How I Adapt My Beauty Routine When My Mental Health Is Suffering

6 tips for keeping self-care simple when depression or anxiety take over.

by Vanese Maddix
Beauty routine

Self-care rituals and beauty routines are something a lot of us take great pride and comfort in. However, for those living with severe depression and anxiety, they can occasionally feel like a cross to bear, with even the simplest personal hygiene task becoming difficult to keep in check. It’s a struggle that I deal with regularly but one I’ve always felt nervous to speak about.

I’ve lived with depression and anxiety for eight years and, during that time, various parts of my daily routine have taken a backseat, whether that’s replying to texts or taking a shower. A period of bad mental health can be triggered by something as small as a slight pain that convinces me I’m having a heart attack or my brain going into overtime when I’m reminded of something that upsets me. Whatever causes them, my depressive or anxious spells almost always come with a side order of no energy, no appetite, and no ability to part ways with my bed.

Over the years, I have tried a number of different approaches to managing my mental health, with antidepressants being the most successful so far. However, as helpful as I find my medication, it can’t fix everything. Last year I suffered a traumatising panic attack two weeks into the UK’s first lockdown that required an ambulance to be called out. The hours, days, and weeks that followed left me bedridden, dehydrated, and deeply unwell.

As cliché as it may sound, I desperately searched for something to focus all my efforts on during that time, something I could be in control of while everything else felt so unmanageable. At the same time, I could feel my self-care routine – something I cherish – slipping away from me, leaving me feeling even more anxious and depressed.

That’s when I decided to devise a new, slimmed down routine for myself; something simple that would keep be feeling clean, calm, and supported but wouldn’t require me to push myself further than I could go. I’ve now been perfecting this routine for over a year. Some days, I don’t need to rely on it but, when I do, I find going through these easy but effective motions is key to helping me get through the day.

Here, I share six self-care tips – plus beauty product suggestions – that helped me and hopefully will prove useful to others, too.

Simple Face Cleansers

I’ve found that it can be hard to keep up with my cleansing routine when a depressive state hits. Usually, I would opt for a double-cleanse, toner, serum, eye cream, moisturiser and facial oil, plus I would add a face mask or exfoliator once or twice a week. But those steps can feel impossible to keep up with at times. Thankfully, I have discovered a few fast and effective products on the market that I can turn to when needs must.

While wipes aren’t always seen as the best option for your skin or the environment, during depressive periods, they may just be all you can handle. Keeping a pack on your bedside table will make the makeup removal process much more hassle-free. This Works In Transit No Traces is my go-to; they’re full of moisture and smell delicious.

Alternatively, if I’m able to make it to the bathroom but am still after something speedy, I use Face Halo’s reusable makeup removing pads. They’re made with HaloTech fibres, which reach deep into pores and remove makeup and dirt using only water. And I’ve found the Moxi Loves Powder Pod Cleanser to be great for its simplicity and innovative packaging, too.

A Detangling Hair Brush

I have Afro-textured hair, which is very prone to tangling if I don’t brush it at least once a day. However, when my mind is in overdrive, the thought of having to spend hours tending to it (usually, I will use a nourishing hair oil, hair moisturiser, comb it out and then protect it overnight with a bonnet) often makes me feel worse, meaning I put it off all together. This has led me to experience matted hair on several occasions.

Specialised detangling brushes were the answer for me, helping to stave off any major hair issues until a time when I could go back to my usual routine. The Denman Styling Brush has been my saviour, along with my Tangle Teezer Hairbrush.

Multitasking Beauty Products

Multi-use products have not only worked wonders for my bank balance, but they’ve been easy to work into my simpler self-care routine, too. Sometimes, when I’m feeling down, adding colour to my cheeks or something sparkly on my eyes has really helped to lift my spirits – whether I intend to leave the house or not. Two of my favourite multitasking products include Glossier’s Futuredew for an instant all-over glow and Trinny London’s Lip2Cheek for a dual-action colour pop that does exactly what it says on the tin.

Supportive Supplements

It’s worth nothing that there is no definitive evidence on the exact benefits of supplements, gummies, and probiotics, but I have personally found them to be a great way to tackle my beauty desires from the inside out – even if just for the placebo effect. Whether it’s a formula containing fatty acids to improve my skin’s health or vitamins and minerals to help the strength and growth of my hair, it’s nice knowing I’ve done a little something to look after myself.

Right now, my favourites are Zitsticka Skin Discipline Daily Supplement, Lashile Beauty Good Hair Gummies, and Aurelia London Beauty & Immunity Support. Having a daily routine where my first point of call is taking my vitamins and supplements really helps to get the ball rolling. It gets me up and out of bed and often helps me find the motivation to continue on with my day.

Personalised Skincare

I have enjoyed skincare and all the rituals that come along with it, however, sometimes the thought of spending hours on YouTube compiling a list of your favourite skinfluencers’ go-to products and ingredients feels all too much. Getting a skincare routine that’s tailored to me has cut out hours of trial and error, and simplifying the steps has helped to make me feel my best when it matters the most.

I’ve found that Skin + Me is a good option for customised skincare, with its team of dermatologists and experts who help you to achieve your skin goals through personalised online consultations. Of course this option isn’t available to everyone (personalised skincare can come with a hefty price tag), but if you’re able to, putting this kind of routine in place during the good days may help you when the bad ones hit.

A Streamlined Beauty Cabinet

Streamlining my storage has been the final step is creating a self-care routine that works for me. I invested in a trolley organiser – Hobbycraft and Dunelm both have some good options – in which I’ve arranged my beauty products. My cool, dusty pink organiser arrived a little over six months ago and it has been a complete game changer. I’ve grouped my skincare products into sections, starting with my cleansers, moisturisers, sunscreens and toners on the top shelf and all other products spread evenly across the other shelves. Having all my products in one place has made it so much easier to keep on top of my skincare routine and adds to the excitement I now get picking which products I’ll use each day. Perhaps it’s down to how aesthetically pleasing it all looks, but whatever the case, I couldn’t be more pleased.