As savvy consumers, we’re demanding more than a radiant glow from our beauty regimes. We want them to make us happier and healthier, too. Discover how beauty and wellbeing go hand-in-hand and how to transform your daily rituals to boost your mood.
Lockdowns have had a lasting impact on our beauty routines. Not only are more women happily embracing their greys, a quarter of Brits feel less pressure to get nail, lash or eyebrow treatments, while 30 per cent of us are prioritising self-care more than we did before the pandemic. And the big brands are taking note.
‘There has been a considerable, consumer-led shift within the beauty industry from “how does this product make me look” to “how does this product make me feel”,’ says Kristal Bull, ESPA head of technical innovation. It’s an area of interest that’s backed by science, too. ‘Developments in the field of psychodermatology mean our understanding of the brain-skin connection is growing. Mirroring our mood, stress is reflected in the health of our skin, and increasing inner calm brings visible results to our complexion.’
So how can you make the most of this growing trend? Read on for our expert advice to feeling and looking your best.
What’s in the pot?
Choosing ingredients with feel-good effects is a good place to start, especially when they have proven benefits. If you want products that improve your mood as well as your skin, plant-based ingredients can help.
‘Essential oils help relieve anxiety due to their strong anxiolytic [anxiety-reducing] potentials, with some showing greater efficacy when tested against pharmaceutical drugs,’ says Professor James Goodwin director of science and research impact at Brain Health Network. ‘For example, lavender provides a safe and effective alternative to benzodiazepines to manage generalised anxiety.’ He also suggests ylang-ylang to enhance calmness or rosemary to feel more alert and active.
How you use products can also enhance their wellbeing credentials – simply massaging a cream or oil into your face can have a beneficial effect, as a study in BioMed Research International shows. The researchers found that facial massage reduces anxiety, negative mood status and boosts activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, your rest and digest response.
You can also incorporate mindfulness practices to boost the wellbeing effects of your daily rituals, as Farah-Naz Khan, yoga therapist, trainer and Founder of Yoga My Life, explains: ‘Yoga My Life’s skincare range incorporates considered affirmations, designed to reflect positive self-talk by viewing daily activities and rituals as opportunities to check in. Each time you look into a mirror to apply our skincare, which is enriched with mood-enhancing aromatics, you are gently reminded to delve a little deeper, connect to your breath, free yourself from comparison and self-limiting ideas of “being better than” or “more than,” so you can truly flourish whilst wholeheartedly celebrating being yourself.’
In with the old
Wellbeing brands are also employing ancient practices to bring greater meaning to our beauty regimes beyond simply looking good. ESPA’s Modern Alchemy range, for example, draws on Ayurveda, shamanism and crystal healing. ‘The range was inspired by the wisdom of ancient global traditions and the growing desire for a more meaningful sense of connection and compassion – to ourselves, to others, to the natural world,’ says Bull.
And Jasmine Hemsley’s new East by West range uses ayurvedic principles to bring inner and outer harmony. Her newly launched massage tool, the kansa wand, for example, doesn’t just balance your skin’s pH, but your energy too.
‘The electrical conductivity of the Kansa makes positive changes to the body’s subtle energies, stimulates the electromagnetics of the body and gently energises marma (vitality) points to increase the flow of prana (life-force energy),’ she explains. ‘There are 37 marma points over the head, face and neck, and gently stimulating them helps slow mental activity before bed or gives a boost in the morning to get the circulation going, reduce puffiness and flush the skin with fresh blood to oxygenate it.’
Spa brands and beauty therapists are growing their holistic approach to beauty as well. ‘To be able to treat the skin we must also treat the mind and the body,’ says facialist Mina Lee. ‘Whilst skin treatments like mesotherapy [vitamin injections] directly boost skin nutrition, I also provide therapies such as cupping, acupuncture and meridian stretch to help unblock qi pathways, and special Korean techniques including celiac plexus and solar plexus massage, which are more emotional treatments.’
And ESPA has just launched a series of treatments to complement its Modern Alchemy range. ‘Spa treatments no longer purely focus on the body’s physical needs. They now seek to incorporate every aspect of our wellbeing, from our emotions and moods to the spiritual,’ says Bull. ESPA’s Modern Alchemy Harmonising Ritual, for example, is influenced by the power and symbolism of the full moon.
A deeply meditative journey, grounding basalt magma stones, Modern Alchemy’s Grounding Crystals and Anointing Oil and ayurvedic kansa wand combine with fluid circular strokes to create a hypnotic rhythm that envelopes you with feelings of peacefulness, freeing you from thoughts that no longer serve you. And if you prefer a treatment in the privacy of your bathroom, each of the products has accompanying rituals you can follow at home. Bring on bathtime!