Mindfulness is quite the buzzword right now. And rightly so. Our lives are getting busier and busier, stress levels are rising, we’re spending far too much time on our phones and tablets and nearly all of us are social media addicts. The mindfulness movement has come along and made us take stock and be more aware of the need to take time out, to rebalance, spend less time looking at a screen and to simply enjoy some silence, calm and quiet. Beauty and mindfulness are natural bedfellows, for while there are elements of skincare and makeup that are focused on achieving results quicker and faster, so much of it is about creating a ritual in your bathroom; allowing you to take time to massage your skin, relax your shoulders, breathe in some balance, breathe out the anxiety and enjoy some gorgeous products.
And that is the heart of mindfulness. But lets explore exactly how you can introduce a more mindful way to your everyday skin routine.
You may not think your feet would be the place to reach for to bring some zen into your life, but if it’s calm you’re after then that’s where to look. And it can start with something as simple as giving your feet a quick cleanse at the end of the day. Washing feet has a grounding in ancient religions and is often linked to humility and tranquillity as well as still being used today in cleansing rituals.
There is something so peaceful about washing away the dirt off your soles and giving your feet, the things that have (quite literally) supported you through your day. It doesn’t need to be some lengthy process – obviously it can be if you have the time – but a simple few minutes is all you need along with some warm water and a great foot wash.
However, dedicating a few minutes to your feet can also help tap into other areas of your wellbeing, something that acupuncturists and reflexologists are pros at doing. “I love feet washing for the innate care it brings a patient in the acupuncture environment, but also because the hands and feet are where the acupuncture meridians begin and end so there are points here that have a greater impact than elsewhere on the body,” says Joanna McGarry, beauty editor and acupuncturist in training.
“The Chinese have a different perspective of the feet compared to the rest of the world. They appreciate that the feet often infer the health of the person and they must be cared for to maintain overall health. I might use liver points on the feet to treat someone who has recurrent headaches. Equally I might use a kidney point, at the back of the ankle, for a post-part women who needs a boost.”
So while we’re not suggesting you’ll be able to do the kind of healing that trained professionals can, when you’re washing your feet take some time to use the pads of your thumbs to apply pressure to the points of your feet, and be mindful of how the rest of your body reacts to this seemingly simple act.
Next, to the area we spend most of our time and attention on, the face. Facialists have utilised pressure points on the face to stimulate things such as lymphatic drainage for years, but this can be hard to reenact on your own, mainly down to not knowing exactly where to target, and not being able to get the same sort or grip and pressure onto your own skin, but perhaps more commonly because who has time to do anything more than quickly rub a product in and hope for the best?
That’s where crystal rollers come in. Not only do these automatically look like they belong as part of a mindful routine – crystals and the concept of zen almost cannot exist without one another – but they also provide an essential service easily. By rolling your face you can exert more force onto your skin than with fingers and it targets a larger surface area quicker. Result.
But why should you bother? “Both jade and amethyst face rollers should be your new best friend!” says Noella Gabriel, co-founder of skin and spa brand Elemis. “Crystals create energy on contact with the skin, subsequently supporting the energy of the skin. Used as a massage tool you will be supporting the skin’s function, reducing any irritation and daily aggressors and stresses.
“Furthermore, crystals have a positive charge which latch on to toxins on the skin that have a negative charge.” But as well as giving your skin a boost, your well-being will be pepped up too. “They are great at alleviating tension around the jaw and supporting the energy flow of the skin below the surface. It is also a great tool to use to relieve any tension around the eye area from what a headache or blocked sinuses may cause.” If using first thing in the morning then store your roller in the fridge and use after applying serum; the coldness will give your skin and mood extra zing.
Essential oils play a huge part in mindfulness. The easiest way to incorporate them into your daily routine is to look for products with them clearly earmarked on the packaging. Relaxing lavender night cream, uplifting citronella shower gel and the like. For a smarter, more tangible way to get aromatherapy oils working for you there are other options. Yoga oils are the hot new way to get your mood-boosting hit. Designed to be diffused while doing your best downward dog, simply choose an oil to match what you’re trying to achieve and let that be part of your focus while on your yoga mat.
Or just add a few drops of the oil that appeals the most onto a tissue or the cuff of your outfit – and as stressful moments approach you throughout your day, stop and, quite literally, smell the roses, vetiver, geranium or whatever you’ve gone for.
And if you’d rather the mindfulness was all done for you, then why not book yourself in for a treatment instead? ESPA spas have a dedicated mindfulness treatment menu where you can choose from the ‘Mindful Release’, a 90-minute massage that uses breathing and visualisation techniques to help relax the mind and release physical and emotional anxieties, as well as a re-energising scalp massage using warm rose crystals. Or there is the ‘Holistic Harmony’ a 120-minute Ayurvedic treatment incorporating a full body exfoliation, facial cleanse, foot ritual and body and scalp massage that helps tackle insomnia and high stress levels. Prices vary, but the relaxing results do not.
Your mindful must-haves
Margaret Dabbs Hydrating Foot Soak, Dh115
While a specific foot soak is not essential, by having a product tailormade for your feet you are more likely to use it. Not to mention this one has been formulated by foot guru Margaret Dabbs and contains Lemon Myrtle to relax tired feet (and minds).
Yu Ling Jade Facial Double Roller, Dh105
This comes with a larger roller at one end for bigger areas such as the cheeks, chin and forehead and a smaller at the other end to use under the eyes and around the nose.
Espa Overnight Hydration Therapy, Dh180
If you can’t get to the spa, bring the spa to you with this light gel cream filled with lavender to soothe your senses while plumping up your skin.
Buying better beauty
By making smarter purchases you’ll have a product that contributes to global philanthropic goals – and if that isn’t mindful then we don’t know what is
This brilliant brand have just launched a new initiative to help clean up the world’s beaches and seas. Ren have teamed up with the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit organisation, to help protect clean water and healthy, plastic-free beaches by organising beach cleanups throughout the US, with Europe and Australia to follow. The brand have also made a pledge to work towards having zero waste by 2021. This pledge means the brand will remove all unnecessary packaging, make as much packaging re-usable or re-fillable and that 100 per cent of the packaging will be recyclable.
BUY INTO IT: Atlantic Kelp and Microalgae Anti-Fatigue Bath Oil, Dh135. Not only does this vegan oil hydrate the body but it de-stresses the mind.
The mission at Aveda is to care for the world, and they do this in a number of ways. Firstly they have a clean water initiative and since 2007 have donated $44 million to support projects that protect clean water around the world. They are also dedicated to ensuring that the manufacturing of their products is as economically sound as possible and are the first beauty company to manufacture products with 100 per cent wind power.
BUY INTO IT: Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturizing Oil, Dh105. Using organic buriti oil harvested from Brazil, this daily leave-in treatment will make even the driest of hair feel more manageable.
The Body Shop
When you think of brands that do good then The Body Shop is probably one of the first that spring to mind. They were the original pioneers of creating cruelty-free products and are also totally vegetarian. But the good work doesn’t stop there. By 2020 Body Shop have made some amazing commitments to improve things around the world. They are doubling the community trade programme they already have in place to help support the communities that produce them. They want to help 40,000 economically vulnerable people access work around the world and invest 250,000 hours of skill and know-how to enrich the biodiversity of local communities.
BUY INTO IT: The Body Shop Moringa Body Yogurt, Dh99. A gorgeously rich body cream that contains Community Traded Moringa from Rwanda and Almond Milk from Spain.