Do you take time out to pamper yourself daily? Annabel Meggeson, former beauty director for Red magazine and new columnist for Healthista reveals six easy self-care tips that she does everyday
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Self care. Somewhere between this buzziest-of-buzzwords and done-to-death trend lies this slightly annoying terminology. It denotes nice things we can do for ourselves, to keep body and spirit in shape.
Self-care comes easily to some, is alien to others or, in my case, gains resonance as you grow that bit older, wiser and better at being kind to yourself. It can mean anything from baking yourself a batch of heart shaped cookies to standing your ground in a discussion; from doing a yoga class to learning how to appreciate yourself.
When I had body issues (for want of a better expression), I could barely look at my body, let alone touch it
In other words, it’s the mindful taking of time to pay attention to you, not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that’s responsible – ensuring you’re functioning well so you can be an asset to yourself and others. So not that annoying, really.
There’s an important crossover between beauty and self-care. When you apply a beauty product or ‘indulge’ in a beauty ritual, you create a conscious connection between you and your body that’s very nurturing – and can provide a gateway to more gestures of self-love, like exercise or cooking nutritious meals.
When I had body issues (for want of a better expression), I could barely look at my body, let alone touch it. I derived no pleasure from it whatsoever. Four children and a couple of decades later, the body I have now is objectively worse than the one I had then, but my feelings for it are much more loving.
That’s partly because I’ve become more philosophical, but mainly because I pay it lots of attention. Like a plant or pet, the more love and touch and tenderness you give a body, the more it thrives and grows beautiful and gives back.
The more love and touch and tenderness you give a body, the more it thrives and grows beautiful
To this end, we should ‘get in touch with our bodies every day’, as wellness expert Abigail James puts it. That can be as simple as having a lovely stretch every morning (throw in a few squeezes and strokes for good measure) or taking extra time with your skincare.
Here are some of the things I do every day or nearly every day in the spirit of self-nurture. They’re all really easy, take hardly any time, but pay forward big time in terms of how I treat myself overall…
Self-care beauty tip #1 Body brushing
It’s an oldie but goodie. It’s also the last thing I feel like doing sometimes, especially if I’m in a rush. So I’ve developed the same solution to this circulation-boosting, skin-softening protocol as I have to exercise: VERY small goals.
I aim for half a minute before my bath or shower, extending the count if I’m in the mood (but, hey, no pressure). Knowing I only have to count to 30 encourages me to get started – and get it over with – and it doesn’t feel overwhelming to do it every day (or thereabouts).
My Cowshed Walnut Body Brush is three years old and still going strong. Elemis also have a good one.
Self-care beauty tip #2 Face massage
I take a tiny scoop of cleansing balm and spend a minute or so mindfully massaging it into my face.
I emphasise tiny because after years of using greedy finger-fuls of the stuff, knowing there were plenty more pots in the beauty cupboard, I now have a cleansing balm budget.
Use it wisely – a fingertip’s worth – and a £43 pot of Elemis Pro Collagen Rose Cleansing Balm will give you about 80 cleanses.
I mention this one because it was a limited edition product that’s so good it has been made permanent. The scent and texture are both gorgeous.
Self-care beauty tip #3 Body oil
Rubbing in body oil is a true act of self-care. It requires you to be in the moment while you stimulate and nourish your skin. It forces you to touch all parts of you, which is genuinely a good thing.
Warming the body oil in the bath, on the radiator or with a hair dryer ramps up the feel-good factor. I’ve been using Rub, a collab between Neighbourhood Botanicals and feminist pop icon Peaches, which I LOVE.
The oil is deeply nourishing and I have completely fallen for the ballsy pink packaging and the promise – that I, too, will become a fully liberated anarchist who is totally at one with my body and my Self.
Self-care beauty tip #4 Pelvic floor exercises
All you need for these is a daily trigger – something to help you remember to do them. I use the ziplock method (when you tighten the muscles from bottom to belly button, imagining that you’re closing a zip), while cleaning my teeth.
My recent obsession with Listerine’s Advanced White Mouth Wash has given me an extra 60 seconds of squeeze time (not to mention made my teeth brighter). There’s no quicker way to connect with your body than concentrating on its core and I defy anyone who does regular pelvic floor/ab crunching exercises not to feel better about their body as a whole.
Self-care beauty tip #5 An MOT bath
You don’t need me to tell you how to have a bath, but don’t miss the following tricks: rub a little castor oil into the ends of your hair to make it strong and soft.
If it’s an evening bath and you’re washing your hair the next morning, you can leave it on overnight; while you’re lying there, wear a sheet mask – it’s extra hydration for your skin with zero effort; rub in an oil-salt body scrub, then leave it on while you soak to get the benefit of the oils.
Try Alex Steinherr x Primark Maximum Moisture Sheet Mask (£3) and Sanctuary Spa Classic Salt Scrub (£13).
Self-care beauty tip #6 A Valentine’s weekend massage
Bath-based beauty company, Natural Spa Factory, have these aromatic candles. Let the room fill with their lovely scent, then pour off the melted wax and use it to administer a moisturising massage. And frankly if you don’t have someone to do it for you, so what? Self care – the clue’s in the name.
See you next week.
Annabel Meggeson is the former beauty director of Red Magazine and Healthista’s new Beautista columnist.
Annabel’s columns will appear every Friday and feature honest, refreshing coverage of the best anti-ageing treatments, products worth their pricetag, beauty bargains that deliver results and seasonal trend updates. Don’t miss it.