On Tuesday I went to a tea at the W hotel hosted by Cult Beauty. I was given lots of intriguing looking products to try and me and the rest of the xojane beauty division (I like that vaguely military title which I just made up) will be testing them out over the next few weeks and letting you know which ones we rate.
But the thing that made the biggest impression on me from Tuesday was my talk with aromatherapist Michelle Roques-O'Neil. Never was the "therapist" bit in that title more apt - this woman is one of the calmest, most empathetic people I've ever met. She's an expert in her field and can talk to you about essential oils, the energy fields in the body etc. but always at the root of everything is sound, old-fashioned common sense.
She was introducing us to her new range of products – a line called Therapie. She explained how she realised that there was a need for a simple range to help you look after yourself and do general phsyical and mental maintenance on a daily basis, when you can’t run to an (aroma)therapist but need to avoid getting to the point where ‘the elastic snaps’ (I love that phrase!)
For example the Boost hair and body wash (£18, cultbeauty.co.uk) is SLS-free and uses a natural detergent made from sugar and coconut, Fragonia essential oil (from the tea tree family, but less medicinal-smelling) plus a special kind of peppermint extract to have a cooling effect on the skin that makes it tingle and wakes you up while getting you clean.
Cherish (£42, cultbeauty.co.uk) is a body serum (these are becoming ‘a thing’ apparently) that acts as a veritable organic pharmacy, so crammed is it with essential oils that perform at the highest level. If you use it regularly, it will eventually plump up the skin as well as lifting your spirits with its heady blend of fragrant oils. It’s safe for use during pregnancy and particularly good for stretch marks.
Then there was the Restore Aura Spray (£22, cultbeauty.co.uk) which you’re meant to carry with you all the time and use when you want to hydrate your skin and calm your mind. It has Iranian Rose and Wild Rose, Frankincense and White Sage from Arizona (I love rose-based face sprays – my other favourites are from MV Organics and Shu Uemura).
But the point Michelle was making was a wider one, that anyone can take on board whether they use her products or not. It is this: modern life can be relentless, frazzled and stressful. To take even five minutes out of the chaos to focus solely on yourself is the kindest and most sensible thing you can do. And beauty products - those fabulously frivolous, indulgent things - can help.
Olivia's written very eloquently on this subject and listening to Michelle talking about adrenal stress and how it’s a factor in auto immune diseases, skin ageing and weight gain really brought the point home. She said “Try to find a balance, take time for yourself and disconnect – that’s very powerful and will draw people towards you. Make a space and time for yourself and you won’t feel so resentful. Just realise that everything lies with you and it’s up to you how you choose to engage with the world.” That is such a simple, powerful concept.
I guess I just really love the notion that silly, superficial "smellies" have a small but vital role to play in life. Stating firmly that you need to look after your physical comfort - whether that's a long soak with bath salts or an invigorating shower or lavishing yourself with body lotion is a small act of self-love. Also, I can’t manically flick from Twitter to Instagram to Facebook to emails and back to Twitter in a never-ending cycle when I’m in the shower.
Are you good at taking time for yourself or do you, like me, need to step away from the iPhone and pick up a bottle of nail polish instead?