Most likely you’ve heard of dopamine dressing. It’s a trend that spans everything from designer clothes in fizzy citrus shades to Rolex watches with a vivid orange face, aimed at boosting our happy hormones in these bleak times.
Beauty has increasingly been linked to wellbeing but, as often happens during crises, that nascent concept has been accelerated by the pandemic.
According to Boots’ Beauty Trends Report, consumers are looking for beauty with mood-boosting properties, focusing on colour, scent and textures that increase dopamine levels.
A study by L’Oréal Active Cosmetics Division last year agrees, finding: ‘Sensoriality is paramount: we want indulgent textures, mind-massaging scents and soothing application techniques.’
Searching for solace in our bathrooms is a natural way to find calm and escape amid outside chaos.
‘There’s more awareness of what is and isn’t within our control, so we’re looking for beauty with a wider narrative,’ says Lee Pycroft, makeup artist turned psychotherapist.
‘It’s not just about how you look but about how centred and emotionally balanced you feel.
‘For example, we learned over lockdown that watching mak-up tutorials can be a mindful experience as it focuses us outwards rather than dwelling on our anxieties.
‘Performing rituals also has a beginning, middle and end with a predictable outcome, which helps calm the nervous system.’
With Covid’s aftershocks in mind, makeup, skincare and fragrance can offer stress relief.
‘We’re seeing consumers hack dopamine levels with tactile products and scents that transport us to another place, time or mindset,’ says Grace Vernon, global cultural insight and trend lead at Boots.
‘It’s about injecting moments of pleasure and indulgence into everyday routines. They offer an opportunity to escape our racing minds and bolster our mood, moving beyond self-care to become a tool for boosting wellbeing and activating our senses to increase serotonin levels in the brain.’
All the feels
Enriched, touchable qualities are ideal for achieving a feelgood boost.
‘We can use textures to tune into our senses by focusing on how they feel on the skin,’ says Pycroft. ‘Using oils and creams that encourage massage helps break down patterns of tension and improves your mood.’
Try one of these sensorial treats to boost the mind-body connection.
The Camellia Cleansing Oil
Skincare by Japanese brand Tatcha includes The Camellia Cleansing Oil. It slips on for easy massage, before emulsifying with water to leave skin supple and hydrated.
Whind Medina Dew Melting Rose Water Cream
Whind Medina Dew Melting Rose Water Cream is a cooling, light-as-air moisturiser that melts in, flooding skin with hydrating rose and hyaluronic acid.
Pelegrims’ Polyphenol Hand Pomade
Nourish parched hands and nails by massaging on Pelegrims’ Polyphenol Hand Pomade.
Created using antioxidant-rich by-products from its winery, the balm sinks in for a soothed finish.
Keys Soulcare Melting Body Balm
Or take inspiration from singer Alicia Keys and include an affirmation as part of your ritual. ‘I cherish all that I am’ is the mantra accompanying Keys Soulcare Melting Body Balm.
Spritz me up
While citrus notes are used for their tonic effect and flowers such as lavender encourage calm, perfumers are now inspired by oceans to funnel that dopamine effect into a bottle.
The term ‘blue mind’ describes the meditative state we fall into when near the sea. Even seeing images of the ocean appears to have a similar effect, lowering the heart rate and boosting circulation and oxygen flow to the brain.
There’s a through line to perfume too, releasing the same feel-good neurochemicals when scents of the ocean are connected to happy memories.
As Pycroft puts it: ‘Smell is linked to the sensory part of the brain, so scent evokes whatever memory is attached and encourages us to feel that way again.’
Find your happy place with these fragrances that will transport your mind to soporific, lapping shores.
Margiela Replica Sailing Day Eau de Toilette
Maison Margiela Replica Sailing Day Eau de Toilette is a blast of crystalline clarity centred on an aquatic accord and enriched with rose and iris.
Jo Malone Salty Amber cologne
Inspired by an exhilarating swim at high tide, Jo Malone Salty Amber cologne infuses fresh sharpness with warmth thanks to amber, cardamom and a touch of smoky patchouli.
Aesop Karst Eau de Parfum
Also giving the sea earthier depth, Aesop Karst eau de parfum teams salty, metallic notes with aromatic cumin and sandalwood.
Colour my mood
‘Visually, bright colours give us a boost,’ says Pycroft. ‘Pink makes us feel more vivacious and confident, while bright colours associated with spring reflect nature and make us feel uplifted.’
Perfectly illustrating the power of pink are actresses Glenn Close and Nicola Coughlan, who stunned in fuchsia at the Met Gala and Baftas, respectively.
‘With makeup, a translucent, illuminating blusher in pink or peach can bring freshness and vitality to the complexion if you’re feeling shy, while coloured eyeliner or mascara can add a sense of uplift to the face,’ Pycroft adds.
MAC Colour Excess Gel Pencil Eyeliner, Commitment Issues
Make peepers pop with brightness along lashes using MAC Colour Excess Gel Pencil Eyeliner in pretty lilac Commitment Issues.
Pixi On-The-Glow Bronze in WarmGlow
Pixi On-The-Glow Bronze in WarmGlow glides over cheeks to leave a veil of pink that can be built up for intensity.
Morphe Mega Matte Lipstick in Passionate
Make lips the main feature with Morphe Mega Matte Lipstick in Passionate, a bright pink with cool undertones.
Leighton Denny Polish in Main Squeeze
Zing up your nails with Leighton Denny Polish in Main Squeeze.
Nude nails are not on the agenda this summer, so why not boost your mood and make a colour splash?