Forming New Habits, a Science and An Art
By: Bella Saad
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” - Leo Tolstoy
We’re conditioned to believe that time is precious. And it is. But this can work to our demise when it fuels a culture of instant solutions and short-term gratifications. We’re entranced by the close up videos of pore strips “suctioning out blackheads!”, fooled by the viral TikTok eye cream that “visibly smooths and tightens in under three minutes!”, and hooked on the instant tanning creams that promise a “sun-kissed glow, overnight!”
More often than not, these quick fixes put us one step forward and ten steps back. The reason we keep going back? Habits! The good, the bad, the hard to break, and the hard to form. We hear them in pop music, read them on media headlines, and live by them daily.
Let’s take a moment to understand the psychology behind a habit. Neuroscientists trace our habit-making behaviors to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which is also responsible for the development of emotions, memories and pattern recognition.* When we form a habit, it starts with a deliberate choice we make, then stop thinking about, but continue doing. Our brains go into “auto-pilot,” following a formula otherwise known as the habit loop.
(Credit: James Clear, How To Start New Habits That Actually Stick)
James Clear, author of NYT Bestseller Atomic Habits, combines learnings popularized by Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, to depict this cycle above.
- The “cue” is the trigger that tells your brain to initiate a behavior and enter automatic mode (i.e. you just woke up).
- The cue triggers a “craving”, which varies heavily based on the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of the observer (i.e. you want to feel awake).
- The “response” is the actual action and habit you perform (i.e. you drink a cup of coffee).
- The “reward” is the end goal of the habit that both satisfies your craving and reinforces which actions are worth remembering (i.e. you satisfy your craving to feel awake and drinking coffee is now associated with waking up).
So why is it so hard for us to form new good habits, like a skincare routine or taking supplements? We can relate it back to the notion of time and instant gratification. With the loop framework in mind, it’s clear that habits form most effortlessly when the effects and rewards are promptly palpable. If the rewards of habits like using ZitSticka’s MOOD FOOD daily to quell PMS symptoms, or taking ZitSticka’s SKIN DISCIPLINE or BLUR POTION supplement to reduce acne or hyperpigmentation, take time to deliver…how can we form and keep them?
Clear proposes the Four Laws of Behavior Change, which is an incredibly directional and tactical framework in forming new, positive habits:*
The 1st Law (Cue): Make it obvious.
- Implementation intention: Assign a specific time and place for it.
- I will take my SKIN DISCIPLINE supplement in the morning in the bathroom, and set an alarm for 9am daily.
- Habit Stacking: Link a new behavior to a current one. This is helpful if you don’t want to commit to a specific hour of the day.
- After I brush my teeth, I will take my SKIN DISCIPLINE supplement.
The 2nd Law (Craving): Make it attractive.
- Temptation bundling: Use the end of a new behavior as a cue for something exciting to help make the new behavior more enticing.
- After I take my SKIN DISCIPLINE supplement, I can make my first cup of coffee.
- Redefine the behavior: Shift your perspective to keep yourself driven and cognizant of the end reward.
- I am privileged to have access to supplements that will improve my skin and gut health in JUST 12 weeks.
The 3rd Law (Response): Make it easy.
- Minimize the effort and friction of the action.
- I will set my SKIN DISCIPLINE supplements right next to my toothbrush so it’s clear and accessible, rather than lost in a drawer or the bottom of my bag.
The 4th Law (Reward): Make it satisfying.
- Reinforcements: Create instant positive reinforcements to associate with your new habit and motivate continued action.
When it comes to skincare and cosmetic products, it’s a game changer to have these practices handy to intentionally foster habits that aren’t as quick to stick. Before writing off or switching out products that don’t show results right away, ask yourself: Have I formed a habit around using this product? Is it a consistent part of my morning routine? Can I really make an informed opinion about it? Create a schedule of the products you’re testing out to keep yourself accountable, allocating sufficient time to form the habit and reap the benefits.
Some other tips and tricks to keep in mind as you form new habits:
- Location is one of the most critical context cues. The more often a behavior occurs within a certain location, the stronger a habit can become. If you’re traveling a lot, you may find it harder to form habits.
- Make sure to create unique and specific positive reinforcements that are clearly associated with that singular new habit you’re trying to form (i.e. only go on TikTok right after you’ve taken your supplement).
- Form a new habit with a friend to keep each other accountable (and have fun while you do it!)
- Dive deeper into the psychology and best practices behind habits:
- The Power of Habits, Charles Duhigg
- Atomic Habits, James Clear
Now that you’re equipped with the fun facts and nuances behind forming new habits, give it a try with ZitSticka’s SKIN DISCIPLINE and BLUR POTION supplements. Mark the day you begin, put the Four Laws of Behavior Change into practice, and check in 12 weeks later to see and feel…
- Faded hyperpigmentation and UV damage—including melasma, sun spots and post-zit dark spots
- Luminous, dewy skin
- Slower collagen breakdown
- Minimized breakouts
- Eased inflammation
- Regulated oil levels
- Balanced gut health
Already want to give SKIN DISCIPLINE and/or BLUR POTION a try? You’re hot and in luck! Right now, new subscribers save over 30% on a new quarterly supplement subscription, PLUS get a free gift every 3 months. Why quarterly? Well, in a 12-week study, 88% of participants saw a significant improvement in skin clarity within 12 weeks… so we want to ensure you have all the supps you need to achieve the skin you want, at a discounted price. Gorgeous gorgeous girls and guys and everyone in between take daily supplements for their skin ;)
Clear, J. (2018, November 13). How to start new habits that actually stick. James Clear. Retrieved May 11, 2022, from https://jamesclear.com/three-steps-habit-change
Duhigg, C. (2017, November 20). How habits works. Charles Duhigg. Retrieved May 11, 2022, from https://charlesduhigg.com/how-habits-work/
Habits: How they form and how to Break them. NPR. (2012, March 5). Retrieved May 11, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2012/03/05/147192599/habits-how-they-form-and-how-to-break-them
Palmer, C. (2020, November 1). Harnessing the power of habits. Monitor on Psychology. Retrieved May 11, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/11/career-lab-habits
Sinusoid, D. (2022, February 28). Atomic habits: The 4 steps to start any habit. Shortform Books. Retrieved May 11, 2022, from https://www.shortform.com/blog/atomic-habits-4-laws/