Your beauty routine won’t take the pain away, but it will give you a few seconds to breathe and act as a reminder that you deserve to be looked after too, says beauty editor Lauren Ezekiel
Beauty has always been a big part of my life. After a decade of trialling and testing the latest beauty products, my home resembled a Sephora. Yet, I didn’t realise how important they were to me, and my mental wellbeing, until I stopped using them.
In 2019, I took redundancy after my second maternity leave. Initially, it was a blessing because the juggle was too much with two young children, but in truth, my relationship was breaking down and I didn’t have the brain capacity for a full-time job.
WATCH: Lauren in action as a beauty editor
In survival mode, I was constantly on guard, withdrawing from friends and hyper-focused on looking after my kids. This constant state of stress impacted my mental health, meaning I was riddled with anxiety and depression.
During this period, I barely allowed myself the time to brush my teeth, let alone apply my daily skincare routine. It felt unnecessary to my inner perfectionist when I should be looking after a one and three-year-old or ticking off another item on an ever-growing, anxiety-driven, to-do list. I was not the priority.
Stuck in a cycle of exhaustion yet dreading going to bed, I was constantly sleep-deprived. On one of those dark days, I received a Rodial CBD Night Oil to test in the post.
Absentmindedly, I added a couple of drops to the palms of my hand and breathed in. The comforting scent and smooth texture instantly made my shoulders relax. As I raised my hands to my nose and inhaled again, my jaw softened and I felt inner calm. I realised, by neglecting myself I wasn’t doing anyone any favours – especially my children.
That evening I forced myself to apply the facial oil, embracing the scent and texture. I laid back and closed my eyes. For the first night in a long time, I didn’t cry myself to sleep.
Rodial CBD Sleep Drops, £65, Rodial
I used the application to anchor me, a moment before bed to focus, quiet the intrusive thoughts and signal to my brain it was time to relax. Taking the time for self-care allowed me to have more patience and compassion. This spurred me on to invest in my mental health, start therapy and start to take care of myself again.
“Until people connect with what self-care facilitates, rather than the action itself, they are not going to do it,” explains psychologist and author Suzy Reading. “What is important to you as an individual? Is it being present and having patience? Is it playing with your kids? Nourishing yourself gives you the energy you need to be the person you want to be. It’s all about connecting the dots.”
It wasn’t easy at first, even though I had spent my career in the beauty industry and witnessed its power to improve well-being, as the anxiety was still telling me it was unimportant or vain to look after myself.
READ: My beauty routine helps clear the cloud of depression – but it’s not always easy
“Self-care is health care”, says Suzy. This realisation was empowering. Beauty isn’t frivolous – it’s a necessity – for me anyway.
The five minutes of ‘me’ time allow me to feel like Lauren. It centres me and makes me a better mother, partner and person. If I start to feel overwhelmed, I bring myself back by applying a simple lip balm or slathering my hands in hand cream. It doesn’t need to be a trip to the spa or beauty salon, it can be a simple action that allows you to connect to yourself again.
I use my skincare routine as a daily affirmation; I deserve to look after myself. I am worthy of the time. This continued during the pandemic, I would apply my skincare and a touch of makeup even when I was stuck indoors. It also inspired me to set up a beauty appeal, WECU2020, which provided over 40,000 NHS workers with self-care moments in the form of goody bags.
Lauren organised self-care goodie bags to go to NHS workers
I was keen to ensure this message was understood throughout my household too.
Children learn by what they see, not what they are told. How could I show them they should take care of themselves if I was constantly neglecting my own needs?
I make a point to my children that mummy applies all her creams or curls her hair as it makes her feel better. Previously I had always tried to get ready when they were asleep or knee-deep in CBeebies, but now I involve them too, offering them the chance to smell or apply creams.
Lauren teaches her children that looking after themselves is important
We discuss how make-up can make you feel better and doing your hair can give you confidence. Beauty shouldn’t need to be about hiding flaws, it can be about embracing yourself and providing nourishment for your soul.
As time has gone on and the children are older, I’m working again and happy with my partner, I continue to use those moments to set myself up for the day, clear my head, and ensure that even if it’s only a few minutes, I take the time to look after myself. It is one of the simplest things you can do to keep your mental health in check. I also find the action of self-massage deeply soothing.
READ: When I can’t face the world, my beauty routine helps pick me back up
If you’re struggling, even on your worst day, take a moment, cleanse your face, apply a moisturiser, inhale the soothing scent and give yourself a quick massage. It won’t take the pain away, but it will give you a few seconds to breathe and act as a reminder that you deserve to be looked after too.
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