How Makeup Can Improve Your Health


A new study shows the link between beauty and long term health benefits. (Photo: Henry Leutwyler)

In September 2014, drugstore chain CVS made headlines for its decision to stop selling tobacco products in all stores. Since making this groundbreaking change, the brand has started to refocus its efforts on its health offerings, including beauty. This month, CVS released study findings by Dr. Vivian Diller, a practicing psychologist based in New York City, who compiled evidence over the last 20 years that proves that devoting time to personal care has significant short and long-term health benefits. Excellent news for those of us who love lipstick and a good face mask.

“Activities that allow us to take care of our personal beauty needs should not be viewed as ‘guilty pleasures,’” says Diller. “These acts may help us live a long and vital life well into our 80s and 90s.” The study focused on the concept of “subjective well-being,” something that psychologists have been studying for years and are just now connecting to beauty.

Think about how your mood is affected after you’ve had your hair cut or blown out — you feel good, right? Diller gives the example of putting on a lipstick before a date. As soon as you apply it and look in the mirror, you start to feel differently, think differently, and your behavior and interactions change. This confidence and positivity leads to subjective well-being, which has been linked to better eating, sleeping, self-care, and boosted immunity. “The experience of subject well-being actually improves your health,” says Diller.

“You should allow yourself to see beauty as staying healthy for the rest of your life,” says Diller, who also stressed the importance of relaxation as part of a daily routine in the study. “We know that on multiple biological levels, from the cardiovascular system to cellular growth, if we include relaxation we are very likely to slow down the natural deterioration of our bodies that come with age,” she says. Perhaps the biggest benefit to routine relaxation is the reduction of cortisol, a stress hormone that impacts our cardiovascular system.

CVS is using the study findings as a catalyst to expand the health and beauty offerings in-store. In the coming year, the brand will bring in more exclusive and in-house brands, doubling its current offering that already includes Nuance by Salma Hayek and Makeup Academy (MUA).

“We all want the same things, we want to feel and look good,” says Diller. “That was really the seed of the work that I’ve been doing for 20 years — to help women not feel so guilty about how they look. One of the reasons not to feel guilty is that beauty and health are not separate.”


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