Sometimes we don’t realize that the odd flareups we experience on our skin are caused by stress. It’s a demon that increases the signs of aging and can cause a blemish to pop up right on top of a wrinkle, or an itchy irritation to suddenly appear on our arms or legs.

One of the most stressful times can be bedtime when our minds decide to jump down a rabbit hole and pass judgement on the day.  As desert dwellers, we have enough skin challenges just dealing with the havoc the sun and heat causes without having to listen to ourselves go over a list of everything we didn’t accomplish.

But what if you transformed the time you spend preparing for sleep into a mindfulness ritual that reduces stress and brings you more peace and pleasure than anything else you did all day? According to the University of California Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley, mindfulness is “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment.” There’s good science behind the benefits and comfort of routines that incorporate this practice, including your skincare regimen. It could start with gently washing with a creamy cleanser and enjoying the strength of your fingers massaging your cheeks and chin. As you pat your face dry, you could take a moment to look in the mirror —at who you are right at this moment—and check in with yourself, not with criticism but with understanding. 

Another sensorial treat that can bring you right into the moment is a mist, especially one that is made for the desert and has lots of hydrators and amino acids; a good dose of plum extract lounging in a base of a hydrosol like rose or neroli is a treat not to be ignored. The moments taken to be present for the scent alone are well spent, and a pat on the back for how well you take care of yourself would not be out of order.

Perhaps you have an oil serum you can warm in your palms then press into your face, inhaling the natural scent of the oils, feeling them even out your complexion and easing any anxiety that may dare float to the surface. A buttery moisturizer could call your attention to your cheekbones and your strength. You take a moment to gently massage your jawline and know that you’re creating a glow that friends appreciate when they see you.

As you get into bed, you can take care of your arms and legs with a body cream that awaits on your nightstand. Then you have the pleasure of feeling the bones in your arms and watching the skin that might have been outside a bit too long calm down and glisten.  

Once you’re between the sheets all soft and smooth, you can take comfort in the knowledge that it doesn’t matter that you’re still wearing last year’s holiday pajamas or that you didn’t organize the pantry or change your filters. You’ve reduced your stress and taken care of your body’s largest organ, your skin. That’s a great accomplishment in and off itself.

Brook Dougherty is the founder and chief alchemist at JustUs Skincare in Indio and can be reached at [email protected]. For more information, visit

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