10 Natural Ways To Feel Beautiful (And They're Science-Backed, Too)
Feeling beautiful in your skin sometimes takes some work—but that doesn't mean it requires anything drastic, or changing your appearance at all. Sometimes it just takes a little self-care. With small changes to how you treat your skin and body, you can start to feel happier, healthier, and yes, more beautiful:
Dry brushing is an ancient tradition that many have come to love in the modern day. Using a bristle brush, stroke your skin starting at your feet and hands toward your heart; do this while still dry a few mornings a week before you shower. This simple morning routine may help drain lymph fluid and will remove dead skin cells, giving you a proper exfoliation. Anecdotally, many people report it gives them an energy boost—however, there's no evidence to support that claim. Regardless, the skin care benefits alone are enough to give it a try: You'll get glowing, smooth, and touch-worthy skin.
Never skip body moisturizer.
After your shower, always follow with a high-quality, natural moisturizer when your skin is still damp. Without a sealing in the water, the water on the skin will evaporate—leading to dehydrated skin and even a compromised skin barrier.
Find your signature scent.
Scents have a very strong impact on our mood. Research has shown time and again that certain scent profiles induce different reactions1—lavender is calming, citrus can make us feel happy (for up to 30 minutes2), sandalwood can feel comforting. Even just the act of spritzing on a fragrance has been shown to make people more confident. Luckily for natural and clean beauty lovers, there's plenty of transparent and safe fragrance options nowadays. Or make your own blend with all-natural, quality-sourced essential oils with a natural carrier base, like jojoba oil. Instant mood boost.
Exercise is a vital part of a healthy body and mind. We obviously know that regular exercise can lead to improved health and mental well-being. For the latter, studies show that exercise prompts the release of endorphins and serotonin, reduces anxiety by easing the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the fight-or-flight reaction) and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. It also has plenty of skin care benefits3, which is the result of improved circulation4. Translation? You'll look and feel your best.
Get a good night's rest.
Quality sleep obviously affects your body, mental well-being, the way you feel, and notably your skin. (There's a reason dark circles and puffiness are one of the things most strongly associated with sleepless nights.) Without adequate rest, your body is put through quite a bit of stress as it wasn't able to reset properly in the night and be ready the next day. Studies show that chronic sleep issues will lead to premature aging5: This is likely due to a few factors, including increased cortisol production and decreased moisture levels. And a new study also found that your collagen—the protein that makes your skin bouncy and fresh—actually repairs itself while you sleep.
Infrared saunas are different because they use infrared thermal light to penetrate your body's skin barrier in order to raise your temperature (rather than heating the air to heat the body's temperature). They have been shown in studies6 to improve moisture levels and skin barrier function.
Skip inflammation-triggering food and drinks.
What triggers inflammation in the body can be highly individual—depending on food sensitivities and your individual gut microbiome. But a few of the standard culprits are alcohol, dairy, foods with a high glycemic index, and sugars. This inflammation can trigger skin conditions7 such as acne, rosacea, and eczema.
On the flip side, load up on antioxidants that help fight inflammation by neutralizing free radicals and oxidative stress. Antioxidants—like vitamin A, glutathione, vitamin C, and CoQ10—are found in a variety of foods like berries, nuts, and dark leafy greens.
Smile or improve your posture.
Sure, there's little more annoying than someone—even an internet stranger—telling you to smile, but there is plenty of evidence that smiling can affect your mood for the better. There's also plenty of evidence that suggests how you hold your body can make you feel more confident and powerful. Studies have found that carrying yourself with better posture can make you feel more confident—and can even ease symptoms of depression8.
Give yourself a foot or hand rub.
Try adding this daily practice: Massages have plenty of evidence supporting their regular use9. Most of the research is done on professional, full-body massage, but there's still evidence to suggest that even simple daily practices like foot or hand massages can positively affect your mood. One study showed that simple hand massages benefited people's moods10. Another study showed participants' anxiety levels decreased after the men and women self-administered foot massages three times a week11 over a four-week period. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, a daily massage with skin-healthy oils will benefit nail health and even make your pedicure last longer.
Care for your scalp.
It's an often overlooked part of body care, but regular scalp care is essential for healthy hair growth12. Not only that but regular buildup can cause inflammation, leading to physical pain. Plus, many people unknowingly carry scalp tension as a result of daily stressors: We have muscles on our scalp that can contract when stressed in the same way your shoulders or jawline do. Experts suggest regularly deep cleaning your hair with an exfoliator and scalp massages. There's even research to suggest that regular scalp massages can lead to hair regrowth13, likely due to increased circulation.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.