Thursday, 19 January 2017

The Mindful Beauty Reboot: 7 Mindful Beauty Hacks for 2017



It's the third week of January, traditionally a time when all my resolutions somehow fall by the wayside in spite of my own best intentions. At this point, I know myself well enough (50% desperately wishing to be more organised, 100% garbage fire) to understand that most times, SMART goal-making just doesn't work so well. So instead of setting up endless detailed to-do lists that I'll likely misplace and never get round to, this year I just resolved to incorporate mindfulness into my life. 

Mindfulness isn't about successfully going into deep meditative trances. Rather, it's the act of being present, and embracing greater self-awareness in life. Becoming more mindful is an almost unquantifiable goal, and somehow that's helped me break out of my bad habit of taking an all-or-nothing approach to life. I'm taking things slow, but more importantly, I'm still at it, and enjoying the journey. By being kinder to myself, and building new routines from the ground up, my life is taking on more positive patterns at a realistic pace. 

I've been taking a really useful online course on the subject called The Art of Mindfulness Meditation, and while I'm still nowhere near being able to sit still and meditate, I've found that incorporating some of the exercises to my daily beauty regime has helped me establish a more effective routine (my skin thanks me), and get more comfortably into the groove of mindful practices. Here are the seven things that have helped me the most:



Mindfulness Hack 1 - Take the time to nurture and care for yourself

Setting aside the time and space to focus on the present moment is imperative when you're just getting started with mindfulness. I'm self-aware enough to know that sitting and doing nothing makes me antsy, so the part of the day I've carved out for mindfulness is now also self-care time. Instead of rushing through whatever I remember to do each day while my brain is on a plane somewhere far off, I try to bring my thoughts and focus back to the admittedly fairly pleasant task at hand. Unless you're feeling extra-indulgent, you don't even need that much time - my full head-to-toe hair, skin, and body care drill is done in the ten minutes before I go to bed, and I spend that time trying to fully focus on whatever I'm doing. And if you can't even manage that, you're probably in desperate need of some time to spend on yourself. 



It starts with my hair, and a pump of Milbon Deesse's Elujuda Mellow Oil Hair Treatment, which came in 3rd in the entire Hair Care category at Cosme's 2016 Best Cosmetics Awards. Made from a base of Baobab Oil and mixed with Olive Squalene and Argan Oil, it feels slightly thick at first touch, but is actually amazingly light and non-greasy. Rub it between your palms to warm it up and release the gentle floral scent of the oil, which has a really nice and relaxing quality. Then, finger-comb it through your hair, paying extra close attention to the ends. 

While this leave-in treatment is usually used in salons as a pre-styling product to ensure perfect blow outs every time, it's also the best hair softener out there. My hair is on a coarser side, and after spending much of December on the road through wintry climes, I started the new year with my worst hair ever. Each time I apply the Mellow Oil, I can see and feel it imparting a subtle lustre, and an obvious conditioning effect. I'm now waking up in the morning with silky smooth curls, which is honestly very exciting. 


Mindfulness Hack 2 - Reflect on the day

Learning how to acknowledge and accept things that happen (Without judgement!) can be an absolute trial, but it's also the first step to greater insight and calm, which doesn't just impact your overall mental well-being, but also your skin. It is so, so easy to get sucked into a never ending cycle of did-I-do-this-well-enough, which makes it all the more valuable to step back, and sort out what was truly important, from all the petty stuff. 



The Bifesta Enrich Cleansing Lotion helps remove makeup, cleanse and tone skin, and add lustre to your complexion with an array of moisturising agents like Hyaluronic Acid, and Coenzyme Q10, which helps act as an anti-oxidant. There are three other Cleansing Lotions in the Bifesta line, each targeting particular skin care concerns (Like dehydration, clogged pores, or acne) with specific ingredients including Lactic Acid and Vitamin CThe gentle and non-irritating Enrich formula looks and smells faintly milky, and like all the other lotions in the line, is created free from oils, colourants, fragrance, alcohols, and parabens. 

On its own, the solution definitely helps remove most traces of foundation and eyeshadow, but more stubborn eyeliners and mascaras may not budge fully. As a big believer in double cleansing, I use the Bifesta Enrich Cleansing Lotion only after thoroughly removing my makeup with maNara's Hot Cleansing Gel. I saturate cotton pads with three pumps of the lotion, then place them all over my face. I've taken to journalling while leaving the skin care ingredients to soak into my skin, which is a great tool for self-reflection. Once I'm done sketching out my day for future Abigail to marvel over, the sweep the pads across my face and neck, catching all the stray remnants of makeup or dead skin. Afterwards, my face feels refreshed and toned, and plump with moisture. 


Mindfulness Hack 3 - Do a full body scan

Checking in with your body and regulating your breathing is a great way to wind down, and provides an excellent framework for allowing your thoughts to order themselves. Being consciously present in your own body is also a really nice way of feeling more comfortable in your own skin. I've been doing this regularly after exercise, and feeling my muscles ache in places I didn't even know I had muscles has made me more driven to building my strength. 

I can't quite get the hang of just lying down and bringing my focus to my toes, so I'm now moisturising with firm intent instead. 


Majolica Majorca has always struck me as a rather romantic sort of brand, and their special winter sky-inspired Christmas 2016 range is no exception. The sole hair and body care product is the limited edition 2016/17 Fall/Winter Majolica Majorca Twinkle Body Jelly, which doesn't actually leave your skin looking glittery. Instead, yellow "stardust" capsules laden with with emollients and a heady perfume are suspended in a purple gel. Spread out, the effect is reminiscent of far-off galaxies.  It takes a while to massage the melty capsules in properly, which provides the right amount of time for you to tune in to what each of your body parts are telling you. If your thoughts inevitably drift to how we are all made of stardust, or the possible heat death of the universe, just let them flow, and then  gently herd them back. 

Remember to breathe!


Mindfulness Hack 4 - Be more conscious of your actions

My morning makeup routine has always been rather slapdash, which means I always forget something. Robotically going through the motions however, isn't what we're aiming for either. Actually paying close attention to what you're doing is immensely helpful, especially when you've got something sharp and pointy very close to your eye. 


The Heroine Make Tenmade Todoke Long and Curl Super Water Proof Mascara is beloved of many a Japanese lady, for excellent reason. Beautifying ingredients like Camellia Oil, Argan Oil, and Royal Jelly Extract have been added to this mascara to care for your lashes, but more importantly, it does what it says on the packaging. The hyper-pigmented fibre-in mascara formula creates a quick-drying waterproof "cling film" around your lashes, and you can build on it for extra drama. I haven't tried crying with this mascara on yet, but it definitely smudges a lot less than other brands I've used before. 

Rather than the traditional zig-zagging motion, the curved brush has been specially designed to mimic the contours of the eye, meaning this is a mascara that needs to be brushed on in straight upward movements, fanning out in sweeps towards the outer corners of your eyes. Devoting your fullest attention to proper application pays off beautifully.  



Mindfulness Hack 5 - Start small!

So you have dreadful beauty habits that you want to change. Trust me, nothing's going to change overnight. The best thing to do is begin with a small and totally manageable step. 

2016 saw me juggle 7 different lip balms - a sorry tale of loss, replacement, grimly repeating the process, and suddenly being swamped during a rare Marie Kondo influenced spring clean. This year, I'm trying a different tactic, by placing three different lip balms in three locations I'm most likely to search for them - one in the bathroom, one on my bedside table, and one in my bag. Once I'm done with a lip balm, I put it back where it belongs. 


I cart the Pure Smile Delicious Lip Cream in Roasted Sweet Potato with me throughout the day, mostly because I can't get over how it smells exactly like my favourite sweet potato cake. I love it so much that I'm far more careful with it than I usually am about my lip balms, which is a great thing. Pure Smile is generally all about moist, plump skin with a dash of fun - think sheet masks that might help you role-play warring state factions, or Chinese New Year ready chicken print sheet masks. They have an extensive selection of different lip care products, but the Delicious Lip Cream range is one of their most popular. Right now, they're completely out of stock for their Chocolate Mint, Caramel Popcorn, and Freshly Baked Bread flavours. The rest of the range include Corn Potage (Omg!), Apple Pie, and Hot Cakes. 


Mindfulness Hack 6 - Practice some form of creativity

There's nothing quite like creating something utterly unique, and your face is one of the best canvases to practice on. There are so many ways to scale up or scale down, and if you really hate anything, it's easy to wipe the slate clean and start over. There are so many great makeup tutorials and tips out there, and you won't know what really works for you until you try. Besides, slowly expanding your beauty horizons is a great way to prepare yourself for growth in other areas in your life. 


I have hitherto shied away from sparkly eyeshadows, preferring less loud matte pigments. I recently came to the realization that much of the problem lay in the trashy sort of eyeshadows I'd previously used. In fact, there's really nothing that imparts a fresh and healthy glow like a subtly shimmery eyeshadow. DHC collaborated with Disney for their very special Christmas product releases, and the adorable Marie of the Aristocats graces the DHC Essence In Eyeshadow. The Marie collection consists of eyeshadows, lipsticks, and blushes in flattering shades, all imbued with the great ingredients that DHC uses for its effective and fuss-free skincare products. The cream-gel Essence In Eyeshadow in GD01 is a deep bronze if you lay it on thickly, but if you pat in a pearl-size amount across both eyelids, you're left with a very pretty champagne glimmer. 




Mindfulness Hack 7 - Open yourself up to possibility

Whether it's a new shade of lipstick, or an overhaul of your entire beauty regime, if you're able to live in the moment when you try something new, it'll make more of a positive difference. 



And of course, if you want to try any of the products that I or any of the other Wonect Starlets have featured, use the code ABIGAIL<3 to get 15% off over at Wonect, which brings the newest and best Japanese products to you (no matter where you are!) direct from Kyoto. 

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