Harmony for face and mind

THIS, according to beauty analysts, is the year that “mood beauty” will take off – that is, makeup and skincare that actually makes you happier. And with this week deemed the most depressing of the year, it’s good to know there could be a solution to the blues that makes you look better at the same time.

This new field of mood-boosting cosmetics, called “neurocosmetics”, goes beyond the simple use of scent to enhance mood, using chemistry that has a positive effect on the brain. One example is the use of idebenone, an organic compound, which is also said to help stimulate information transfer across the corpus callosum, the membrane separating the right and left brain hemispheres.

Makers of products such as Linda Papadopoulos’ Psy Derma Enlightenment Day Moisturising Treatment, which uses idebenone, claim that the chemical helps boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine to create a feeling of well-being and stress reduction. Wear the cream, feel happier.

Nica Lewis, beauty analyst at market research company Mintel, says other neurocosmetics being developed will focus on improving sleep quality and still others, a “contemporary” take on holistic healing, using various natural extracts but not necessarily shying away from artificial additives. In short, chemistry will be embraced.

The Mintel report states that manufacturers will experiment with a new palette of phytochemicals and anthocyanins, compounds that help reduce stress and bolster the immune system. So, whether you want a mood-plumping lippie, a stress-busting bath soak or a day cream that makes you happy, how to kick start your 2010.

Ok, this gloss may not be as serious-minded as the likes of Kroia and a couple of other ones listed here, but if anything’s going to add a little sparkle to your mood, it’s a lip balm that changes colour according to your mood. Made from a “secret” blend of essential oils, the gloss responds to temperature changes. Feeling het up, happy or stressed? Expect it to show on your bright red lips. Reason to rejoice, surely. £12 at www.asos.com.

This utterly soothing potion is made with geranium and frankincense, trusted herbal remedies used for their calming, mood-balancing effect. It is not known quite why these extracts work to calm the emotions but their aroma is uniquely relaxing. Rose essential oils are expensive and pure, and form the benchmark of most perfumes. They also reduce redness on the skin. £35 at www.spacenk.co.uk.

One of the key trends for 2010 is chromotherapy, a holistic approach inspired by the healing properties of colour. It’s an ancient philosophy that relies on the vibrations from colour wavelengths which can induce feelings of harmony. KROIA uses colourful active ingredients, such as micronised gemstones and pink Quartz crystal, to bring balance to the skin and the soul. Ranges are Age Defying Pink Therapy, Energizing Yellow Therapy and Soothing Blue Therapy. £35 at www.glowgetter.co.uk.

Psychologist-turned cosmetics maker Linda Papadopulous uses “smart nutrients” in her cream (essential oils and vitamins) to boost memory, reduce stress and sharpen cognitive ability. Also included in this luxuriant cream is the amino acid tyrosine, which regulates mood, while the protein phytokeratin stimulates skin cells, thus boosting the production of mood-enhancing beta-endorphins. £32 at www.psyderma.com

The primary purpose of this rich and nourishing body cream is to moisturise and soothe dry and stressed skin. It contains rhamnose sugar, a rare glycide found in buckthorn, and poison sumac, which is said to stimulate endorphin release. This, together with the uplifting fragrance of damask rose petals, encourages a deep sense of well-being and calmness, and invigorates the skin. £24.50 at

This cream’s French makers Six La Beaute claims that skin has “specific needs in order to be beautiful.” The potion seeks to address the physical and “emotional” needs of the skin – and your needs too – with the inclusion of mirabilis jalapa extract, which the company says may activate the release of the happy hormone serotonin. €47 (£42) at www.marionnaud.com.