When did self-care become a dirty word? The concept originated in the late 60s by radical feminists wanting to empower women by teaching them to get to know their anatomies. But in recent years, ‘self-care’ has come to encompass the Goopification of beauty, aka a capitalist catch-all that couches healthy habits and ancestral rituals in spa language and posh packaging. My take on self-care is somewhere in the middle. Nice-to-have products (that don’t have to be expensive) and free DIY practices to maintain health and wellbeing rather than ‘optimising’.
Take foot care. Aside from the pampering pleasure of a pedi, the bones themselves also needs regular TLC – especially after a certain age. (As my friend F said on turning 50, “from here on it’s all about teeth, knees and feet.”) My fabulous podiatrist Joanna recommends these exercises for keeping foot ailments in check and suggests trying to walk barefoot on grass – or sand – as much as possible in summer. She also advises trying to keep toes unencumbered. (I just bought my first pair of Birkenstock Arizonas* – yep Steve Jobs influenced me.)
That aside, I do love a self-administered foot massage and fancy scrub. For major pamper points, Olverum Body Polish* (above) is the ideal candidate for this job. It’s not so oily or watery that it slides off and its hardworking ingredient list (including papaya enzyme, pumice and bamboo extract) promises a satisfying grain to polish the skin while allowing oils to penetrate. It doubles as a pre-shower body scrub for “firming skin, brightening skin tone and boosting elasticity” (gently massage into skin five minutes before, no pressure needed).
If you’re into spa smells, this one is bergamot and geranium heaven. Alternatively, if you prefer a traditional summer scent and you’re on a budget, & Other Stories Perle de Coco Scrub* (below) with its tropical beach notes is a strong dupe for Estee Lauder’s cult Bronze Goddess.
While you’re doing your barefoot-in-the-grass routine, why not maximise benefits with some light Tai Chi? A more active alternative to a morning meditation, these 6-minute routines are my go-to. It’s pretty hard to let your mind race and ruminate while trying to coordinate your double spirals and intentional breathing. (Fun fact: Francis Ford Coppola introduced daily Tai Chi lawn sessions on The Outsiders set in 1982, below.)
No time for facials? Me neither. Instead, I like DIY ‘frown knuckling’. This takes me back to massaging my dad’s furrowed brow and clenched jaw in front of the telly back in the day (not to mention, walking on his back – yikes). You can do this face yoga exercise at your desk to destress or at the end of the day (or both!). I like using a scented oil* or balm cleanser* to help my knuckles glide, but it’s just as easy to do it without any products. Simply place the knuckles of your crooked index fingers between your brows, press firmly and glide upwards in short strokes, alternating between the left and right knuckles. You can also use the same knuckles to press against your temples then gently rotate.
Another deeply satisfying end-of-day ritual: a few minutes with a heated eye wand. Definitely a nice-to-have than an essential, but worth looking into if you suffer from dry eyes (increasingly common if you’re glued to screens all day). I use the Peep Club Heated Eye Wand Pro, which works by applying heat and gentle pressure along the lash line to loosen the solidified oils that clog the glands and cause inflammation but is also just extremely soothing and relaxing. You can use the accompanying oily balm around the eye, but I prefer REN Evercalm™ Overnight Recovery Balm*. This is designed as a skin barrier repair balm but as it’s safe to use around eyes, I prefer it applied to eyelids. (I also use it as an eye cream under concealer.)
Finally, the ultimate act of self-care, anything that encourages sleep and deep relaxation. I don’t actually have trouble sleeping but Anatome’s sleep oils are also good for calming an overactive mind. You can dab a couple of drops on your wrists, burn them in a diffuser or add a few pipettes to a night-time bath. I put them on my inner wrist and inside the elbow and that’s me out in minutes. The hero ingredient of the Anatome Japanese Seaweed Essential Sleep Oil* is Japanese Seaweed, famous for its high concentration of polyphenols, which are proven to reduce sleep latency. But it also contains 21 other potent essential oils including rose absolute and English lavender.
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WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Bruce Weber; Olverum; & Other Stories; The Outsiders; Katrien de Blauwer; Elizabeth Peyton
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here
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