Throughout history, civilizations have used cosmetics for everything from enhancing beauty, to participating in religious rituals, to promoting good health (hello sunscreen!). Today, in a world of raging wildfires, a pandemic infecting the planet, and political unrest, the act of putting on makeup continues to take on a more prominent role: a DIY mental health boost.
According to statistics, during times of crisis or economic unrest, consumers continue to spend money on small luxuries, like lipstick. Leonard Lauder (son of Estee Lauder) even coined the term, ‘Lipstick Index’, in response to the rise in lipstick sales after 9/11 and the 2008 economic recession. During the most difficult times, people crave luxuries that are within their means to provide some normalcy and light, according to Lauder. While the ‘Lipstick Index’ doesn’t quite apply to the COVID-19 pandemic since our M.A.C Ruby Woo smiles are hidden behind face masks, the general concept remains true. Makeup is mentally healing. Since February 2020, social chatter about makeup has gone up 187 percent, and the month of May saw social posts about “playing with cosmetics to uplift mood” rise nearly 3 percent overall.
Having struggled with clinical depression and acute anxiety for over a decade, with extreme flare-ups over the past seven months of quarantine, my makeup routine has provided an easy pick-me-up. It’s something to look forward to each morning, and to me, a bit of sparkle does more than coat my lids. While it obviously isn’t going to conquer my depression, doing my makeup does boost my mood and provide me with some sense of empowerment, control, routine, and respite. According to Mike Dow, PsyD, a renowned psychotherapist and New York Times best-selling author, this notion is scientifically backed. “When people feel out of control or are experiencing unpredictability, they do better when they can focus their energy on things within their control,” he says. With a CDC study reporting that nearly 41 percent of 5,470 respondents experienced an adverse “mental or behavioral health condition” as a result of COVID-19, this unpredictability is at an all time high.
Much like making your bed or brushing your teeth, putting on makeup in the morning can help create a much-needed semblance of regularity, plus sunset-speckled shadow are fun, compared to brushing your teeth or washing your face. “Engaging with [one’s] self has powerful effects in the brain…Any sort of touch can help to release oxytocin, a preventative tonic against stress,” he says. And though we’re living in a time when makeup isn’t necessarily a necessity, as Dr. Dow notes, “the harder self-care feels, the more we need it.” And for me, the time is now.
Shop now: Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow ($24)
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