What is beauty?
Many of us spend our entire lives chasing this elusive concept. Few of us ever believe we’ve captured it. Or, if we do, it’s only in hindsight.
Many of us can look back on old pictures from a decade or two (or three) ago and recognize our beauty. But then we may lament, thinking we’ve lost it. Another decade in the future, we’ll be doing the same thing.
But what if we recognize our beauty every day? And it’s just as important to have the tools you need to enhance and maintain your attractiveness.
Understanding the concepts of beauty and attractiveness can help us recognize them more easily.
That, in turn, can actually make it easier to stick with our good habits.
For most people, beauty itself falls into the “I know it when I see it category.” And research has confirmed this. In fact, we’re born with the ability to quickly sort things into “beautiful” and “not beautiful” categories. But that doesn’t mean your membership in one group or the other is fixed. And even within the categories, perceptions of attractiveness vary widely.
Our standards for beauty are somewhat innate. Research indicates that aspects such as facial averageness, symmetry, and evenness of your skin seem to be pretty universal determinants of beauty. That’s why I encourage readers to stick with the habits that can clear spots, reduce redness, and keep skin smooth. But the rubric for attractiveness can change. If beauty is pass/fail, attractiveness is the numerical grade.
Even a cursory glance at famous works of art confirms this. The “right” body size and shape has varied widely over time. And just look at all the makeup trends you’ve lived through. What’s more attractive—full brows or thin? Red lips or nude? Blue eyeshadow or a smoky eye? There’s no single right answer. (Well, maybe to the eyeshadow question.) It depends on your culture and your perceptions.
More Than Skin Deep
We talk a lot about how to rid your skin of blemishes and get an even skin tone. But on social media and your phone, you can achieve “beautiful” skin just by applying a filter.
The problem is that your friends can do it too. So we’re starting to develop a skewed idea of what normal skin can and should look like. Of course, we don’t expect (or want) people to post close-ups of their breakouts to social media – unless you’re Dr. Pimple Popper.
In 2000, it’s true that we had airbrushed celebrities staring at us from magazine covers in the checkout lines of the grocery stores. But we couldn’t stand in that line and also pull out our phones and see pictures of our friends looking just as flawless.
Nourish Your Skin From the Inside Out
Consider how you can nourish yourself from the inside out and the outside in to improve your skin and your appearance.
In fact, one of the easiest ways to dramatically improve your attractiveness is simply to smile. Yes, research proves this!
Researchers performed a series of experiments to investigate the link between happiness and attractiveness. First, they asked participants to look at pairs of faces that varied in terms of both attractiveness and happiness. The researchers instructed the participants to choose which face was more attractive. Then they repeated the task, this time asking the participants to choose which face was happier.
One single factor best predicted the winner, not just in the first “competition,” but in both. It wasn’t flawless skin. It wasn’t the absence of wrinkles. Nope, the faces that the participants were more likely to judge both happier and more attractive were the ones that were smiling. This was true even if the smiling face would have been objectively less attractive than the other without the smile.
The researchers noted that happiness and attractiveness were strongly connected. It seems that the quickest, easiest way to improve your attractiveness “grade” is simply to grin.
It’s Time to Relax
Try a warm bath to promote relaxation. It might sound cliché, but it works. Exercising is another way to care for yourself, boost your attractiveness, and even get some positive endorphins flowing that can bring a smile to your face. Or try both the bath and the workout—but maybe reverse the order!
You can even try a practice called “forest bathing.” I’ve written about this practice in more detail before, so you can check the archives if you want further information. Essentially, this practice simply involves spending time in nature.
Outside, you can begin to more easily appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds you. Research confirms that spending time walking through the woods boosts immunity and decreases stress.
Of course, walking outside can be great exercise. But you don’t need to treat this as a workout unless you want to. Even resting on a bench or a blanket in a park can be beneficial.
The key, though, is to leave your phone behind. You want to be appreciating natural beauty. It may take a bit of time for you to shed that antsy feeling of not having the world at your fingertips. But once you do, you may find the experience as relaxing and rejuvenating as a day at the spa.
I’m all for great skincare routines and products and healthy habits that make you glow. Wash and moisturize your face. Drink lots of water. Eat fresh food. Exercise. Rest. Sleep. These steps truly can make a difference.