I know you've been there too: It's the middle of the afternoon when you spot the time and realise that the day is hurtling towards its end. Your to-do list, however, seems to be longer than it was when the morning began. The stress might start by slowly tiptoeing into your mind, but soon it's manifesting itself throughout your entire body. And considering that today is National Stress Awareness Day, it's about time we discussed it.
For me, this is where beauty really shows its therapeutic side. I'm never more than a foot away from an Aveda Chakra Spray (£32)—that's how reliant I have become on its ability to whisk away the top layer of panic from any situation. And there are so many mists, creams and oils in my desk drawer that I call upon when I need to get my shit together before a big meeting (more on my favourite later). But don't just take my word for it…
I asked 12 beauty experts if they, too, have a stress-relieving product that they call upon in lieu of a pep talk, and it turns out I'm not the only one. Click through to find out what they recommend.
"I keep Therapie's Crystal Clear Smelling Salts (£32) on my desk for times when stress and the volume of work start to make my head fog up. These smelling salts are a natural modern-day upgrade to their ammonia-based great-grandmas. No longer solely for reviving swooning ladies, this '2.0' version restores clarity and mental focus (something increasingly scarce in this digital age).
"The oil blend of may chang (for mental optimism), clementine (for anxiety), rosemary (for mental clarity and alertness), peppermint (for clarity and energy), bois de rose (for courage), and frankincense and lavender (for balance) is the aromatherapy version of a hug from your mum followed by a leap into a glacial mountain stream—reassuring and recalibrating with each inhalation. I either open the lid for a clarifying sniff as needed or leave the pot open beside me as I work."
"You know how magpies are drawn to gold? I'm similarly drawn to face mists. If I ain't misting, I'm miserable (that's an exaggeration, but I do like them). So whenever a new one launches, I have to try it. This cooling mist helps give my brain a boost when I'm feeling a bit hazy! Plus it's super refreshing and leaves my skin glowing. It doesn't contain any particular stress-relieving ingredients that I know of, but it makes me take a moment's pause to stop, mist and reset before getting back to my inbox of doom or a hefty feature."
Michaella Bolder, Facialist and Skincare Expert
"I suffer with anxiety from time to time when I'm feeling the pressure of life, and I've had a few panic attacks in the past. Something as simple as having a calming scent and knowing it's with me makes me feel better, and when I start to feel the anxiety kick in, I reach for my oil apply it straight onto my pulse points (which allows faster absorption into the blood stream).
"I hold my wrist up to my nose, and closing my eyes, I take deep, slow breaths to shut the world out for a moment, gather myself back up and try to stop my brain from overthinking everything! This scent in particular represents a calming, soothing and mindfulness from the English chamomile blended with evening primrose, patchouli and sandalwood, amongst many others that instantly makes me feel comfortable, relaxed and clear-minded."
"I would say my stress-reliever essential is Aromatherapy Associates Revive Bath & Body Oil (£45). I find smelling it or rubbing it on pulse points is very soothing. I also find Balm Balm Rose Flower Water (£13) really soothing on days when I'm running around. Running a small business can be really intense, so these pretty much come in handy on a daily basis—specifically the rose water."
Giselle La Pompe-Moore, Product Developer at Pebble&Co
"Instead of a 4 p.m. crisis chia pot, I always reach for Aurelia Probiotic Skincare's Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream (£28). It's my deskside staple for a quick boost of grounding vetiver, ylang-ylang and patchouli, and it manages to make my hands feel as soft as a velvet sofa. I take a few minutes to massage it in while praising the red algae extract for soothing my keyboard-tired hands. I usually do this as I'm waiting for updates from the production line and follow with a deep inhale of the heady scent to get the most out of the calming essential oils."
"This face mist is the very first thing I spray if I've been rushing because it cools, calms, and sets your makeup beautifully. The ingredients in this are all soothing—green tea, cucumber and chamomile, to name a few. What I particularly love is that it smells fresh but isn't heavily scented, so it isn't overwhelming. Despite having everything you could wish for at my desk (I love to feel at home while I'm working), this is the one thing that everyone in my office wants to share. A total secret weapon, this once completely resurrected by feet when they were swollen and killing me after a day in skyscraper heels when I needed to carry on and remain poised at an event."
"Of course I'm all about the essential oils, and Aveda Chakra Sprays (£30) are like my crack, but the product I find myself drawn to more and more is this does-it-all balm. When I'm struggling for ideas or can't quite finish a feature, I take five minutes out to apply a little blob of this to my lips, cuticles, eyebrows, cheekbones—basically everywhere. The ritual of applying it helps me rebalance my mind, and it helps that it contains ingredients like kokum butter, monoi and squalene to nourish the skin.
I swear that the process is like the beauty equivalent of a stress ball."
"I love Little Moon Clear Mind Mist. It's infused with eucalyptus, grapefruit and rosemary, and works magic like a fairy godmother. I carry a few bottles with me—one in my tanning kit, another in my car, and one in my house in my kitchen and by my bed. If I have a client who seems particularly stressed, I'll spray the tanning tent with this and to calm their aura down before a treatment. On myself, I use it if I'm feeling particularly worked up, have deadlines building, had a day juggling tasks or I'm recording for my podcast [Jules and Sarah: The Podcast] and I need to be on my A game."
"As well as smelling totally divine, this invigorating perfume oil encourages me to take a moment of mindfulness during busy days at work. I can sometimes feel chained to my desk, especially when we're about to launch a new product campaign, so applying this calming, invigorating oil to pulse points on my wrists and neck makes me stop for a moment, and encourages me to take a deep breath and refocus so I don't allow work to overwhelm me. The rollerball is so handy; it sits in front of my keyboard so I can apply it whenever I feel the need to clear my mind."
"It may just look like a more yellow version of Vaseline, but this little pot of balm has magical stress-relieving powers. It contains neroli, bay and fragonia, an essential oil that is brilliant at bringing about mental clarity. When my energy levels are lagging, I rub a little bit into my wrists and take a deep breath in—it's all I need to be able to get going again."
"My skin is dry, sensitive, and looks dull when I'm stressed or tired, so I always reach for Caudalie's Beauty Elixir to wake up my skin and give me an instant boost. It has a really refreshing scent (a mix of rosemary, rose and grapes) because it's packed with essential oils, so it's perfect when my energy levels are lagging."
Emma Soulsby, Beauty Buyer at Liberty London
"This oil is my go-to for those days when my to-do list has grown to epic proportions and I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. The combination of pure essential oils evaporates the stresses of a frantic day. Chamomile works to soothe while frankincense helps to focus the mind. Palmarosa cleanses and balances, while bergamot refreshes and revives. I probably go through a bottle every six weeks. I also love just a capful in a warm bath, and a deep inhalation under a steamy shower is all it takes."