As a chubby acne-prone teenager, the closest I got to beauty products was a bottle of Clearasil and a tea-tree stick. I was ridiculed for my frizzy hair, my bushy eyebrows and my fat arse or ‘lorry arse’ as I once heard my friend refer to it. I used to gaze at the pretty girls with their make-up and plucked eyebrows and long to be the same but never thought it possible. I felt ugly and fat and I didn’t see that ever changing. And to this day, I largely feel the same; there’s very little about myself that I wouldn’t want to change and I spend painstakingly long periods of time scrutinising every inch of my body and noting its flaws. Whilst my lack of confidence is a common characteristic in men and women, I do feel that my anxiety and depression has made it worse and magnified it somewhat with quite severe consequences at times.
Whilst I still don’t like the way I look or feel comfortable in my own skin, my new found love for beauty products has helped. And by that, I don’t mean they’ve physically made me look better but they have helped me psychologically. I know to many that will sound far fetched and self-absorbed but it’s true. When you’re feeling rock bottom and hopeless, dousing yourself in a favourite perfume or slapping on some lipstick can really lift you and make something impossible seem possible.
But of course there are the days when getting out of bed and heading to work is an unfathomable task. And whilst you feel that huge black cloud hanging over you, it doesn’t mean you necessarily lose all sense of pride. You still want to look presentable, you still want to look like you despite the fact inside you’re a quivering wreck. And that’s where quick, smart fixes come into play. The beauty products that involve no faffing or effort but supply optimum results and allow a certain degree of self-regard when all else is awry.
And with this is mind, I wanted to share a few of my go-to products. It’s quite difficult to find many blogs/articles on beauty and depression that give practical, affordable advice and whilst I’m not claiming to be a beauty expert; some of the products I have found joy in might do the same for you.
The biggest revelation for me has been Liz Earle’s ‘Cleanse and Polish’. My mum has sworn by this for years and I always thought it wouldn’t suit my skin. But having tried it for the first time last year after my mammoth 15 mountain climb; I have used it every day since. Not only does it smell and feel divine but it’s both time-effective and cost-effective. It allows you to wipe every trace of the day away, and whilst that in itself is most therapeutic after a hard day, it leaves you with a wonderful glow, which is hard to come by when you’re taking regular medication and lacking in sunlight. My other preferred make-up remover is Bioderma’s Micelle Solution; I always keep it beside my bed, safe in the knowledge that if I’ve climbed into bed to escape the world, I have something quick and easy to hand to get rid of my warpaint.
As I have already mentioned, taking medication can take its toll on your skin as does stress and anxiety and it’s definitely something I’ve noticed over the last 4-5 years whilst taking antidepressants. As dry and lack-luster as it is, I do however find that Balance Me’s Radiance Face Oil instantly plumps it up and makes it feel alive. Again it smells divine and the act of rubbing it into my face really helps with feelings of zen. Embryolisse’s Lait‐Crème Concentré is also a stable that instantly makes me feel a bit more nourished and less like a leather handbag. Similarly any of Korres‘ body milks, but especially the Santorini Vine, can’t fail to have a positive impact on spirits. The glorious smell coupled with the instant absorption makes for a feeling of being cocooned in cotton wool.
Baths are my biggest indulgence; nothing quite beats sinking into one after a grueling day and quite often, my foot is only just over the flat threshold before I’m taking off my clothes ready to jump in. Whilst I’m not fussy in terms of what I have in it as long as it involves bubbles, one of my faves is Sainsbury’s Mandara Spa range, having taken the recommendation from beauty know-it-all Sali Hughes. And if like me you like to be liberal with your bubbles, its affordable price-tag helps.
Lipstick is probably my biggest weapon in the constant fight with my social anxiety and body confidence. It’s truly remarkable how much bravery a slick of red lipstick can muster. It gives me the confidence to do so many things and to not feel quite so bad in doing them. If I’m wearing it, it will be for a reason other than it looks nice! It will be because I feel fat and ugly, it will be because I was shaking with fear before leaving the house or maybe it might be because it makes me feel that bit more confident. And more often than not I will have chosen MAC’s ‘Lady Danger’ as I’m quite sure it’s not a lipstick but a secret power.
Last but by no means least, I have to mention Chanel No.5. For me this scent is everything. It was both my gran’s and still is my mum’s favourite perfume and holds a special place in my heart. The hint of it reminding me of my childhood playing with my gran’s cosmetics and dressing up in her jewellery; some of my fondest memories. And sometimes when your head is full of anxiety and your overthinking everything, being transported back to a simpler time is a godsend.