‘Slow Beauty’ is all about taking a holistic and natural approach to looking after yourself.
The Slow Beauty movement bears many similarities to the Slow Food movement. In the late 1980s, the latter emerged as a grassroots campaign championing local, seasonal, nutritious, environmentally sustainable and ethically produced foods. Slow Food advocates think carefully about what they’re putting inside their bodies. Slow Beauty is a natural extension of this ethos. It’s all about considering the products you’re putting on your face and skin – and checking they’re good for you and the world around you.Both movements are reactions against our crazily fast-paced lifestyles. It’s no coincidence that the Slow Food movement evolved at the same time as the fast food giants were popping up all over the place. Likewise, Slow Beauty is a gentler and kinder alternative to the current trend for harsh and invasive aesthetic fixes that promise immediate results – like Botox and fillers.Here’s a short guide to slowing down your beauty regime. But please don’t feel like this is a set of rules you have to follow. The quest for perfection is always stressful – ironically quite the opposite of Slow Beauty’s more relaxed and kinder approach. Feel free to pick and choose which bits work best for you. You can always adopt the rest over time – just make sure to take it nice and s-l-o-w-l-y!
Choose Products with More Natural Ingredients
Much of what you place on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream. This means you should be aware of the nasty chemicals and synthetic additives lurking in standard skincare and cosmetics. They can go directly into your body. As a rule of thumb, the simpler and more natural a product’s ingredient list, the better. Organic is obviously preferable, as it means no harmful pesticides have ended up in the formula (or in the soil!).Understanding all the complicated-sounding ingredients listed on packaging can take time. So here are some initial pointers. Avoid anything containing parabens – which are preservatives used to inhibit bacterial growth. They’ve been shown to disrupt hormone activity and potentially increase breast cancer risk. Found in everything from moisturisers to make-up, Diazolidinyl Urea and Imidazolidinyl Urea are antimicrobials that can release formaldehyde – a known carcinogen – so steer clear of them too. Also be wary of BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), which are closely-related synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives in lipsticks and moisturisers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies BHA as a possible human carcinogen – really not something you want to be slathering over your lips!
Re-think your Attitude to Ageing
So many glossy ads for international beauty houses portray ageing as not just something to be ashamed of, but also something to be fought against. You know the ones, they often feature a model who’s barely out of her teens or a Hollywood celebrity so Botox-ed and air-brushed, she’s barely recognisable. And yet ageing is an entirely natural – and unavoidable – process. It’s how we do it that counts. Nourishing and caring for your skin is surely better than subjecting it to a raft of toxins in the name of smoothing out every wrinkle? Slow Beauty is all about working harmoniously with your skin to produce more natural, softer and – many would say – better results over time. It’s about celebrating your face and body, not punishing them.
Mindfulness seems to be everywhere these days. But, if you’ve not given it a go yet, it’s genuinely worth investigating. You definitely don’t have to chant ‘ohm’ repeatedly or wear macramé sandals (although if you do, that’s fine too!).In a nutshell mindfulness is just taking the time for the things that matter most. When it comes to beauty, it simply means understanding the old adage that real beauty comes from within – and so health and emotional wellbeing are key to looking your best. Slow Beauty is not just about products and treatments, it’s much more expansive – encompassing diet, exercise and stress reduction. It’s about taking in a deep breath, thinking about what would make you feel good – and making time for it! In practice, this works differently for each and every individual. For example, it could be as simple as taking a walk in the countryside, going to a yoga class or downloading a meditation app (and actually using it!).
Once you’ve decided you don’t want to use products that contain harmful chemicals, it often follows that you become aware of the risks these same toxins pose to our wider world. Unfortunately, too many skincare, beauty and personal care products are made without a thought for their ecological after-effects. Now that the facts about the threat of climate change are so well-known, it makes sense to swap to products that are environmentally friendly. For example, many sunscreens contain chemicals that are toxic to marine life, so it’s worth seeking out a natural, mineral sunscreen instead.
The Slow Beauty movement has more than a touch of feminism about it. In an age when women are bombarded – through TV, magazines, music videos and advertising – with standardised images of the perfection they can never hope to attain, it wants to set women free to be themselves. After all, the notion that beauty is one specific set of physical characteristics is ludicrous. We should celebrate individuality, embrace our idiosyncrasies, and refuse to try to become a clone.In Japan they have a concept called ‘wabi-sabi’, which is about appreciating the natural beauty of our imperfect world. That is very Slow Beauty. It’s about learning to love the skin you’re in.