From your skincare to your music choice & bathtime rituals, give your morning & evening routine some spa inspiration with these 5 self-care steps (bliss!)
Anyone else in full-on cocoon mode at the moment? With the weather grey and Mondays, Blue (meh, January), we’re all looking for ways to add some instant comfort into the darker and gloomier days of the colder months.
They say that every cloud has a silver lining though and for us winter offers the perfect opportunity to amp up the snug factor (technical term) of our at-home surroundings. Sure, we’re reaching for our knitted throws, scarves and fleeces, but the art of layering isn’t just reserved for our clothing choices, it also applies to our beauty routines and the chance to turn our bathrooms into the ultimate spa experience (without the price tag!)
The ideal way to create a pocket of calm amidst the chaos, here’s our guide for making your home a mini oasis for all things relaxation through the power of skincare, scent, meditation and more. Sounds blissful right? Let’s get started...
De-stress by candlelight
There are few things more effective than the flicker of a candle to help you shift from stress to relax mode. The benefits aren’t just visual. Thanks to blends of essential oils and de-stressing accords, they can tap into your sense of smell to help shift and improve your mood too. Enlivening one of the most powerful senses, a familiar scent has the ability to trigger special memories which envelop you in a cloud of nostalgia as you embark on something as simple as your daily bath or shower.
Who knew scent could be so evocative?! Here are three of our go-tos when we need a little helping hand to unwind.
To fit a variety of moods
Try: Clarins Candle Trio (£25)
• 3 x 50g candles
• Presented in a gift box
If you love Clarins skincare (and even if you haven’t used it before), you’ll love this limited edition set because the candles are based on three of the brand's most iconic products. What’s more, each fits a certain mood. Want to feel invigorated? Light up the Eau Dynamisante Candle. Want to de-stress? The Relax Candle’s blend of lavender, basil and petit grain is your perfect match. Looking to feel refreshed? Try the Tonic Candle with its uplifting cocktail of geranium, orange and spearmint. It’s also a pretty lovely gift idea (even if it’s to yourself).
To feel rejuvenated
Try: Aromatherapy Associates Rose Candle (£48)
• Size: 200g
Rose by colour, rose by scent, this luxury candle’s as gorgeous to look at as it is to smell. Its uplifting blend of palmarosa, geranium and Damask rose makes it a great choice on days when you’re running on empty. Interesting fact: it contains the equivalent of up to two bottles of pure essential oils and provides an impressive 40 hours burn time. Ideal for when you’ve been burning the candle at both ends.
Press pause by pressing play
Talking of rituals that appeal to a range of senses, set the scene for relaxation further by indulging in some sound therapy. If music is usually your go-to (does anyone else have a playlist labelled ‘Relaxation’ on their phones?) you might want to try adding Weightless by Marconi Union to it – a track that was created in collaboration with founder of The British Academy of Sound Therapy, Lyz Cooper, with the aim of helping reduce stress levels by its use of carefully crafted harmonies, rhythms and bass lines.
Does it actually work? In a study conducted by Mindlab International, neuroscientists found that it evoked an 11 percent increase in relaxation over all other relaxing music tracks tested (featuring the likes of Sigur Rôs, Mozart and Enya!) and was able to induce greater relaxation levels in participants than a massage!
Another option could be to try a calming mindfulness meditation. What is mindfulness? In a nutshell, it’s paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings and your surroundings – to help improve your mental wellbeing. If you often find that your mind can get caught in certain patterns, it may help you to notice when that happens and stop unhelpful thinking behaviours from taking hold. Fortunately, a mindfulness meditation practice needn’t be complicated. It can just involve sitting silently and paying attention to thoughts, sounds, your breath or parts of the body, and bringing your attention back whenever your mind begins to wander.
For some peace of mind
Try: Headspace Mind Gift Card (£30)
• Six months pre-paid membership
Whether you’re a beginner or someone who’s looking for a way to upgrade your current practice, this six-month subscription to Headspace fits the bill. The range of guided meditations, mindfulness exercises, sleep strategies and audio and video guides make for essential food for thought when it comes to modern living.
Give your at-home body rituals some spa inspiration
So now that you’ve prepped the mind, what about the body? Just like our facial skincare, layering our body care has a multitude of benefits. As well as a great way to keep winter dryness at bay, it can help to focus the mind, engaging everything from touch to sight and smell and shift our attention away from the stresses of the day to what’s going on in the present moment.
Are your current rituals in need of a remix? You’re not alone. We’re certainly prone to focusing on all things from the neck-up! It turns out though that there’s as much shopping inspo around for the neck-down. From the best body scrubs to bath salts, luxurious body butters and foot masks, here are some of our body must-buys.
For a luxe shower gel
Try: Sanctuary Spa Body Wash (£6)
• Size: 250ml
It wouldn’t feel right to write an article on an at-home sanctuary without including Sanctuary Spa! This indulgent and aromatic body wash is the most luxurious of shower gel upgrades to invigorate skin and spirits on even the darkest of Monday mornings.
For de-stressing bath salts
Try: Champneys Treatments Soothing Bath Salts (£14)
• Size: 400g
Inspired by their spa treatments, these salts provide instant ‘ahhhh’ factor to any bath. Enriched with skin softening minerals and scented with notes of geranium, jasmine and blackcurrant, they’re the ideal way to take your soak to the next level.
For a body scrub for dry skin
Try: Drunk Elephant Sugared Koffie Almond Milk Scrub (£24)
• Size: 270ml
• Essential oil-free
As well as helping slough away dead skin cells, this hard-working scrub’s blend of almond milk and marula oils leaves limbs feeling noticeably softer. Its mixture of powdered coffee beans and brown sugar crystals are great for buffing away roughness on heels in particular.
For a nourishing body cream
Try: Fenty Skin Butta Drop Whipped Oil Body Cream (£28)
• Size: 200ml
A little bored of your daily body cream? Try this. This formula, containing seven essential oils, and vitamin C-rich cherry extract in a whipped thick texture, screams luxury and keeps skin smooth all day.
For a foot mask for dry feet
Try: Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Cica-Repair Foot Mask (£2.99)
• Contains two single-use slippers
If your feet are showing signs of strain from being on them all day, these innovative slippers containing a range of skincare goodies inside could help restore them to their former glory.
Use your facial skincare as self-care
There’s something truly self-soothing when it comes to our skincare. From multi-sensorial textures ranging from glossy gels to luscious creams and silky balms, having a variety of textures to experiment with can tick off a bevy of self-care boxes.
And then there’s the application process, whether that’s taking 10 seconds more to massage your product of choice in or taking time out to let a face mask get to work, it causes you to slow down and reconnect with your breath and body while also helping you feel more grounded within your surroundings.
It can even turn into a moment of mindfulness. Next time you sit down to start your skincare routine, take slow, deep breaths and savour everything from each product’s colour to its texture and how it feels on your skin. The key is to do each part with intention – after you’ve tried it a few times, you’ll never go on autopilot again!
Looking to add some self-care into your skincare? Try these. You’ll also love our guide to the best feel-good beauty products for mood, mind and make-up bag.
For a silky cleansing balm
Try: Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm (£27)
• Size: 125ml
This hard-working balm is a beauty editor favourite – and it’s easy to see why. Not only does it glide onto skin, it transforms to a hard-working oil that removes all manner of make-up and leaves skin soft and supple.
For a glow-boosting exfoliating treatment
Try: Ole Henriksen Dewtopia 20% Acid Night Treatment (£46)
• Size: 30ml
For a brighter, more radiant complexion, exfoliating acids can provide a valuable helping hand – and this treatment provides a powerful dose. Containing 10% AHAs and 10% PHAs, it helps to improve texture and tone over time. A word of caution if you’re new to acids: go slow and start with a once a week application and see how you get on.
For a luxuriously textured face cream
Try: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream (£28)
• Size: 50ml
This day cream is built for layering thanks to its lightweight texture and nourishing ingredients. Enriched with goodies such as squalane, vitamin A and vitamin E, it provides all day hydration – without the heaviness.
For a beauty sleep boosting face mask
Try: My Clarins Re-Charge Relaxing Sleep Mask (£24)
• Size: 50ml
Wake up to bouncier and dewier feeling skin with this energising night mask. Infused with hydrating coconut water and detoxifying Alpenrose extract, it’s perfect for helping skin de-stress while you snooze.
Incorporate facial massage into your routine
There’s a whole host of benefits to introducing facial massage to your regimen. It can boost blood circulation (which can increase oxygen flow to the skin) for a brighter, more refreshed complexion; and it can aid lymphatic drainage, which is great if you're prone to puffy eyes or fluid retention around your jawline.
Techniques can range from Gua Sha to jade rolling, ice rolling and a hands-on approach (check out our guide to the at-home massage for the lowdown on each), which all have their unique style. The one thing that they have in common? They’re guaranteed to help you de-stress and ease tension mentally as well as physically.
For a facial massage oil
Try: Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil for Dehydrated Skin (£35)
• Size: 30ml
This silky elixir containing rosewood, patchouli and blue orchid extracts helps tone and prevent moisture loss to provide benefits long after your massage is over. A facial oil or cleansing balm provides the perfect amount of slip on your massager for a frictionless DIY facial.
It also works well if you’re doing a facial massage with your fingertips. Short on time? Not a problem – it can be as simple as you like. Dispense 3-4 drops of facial oil into your hands, press it into your skin and use your fingers to apply light strokes, working upwards and out. Let intuition be your guide and lead you to the areas of the face where you’re holding most tension, whether it’s around your jawline one day, your mouth the next or your forehead on another.
For an eye massage
Try: Fenty Skin Flash Nap Instant Revival Eye Gel-Cream and Massage Tool (£36)
• Size: 15ml
Massage the signs of fatigue away with this kit’s mini cooling massage tool. The lightweight gel eye cream is also a treat for tired eyes thanks to its hydrating and fast-absorbing formula that helps skin appear smoother and softer. It’s a great primer for your under-eye concealer too.
For a rose quartz face roller
Try: Boots Glow Mini Facial Roller in Pink (£7)
Jade rolling can be a great way to stimulate lymphatic drainage and de-puff, and this mini option is a great pick for particularly hard-to-reach areas. Simply roll upwards and outwards from the middle of the face, taking care to only use gentle pressure. It feels wonderfully cooling on the neck too. Start at the bottom and roll upwards towards the chin to finish.