What is mindful skincare?
You’ll no doubt have heard about mindfulness. In recent years, it’s become a popular way of boosting our happiness and decreasing the stress we feel every day. But what does it actually mean?
It’s an abstract concept, allowing us to describe the way we accept ourselves and perceive our presence. It’s all about the present moment – not about the past or future.
Mindfulness a great solution if you struggle to make time for self-care activities like journaling or taking a bath, as you can incorporate it into your daily schedule.
It’s strongly intertwined with self-care practices like meditation, which allows you to become more aware of where you are and what you’re doing, without being overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you.
How does mindfulness apply to skincare?
Much like other terms that are used in relation to skincare – natural, clean, and balanced to name a few – mindfulness can mean different things to different people.
In terms of looking after our skin, mindfulness is commonly associated with the following:
- Skincare that is cruelty-free or vegan.
- Skincare that is packaged in eco-friendly or reusable materials, such as glass rather than plastics.
- Skincare made from natural or plant-based products.
- Skincare made from few ingredients.
- Incorporating tools or techniques into your regime, such as face yoga or using a jade roller for facial massage.
- Taking the time to enjoy a slower-paced skincare routine, rather than rushing through the process.
- Understanding how certain factors can affect your skin – from the foods you eat to your hormones and the menstrual cycle.
- Noticing how your skin looks and changes, and adapting your regime with suitable products.
Whether you identify with some or all of the points above, the most important factor in a mindful skincare routine is the focus on the present moment. It’s about caring for yourself in the here and now. So, you really can be mindful with your skincare, regardless of budget, time, or skin type.
Why is a mindful skincare routine beneficial?
We can all benefit from adding a little more mindfulness to our day to day lives. But, particularly at the moment, where we might be feeling the effects of months in lockdown (the pandemic has taken its toll, hasn’t it?), there’s no better time to provide some relief for your mind and skin.
Aileen Rafferty, Clinic Owner and Head of Education at theskinexperts.co.uk says, “Our skin has not functioned under normal circumstances during months of lockdown. Being at home more, extreme hot spells of weather, sitting in front of our devices for hours, diets that consist of more home baking and trying out new exercise classes will have a massive impact on our skin.”
Rafferty notes that all of these factors can create new skin issues, from dryness and dehydration through to redness and sensitivity. Constant worry and stress can also have our skin behaving very differently from normal.
Skincare in an age of face masks
“Many of us have also had to get used to wearing a mask sometimes for several hours and this will continue to be the norm as we return to daily life,” says Rafferty.
Although they are vital for limiting the spread of COVID-19, face masks can be problematic for our complexions. Anything that sits on the skin has the potential to cause a physical block to the pores, which can lead to breakouts and irritation.
Katerina Constantinou, clinical nurse and trainer at theskinexperts.co.uk says, “For our safety, we must wear our masks, sometimes for long periods, so make sure you cleanse the skin well morning and night to keep the pores clear.
“Keep your mask clean so it is not transferring bacteria and ensure you use a good hydrating product to keep the skin supple and not dehydrated. Also, whenever it is safe to do so take the mask off and let the air get to the skin.”
What can we do to combat stressed-out skin?
Here we’ll explore some simple ways to incorporate a more mindful approach to taking care of your skin. These tips will help you to feel calm and rejuvenated, and can also help to soothe any skin issues you may have.
Take your time
Not only can your skin benefit from waiting for each product to absorb and dry before moving on to the next one, but slowing your routine down is also great for your mind. As you apply each product, try to focus on what you are doing. Notice how it smells, pay attention to the packaging, the consistency, how it feels on your skin.
Even if you’re short for time, you can allow yourself just a couple of minutes to tune out external noise and focus on you.
Take notice of the products you’re using
Do you pay much attention to the labels of your products? Do you know the benefits of their ingredients?
If you’re suffering from angry, sore skin or are experiencing maskne (blemishes as a result of wearing a face mask), Rafferty suggests looking for anti-inflammatory ingredients. These can help to repair and strengthen skin.
The following ingredients can be a good place to start:
- Aloe vera: contains antioxidants, enzymes and vitamins that cleanse, revitalise and calm skin.
- Avocado oil: highly moisturising and contains fatty acids that build healthy cell membranes for a glowy and plump complexion.
- Vitamin C: the perfect treatment for keeping skin bouncy and rejuvenated, with astringent properties that will keep skin tight and help prevent wrinkling.
But remember, you don’t need expensive products (or lots of products) in order to be mindful. You can start by simply taking more time and care with the products you’re already using.
Breathe it out (and inhale the aromas)
As you make your way through your routine, keep checking in with your breath. For a simple breathing exercise, you can try breathing in for four counts, hold for four counts, breathe out for four counts and then hold again for four counts.
As you do this, notice the scents of your skincare products and enjoy the benefits of their aromas. Deeply inhaling can help to create a sense of relaxation and serenity.
Certain scents can also help us to achieve particular moods. If you know some basics of aromatherapy, you may be familiar with the energising benefits of citrus scents. So, you may want to choose skincare products enriched with vitamin C for your morning routine, which often have orangey aromas. This can have a wonderful awakening effect, to set you up nicely for the day.
Equally, you may choose lavender scented products for your evening skincare routine. Known for helping us to relax and drift off to sleep, lavender is a favourite plant extract for many. Lavender has a host of other benefits too, including aiding skin recovery and boosting blood circulation.
Take notice of texture
Touch is another great way to embrace mindfulness. Pay attention to the different consistencies of your products, notice how they feel in your hands or on your face, and whether they change consistency when mixed with water. Notice how your skin feels under your fingertips.
When you reach the final product in your skincare routine – that might be a moisturiser or facial oil – really pay attention to your skin as you massage it in. Feel the curves and contours of your face with your fingers.
Pay particular attention to areas that feel tense or tender. Perhaps you clench your jaw when stressed, furrow your brow, or experience pain around your temples from headaches. Gently release this tension as you massage, showing kindness to these points on your face.
If you want a little more inspiration for your self-care routine, find out more about self-massage and face yoga. Simply swap 10 minutes of mindless scrolling on your phone for a more mindful activity – that your body and mind will thank you for.