How Washing Your Face Can Help Your Brain

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

When we were small children, most of us learned that washing our face and brushing our teeth was part of our morning routine before we went to school or went outside to play. The same goes for us now that we are adults. But did you know that cleaning your face each day is not only central to your skin care, but has benefits for your brain and mood as well? We’re sharing some ways that washing your face can help your brain.
The surface of your skin is connected to your brain by your nervous system. So anytime you touch your face - whether you are washing your cheeks and forehead or smoothing some lip balm on your lips - your brain is getting signals about what you are doing. These signals can have differing effects on the brain, your mood and your mental health, research efforts have shown. Let’s look at a few of these findings.
Washing your face can wash away stress. One group of researchers found that cleaning yourself can reduce feelings of anxiety and stress in some people. In this study, people were asked to watch a video designed to make them feel anxious or stressed. Then some of these people were asked to watch videos of people cleaning themselves, or asked to use hand sanitizer. Those who watched or took part in cleaning had measurably lower heart rates than those who did not, the findings showed.
Face-washing as a routine is good for your mental health. Having self-care routines can be important to maintaining mental health. Washing your face every day can be an established pattern in the mornings or before bed, and one study showed that people who engaged in regular routines were less likely to report being unhappy, lonely, or have medical problems like depressive disorders or bipolar disorder.
Anticipation brings a boost of happiness. Many of us have skin care routines that we love each day. This might be steaming our face with a hot washcloth, using our favorite cleanser, then gently smoothing on our favorite face creams. It turns out, just anticipating these moments of self-care each day can release feel-good neurotransmitters to our brain that boost our mood, according to researchers.
It can be a bonding activity. Washing your face might seem like something you always do alone, but it probably is not. If you have children, you’ve likely taught them the proper way to wash themselves and have overseen some of their morning routines. You may have shown pre-teens and teens the best skin care routines for their age. And with adult friends or other family members, you may have indulged in some at-home spa sessions or even booked a joint spa appointment as a treat. Bonding over skin care can be a great family and friend activity, which studies have shown to be something that can raise our level of enjoyment in life.
While washing your face can be a good way to ensure healthy-looking skin, it also has benefits for your brain and mood that can brighten your day and leave you feeling good.
Photo credit: Getty Images

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