“My Good Day Face” is a Mental series about the feel-good beauty products people use to boost their moods.
During the early days of the pandemic, stuck at home and restless, Hannah Baxter would hit her Brooklyn, NY, rooftop for happy hour with her then-partner. “I used to work at a brewery in college and love discovering new beers, so [I came up with the idea of] #anxietybeer as a hashtag and a concept of treating yourself to a cheeky beer when times were tough,” she says.
Baxter, who has anxiety, started therapy in late 2020, and soon after the hashtag took off, as friends tagged her in their own #anxietybeer Instagram posts. Looking for a personal writing outlet to complement her job as deputy beauty editor at The Zoe Report, “it clicked that maybe I could talk about mental health in the context of work and life and love. The [Anxiety Beer] name found new life as a newsletter.”
In January of this year, Baxter began publishing Anxiety Beer every other Tuesday, “and the response has been incredibly gratifying,” she says. “People send messages saying how much they related to that week’s topic.”
That may be because she’s as transparent about mental health as she is about beauty. “I never gate-keep information, from Botox details to who colors my hair, and I apply the same ethos to the topic of mental health, because I know that when I started seeing a therapist, it still felt so taboo to admit,” Baxter says. “I want people to know that there is no shame in talking about these kinds of struggles, however much or little you care to share, and I hope that it makes people feel less lonely in a world that is so incredibly dark right now. And, not for nothing, it makes me feel better to sort of cough up and be honest with myself about how I’m doing that week. It holds me accountable to check in with myself.”
Baxter believes the pandemic opened minds about the connection between health—physical and mental—and beauty. “From a physiological standpoint, your skin and hair are a direct reflection of your health, and for many people over the last few years, it’s been very shocking to see how massive amounts of stress can cause your skin to react poorly or your hair to fall out,” she says.
Indeed, pandemic stress has been shown to trigger hair shedding—the same type, called telogen effluvium, that people often experience post-pregnancy. Actually having COVID can mess with your hair, too: Two to three months after infection, found a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, an “acute inflammatory state” can move hair follicles from one state to another, leading to hair loss.
Sometimes, Baxter says, it works the other way—where beauty issues serve as a harbinger of waning mental health. “Not caring for your skin or even just showering or putting on a coat of mascara can be a signal that maybe it’s time to talk to someone about how you’re feeling.”
How does Baxter answer those who call beauty simply superficial? “I think it’s very easy for people to dismiss beauty as another example of vanity run amuck, but in my experience, that’s coming from people who haven’t taken the time to try to understand it, or speak with people who feel deeply connected to it,” she says. “There is a point at which self-care becomes a marketing term, but at its core skincare is about health and treating yourself with love and mindfulness. We’ve all had those moments when your skin is acting up, whether via acne or something more serious like rosacea or eczema, and it can feel like you’re out of control of your body.”
“Skincare, in my view, is a way to take ownership of your health and appearance, and it’s similar with makeup: It’s self-expression, a means of sharing how you feel with the people in your orbit without ever saying a word,” says the 33-year-old, who—in her beauty editing job—loves “getting into the weeds with science reporting,” chatting with dermatologists, and digging beyond product-claims hype. “The community around beauty is so supportive and lovely that it’s a fantastic entry point to connect with strangers and share advice or help someone through a problematic time.”
Plus, there are mental health benefits in having a regular skincare routine, preach dermatologists, psychologists, (those that practice both, called…) psychodermatologists—and Baxter. “There is such joy involved in the rituals of beauty—it’s time only for yourself, and that is so crucial for your overall health. I really relish the time in the morning and evening when I care for my skin,” she says. “I approach my routine with intention rather than feeling like I have to slap on a million ‘anti-aging’ creams because someone told me they would fade my fine lines.”
And while Baxter doesn’t wear a lot of makeup on the daily, she considers it a medium of calm. “When I take the time to do my [makeup] routine, I feel beautiful and put together, even if I’m having a stressful day,” she says. “It’s a source of creativity for me, especially if I’m playing around with a colorful liner or sparkly shadow on a Tuesday just because I feel like it. Makeup can’t fix everything, but it can certainly give you a bit of a boost when you need it most.”
These are her boosting faves…
“I love a super dewy skin finish and usually just stick with some undereye concealer if I need it—although I think dark circles are sexy TBH—and I’ll cover a breakout if it’s super aggressive. I love the Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer for a little bit more coverage, or the Saie or Glossier formulas for something a bit more subtle.”
“If I have an event or simply wake up feeling like a dehydrated troll, I’ll use a few drops of the Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint—it truly looks like you’re just blurring out any discoloration, never that you have on a heavy base.”
Brow Pencil + Brow Gel
“I never leave the house without doing something to my brows since they are large but somewhat patchy. Lately, I’ve been loving the Kimiko Super Fine Eyebrow Pencil since it’s so delicate you can get very hair-like strokes.”
“I’ll top the pencil with a brow gel—either from Joey Healy, who typically tints and shapes my brows, or ABH—to keep the hairs in order. I’ll feel like I’m not taking care of myself if I don’t do this step.”
“Blush is my favorite beauty product of all time. Nothing helps to light up your complexion when you’re feeling blah or you need to lift and sculpt without looking super ‘done.’ I really love the Tower28 lip and blush formula—the colors are so gorgeous and they’re ideal for getting that subtle sunburnt effect that’s now all over TikTok (although I’m going to state here and now I’ve been wearing that look for years, NBD). I used to use a sponge to blend it in, but I’ve recently converted back to a brush—I think it looks more natural. I apply it high on my cheekbones and temples and right at the base of my hairline in the middle of my forehead. Trust me on this—it helps to fake a vacation sometimes, for both your complexion and your soul.”
“I swear up and down by this for the prettiest natural-looking highlighter. I tap it below my brows, in the corner of my eyes, the top of my cheekbones, and at my cupid’s bow. I feel naked without a bit of highlight—it helps brighten everything up.”
“Mascara is tough for me since my lashes are long but devastatingly straight—one always always points down despite using my trusty Dior curler. I love the Armani Beauty mascara, it’s sort of the little black dress of mascaras. It always works, holds a curl, and makes you look super sultry.”
“I love a super bright lipstick with an otherwise simple makeup look—Hermès makes supremely beautiful colors and they really do last. Truly nothing makes you feel more alive and alluring than a lipstick—if I’m wearing a bright brilliant red, I feel like I can take over the world.”
Follow Hannah Baxter on Instagram at @hannahbaxward, where you can sign up to receive Anxiety Beer in your inbox.
MENTAL NOTE: Oh hi there. Like we said above, “My Good Day Face” is a Mental series about the makeup and skin products people use to boost their moods. Yes, there are conflicting studies on whether makeup is good or bad psychologically, whether it can soothe or inflame anxiety and depression. If beauty causes you angst or feels like a form of pressure, step away! We love a beautiful bare face. But if applying moisturizer and lipstick helps your mental state by giving you a routine to follow, acting as meditation, inspiring creativity, or simply expressing your inner human, then: By. All. Means.
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