: I read a fantastic book when I was a teenager and going through some mental health struggles that really amplified the message of 'it's the little things that make a big difference' and also to live in the present. It talked about things such as literally stopping to smell the roses on your walk to work, wearing your favourite fragrance every day to give you that little bounce in your step, taking care of your clothes so you feel confident wearing them, and of course, looking after your skin so that it can look and feel its best.
I find that doing these small, daily acts to take care of myself really build up to boost my self esteem and confidence and helps me to focus on what's happening right in front of me rather than sitting in my head worrying about how I'm looking. In saying that, I'm only human so some days this is easier to do than others.
PS: What's the most integral element of your skincare routine?
RB: Nothing compares to the feeling of cleansing your skin after wearing makeup all day. That fresh skin feeling is just so glorious. However, hydrated skin also has a magical feeling to it so then I'd have to say moisturiser is another element that I just can't go without.
If you caught me on my busiest day ever, this would be my whole skincare routine from start to finish.
PS: Having a "bad skin day" can have a huge impact on our self-esteem — do you have any tips to share around dealing with this?
RB: To this day I'll still feel a little self conscious when my acne flares up. I won't feel like filming videos or having my photo taken at events because in my mind I think that's all people can see. The reality is, it isn't. We all have bad skin days at some point, and it's almost never as bad as we think it is. They don't define us. And when you think it's all people are noticing about you, just remember that they might be having a bad hair day and thinking that's all you're noticing about them.
PS: You've been creating beauty content online for quite some time now — how do you combat or react to negativity on social media?
RB: I believe that whilst I'm creating videos that are aimed at educating my audience on all things beauty related (or the occasional dog vlog) that I'm not trying to hurt anybody, so for anyone to leave a hateful comment on my content really says more about them and what they're going through, then it does about me and the content I'm making.
I actually try to be kinder to those people and hope to change the way they interact with creators online when they realise a real human being is behind the account seeing everything they say.
PS: Can you walk us through your AM skincare routine?
RB: I keep my skincare routine in the morning very simple. I wash my face with warm water and a Face Halo to remove any excess product that may be left over from my night routine, plus it just feels great to start the day with a fresh face. If there happens to be any makeup leftovers showing up from the day before I'll use micellar water on a cotton pad to do more of a thorough cleanse. The Swisse Micellar Makeup Removing Cleansing Water is perfect for this.
From there I'll apply SPF 50+ (I'm currently using and loving Queen Screen by Ultra Violette) which I'll leave for a few minutes to absorb before applying my makeup for the day.
PS: How do you use your night-time routine to wind down after a long day?
RB: I usually do one round of cleansing before jumping in the shower and I do the second cleanse in the shower with the warm water on my skin, so by the time I get out my body is already starting to feel more relaxed. I then take my time to gently apply my toner, serum, exfoliant and to massage my moisturiser and eye cream in.
I think it's the slowing down of the process, and taking my time to gently apply each step that feels so calming. I also try to do this at the very end of my day, so I can just jump into bed and snuggle my dog without having anything else to do or worry about so that the calm vibes I created during my skincare routine last as long as possible.
PS: The way our skin appears can also be a big indicator of our mental health, revealing signs of stress etc. — do you alter your daily skincare routine when you notice signs of this occurring?
RB: I'm a big fan of adjusting all of my beauty routines (hair, body, skin) to suit what it feels like they're really needing at the time. When it comes to my skin, I'll generally notice either blemishes starting to appear or dryness occuring. I'll usually do a face mask when this happens to try and combat it, but also to add that extra self-care factor.
The Swisse Hyaluro-Natural Intensive Hydrating Mask is a favourite of mine for when my skin is starting to feel a little dry and stressed, and if it's starting to show blemishes I'll swap it for the Swisse Matcha Tea Anti-Pollution Clay Mask instead.
PS: Do you use any beauty tools that amplify the relaxation aspect of your routine?
RB: When I'm feeling the need to relax and unwind, I'll pop on some calming music, my favourite candle and lay on my bed whilst using my rose quartz facial roller to massage oils and serums into my face. It's blissful! I can't say that I do this every day, but it feels like such a treat when I do make the time for it.
PS: What products do you use to promote feeling great on the inside and out?
RB: Working from the inside out, I like to take a probiotic (every day), collagen (less often than I probably should) and a hair, skin and nails supplement (every other day). A weekly face mask helps with feeling great on the outside, along with filling in my eyebrows which is the one makeup step I've decided that I cannot live without!
This article was first published on Pop Sugar Australia here.