You don’t have to rush to look and feel great. Refresh, relax and feel rejuvenated with these nurturing rituals, covering from head to toe.
History is steeped in beauty rituals, with most ancient cultures having their own specific practices and treatments. For example, the ancient Greeks used olive oil and honey to anoint themselves; ancient Romans were known for their extensive bathing therapies; ancient Egyptians developed the hair removal method known as sugaring; and India has the 5000-year-old science of life, known as Ayurveda, that details many different concoctions and treatments.
Beauty rituals are not only performed for their physical benefits like glowing skin and hair, they can also be good for the spirit and the soul, offering some nurturing time out from everyday stressors.
The difference between a routine and a ritual is an important one. A beauty routine is more of a good habit; something you do each day without giving it much thought. A beauty ritual, however, requires you to be mindful and present: it’s a sacred time for self-nurturing.
Rituals don’t have to be daily but they can’t be rushed, and require that extra bit of effort; perhaps soothing music, an uplifting scent, your favourite herb tea and your phone placed on silent.
Doing a weekly facial mask can be a great start to implementing a beauty ritual. Masks can cleanse, tone, moisturise, exfoliate, heal and nourish the face. They can also give you a reason to set up a soothing environment and lie down for a while. You can buy a face mask or make your own. Before you use a mask, cleanse your face thoroughly. Then add the mask and relax for 20 minutes, before removing with warm water.
A green herb mask is easy to make and suitable for all skin types. Just blend two cups of finely chopped fresh herbs, 2 tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon honey, then mix in some wheat germ to make a soft paste. You can add other ingredients to the mix such as turmeric powder for its anti-inflammatory action.
Feet are often a neglected area of the body, yet with 72,000 nerve endings, some foot pampering can make your whole body feel relaxed. A simple ritual to look after your feet is to use a pumice stone to smooth away hard skin, followed by a soothing foot bath. Just add some warm water to a bowl and add a tablespoon of salt and a few drops of essential oils like peppermint (refreshing), lavender (relaxing) or geranium (improves circulation). After dabbing dry, follow with a massage using a hydrating oil or foot cream.
HOT OIL HAIR CARE
If your hair is looking dry or damaged, or you are battling a dry scalp or dandruff, a simple hot oil treatment works a treat and feels
° delicious. To make, heat a mixture of olive oil and coconut oil to lukewarm, then massage gently into the hair and scalp. Wrap the head in a hot towel, and change the towel when it cools. Leave the oil in for at least an hour before washing it out.
While the ancient Romans are credited as the masters of the bathing ritual, it is in fact the ancient Indians who were the first to record the ritual of bathing. Recorded in the works called Grihya Sutras, these elaborate practices which included three daily baths date as far back as 500BC. Before then, seas and rivers served as the original form of bath.
The city of Bath, known as Aquae Sulis during ancient Roman times and located in what is now England, contained an array of popular public baths with hydrothermal springs and sophisticated water systems. People who attended these baths would first exercise to work up a sweat, then scrape off their perspiration with a little tool called a strigil. Afterward, they’d go from a tepid bath to a hot one, followed by a plunge into a cold bath to relax and recharge.
In Asia, the bathing culture spread from India to China and then to Japan during the Nara period (710-784AD), where people bathed for physical and spiritual reasons. It wasn’t until the 18th century that bathing become more about hygiene than ritual.
Creating a bathing ritual is not just about getting clean; it can also stimulate, relax and heal. Adding one cup of Epsom salts or 3-6 drops of essential oils mixed into one teaspoon of a base oil (make sure you swirl them around) to running water are great ways to improve the therapeutic benefits. The temperature should be body heat or very slightly higher, about 35-38°C. A gentle dry-brush massage is a great idea before getting in the bath to stimulate circulation. Then light a candle, spread a mask over your face, rest your head and neck on a warm hot water bottle and relax for at least 30 minutes.