When I went on a makeup hiatus, one of the most unexpected epiphanies I had was that I actually missed the time I spent getting ready in the mornings. Not because I enjoyed getting up early or repeatedly poking myself in the eye with a mascara brush, but because having some time set aside every morning to look myself in the eye (via the mirror) and get mentally prepared for my day was surprisingly centering. When I thought more about it, I realized that my morning makeup routine wasn’t the only beauty ritual that I find to be strangely meditative. Here are eight more…
1. Searching for split ends. In high school I had a couple friends who would spend entire social studies lectures separating their hair into sections and hunting for rogue split ends. I never understood their obsession until I started heat-styling my hair and discovered my first split end. It was such a thrill to find it hiding there among its single-ended brethren. Now the search for split ends has become my standard zone-out activity while on the phone, waiting in line at the DMV, or riding public transportation.
2. Eyebrow plucking. Nothing puts me in a zen-like state quicker than staring into a magnifying mirror, tweezing one tiny hair at a time, slowly evening out my brows like the scales of fate.
3. Nail painting. I love painting my nails because it forces me to give up my compulsive multitasking habit for 15 freakin’ minutes and just focus on one thing: giving myself a terrible manicure. Even after I’m done painting my nails, I can’t touch my phone, iPad, or computer unless I want to risk smearing my nail polish. I can’t turn the pages of a magazine or eat a snack or organize my closet. If I planned ahead, I could probably watch TV or something, but I’ve found I enjoy just sitting at my kitchen table while the polish dries, blowing on my nails occasionally and pondering the meaning of life.
4. Moisturizing. My post-shower full body lotion application ritual is one of the most calming parts of my day. It’s a self-massage and aromatherapy in one, and by the time I’ve sufficiently coated myself in shea butter, I’m always in a dreamy, blissed-out state.
5. Examining pores/squeezing blackheads. Maybe I’m vain (spoiler alert: I am), but give me a glass of wine, a magnifying mirror, and one of those blackhead extractor tools that my esthetician friend says “should never be in the hands of a civilian,” and I can spend HOURS staring into each of my pores and gleefully unclogging them. Afterwards, I feel energized and rejuvenated.
6. Applying eye cream. The under-eye area is so sensitive that eye cream must be applied slowly, in a gentle dabbing motion, preferably with your pinkie. This ritual gives me plenty of time to look in the mirror, examine my wrinkles, and confront my mortality.
7. Dry skin picking. Do you ever just stare into space while absentmindedly picking at a patch of dry skin and then “come to” minutes or hours later? Me neither! OK fine, I totally do. There’s something about picking at a flaky elbow that instantly sends me into a trance.
8. Face masks. I love slathering on a clay face mask and lying down for a few minutes as it hardens over my skin, feeling it lift impurities out of my pores. I like to take the time to close my eyes and try to let go of lingering negative thoughts along as well. By the time I rinse off the mask, I feel cleansed — both spiritually and dermatologically speaking. Who needs meditation when you have Queen Helene?
Alright, your turn: anything else you would add to my list? Do you have any beauty routines that put you in a state of zen-like calm or help you clear your mind?
[Photo of woman looking in mirror via Shutterstock]