But 2020 has brought a not-so-subtle shift in my perspective on beauty: I just can’t get enough of it. Suddenly, I’m drooling over Instagram posts from beauty influencers (I’m actually following beauty influencers!); I’m dog-earing pages in my mags with products and tips I want to try; I’m doing hair masks, sheet masks, you-name-it masks, and DIY manicures and pedicures. So. Many. Manis. Somewhere through all the anxiety and heartache of this extremely trying year, my love of beauty products and pampering has been restored. What’s that about? I turned to Armonk, New York-based psychologist Kimberly Ortiz-Hartman to help make sense of my rekindled relationship with all things beauty. Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. DIY beauty can be a coping skill
Let’s face it, a pandemic, social unrest, and financial instability all require some serious coping skills. In my pre-Covid life, after a particularly tough day, I might’ve hit the gym, met my girlfriends out for a drink, or booked a blowout. But as Dr. Ortiz-Hartman pointed out to me, because of the pandemic, I can’t necessarily do all of these things. Instead, my newfound beauty rituals have filled the void. “Since going to the spa has not been an option, at-home beauty treatments are a great form of coping with stress, due to their calming nature,” Dr. Ortiz-Hartman says. “There’s also the physical benefit of healthier looking skin or hair.” I may not be able to hit the salon for a shiny blow-out, but I can give myself a shine-boosting treatment at home. Beauty has also been my “me” time, something that’s been scarce since I’ve been home all spring and summer with three young kids. When my kids finally go to bed, I can scroll through Instagram and lust over fall hair color trends, or swipe on a sleep mask before I call it a night.
2. It’s not just a frivolous indulgence
I’ve had moments over the past several months when I’ve thought to myself: “Why are you messing with makeup? There are more important things going on in the world.” Valid point, right? But when you put makeup into the category of self-care it’s suddenly not a silly indulgence, it’s a survival skill. “It is very important to care and being passionate about a world health crisis and a historic social justice fight,” says Dr. Ortiz-Hartman. But “taking on all of the world’s struggles increases our stress, and can lead to mental health issues if we don’t take care of ourselves.” If swiping on some mascara makes me feel better, how can it be a bad thing? “As long as we are not harming others or ourselves, all self-care is good,” she adds.
3. Even on a budget, beauty is still a relatively cheap thrill
Since the pandemic started, my husband and I have both felt a slow-down in our respective industries (we’re both self-employed). Friends of ours have been laid off or furloughed from their positions. Money is tight for many of us. So, like many Americans right now, we’ve had to tighten our belts. While I may not be doing a beach vacation anytime soon, I can afford to buy a new bottle of nail polish in the most perfect pink-coral shade that gives me major vacay vibes. Beauty products can spark joy without hurting your wallet. So, there you have it. Three solid reasons why I suddenly can’t get enough beauty right now. It’s delivering a feel-good, pick-me-up I so desperately need these days, while relieving stress and helping me cope—and there’s nothing trivial about that!