As a nurse, it’s your job to be on the frontline, taking care of and tending to other people’s needs around the clock. And that’s what you do day in and day out. It’s a job that humbles you but one you take pride in for the difference you make to the world, which often goes unnoticed. But amid the chaos and the long work hours, you might neglect the care of someone who needs it the most: yourself.
Odds are you’ve been covering regular twelve-hour shifts, haven’t removed your PPE even once, and you dedicate your spare moments to eating and resting only. That means you might not be looking as fresh and rejuvenated as you’d like, which may affect your professional appearance. Luckily, there are things you can do to take care of it. Here are some self-care and beauty tips to make you look and feel good – even in the most unfavorable environment.
- Keeping a Clean and Fresh Look
Nurses in healthcare settings might have difficulty feeling clean and fresh, and understandably so. It’s not an ordinary job; you’re doing a superhero’s work. During working hours, you’re hardly sitting idle. There’s always something that needs to be done.
This means you’ll be sweating and might start to smell a little funky. In other circumstances, some cologne might’ve been a temporary fix, but most hospitals have a no-fragrance policy to protect their patients.
If you’re juggling work and studies or planning on furthering your education while working, it might be more challenging for you to find time to do these little things. But some online nursing programs may offer more flexibility and make taking care of yourself more manageable. Here are some small steps you can take:
- Make sure your hair is clean and neatly made.
- Cut your nails short – it’s safer and more hygienic.
- Don’t forget to brush your teeth.
- Only wear washed and ironed scrubs and lab coats.
- Shower regularly using a fragrance-free soap to keep body odor at bay.
- You can use unscented wipes and natural deodorants like baking soda to freshen up during your breaks.
- Make sure to wear light, breathable materials that’ll prevent sweat buildup.
- Stay in air-conditioned areas as much as possible.
- Protect Your Skin
The harsh workplace environment isn’t very skin-friendly for nurses. With your masks on the entire time, you’re sweating and clogging up your pores, which can cause some nasty breakouts, otherwise known as a ‘maskne.’ Here’s what to do to protect your face from breaking out:
- Ensure you wash your face at the end of every shift using a double cleansing technique to unclog your pores.
- Apply an oil-free moisturizer packed with ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid that will rebuild your barrier.
- Wash your hands before putting on a breathable and fresh mask the next day.
- Remember not to touch your face or pick at your pimples if you get any. Your hands are already packed with bacteria and dirt, and constantly touching your face only worsens the problem.
Besides your face, other areas of your skin are also vulnerable. In a healthcare setting, hand hygiene is given a lot of importance. You’re constantly dealing with sick and vulnerable patients, and to avoid any cross-contamination, you need to wash and sanitize your hands constantly. Unfortunately, this aggressive use of soap and disinfectant can strip your hands of their natural oils and leave them feeling dry and looking dull. You can’t stop cleaning your hands, but there are things you can do to take care of some of the problems it causes.
- Moisturize your hands after every wash.
- Choose a moisturizer with SPF to protect your hands from sun damage while you’re at it.
- Consider using non-latex gloves, as they’re less irritating.
- Allow your hands to breathe whenever possible.
- At home, keep your hands away from harsh, drying chemicals like detergents.
- Use Vaseline on your hands at night to lock in the moisture.
- Do Your Hair and Makeup – Appropriately
Everyone has a right to express themselves, and that includes nurses. Hair and makeup are one of the best ways to do that. But with the hectic hours and the rules in place, you might want to stick to doing the bare minimum. But the fact is, you can use your hair and makeup to your advantage to enhance your natural features and cover up spots and dark circles. Here are some quick and easy ways to feel pretty while not breaking any rules:
- First, generously prep your skin with your skincare routine. Don’t forget your SPF.
- Remember, less is more. Apply color correction and concealers where needed, focusing on your under-eye area.
- Add a pop of color to your face with some blush and nude lip color.
- Apply a bit of waterproof mascara to lift and accentuate your eyes.
- Try not to go overboard and stick to neutral colors only.
- For your hair, go for a simple slicked-back high ponytail, which would give you a clean and elegant look.
- If you have the time and skills, you can even try a French braid, or other braided styles, as long as it keeps all hair away from your face.
- To keep your hair fresh during a long shift, keep some scent-free dry shampoo in your locker and use it when needed.
- Keep Yourself Hydrated
A self-care tip that people especially ignore is staying hydrated. Being a healthcare professional, you already know how important this is for your mind and body. But the truth is, with the long shifts and the busy schedules, you might not be able to keep track of your water intake. This can lead to dehydration which will make your skin dry, your pores large, and will cause various other problems. So, here’s what you can do:
- Carry a large water bottle with you during your shift to make it easier to get your daily water intake. Having this constant access will remind you to stay hydrated.
- If that’s not enough, set reminders on your phone to go off every 20 minutes to remind you to drink water.
- Avoid drinks that dehydrate you, like sodas. They might sound refreshing but skip them.
- If you’re a night nurse, you might need caffeine to stay alert. That’s okay, but try drinking equal amounts of water right after to keep you hydrated.
In conclusion, being a nurse is hard. You take care of everyone else’s needs but end up with no time or energy to fulfill your own. But to thrive personally and professionally, taking care of yourself needs to be a priority.
It’s important to remember that self-care isn’t selfish. The little things you do for yourself can boost your confidence and energy levels, allowing you to be the best version of yourself for the people you’re helping.