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This Genius Multitasking Tip Can Help You Care For Your Skin & Your Anxiety

Rio Viera-Newton
Contributing writer By Rio Viera-Newton
Contributing writer
Rio Viera-Newton is the skin care columnist for New York Magazine‘s The Strategist, where her column is frequently among the vertical’s most-read content.
Woman Looking At A Mirror with a yellow background
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Instead of thinking of it as burdensome, try to think of your skin care routine as an opportunity to check in with yourself twice a day. It's a time to unpack your experiences; plan for upcoming events; and allow your aspirations, anxieties, and goals to rise to the surface. 

How to use skin care as prep time.

I find using this time to prepare for big meetings or interviews especially helpful. Sometimes I speak to myself out loud as I do my skin care routine: I give myself affirmations, or, if I'm anxious for an event, I practice what I'm going to say. Before public speaking, big meetings, or interviews, I tend to get incredibly nervous—not only do I privately suffer (an aggressively bubbling stomach, racing heart, and shortness of breath are all the norm), but my shaky hands and voice are a quick giveaway to anyone I'm speaking to. 

Rehearsing hypothetical answers or scenarios in the privacy of my own bathroom, completely by myself, helps me feel more confident in myself and my words, which takes the edge off my nerves. Truth be told, if I didn't have a skin care routine, I'm not sure I would carve out the time to execute this kind of preparation, but I know it's the key to my success in otherwise anxiety-producing settings.

I find the choice to complete my skin care routine an impressive act of self-determination—it's symbolic of me starting or ending my day at its fullest potential. I'm making the choice to prioritize taking care of myself.

Of course, a skin care routine isn't a singular solution to any mental health issues, but it is an opportunity to take more time alone with yourself. I like to think of it as a standing, twice-a-day date to check in with yourself and where you're at.


Remember: Skin care is about you, not anyone else.

Equally, a skin care routine should never feel like a product of anyone else's expectations. No one but you should be the guiding force in your decision to build a routine. As someone who has struggled with fluctuating acne my whole life, I understand the painful and often nuanced emotions one can experience when looking in a bathroom mirror. I used to feel like I couldn't even look at myself, so how could anyone else? 

I also sympathize with the increased stakes at play for acne sufferers who obsessively try and test new products; so many times, I've applied products out of sheer desperation, hoping that an improvement in my skin could somehow repair my confidence. 

The most important thing to remember in these kinds of situations is that building a healthy relationship with your skin is a process that takes time. No matter how well you understand the ins and outs of skin care—the research you do into the newest and most innovative products, the blogs you read—reaching a place of long-term acceptance with your skin doesn't happen overnight.

Certain products may have the ability to improve and heal skin issues, but it's up to you to create a healthy environment for your skin to continue to flourish—without picking, overanalyzing, or scrutinizing. Unlearning the things you've taught yourself about your skin and creating boundaries with yourself—in my case this meant actually removing my bathroom mirror for a period of time—is necessary for the continuous improvement of your relationship with your skin.

The bottom line? Skin care is valuable "you time."

From a young age, I was enamored of my mother's diligent beauty routine. Each morning before taking me to school, she would massage creams into her skin, run patchouli-scented oils through the ends of her hair, and swipe a teal kohl eyeliner along her eyelids. 

I was fascinated by the transformative nature of this routine—less so in the literal, physical sense and more so in how it was able to completely shift her state of mind. There was Mom before the bathroom, and there was Mom after it. She would stumble in lethargic and grumpy but would emerge focused, energized, and ready to take on the day. In a Clark Kent–ish fashion, the woman who walked out of the bathroom represented a supercharged version of the woman who had entered it. 

It would take me until my early 20s, when I developed my own morning beauty routine, to realize that what she was experiencing was the self-motivating, revitalizing effects of prioritizing spending time with herself.

Excerpted from Let's Face It. Copyright © 2021 by Rio Viera-Newton. Illustrations by Laura Chautin. Used with permission of Voracious, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company, New York, New York. All rights reserved.

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