Wash my face.
Brush my teeth.
Take a shower.
Style my hair.
Put on makeup.
There’s a good chance that your beauty routine sounds something like this. And, like most people’s, it’s probably quick and fuss-free. After all, we have more important things to do, right? Actually, though the steps you take to care for your body each day may seem simple or even trivial, they can be important for reasons that go beyond how you look.
While these habits may have become automatic, your “prep time” is actually a special moment of self-care that can afford you opportunities to bring mindfulness to your day. The products you use and how you use them can play a big role in helping you be in the present moment and truly enjoy this time you have to yourself.
Think of each of these five common elements of a daily beauty routine as mini meditations that allow you to engage your senses and reflect, which, in turn, can help you relax and see your day (and maybe even yourself) in a new way.
Washing Your Face
Spending an extra minute or two to massage your face with cleanser—just like an esthetician would if you were getting a facial—can turn the typical “wash, rinse and you’re off” task into a mindful, soothing experience. Feel the gentle pressure of your fingers as you move them around your forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. Notice the pop of bubbles on your skin. Inhale the fragrance of your cleanser if it has a particularly pleasant scent. Exhale as you rinse with warm water and pat dry with a plush towel, feeling that clean, post-wash tingle. (Bonus: Circular motions boost circulation to those often-neglected facial muscles, releasing tension and leaving skin looking more refreshed.)
Brushing Your Teeth
In the two to three minutes it takes to brush your teeth every morning and evening, enjoy the massaging of the bristles against your teeth and gums and the minty flavor of the toothpaste against your tongue. After you rinse, run your tongue along your teeth and notice how clean and smooth they feel. In addition to helping you recognize the feel-good sensations of such a quick task, this exercise may also prompt you to make smarter choices about your mouth health, like avoiding sugary snacks or lessening your caffeine intake to protect your teeth. The fresh feeling you get post-brush may also help you steer clear of a late-night bowl of ice cream or handful of potato chips.
Taking a Shower
As you go through the motions of cleaning yourself, take a moment to enjoy the details of the experience: Inhale the citrus aroma that arises as you work shampoo into your scalp, noticing the pressure of your fingertips moving in a circular motion. Feel a release as you rinse the product out—exhale. You may even want to use a comb to work conditioner through your strands, which provides a feel-good touch. Take in the relaxing rose fragrance that emanates from your body wash as you scrub down to your toes. If you’re using a body scrub, feel the tingle of the exfoliating beads as you gently knead your muscles and slough off dead skin with your bath mitt or bare hands. Close your eyes and relax as the warm water runs over your entire body for a final rinse.
Moisturizing Your Skin
When you’re done washing, pat your skin with a soft, comforting towel until it’s mostly dry, letting out a long exhale as you do. Then, when applying moisturizer, feel its silkiness between your hands. Slowly massage the product into your cheeks, shoulders, arms, thighs, knees, calves and so on. Your heightened awareness may also inspire you to reach areas you might otherwise skip, such as behind your ears or between your toes, nourishing your whole body. Choose a moisturizer with a scent that you love (maybe that’s vanilla or coconut), since it will likely linger. If you tend to forget to moisturize after your morning shower, try doing so in the evening when you have more time to enjoy the process; consider a lavender-scented product that may help you drift off to sleep.
Looking in the Mirror
Looking at your reflection is a necessary part of styling your hair or applying makeup, but it can often cause you to focus on the “flaws” you’d like to fix. Instead, use it as an opportunity to take in your beauty. Rather than staring at the pimple surfacing on your chin or telling yourself you look tired, remind yourself that your long eyelashes don’t need any mascara or that you have a great smile. Compliment yourself: My hair looks shiny and healthy. I love the curve of my eyebrows. Dig deeper than what you see: I’m a kind person. I go after my goals. Taking time to acknowledge your favorite features, both physical and characteristic, boosts your self-esteem and is a positive way to start or end your day. Doing this regularly can help you feel more beautiful, improving your body language, interactions with others and motivation.