Why Your Appearance Matters: The Link Between Looking Good & Feeling Good

Most of us understand that there’s a connection between looking good and feeling good. We feel more confident and in charge when rocking that blazer and blowout for a big work presentation, or we feel flirty and excited when putting on a pretty dress and a beloved shade of lipstick for date night. 

On the flip side, we’ve all been in a funk because of a beauty routine that’s been rushed after our alarm didn’t go off, or we’ve been bummed out about a botched haircut or our blonde/strawberry blonde/brown/ red or grey highlights gone awry. All of these feelings are valid and normal—but, until recently, it was basically accepted that these emotions were all in our head. 

However, additional research is helping make the connection between how we look and how we feel more clear, and both dermatologists and psychologists are taking note. It turns out that your beauty routine runs more than skin deep, and that there are serious psychological benefits to looking your best.

The Self-Care Connection 

Self-care routines focused on things like exercise, skincare, sleep habits, and beauty can actually help people feel happier, healthier, and more in control of their daily experiences. These types of habits go far beyond just elevating a person’s physical appearance. 

“Self-care is a way to keep your body—inside and out—thriving, happy, and healthy,” says Isabella Koretz, founder of Ciel Spa in Beverly Hills. “The skin is an extremely sensitive organ that, unfortunately, reveals a lot about how we feel both physically and emotionally.” 

“It’s extremely important, then, that we take the time to do small self-care rituals that not only stabilize our day but make us feel great. Small things like applying our favourite luxury face mask twice a week, or taking the time to get the occasional facial, can change our overall happiness and lead to glowing, healthy skin.” 

As you can see, your skincare regimen isn’t just about keeping your face blemish-free. Beauty routines are a way to imbue each day with a sense of regularity and purpose. The fact that they also help your skin to glow is just icing on the cake. 

For example, say you had an insane day at the office or you got blown off by that friend again— going through the motions of a familiar set of actions can be a soothing way to restore a sense of equilibrium. Studies have even shown that just going through a routine act, like your everyday skincare regimen, can help improve the way you feel daily.  

“We all have behavioural, habitual patterns in our lives, but sometimes we may go off-course,” says behavioural therapist Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M. Getting off track with these seemingly insignificant daily rituals can lead to increased feelings of stress and overall unhappiness. 

“Establishing a set routine—whether that be through your nightly skincare ritual or how you get ready in the morning—can help give you the tools and insights you need to make positive shifts, disrupt negative self-talk or excuses, and change the way you think about your daily self-care routines and priorities.”

Health and Beauty Go Hand-in-Hand

So, as you can see, looking good helps you to feel good. It’s important to note that it works in reverse, too. When you feel your best, your natural beauty radiates. With that in mind, your goal should be to embrace both sides of the coin. Strive to look your best so you feel your best, but also strive to feel your best so you look your best.

Yes, your self-care habits play a major role in helping you to look, and in turn, feel wonderful. At the same time, all of the beauty products in the world won’t help you feel mentally sound if you’re not physically healthy. It’s a two-way street, so try not to use beauty techniques as a substitute for taking care of your overall health.

You’ve heard that beauty is skin-deep. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Sure, a superficial procedure like teeth whitening or even a haircut can work wonders in helping you to overcome self-doubt — and that’s great!

The problem is when you lean too heavily on beauty procedures, forgetting that you also need to cater to your immediate and long-term health. In other words, putting on makeup isn’t a substitute for hitting the gym or seeing a therapist when things become too much. If you want to look and feel your absolute best, you need to take care of yourself. It all comes back to self-care — you need to recognize that you’re worth the effort. 

The amazing thing about self-care is that it manifests both physically and mentally. After a few months of cutting down on junk food, you’re going to notice positive physical and mental changes. And, best of all, as you develop these habits, they get easier to do as they become ingrained in your lifestyle.

Your Opinion Matters Most

It’s worth noting that beauty is subjective. The look good/feel good connection relies on you appreciating yourself first and foremost. It’s too easy to assume that beauty standards are universal when the truth is that beauty is a spectrum. 

Every person on Earth has their own tastes and opinions when it comes to beauty standards, and you’re never going to please everyone. There’s no such thing as perfect

It’s so easy to be hard on yourself when the truth is that you’re only seeing yourself from your perspective. You don’t get to see the beauty that radiates when you’re laughing or the elegance of your walk. Always remember that it’s often the subtle details that make someone truly lovely.

Instead of trying to conform to whatever beauty standards are en vogue at a particular moment in time, try to find a look that makes you genuinely happy and confident. “Looking good and feeling good are important to conquering the day, and wearing makeup is just another tool in your arsenal for making that happen,” says Natalie Plain, founder of Billion Dollar Brows. “Rock looks that make you feel good. Are you a bare-faced beauty? Go for it! Do you love a bold-lip and full-face, contour and all? Love it. The only thing that matters is that you feel good about how you look—that’s the feeling that will carry you through the day.” 

Being honest with yourself is naturally going to make you feel good. Do you have a serious urge to rock a neon green jumpsuit with matching lipstick today? Go for it! Allow yourself to express yourself through your appearance, rather than letting social norms dictate your look. Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with rocking the latest trends either—you do you! 

The goal is to embrace your beauty standards, no matter how outrageous or conservative they may be. When you feel comfortable in your skin, you’re naturally going to come off as more confident, and as everyone knows, confidence can be—and usually is— very attractive. And, it all comes full circle—when you look like the ideal version of yourself, you feel like it, too.

Striking a Balance

Try not to overcomplicate things. It’s so easy to hone in on every tiny “flaw,” but be kind to yourself. Embrace those daily habits that make you feel confident, but not at the cost of your mental wellbeing. If you’re late for work because you spent hours in front of the mirror, you’re probably just going to feel more stressed out, and that’s going to detract from your true beauty. 

The key is to be mindful and honest with yourself. Are your beauty habits getting in the way of your enjoyment of life? Is there a more efficient alternative? With a little research and effort, you may be able to achieve the same results faster with a different method or product.

There are countless simple ways to improve how you look, and in turn, how you feel. No matter what changes you make to help boost your confidence, the end goal of self-care is to ultimately foster positive feelings of self-worth and help promote your overall well-being and health. The first step is just, well, taking that first step towards positive change.

For example, if you’re struggling with skin conditions that you just can’t get control of, consider consulting with a board-certified dermatologist. Or, if you’re not happy with your current hairstyle, why not treat yourself to a salon visit? In the end, make the choice that works for you and helps you feel like you can take on anything. You’re worth it.

Tess Dinapoli

Tess DiNapoli is an artist, freelance writer, and content strategist. She has a passion for yoga and often writes about health and wellness, but also enjoys covering the fashion industry and world of fitness.