The wellness industry is racing ahead, capturing the hearts, minds — and stomachs — of consumers who once looked to creams, color cosmetics and the odd facial to feel better about themselves.
Today, men and women alike are taking a holistic approach, looking to beautify on the inside as well as outside with therapies aimed at calming and balancing the body and the mind. They’re also researching medicinal products — and therapists — to help them with their individual needs.
Tapping, Qi Gong, sound baths and energy healing have become popular among fashion designers in particular, while at retail, the lines between beauty, alternative therapies and ancient treatments are blurring.
Net-a-porter has added a wellness subcategory to its beauty pages, offering products such as hair vitamins costing 70 pounds a pack, water bottles with amethyst crystals to emit calming and creative energy, and a drinkable vegan radiance powder to help the skin glow.
The Facegym flagship in London. Courtesy Photo
Likewise, Cult Beauty has introduced a well-being category that sells libido and energy boost pills, acupressure pillows, quartz eye masks, CBD oral spray and expensive dietary supplements.
Earlier this year, it branched into skin care with the release of a new range of heat and motion-activated, skin-care sticks meant to be used during gym or outdoor workouts to draw out toxins.
At the Indie Beauty Expo in London in October, vitamins and women’s menstrual wellness products jostled for attention alongside traditional beauty and makeup.
The New York-based Pratima, which is based around Ayurveda, is set to re-brand and relaunch early this year. What won’t change is the approach of the founder, Dr. Pratima Raichur, whose aim is to tackle the root, internal cause of skin problems before applying any product on the face or body.
That holistic approach to beauty and wellness is only gaining steam.
Reset, a luxury platform that uses AI technology to offer a range of personalized, mindfulness services that address stress management, will hold a pilot event in London later this month, with the app set to go into beta testing soon.
Founded by Joy Yaffe, who built fashion brands and worked in the health sector for over a decade, the site connects users directly with gurus online, via the app, and offline through Reset events, pop-ups and experiences.
The experts address a range of issues, offering solutions to video addiction and cancer counseling, teaching pain management techniques, and creating pre- and post-natal practices.
“It all comes down to the fact that you are what you think, and you are what you eat,” said Yaffe. “Seventy-five percent of people are stressed on the job. Millennials are living their lives in a pressure cooker, and the majority of people lack coping mechanisms, connectivity and community.”
She said the aim of Reset is to address stress by providing solutions that are “life-enhancing, and enable self-optimization.”
Founded by the longtime public relations executive Meena Khera and the naturopathic nutritionist Amanda Griggs, Khera-Griggs has opened at the new Urban Retreat day spa in Knightsbridge, offering cleanse programs, infrared saunas and holistic treatments.
The clinic’s offer includes sensory therapy with chakra oils; bioresonance testing; cupping and yoga with Sadie Frost’s masters, Hortense Suleyman and Maya Fiennes.
The clinic also has a soundproof fitness studio meant for yoga, Pilates and meditation and offers services such as Deepak Chopra’s Inner Space Immersive Meditation Experience.
Separately, Urban Retreat has a roster of doctors, therapists and specialists who plan to host residencies and practice there.
It’s truly a sign of the times, that men and women alike can walk through the doors of Urban Retreat and get anything from a haircut and blow dry to a tattoo to a bespoke colonic treatment. Rounding out its approach to wellness, Urban Retreat even has a restaurant that serves healthy food — and organic wines.
Living in London can often feel a little isolating and can lack that community vibe (especially for outsiders, like us) so visiting our weekly market, seeing all the same friendly faces and having a good chinwag became so important to us. Having a connection to the people who grow and produce your food makes you really appreciate the effort involved so much more – we were far less likely to throw food away.
We also found it was much easier to shop zero waste because the farmers and stallholders were generally happy to pop the produce directly into our bags or containers.
In London, there seems to be Farmers’ Markets in most suburbs (probably because of the high density of people everywhere).
To find farmer’s markets in your city, have a look see on these sites:
If you’re new to the idea of composting (like we were) and think it’s all rather overwhelming but would still like to take a step towards reducing your contribution to the landfill, check into municipal composting facilities and services near you.
For Londoners, London’s Food Waste Service may work for you. Many of London’s councils now collect food waste as part of their weekly waste collection service. You simply collect your food waste in a caddy and put it out for collection each week – it is SUPER EASY. According to The City of London, this food waste is then “taken to a specialized facility in Milton Keynes. The food waste is turned into compost which is used on local farmland to improve the soil and grow more food.”
To find out more about whether your council provides composting services, check out your council’s website.
If you live outside London, you can also contact your city council. BioCycle’s Find a Composter is also a great resource.
3. SWITCH TO A RENEWABLE ENERGY PROVIDER
About 8 months into our time in London, we discovered Bulb Energy, a green gas and electricity provider. They supply 100% renewable energy so we made the switch to them from British Gas – all online!
It was the most incredibly easy thing to do. We thought we’d have to sit on the phone for hours (like we had to do to close down our British Gas account) but it literally took 5 minutes to sign up to Bulb and ended up being much cheaper than British Gas.
Still, energy mindfulness is key: Making the switch to renewable doesn’t mean you can continue to use power willy-nilly. You should still measure your consumption where you can but using renewable energy definitely makes one feel better about using the heater on cold winter, London nights…
4. SWAP THE SUPERMARKET FOR BULK SHOPS
Bulk shops are our new favourite thing in the world. Admittedly, we didn’t get much bulk grocery shopping done in London as we only figured out they existed towards the end of our stay and our zero waste ambitions were largely served by an awesome farmers’ market.
BUT if we could go back in time, we would be tapping the local bulk stores for all their jar-filled goodness. For those who are not familiar with the idea, bulk stores are set up to reduce/eliminate the need for plastic packaging.
Bulk stores work like this
You turn up with your own reusable jars / containers, then you weigh your container, fill them up with what you need, get them weighed again and pay based on the weight (less the weight of the jar). It sounds clunky but actually works really well.
They typically sell dry goods (like flours, nuts, seeds), liquids (like honey, vinegar and olive oil) as well as household cleaning / personal care items (like soap, shampoo, and washing liquid).
What we love about them is that there is limited time wasted on making decisions(there’s usually only a couple of choices of soap, honey, etc. most of which is really good quality and / or organic in our experience), there’s usually nice, eco-people manning the stands and you can buy exactly how much you need (for example, we have the hugest jar for coffee that anyone has ever seen).
Admittedly, it can be a grind to do every day if you live further away, but even if you do it once a week, it’s still so much better for your health and takes a lot of pressure off the busy public transport system.
Ideas to make riding easier in London:
If you get a folding bike, you can ride part of the journey and take your bike with you on public transport for the remainder or the return journey (according to Visit London: “Folding bikes may be taken without restriction on all Tube lines, river services, London’s local trains, the Docklands Light Railway, and London’s Tramlink. You can even take a folding bike on buses, at the driver’s discretion”)
If you don’t want to invest in your own bike or are just visiting the city and would rather enjoy contributing to the sharing economy (good on you), London has an excellent network of Satander Bikes which are set up all over the city and can be hired for as little as £2
Riding your bike doesn’t have to be limited to riding to work, consider riding around on the weekends too. In many respects, it would be a lot nicer!
6. SAY ADIOS TO FAST FASHION AND SHOP AT CHARITY SHOPS & SECOND HAND MARKETS
There are so many fabulous charity shops. In fact, there’s one on just about every strip of shops. Since these are typically set up to raise money for a particular charity or cause so by buying there, you are doing good and not actively contributing to the world’s current oversupply of new stuff.
Search for charity shops near you using Google Maps. There are also a bunch of lists online for different areas, like this one for central London.
Vintage and second hand markets (aka thrift stores and op shops) are also great alternatives. We can very confidently say that you can look incredible and save a ton of moola by spending a little time looking for quality second hand items.
If you don’t much have the time to venture out and sort through the mountains of clothes in the thrift store, you can now easily shop (and sell) used clothes online or through mobile apps.
7. GET TO GREEN PLACES AND/OR GROW YOUR OWN GREEN
We’re convinced that time in nature is critical to staying connected to the things that we think matter most (like… nature) and it helps us stay motivated to live better.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race, especially in places like London where everyone else is striving to make more money and buy more stuff. However, we found that taking time out each week to walk or run in one of London’s beautiful parks was more than essential. It reminded us that the things we enjoy most include being together, out in nature, breathing oxygen recently deployed from trees and slowing down to step back and think.
The big parks in London are extraordinary. If you can find a way to live near one, we’d highly recommend it. We managed to walk in one every week and we saw foxes, wood pigeons and squirrels. At night, we even heard the odd owl, which made us so very happy!
Or… grow your own apartment garden!
Another thing we did was green our own space. Our little flat was filled with plants – all kinds of weird and wonderful green things. We loved watching them grow over the course of the year and they reportedly help clean the air.
If you have access to a courtyard, balcony, garden or windowsill, you could take this further (as we will be doing) by growing your own food, like veggies and herbs. Nothing like super local organic food to help you live more sustainably!
8. SUPPORT ETHICALLY MINDED STORES, PRODUCTS, COMPANIES AND/OR SERVICE PROVIDERS
This was remarkably easy to do in London. Because there is such a huge concentration of people, you’re bound to find people close-ish to you or at least online who are creating products and services that have been created with ethics in mind.
By way of another example, we recently read about this company Ooho, who is supplying zero waste water to events by making edible water solutions made out of seaweed! Such impressive technology!
There are so many options, we couldn’t possibly list them all but we would suggest that before you consume anything regularly, do a quick google search. See if there is someone out there trying to embed some good into a product or service that you’re in the market for!
In London, there almost always is (which is a total luxury – many people don’t have the opportunity to buy ethically minded products).
9. GET OUT OF TOWN
Getting out of the city into the English countryside was always pure bliss. What an incredibly beautiful country!
England’s transport infrastructure makes it so easy to jump on a train and be in the country within a few hours. We went on bicycle tours, cultural excursions, hikes and warm cozy, winter getaways.
So what has this got to do with sustainable city dwelling? We look at it two ways:
Personal sustainability: London can be hardcore and intense (at least for us out-of-towners) – similar to #7, getting out of town helped reconnect us to the land, to the trees, to our fellow humans and animals that aren’t frantically running up that ladder. This in turn helped us stay focused on living a little more meaningfully
Access to local, nice things: We loved getting out into the country-side and supporting local business by buying local produce and dining in local restaurants
10. OFFSET THAT TRAVEL
If you’ve lived in London or know someone who has, you’ll know that it is EXTREMELY TEMPTING to travel all over Europe (and sometimes even further afield) because airfares are ridiculously cheap.
And while we wholeheartedly believe travel is important to opening our minds and breaking down biases, there’s no doubt that it’s an environmentally harmful exercise.
So, if you do plan to hop across the ditch on a regular basis from London, consider offsetting your travel.
After a fair amount of research, we ultimately ended up offsetting with MyClimate because they have a nice calculator that allows you to set off more than just flights (we went on some long road trips too).
The restaurant beautifully promotes a healthy lifestyle with a variety of delicious and healthy seasonal food which ranges from filling earth bowls to high tea. The perfect brunch location with a natural and minimal vibe that will leave you relaxed while enjoying classic avocado toast, or a special ‘protein’ omelette, chocolate chip waffles and truffle potato rosti – all washed down with hot chocolate or a matcha latte.
A traditional fine dining and vegan match made in heaven. The restaurant was first to become a Michelin starred venue in Britain offering a Vegan tasting menu in 2015 with exceptional seasonal dishes including Rose petal sorbet and Truffle Tortellini.
Come and relax in a cosy and chilled atmosphere. The black cat café is an independent cooperatively run vegan café serving up delicious plant based food made from scratch with the show stopping vegan full breakfast and delicious milk free milkshakes.
Satisfy your fish and chips cravings with Sutton and sons plant based alternative- ‘Fish’ made from banana blossom. The restaurant also serves delicious vegan scampi, prawns, plant based sausage and chicken. Success!
One of the best in the vegan junk food scene fulfilling guilty and greasy pleasures. Tasty mac n’ cheese, juicy chicken burgers and creamy vegan gravy. Long live the carbs and say goodbye to boring salads!