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If the past few months have taught us anything, I hope it’s the value of Self-Care. We’ve all altered our lives dramatically to not only care for ourselves, but to care for the health of others and it would be a shame if we slip back into a time of caring less. It’s probably only right that as a result we’ve seen a huge spike in the idea of treating yourself kindly, whatever way that may have manifested itself for you.
For some (myself included) the concept of self-care is looking after yourself physically in the hope it helps to look after yourself mentally too. It’s just taking some time for you, sometimes just the act of caring for yourself physically is enough to care for yourself mentally.
A deep bath, a candle burning, a face mask and a new serum promised to help plump those lines we’ve had too much time on our hands to be starring at in the mirror. They all take the form of physically helping you but I’d argue that we do them for our mental health as much as we do anything else. I don’t have a bath because I need it in order to be clean, I’d have a shower for that. I have a bath because it’s a forced forty minutes of quiet time. Away from my phone, away from life in general. Similarly it’s why I do yoga. Especially now, it helps get my mind to somewhere else.
Getting To Sleep.
I’ve lost count of the amount of people telling me they’re struggling to sleep this year. It’s no surprise, the amount of thoughts, worries and anxieties filling our brains at the moment, teamed with the weather we’ve been luck enough to be experiencing also. I’ve never been someone who sleeps well and lately I find myself waking up from having slept my usual amount, but feeling like it’s done much less for me? I don’t always wake up feeling refresh and revitalised.
The concept of meditation might be a little too Goop’y for some and I’ll admit that it was for me too. It’s taken me an awfully long time to find anything I felt was right for me. Ultimately for me it’s just a technique to get yourself out of our own head. I found the below video on YouTube a few weeks back and it just happened to be from Goop itself. It’s only 10 minutes long and has been designed to aid you in getting to a place where sleep occurs naturally. I know, I was skeptical too. I really advocate giving it a try however. For those nights where it felt like sleep just wasn’t on the cards it’s help immensely.
Suspend your scepticism and see if it helps you sleep.
On my path to getting a good night’s sleep I’ve also found comfort in using a simple pillow spray. Perhaps it’s a simple placebo, perhaps there is some truth in the benefit of the blend of scents they combine. There’s a comforting smell to it and whilst I’m no psychiatrist, I would argue that associating that scent with sleep itself and with being relaxed in bed, is what assist in helping me drift off. I know it’s the scent of my bed. I’ve been using the This Works Deep Pillow Spray for a few years now and swear by it. My toiletry bag always has a mini version to take with me for when I’m travelling too.
Take the plunge.
Baths have always been part of a Sunday night ritual for me. I’ll eat my dinner, make my lunches for the week ahead and run a bath. It says a lot about their benefits if even in my bathroom and cramped tub I can relax. My water pressure is so appalling it takes almost an hour for it to run and the overflow means after twenty minutes in it the water has already halved, but I enjoy it all the same.
Over the years it’s become a bit of weird compulsion of mine to buy bubble baths, oils and salts. I’ve tried them all. From Goop bath salts designed to help you sleep (turns the water brown, bit weird) to just about every scent in the Jo Malone London bath oil collection, I’ve been there and done it. It doesn’t have to be something expensive for you to reap the benefits of it. Use it as some quiet time to yourself. Don’t take your phone in there, maybe don’t watch TV whilst you soak. I’m always nervous about dropping a book in the tub, but if you’ve steadier hands perhaps try that? Or just soak. Just lie there, soaking up the bubbles and let your fingers go pruney.
There have been studies done that show having a bath before bed will improve your chances of getting to sleep. It goes back to your body dropping in temperature once you’re out, signalling it’s time for it to sleep. Two birds, one stone.
There’s probably a very strong pun in here about masking your anxiety and worry, but I’ll refrain. I can only assume sales of face masks are currently soaring. If you’re anything like me then your candle and mask consumption has gone up ten fold.
The jury is out on whether or not a lot of masks actually do anything for your skin I know – particularly sheet masks. They do however provide me some comfort. I almost feel like I’ve achieved something once it’s been removed from my face. There’s something in it and I’ll continue to apply one almost every night until this lockdown situation is over, if only to give myself some small enjoyment.
One thing to note: never use a peel-off mask. Bad for your skin.
The mask in L’Oreal’s Pure Clay collection are some of my favourites. I think I’ve worked my through all of them now, regularly returning to the Blemish Control and Bright ones. The blue Blemish Control never fails to make me feel like Papa Smurf also.
They’re a small investment too and thankfully also available in almost all supermarkets. One word of warning however, they will absolutely colour your face clothes, so perhaps don’t use your white one to remove them…
Origins are the king of masks. Each Christmas someone on my gifting list gets a set of their mini masks from me. I’m a big advocate of Original Skin, Out of Trouble and the Madeleine Shaw collaboration, Glow-Co-Nuts. They’re more of an investment but they last. Original Skin has been a constant feature in my bathroom for years now.
When you’ve been inside and your skin isn’t being subjected to as much fresh air as you might like, you might find it looks a little dull. Exfoliation is one of the most important things I’ve ever learned from Caroline Hirons. That’s not the physical exfoliation of your skin necessarily (do not reach for a St. Ives scrub, whatever you do), but also the chemical exfoliation. Basically getting rid of all your dead skin cells to reveal the fresh, glowing ones beneath.
I’ve mentioned it repeatedly over on Instagram, but for those who might not have seen: Kate Somerville’s Exfolikate is my absolute favourite. Be prepared for it to tingle and feel uncomfortable until you’ve used it a few times, but once you’re through that? Amazing. I can’t recommend enough.
A cheaper option lives with Beauty Pie’s Fruitzyme. It works exactly the same way, though has more of a combination of physical exfoliants in it too. Wonderscub – a bit of a weird name as it doesn’t actually ‘scrub’ as such – leaves you with gloriously fresh skin too. It has an almost chalk-like texture as it goes on. If you’ve more sensitive skin, this could be the one for you. It doesn’t tingle and it shouldn’t cause any discomfort.
If you’ve yet to explore Beauty Pie, you absolutely should. You pay a small monthly membership fee to access luxury products as cost price. Genius. You can use this link to get £50 added onto your first month’s allowance.
I’m 33 now. I’m not getting any younger. With the helpful advice of both Nadine Baggott and Caroline Hirons, I’ve been using retinols and serums to assist the whole getting older process. Retinols are a tricky thing and can cause a lot of irritation, but they can drastically improve your skin. I’d advise reading up a little more on the type that could be right for you, or watching one of Caroline’s YouTube videos on them.
This Jordan Samuel Skin Retinol is one that is unlikely to cause any irritation to most skin types. It’s been formulated as a light oil, perfect for applying before bed. Sometimes I add in a few drops of one of Superdrugs’ cheap-as-chips Boosters. The full range is available online and in store, all incredible value for money. You’ll find ones to help with clarity, peptide laden ones, blemish reducing ones… something for every concern. You can add a few drops to your moisturiser or serum on a morning or evening for that little bit extra.
There are some interesting pieces around about why you could be experiencing more breakouts and spots than normal. Stress is obviously going to be a big factor here; it’s all so tied to your hormones. It isn’t likely to be the only reason why, you can read a little bit more about that here.
I’ve worked my way through quite a lot of products from The Inkey List and The Ordinary in recent years. Their value cannot be denied, tough I’ve often struggled with the formula. There isn’t too much of an experience to them? They don’t necessarily feel too luxurious or like you’re treating yourself. Perhaps that isn’t an issue at all if they’re effective, but with this being about self-care and the act of spending time on yourself, I think it is.
All that being said, the one product that has absolutely stuck with me is the C-50 Blemish Night Treatment. It’s been formulated to assist in reducing the appearance of blemishes and discolouration on the skin. I do get breakouts and often they last far too long for my liking. This is something I start to use once the breakout has occurred and you’re wanting to make it go away as quickly as possible. Applied a last step in your routine before bed, it has drastically helped with the repair of my skin in errors where blemishes and spots have been. After a few days you’re well and truly on the way back to normal.