How beauty helps us self care

Self-care looks different for each of us – and for beauty aficionados, sometimes it really does mean taking care of your skin, hair and body, says beauty expert Cleo Glyde.

Beauty “me time” is the one time in the day when women focus on themselves – whether it’s rocking a new centre part, applying a favourite shade of lippy or sliding into a lavender-infused bath for a hot soak at day’s end. The kids, the boss, the guy, the deadlines are temporarily at bay.

Our beauty routines of lotions and potions and pigmented colours is a ritualistic meditation that helps us transition from the private realm of pyjamas and wild hair to facing the world with our best face forward. Our shelfie-worthy collection of bathroom essentials is often all that stands between us being at our most raw and vulnerable and having the confidence to get out there and do what we do.

Then 2020 happened and we had bigger problems. The global pandemic that threatened our freedoms to work and move freely, socialise and party with loved ones, and forced us to isolate for lonely weeks at a time, was enough to turn the bright, kleig lights away from public grooming, salon visits and glamming up. Instagramming the new negative space nail trend took a back seat. The roots grew out. No one was going to put on primer and ombre eyes for a Zoom meeting. Or were they?

That’s the beauty of beauty. It has the transformative power to not only play with looking different or (arguably) better but it also makes us feel okay.

When the global and national borders are closed to us and the economic future is uncertain, we want comfort. We need to self-soothe. The cocooning trend elevates the art of being cosy – rather than ‘stuck’ – at home to what the Danish call hygge, a celebration of joyful domestic snuggling, a strategy to cultivate happiness that evolved to deal with the long, dark winter months.

When winter came to Australia, we turned to beauty’s moodivators: candles, fragrance, skincare, spa tools and masks – anything associated with self-care, feeling better and luxurious langour. We had all the time in the world. In 2020 during the pointy end of lockdown, sales of sheet masks went up by 170% (Spate), candle sales at beauty hub Adore Beauty doubled, helping local companies like Glasshouse Fragrances keep their employees as brick-and-mortar retail floundered, and body treatments and serums with strong actives became the industry’s best-sellers.

“Nurturing” beauty products allow us to bring wellbeing home. You can breathe in a divine, mood-altering oil blend of herbs and fragrant woods from a dewdrop-inspired diffuser that fools you into thinking you’re getting a massage – when you are in fact peeling a spud.

One of the best answers I know to an emotionally distraught day – after availing myself of the wit and wisdom of a trusted friend – is to put a pin in that day and run a hot bath (I couldn’t live without one), succumb to the spell of a scented candle, the flames hypnotically dancing on the walls, apply oil to damp skin afterwards, slather on skincare and haircare with enough actives to really make a difference, and lay back, while the nourishing products work their magic, to enjoy an irresistible movie. There is no hangover, it pays lovely dividends of glowing skin and hair but, perhaps most importantly, it’s an external ‘fake it till you make it’ gesture that tells you that it may not feel like it right now, but you matter. And it’s going to be okay.

Of course, lying back on a satin pillow like the Queen of Sheba, covered in products, won’t solve all of tomorrow’s problems, but it is an excellent start. My one challenge is to remember to tap into the ritualistic power of beauty’s nurturing side more often, not only as a refuge but when I crash and burn.

I love my self-care beauty lust-haves so much that just looking at them on my shelf makes me happy. Every woman has those special beauty weapons in her arsenal, helping empower her to be her authentic self. Of course, a no-apologies diva like lusty 1950s screen goddess Elizabeth Taylor has a campy solution to a Very. Bad. Day: “Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” Whether it’s about looking good or feeling good, beauty is that heart-gladdening ally who will help us both bunker in until the storm passes and head out the door – and onto that plane – in confidence and style when it’s all over.