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Life Look to try: a self-care routine for depressive periods

Mar. 15, 2021
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In living memory, there’s never been a time with more things to feel depressed about. Life is hard at the moment—and although there are some glimmers of hope off on the distant horizon, plowing onward to get there can feel like a never-ending slog.

Now for a swift left turn—beauty products! Although I’m largely kidding, I genuinely do think the right beauty routine can have an impact on mood. It won’t cure depression (obviously) but taking time for yourself can make the present (and future) seem just that bit brighter—something we could all use right about now. Let’s begin.

Bathing

For me, there’s no beauty routine more healing than a bath. Something about being in water seems to give my mind a break from living in the real world, for half an hour, at least. Leave your phone in a different room, light some candles (La Bruket’s Coriander is a current fave) and read a good book for maximum impact.

Something else that helps is making your bath smell and feel as luxe as possible. I personally need a whole bath product wardrobe for different occasions. The L’Occitane Lavender Foaming Bath is perfect for just before bed, while the L’Occitane Almond Milky Bath is ideal for when your skin is feeling dry and dull. The Weleda Pine Bath Milk is one I reach for when I want to feel like a fairy bathing in a mystical forest pool. For a morning bath (controversial, I know, but I’m partial) the Dr Hauschka Lemongrass Vitalising Bath Essence is incredible. And for bathing on a budget, a combination of the Radox Original Bath Soak and Johnson’s Baby Oil gives you more than enough bubbles and skin hydration. 

When submerged, I like to wash my body with bar soap. The Gallinee Prebiotic Cleansing Bar is a great all-rounder, but the Glossier Body Hero Exfoliating Bar is wonderful for feeling like you’re shedding the top layer of your skin.

Hair care

I enjoy a bath hair mask, too. Since we’re all home so much at the moment, I’ll sometimes apply my mask in the bath in the evening, leave it in overnight, then rinse out during my morning shower for maximum efficacy. The Garnier Ultimate Blends Plumping Hair Food Fine Hair Treatment is my current cheap thrill of choice, but for true mood-boosting, there’s nothing quite like the bougie treat of the Christophe Robin Regenerating Masque with Prickly Pear Oil.

Another incredible hair treatment I’ve been partaking in is a combination of the Olaplex No. 0 Bond Builder and No. 3 Hair Perfector. I apply the two to dry hair, wrap up in a topknot, then rinse the following day. Because if I can’t come out of a year of staying indoors with hair like Rapunzel, then what was even the point?

Masks

I’ve long been a proponent of the healing qualities of a face mask, and I’m not just talking about skin. I have a few current favorites that are all mood-boosting in different ways. The Bybi Supergreens Purifying Face Mask is pleasingly gentle, and has that stereotypical “face mask” look so beloved in old cartoons. The Mario Badescu Drying Mask is a stronger specimen, getting to work quickly on blemishes and blocked pores, and has this bizarre wet cement smell that I just can’t get enough of. The No BS Charcoal Detox Peel Off Mask is also great on clogged pores and has the additional benefit of being cathartically satisfying to peel away from your face. The Drunk Elephant Sukari Babyfacial is the perfect mask for when your skin is just looking blah. It brightens, smooths, and treats blemishes—basically, you’ll always look a little bit better the day after doing it. And for those dealing with pesky quarantine breakouts, I love using a benzoyl peroxide cleanser as a mask. Both the Clean & Clear Continuous Control Acne Cleanser and the Neutrogena Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Cleanser Maximum Strength can be applied for around ten minutes then wiped off for a super effective clearing treatment.

Facial treatments

Alongside masks, there are other skincare steps that I truly believe can cheer you up. The simple routine of rubbing something on your face and seeing your skin improve is a positive one, after all. 

I’ve been highly obsessed with the Krave Great Barrier Relief of late. It’s a healing serum that works almost as a full face reset. Any pesky dry patches or healing blemishes will be helped out, and your complexion just feels soothed and strengthened. The Ingredients Oil Complex is another great option for those wanting to give the skin some extra TLC. Facial oils are a one-step trick to giving you a glow, and this one is 100% natural and a pleasure to pat on. Weleda’s Skin Food has a nostalgic place in my heart, and the scent is always uplifting—and I also find its thick, buttery texture incredible. 

In terms of more active treatments, the Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum and U Beauty Resurfacing Compound have been working wonders in terms of smoothing and brightening. For those suffering from lazy-girl-skincare syndrome, they’re also a godsend, as you can cleanse, apply, and basically fall asleep. For any more persistent areas of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, the Murad Invisiscar Resurfacing Treatment is fabulous, too.

The Lanolips Lip Water is my current go-to. It feels light (like water!) but does an incredible job at hydrating and plumping my winter-dry lips.

Body care

It’s easy to forget to moisturize your body, but feeling smooth and soft all over always makes me feel a little bit better. The Embryolisse Lait Creme Fluide is a great all-rounder—it sinks in quickly, leaves skin feeling hydrated, smells great but not overpowering, and comes in a pump bottle. For an extra boost of happiness, though, the Garnier Summer Body is brilliant. Not only does it smell like a vacation, but it imparts a subtle, summery glow to the skin, too.

Happy scents

Finally, there’s nothing that has such an impact on my mood as the right perfume. Clinique Happy is an obvious choice here. It’s light, slightly citrusy, and sparkly. Lush’s Let The Good Times Roll has a similarly on-the-nose name, but a much sweeter, more gourmand scent. Basically, it’s warm buttered popcorn with brown sugar on top, and what’s not to like about that? But for those wanting a more sophisticated mood-boosting option, I point you to Tocca’s Bianca. It’s clean, fresh, and bright, like a springtime trip to the beach—because if you can’t actually do it, you can at least smell like it, right?

Visual by Abby Silverman for Cosmopolitan.