Beauty is all around us. Channeling or harnessing it to be our best selves can be incredibly fun, and it can bring thought-provoking challenges as well. It’s not just about finding the perfect summer lip gloss (though yes, that’s part of it). It’s about making personal, creative choices. It’s about mirroring how we feel on the inside. And it’s about tuning in to what resonates with us as we move through the world.
Here’s how to truly cultivate beauty from the outside, from choosing natural skincare strategies to making lifestyle pivots.
Start moisturizing like it’s your job
I once asked a celebrity, “What’s your favorite beauty product?” I was expecting a great foundation recommendation or maybe a killer concealer or mascara. Instead, she said, “Moisturizer.”
Sure, I use moisturizer too, but naming it the number one beauty product in my regimen wasn’t something I’d considered before. It deserves that status, though. Moisturizer doesn’t just hydrate your skin; it can also be anti-inflammatory and antiaging, and it helps maintain your skin’s integrity. Whoa!
Sleep with a humidifier on
This might be my beauty secret of 2019 … except it’s not a secret. I tell everyone I know. My bedroom humidifier has become my skincare BFF. If you let one do its magic while you sleep, your skin will thank you.
Our homes often run on furnaces and air conditioning units that draw the moisture out of our spaces. It’s important to add that moisture right back in. Humidifiers do just that. Some are designed so that you can add a few drops of essential oil to them (such as lavender) for a better night’s sleep!
Decorate your face like your dream home
Don’t think of wearing makeup as hiding behind a mask. Think of it as decorating a home—your bodily home! Everyone will decorate differently. For many, being minimalist with their makeup makes them feel good. Others love the part of the morning where they sweep, swipe, and dab their way to a new look.
I fall into the latter camp. Doing my makeup is part of my self-love routine. It’s a moment of me and the mirror and time to play up my favorite features. I decorate my eyes and lips in ways that reflect my mood and build confidence.
Mom was right: Wear SPF daily
I had an “oh, I’m fine” attitude about sun care in my teenage years and right into my twenties. I was not fine! Now that I’m in my thirties, I’m working to reverse sun damage. I’ve learned the hard way that sun care is essential not just for beauty, but also for safety. UV radiation can cause skin cancer and damage skin. One study found sun exposure is responsible for 80 percent of visible facial aging. We’re all aging, but come on—don’t rush us!
Apply a broad-spectrum mineral sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30 to your skin daily (yes, even if the sun isn’t shining, and yes, even if you use a foundation that has SPF).
Tap into clean beauty
We all want insight into what we’re putting on our skin and whether it’s doing us good … or causing harm (see “What are you absorbing through your skin?”). Conventional cosmetic chemicals such as parabens, phthalates, and petrolatum are anything but beautiful!
Online sources and apps such as the Think Dirty app and EWG’s Healthy Living app can help you discover clean products. In general, all-natural cleansers, toners, moisturizers, and makeup will use ingredients that you know (think coconut oil for moisturizing, color pigments from fruits and vegetables, rose water for fragrance and inflammation fighting, and more). Bonus: Natural beauty products are usually way better for the environment too!
Consider topical vitamin C
Recently, I added vitamin C serum to my skincare regimen and was shocked to see a noticeable difference in my skin texture and complexion in just weeks. I was glowing!
This should have come as no surprise. Research shows topical vitamin C not only may help your skin produce collagen, but also assists in antioxidant protection against UV damage. It can even reduce skin aging and pigmentation.
Build confidence with powerful posture
Standing up straight can telegraph confidence (even when it’s lacking) and show your strength. Adopting an expansive, upright posture has actually been shown to help women with eating disorders, positively impacting their cognitive and emotional responses to seeing themselves in a mirror. Good posture can even improve your mood, stress levels, and attitude!
Remind yourself several times a day to keep your shoulders back and your head high. Imagine yourself lengthening as you do it. And consider trying yoga. It’s amazing what even a one-hour class once a week will do for posture!
Slather yourself with self-care
Whether for your hair or your face, masks are the little lifesaver we need when things get dry and dull. Hey, it happens. Travel, stress, and environmental changes call for a little extra TLC.
Picking up a mask from a trusted natural health retailer every couple of weeks can be a nice way to anchor yourself in some self-care. When nabbing a facial mask, choose one suited to your skin type: Gels are good for most people, while peel-off masks are perfect for those with oily or breakout-prone skin.
Live a beautiful life
I could go on all day about natural sunscreen, clean cosmetics, and perfect posture. But none of those are as impactful as truly living a beautiful life.
This doesn’t mean you have to travel the world and do what are societally considered to be “beautiful” things. Sometimes it’s as simple as taking an afternoon to tend to your garden, spending time with an elderly relative, meditating, or doing what brings you joy. Volunteer—be generous with your energy, your talents, and your creativity. Paint. Write. Express yourself. When you can see the beauty in everything around you, you will become more grace-filled and beautiful too.
For more of Sarah Landry’s insights into the joys of self-love (and truths about life as a 34-year-old mother of three awesome pre-teens), follow @TheBirdsPapaya on Instagram and check out thebirdspapaya.com.