The Psychology Of The Glow-Up: How Makeup Can Help Lift Your Mood
In the era of self-quarantine and social distancing, psychologists and aestheticians agree—maintaining a daily beauty and skincare routine and putting on makeup can have positive impacts on your overall mood. That's right—the "glow-up" effect you've probably seen all over Instagram and YouTube? It's real. And while, objectively, it might seem futile to put on a full face and do your hair when you're the only one paying attention, the ritual of self-care and its effects can be far more profound.
"When we save doing makeup solely for other people, it's as if we are saving our beauty for others," says Tricia Wolanin, Psy.D., a community and clinical psychologist and author of The Fragrance Wanderlust: How to capture the essence of travel in our everyday lives. "Why can't you be special enough to get ready for? Shouldn't you want to get dressed up to make yourself feel good versus impress others? I know over the years I've opted to wear bright lipstick at home, even alone, because it lifts my spirits. Explore what works for you and treat yourself to a beauty regimen."
Tatler talked to psychologists and makeup artists to find out why and how the psychology of the glow-up works—and to get their expert advice on how to integrate an effective mood-lifting beauty routine into our daily lives. Here's what we learned.
What you choose to put on your body affects how you'll feel
"Getting ready in the morning is one vital way to pump our motivation for the rest of how our day will infold," Wolanin says. "Even if we're not going anywhere, why not opt to put on makeup, do our hair, or wear a fabulous outfit? Our clothes impact our mood. If we opt to wear pyjamas all day, it will bring about waves of coziness and comfort—but also perhaps lethargy and an urge to veg out all day on the couch and binge on television or Netflix. Keeping up a routine is vital, as we don't know how long social isolation will last. When opting to choose what types of clothes to wear or how to do your makeup, explore: How do you want to feel today? Is it to be chilled out or do you want to be productive?"
Sticking to routine helps us adapt to uncertain times
"Having a routine and sticking to it is essential, especially now that there is so much uncertainty on so many different levels," says Tara Well, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Barnard College. "Keeping a simple routine can help you stay sane—think: mind, body, spirit. If your mind immediately goes to issues about the current crisis, balance that with a physical routine—this can be a strenuous activity to work the stress out or something very simple like some stretching or a few yoga poses. Also, a morning meditation practice for at least 10 minute can set the tone of the day. Research on meditation shows it helps manage stress. We have a negativity bias in which our attention gets automatically pulled toward potential problems and threats. You can manage this natural tendency by limiting your time watching the news and commiserating about the state of the world."
Have a routine? Now's a good time to... take your time
"We are all experiencing a culture shock," says Sue Perez, an Emmy Award-winning makeup artist and founder of Beautyphonics. "I personally have taken this time to surrender to what is happening and develop a morning routine that allows me more of a connection with myself, first—and that starts at the vanity where I sit and do my makeup. Now, I have extra time to massage my skin, wear a makeup that brightens my face—versus a full face I would typically wear if I were leaving my apartment. When we look in the mirror, we should feel good about what is reflected back at us, but many of us do not. Improving our personal appearance has an instant positive effect."
It's also a great time to try something new
"There are definitely benefits if you enjoy doing it [a beauty routine]," Well says. "You can also do a modified beauty routine—one that makes you feel good but doesn't feel like a chore. It might be a great time to think about how you dress and do your beauty routine for other people to see and how it might be different if you are doing it to just please yourself. What would you do differently? Now is a great time to experiment."
See also: 7 Beauty Products to Help You Look Great on Video Calls
Consider your makeup palettes—choose colours that make you happy
"Colours have an impact on our mood," Well says. "Generally, the colour red is enlivening, while blues and greens are soothing. Sometimes we associate leisurewear with neutral hues like grey sweatpants and dull-coloured T-shirts. Now's a great time to mine your wardrobe for clothing that looks and feels great. Ask yourself: How does this colour make me feel? What does its texture feel like against my skin? Comfort can be very sensual and uplifting."
Add warmth to your makeup routine
"Colours can enhance the way we feel instantly and how people perceive us," Perez says. "Our feelings about colour are deeply personal and rooted in our experiences or culture. There is a lot of research on the subject and even therapies like colorology and chromotherapy that are used holistically because of the positive mood-altering effects. When it comes to makeup, balancing the skin tone with foundation, wearing a bronzer—which adds warmth and a sun-kissed glow to areas on the face—are best. Cheek colour adds a rosy addition and lip colour is important too. Experiment with textures you like. Just the act of applying makeup allows us to feel pride in ourselves and reinforces our self-confidence."
Use your mirror as an ally
"My research on mirrors and reflections shows that we often self-objectify when we look in the mirror," Well says. "That is, we see an image that we are trying to perfect—and often come up short. So the mirror becomes associated with self-criticism. Now, in quarantine and social isolation, many are spending more time in their own company than ever before. It's a time to use the mirror as your ally. Look into your own eyes with compassion as you do your beauty routine—don't miss yourself. Use the mirror throughout the day, not to check your appearance, but to check in with how you're feeling. You can really be there for yourself during this challenging time."
See also: 13 Things You've Been Meaning To Do But Never Had The Time...Until Now