Beauty

The new beauty-meets-self care treatments that are about to make you seriously zen

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Becci Vallis
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While mindfulness was the buzzword of 2017, 2018 will be the year of self-care. The idea of taking time out to treat ourselves has become a popular hashtag and probably cropped up in all our New Year resolutions, along with the cursory drink less sauvignon, drink way more water – and echoing this mindset in our beauty routines is the next step. Enter the world of mindful beauty…

The main message of self-care is to prioritise looking after ourselves, whether that’s with a good book or a mood-boosting beauty treatment. It’s a nice idea in theory but we also happen to be seriously busy. We know that a meditation class followed by an ice-cold sheet mask treatment will make us feel better than staying at work to hit deadlines. But we stay. We work. We endure.

But what if there was a way to save time by infusing a hit of self-care while simultaneously attending to our beauty needs? Combine treatments and you will magically have enough time to fit it all in. The benefits of two-in-one – or fusion – treatments are undeniably appealing. Why settle for a manicure when you can combine it with a virtual-reality session? As a generation that is battling work deadlines, social commitments and a gym that’s open around the clock, it’s no wonder the beauty world is adopting the time-saving twofold approach.

Suzy Reading, psychologist, personal trainer and author of The Self-Care Revolution, £9, began her career in Australia where her outdoor yoga one-to-ones became more like therapy sessions for her busy clients who couldn’t squeeze in time to work out and seek solace. She’s successfully brought this double treatment concept back to the UK and her walk-and-talk sessions, where clients walk with her while simultaneously receiving therapy, now have a constant waiting list.

Also taking a ‘multimodality’ focus that hones in on the gut, skin and wellness connection, Gazelli House in London has created a menu of technical yet healing therapies such as the Hypnotherapy Mind Massage from £185. A collaboration between Gazelli and Rachel Coffey, an NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) practitioner, it combines hypnotherapy and massage. “The treatment invites the subconscious mind to go on a journey of healing and rejuvenation encouraging you to let go of emotional blocks, anxieties and tensions so you feel positive, lighter and recharged. Because you’re so relaxed from the massage element, you’re more likely to enter the optimum hypnotherapy state,” explains Alicia Falero, head of training at Gazelli.

It’s a concept miles away from the rise in speedy treatments booked by an app – the conveyor-belt facials that feel like a chore, the in-your-own-home massages that happen on an awkward fold-up table and don’t actually relax you. While perfunctory, they’re less a signal to switch off from work, and more a quick remedy for that shoulder ache from carrying your weighty over-filled Sophie Hulme tote. 

If 2017 was about these 24/7 quick fixes, 2018 is about effective multi-layered treatments that make the best use of our time. “People are looking for new ways to unwind in a much deeper sense, and it’s not just in the physical form either, so superficial treatments are being swapped for new body and mind experiences that provide longer lasting effects,” explains Teri Bebb, global spa support at Lush. So it’s clear we want more, but where do we start – and what can be combined? 

Mindful Massage

No matter how relaxing, a massage can’t give the same enduring results as therapy, but there are treatments that offer more than just the usual oily rub down. At Gazelli, clients are asked about their emotions – how confident, in control, optimistic they feel – and their massage is tailored accordingly. During Lush’s Synaesthesia Massage, £125, mood and massage are again combined. “The client is asked to choose one of 11 behavioural prescriptions [these include ambition, esteem, humour, confidence, mind cleanser, perspective, enlightened and relax] and the treatment is then tailored to that chosen word,” continues Bebb.

Scent has always played a role in treatments – but it’s being taken to the next level in Elemis’s spa rooms where it is combined with mindful massage therapy. The Elemis Life Elixirs Mindful Massage, from £95, uses potent aromatherapy blends picked with your therapist from the choice of Calm, Fortitude, Embrace, Clarity or Sleep. And the same principles are employed by facialist Donna Ryan, who combines reiki and crystals with her facials at The Life Centre in London and chooses flower remedies associated with your emotional state. For example, olive if you’re exhausted, willow if you’re feeling resentful or cerato if you’re in a state of indecisiveness.

A Different Beat

Granted, if you’ve gone in to have your blackheads extracted and somebody starts asking about your mood, you could feel a tad perturbed. But if you are intrigued by the idea of a more meaningful experience, it’s worth a trip to see Paolo Lai at Neville Hair and Beauty in London. He’s a firm advocate of sound therapy and uses Tibetan singing bowls in his Crystal Healing Facial to create deep sound vibrations. Lai places as much importance on the background beats as his facial reflexology techniques: “I like to use full moon singing bowls in particular as the vibrations are very long and go deep into the body to rebalance the chakras and areas of the body that hold stagnant energy,” he says. Beginning with the facial and crystal tools, the bowls appear in the final moments of the treatment. Placed on and around the body, the pulsations go deep into the skin to stimulate the central nervous system and facial nerves, releasing pent-up tension.

At Lush, treatments are conducted to a soundtrack, which is created in-house and bespoke to each treatment on the menu. So, a longer massage stroke will marry with the music slowing down (no whalesong here). ESPA is currently looking into using music with a binaural beat (a repetitive beat that can induce a trance-like state) during treatments, which would require clients to wear headphones. “Two tones of slightly different frequencies are played separately into each ear to slow the brain activity,” explains Sue Harmsworth, founder of ESPA. “It guides you into a state of deep meditation to get the most from your treatments.”

High-Tech Meets Holistic 

This might all sound like mysticism, but there is another range of fusion treatments that veers towards the high-tech. Ironically while the increase in technology is making it harder for us to switch off, some brands are using virtual reality to aid our unwinding – a clever tactic for those who feel more at home bathing in blue light than moonlight. From June, Natura Bisse will offer The Mindful Touch facial at The Sanderson in London, where goggles play a virtual-reality video that transports you through clouds, clear waters and the jungle to aid relaxation. Worn for eight minutes, once you’re in the zone, the headset comes off and the facial commences, although the mindfulness track reminding you to stay ‘present’ is left playing for the hour-long duration. Aqua Sana spa in Woburn Forest has also introduced a ‘sensory experience’ that takes guests through all four seasons in just 15 minutes with a combination of visuals, sounds, scents and temperatures to help them reconnect to nature.

However, the concept of including tech in relaxation sessions grates with some therapists. “I’m not a fan of anything that includes virtual reality and touch therapy,” admits A-list facialist Nichola Joss, who often uses reiki in her treatments. “It should be about rebooting the organic element of our lives, connecting with the body and mind at a cellular level and disconnecting from technology.”

With that said, it is clear that, however we approach fusion treatments, we want to combine boosting our psyche as well as our skin. Products are still recommended at the end of treatments but it’s the mindfulness techniques and coping tools that practitioners really want you to take home. “By teaching clients how to control anxiety with breath work we’re giving them pointers to live life with as little stress as possible,” says Harmsworth. It’s a trend creeping into every area of beauty – but could it go too far? “I’ve read about an intuitive tattoo artist and hairdresser in the USA who releases blocked energies as he trims your split ends, which shows there’s lots of wondrous scope for combined experiences as long as we don’t miss the point,” says Falero. While having a tattoo, alongside an intuitive reading and a trim may be taking multitasking too far, creative researcher at The Future Laboratory Jessica Smith says, “This is where spa brands can gain a competitive edge and consumers can reap the benefits of treatments that can have a huge impact on their appearance and wellbeing.” Fusion treatments are the time-saving upgrade we’ve been looking for so sign us up – gongs, crystals, headsets and all.

Double the impact of your beauty routine with these self-care add-ons…

UPGRADE YOUR SKIN REGIME 

Neutrogena Visibly Clear Light Therapy Acne Mask and Aura app, £59.99

This LED mask takes 10 minutes to gently zap acne-causing bacteria with its red and blue lights. While it works, they’ve partnered with meditation app, Aura (from £8.65 a month, iTunes), to offer you 90 days of free iPhone mindfulness sessions. 

PRESS PLAY WHILE YOU SOAK 

Lush Soundbath CD, £10

This Sound Bath symphony features singing bowls and gong beats to relieve tension and promote relaxation. Infuse your bath with lavender, which reduces the heart rate, and you’ll be seriously blissed out. 

GET SCHOOLED IN FACIAL MASSAGE 

Décleor Face Boosts, £15 

Book in for a 15-minute face-booster and a facialist will teach you targeted massage movements to firm the skin and help circulation. It’s filmed on a digital mirror so you can download it later. 

USE CUPPING TO SPEED UP ABSORPTION 

Facial in a Box by Antonia Burrell, £25

Everything you need for a DIY ‘cupping’ facial session. As well as sculpting, lifting and contouring, this massage technique improves circulation, aids lymphatic drainage and relieves tension. 

Main image: Rex