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Make-up as meditation: Why your routine is really a practice in mindfulness


by Aisling Keenan
05th Apr 2019

When everything else in your life is chaotic, finding a moment of peace during the make-up application process can be nothing short of magical. Here’s how I turned concealing into calming…


I’ll be honest. I’ve never really identified with meditation, or at least, the ‘traditional’ way meditation is seen. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of my clean, white, airy bedroom with candles lit and plinky-plonky music in the background with the odd seagull thrown on for good measure sounds idyllic, but actually has precious little in common with my life.

Real life vs relaxation

My bedroom is messy, my dog is extremely interested in joining in when you try to sit on the floor, it’s not airy or painted white, there is no seagull soundtrack. Another thing — I can’t sit still. I’m too busy. “Exactly the reason you need meditation” I hear you say. Well, of course.

Lately, I’ve been having a period of fairly intense goings-on. Stress, anxiety, worry, panic — I’ve become pals with all of them, and they knock around for tea most days. Someone (many people, actually) suggested I try mindfulness and meditation. I figured I’d give it a shot.

Related: You should wear make-up to work

Unnecessary prep work 101

I downloaded apps, I researched online, I was determined to get this stuff RIGHT. And the irony of me spending lots of time prepping and worrying about doing RELAXING properly is not lost on me. But none of what was being suggested appealed to me.

It wasn’t until last week I remembered something a very wise, brilliant beauty gal (Louise McSharry) had mentioned to me in passing months earlier — she’d told me that doing her make-up is her relaxation period, her quiet time, her time to herself.

In that moment, I realised. I’d been meditating all along.

Related: Eight ways to relax that aren’t meditation

Make-up as ‘me’ time

Think about it. When you’re doing your make-up, you’re singularly focused. You’re self-examining, in a way. You’re thinking about just one thing — the angle of your brow, the blend on your foundation, which shade of eyeshadow you’ll opt to apply.

Sure, your mind might wander. Your child might bail into the room. Your phone might go off. But likewise, with ‘normal’ meditation — any number of distractions can and do arrive.

I realised that when I sit down to do my make-up, something I do daily and thoroughly enjoy, I switch off from most of my worries (my mind doesn’t clear, per se, but anyone that is legitimately able to clear their mind has talent beyond anything I can comprehend and is the subject of my deepest envy).

Find your way

In that make-up chair, my shoulders drop, I relax my jaw, my hands are loosened from their wringing and I paint my face like an artist would a canvas. I meditate, I practice mindfulness and I relax, in a very organic, unplanned and genuine way.

For you, make-up might be a source of frustration — not relaxing at all. Alternatively, you might not wear make-up a lot, or enjoy the process of putting it on. I see this as the same as me not ‘feeling’ the typical mindfulness or meditative practice – it’s just not for me, and that’s fine.

Finding your own process, finding your own peace and doing it in a way that feels good for you is what it’s about. Forcing yourself to sit like Buddha while burning sage (or whatever people burn these days) doesn’t have to be the only way to find calm in your busy day. The things that cause you to be wound up are unique to you, so fittingly, what calms you will also be entirely unique. Embrace whatever it is — if it works, it works.