ASK THE BEAUTY EXPERT

Can Beauty Products Actually Boost Your Mood?

In this installment of Ask the Beauty Expert, senior beauty editor Dianna Mazzone considers why her skin-care routine makes her feel so much… better.
A person lifts a healing crystal to their forehead
Healing crystal. Woman's head with a healing crystal on her forehead. This crystal is Crystal quartz.janiecbros

Once upon a time, Allure ran advice columns by our favorite beauty pros. In celebration of our 30th anniversary, we're bringing back the tradition — but this time the expert is: us (we've learned a lot over the years). Send your burning (or itching, or otherwise inflamed) questions to beautyexpert@allure.com, and we might answer them in an upcoming story. 

I'm in a seasonal slump, and my light-therapy lamp isn't cutting it. I've  read about mood-boosting beauty products. Are they legit?

It's funny you should ask. Just last night, I was in one of those sour moods that usually gets resolved only by going to sleep and starting anew the next day. But I resisted the urge to crawl into bed and instead applied the bells-and-whistles version of my nightly skin-care routine. I patted on my essence with intention; I followed my moisturizer with a little massage. Lo and behold, I felt better!

According to dermatologist and psychiatrist Evan Rieder, M.D., that's because taking the time to apply skin care is an act of mindfulness. There are few studies on the psychological benefits of practicing a skin-care routine, but, Dr. Rieder says, there's plenty of literature that links mindfulness to optimal mental health.

There are also beauty products that claim to boost one's mood in and of themselves. I first heard about crystal-infused skin care three or four years ago: The idea is that by incorporating crystals into the formulation process, the blends will hold the same energy as, say, rose quartz, which is said to promote self-love and kindness. Mazz Hanna, a certified crystal healer, goes a step further for her eponymous line: There's a cuticle oil with an amethyst rollerball applicator, a face mist with a chunk of clear quartz floating inside, and bath salts with finely milled citrine. 

Cosmetic chemist Kelly Dobos sees no harm, no foul. "It's unlikely the use [of crystals in skin care]
is harmful," she says. "If it makes you feel happy, and you're not expecting miracles, then go for it."

But not all mood-boosting skin-care products are so benign. Products that claim to improve spirits through scent often use essential oils. While the majority of people can tolerate these formulas just fine, "I do not recommend these at all in people with sensitive skin, allergies, or known inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis," says Dr. Rieder. 

And you should never, ever apply a pure essential oil (like the stuff you'd put in a diffuser) to your face, as this can lead to severe rashes and itchiness. Instead, enjoy the aromatherapeutic benefits of essential oils, such as sweet orange (which is said to help uplift) and lavender (to calm and soothe), by putting a few drops in your palms and inhaling deeply. 

Here's where things get murkier: There's a wave of "mental health supplements" on the market that claim to improve your mood. "For me, there is a threshold that we cross when we move from massaging products into the skin and begin ingesting them," says Dr. Rieder, who strongly recommends checking with your doctor before taking any supplement. 

One popular active ingredient in these supposed mood-boosters is St. John's Wort, a shrub that has been used to treat depression, though studies show varying degrees of success. What researchers do know for sure is that it interacts with many types of drugs, and can actually reduce the efficacy of some antidepressants.

As for me, I'll be boosting my serotonin by spending a little extra time applying eye cream — with my rose quartz face roller for good measure.

This story originally appeared in the February 2022 issue of Allure. Learn how to subscribe here.


More ways to feel better:


Now watch a dermatologist's entire skin-care routine:

Follow Allure on Instagram and Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter for daily beauty stories delivered right to your inbox.