Being prone to bouts of depression isn’t really anything new or exciting to write about. In fact, I’d warrant that particular internet essay niche is one of the most oversaturated. I suspect that now, it’s actually the majority of friends my age who do or have had problems with their brain chemistry. If I didn’t know any better, I’d suspect it might actually be something wrong with society.
Nonetheless, I don’t know if internet essays on problematic mental health, with the usage of beauty products, are saturated. But it should be. Aside from knitting (more on that another time) and probably prescribed medications, beauty products are the things that help me out the most with my depression.
Sound bizarre? Read on.
For one thing, beauty products are, in essence, problem-solving. Flaky skin? It can be fixed. Clogged pores? No worries. Lacklustre eyebrows? There’s a product for that. In the depths of a depressive episode, there is something actually quite amazing about a world where every solution is available at your fingertips. It soothes your worn-out brain into a state of reassurance. The answers to your problems are out there. It’s just a matter of finding them.
Furthermore (and this is an argument in their favour commonly overlooked) beauty products are nice. They smell good, are fun to rub about between your fingers, and they’re brightly coloured and iridescent in the finish. They’re the last remnant of a fun, light-hearted childhood in our adult lives. They’re unnecessary, maybe. But life being reduced entirely to necessity isn’t exactly a world-renowned recipe for happiness. Having items that bring pleasure (however problematic in a capitalist sense), when your own brain seems incapable of producing any, is just intrinsically valuable.
Relationship with the Beauty Industry
The beauty world thus acts as a sort of “liminal space” (yes I did go to college) between the real world and a fake world. Nothing really matters, which when your brain is busy catastrophizing a read-receipt, is heartening. You can take comfort in the mindlessness of swatching lipstick after lipstick, spraying all your favourite perfumes, or rubbing thick, unctuous creams on your dry patches. This is true escapism. Some say the key to freedom from depression is mindfulness. I say a healthy dose of mindlessness is equally important.
Finally, and perhaps somewhat morbidly, the very essence of beauty products lies in some sort of future planning. By applying your hair masque, or rubbing cocoa butter on your shins, you’re at least subconsciously admitting that there is going to be another day. While today might have been dangerously close to unbearable, there will be another one. And, if nothing else, you’ll have softer legs and smoother hair.