If you think wellness is just the pet obsession of acai-munching health enthusiasts and well-heeled yoginis, guess again.
According to non-profit research organisation and think tank Global Wellness Institute, the worldwide wellness economy is now worth US$3.7 trillion (S$5.18 trillion). Work, stress and other pressures of a cosmopolitan lifestyle, plus their knock-on health effects, have led to a shift in focus towards life balance and well-being. People are paying more attention to looking after themselves, whether through diets (such as the clean eating revolution), trendy exercise programmes (like black metal yoga) or newfangled de-stressing methods (digital detox spas and “downtime abbeys”, anyone?).
Cynthia Chua, founder and CEO of the Spa Esprit Group, attributes this development to our constant engagement with social media, and increasing savviness. “We are fixated with mobile devices, Facebook and Instagram, resulting in the effect that there are more things to know and do. I feel that the body and mind are crying out for ‘me’ space,” she says. Coupled with this generation’s proclivity for information – “We read product labels (and) we want to know more,” she opines – and it’s not surprising that a more mindful, holistic attitude towards leading a balanced life is garnering momentum.
This emphasis on wellness has also manifested in the beauty circuit – and it’s big. With more consumers looking for ways to incorporate elements of wellness into their daily routines, beauty- and wellness-related companies are responding with products and services that promise better skin resilience, energy and immunity. It’s a long-game approach that focuses on getting skin healthy from the inside and out, executed through innovative skincare, supplements and services.
Of Balms And Potions
Given how studies have shown that factors such as diet, stress and sleep impact our appearance, wellness and beauty have started to converge. Increasingly, brands are attempting to bottle up the benefits of a better lifestyle, or address aspects of an unhealthy one.
Some skincare combat the detriments of modern life. Lancome’s Energie de Vie The Smoothing & Glow Boosting Liquid Care, for instance, is a serum-plus-moisturiser that works to counter the visible effects of an urban lifestyle. Combining goji berry, gentian and French melissa (aka lemon balm) extracts, it delivers a potent shot of hydration and antioxidants to help tackle dullness and dryness in fatigued skin.
Partying, bingeing on unhealthy food and urban pollution can lead to toxins accumulating in the skin, according to French beauty giant Clarins. Targeted at such lifestyle “indulgences”, its Booster Detox is an ultra-rich, oil-like serum derived from green coffee – reputedly high in strong detoxifying properties – designed to be mixed with regular moisturiser any time one’s complexion looks haggard.
Just as traditional throwbacks like acupuncture and herbal tonics figure in wellness practices, it’s now also not unusual to find skincare equivalents that condition and fortify. One example: Sulwhasoo’s Herblinic Restorative Ampoules with extracts of restorative Chinese medical herbs like ginseng and angelica root. Intended as an intensive fix to help weakened or damaged skin recover, it promises to boost skin regeneration, while nourishing and strengthening skin against external stressors.
Your Skin’s What You Eat
It’s not enough to work on the facial signs of ageing if your body’s systems are wonky though. Beauty supplements have expanded beyond collagen-boosting drinks and skin-brightening pills to promote physical and mental well-being – think of this as a new take on beauty-from-the-inside.
Case in point: Japanese brand Fancl. Long known for its collagen drinks, it has expanded its lineup to include supplements to alleviate problems stemming from 21st century living. Its Bilberry tablets, for example, supposedly relieve strained eyes from all that Insta-stalking as the fruit is rich in anthocyanin that promotes healthy vision, while its Vitamin B Complex tablets enhance metabolism and lessen fatigue.
The rise of the wellness movement has also brought with it an increased awareness of where and how ingredients are sourced. In our local scene, Farm To Beauty – the latest initiative under the Spa Esprit Group – grows the ingredients used in its skincare. Working with urban farming company Edible Garden City, 16 varieties of herbs and plants are grown in a 10,000 sq ft rooftop garden at Raffles City. Of these, calendula and aloe vera are key and used in facial products, while lemon balm, tarragon, spearmint and passionflower go into its Calm Down relaxation tea.
Another recent homegrown brand that emphasises the purity and health-enhancing prowess of its products is Go Pure, a line of natural and organic honeys and supplements made from the nectar of plants grown in the Romanian Highlands. Its Premium Pure Propolis softgel capsules are derived from high-grade green Brazilian propolis, boasting perilla seed oil, DHA, EPA and lingzhi spore oil, said to improve immunity, purify blood and protect the liver.
Tapping into the wellness movement in creative and enterprising ways, lifestyle companies are no longer simply about spa treatments and fitness lessons either.
Como Shambhala Urban Escape at Delfi Orchard offers naturopathy, functional medicine, acupuncture and life coaching, in addition to the likes of Yin yoga and gyrotonic sessions to cater to all aspects of living well. It’s even introduced the Home Kitchen Edit, where one can get an in-depth consultation and home kitchen review with its resident nutritionist Eve Persak, who will help reboot your pantry and diet. One of the goals? To arm clients with the information to put together meals that can actually improve the complexion.
If planning a de-stressing escape is well, stressful, there’s local start-up Om & Away, a travel portal that helps one achieve peace of mind with a curation of health and wellness retreats from all around the world. Functioning like an Expedia for wellness seekers, retreats are grouped according to categories like yoga, detox, spa and fitness. Simply make your selection and book the date. The only other thing you have to do on your own: Buy a plane ticket.
And one of the most exotic and holistic services that can be experienced right here in Singapore: wellness centre Breathya’s salt therapy sessions.
An idea that originated from Eastern Europe – where salt cave mines were used to treat respiratory ailments like allergies and sinus in the mid-1800s – it’s been recreated here with humidity-controlled chambers, salt-covered walls and dispersed micronised dry salt particles in the air. Like in a sauna-meets-clinical treatment room, customers sit inside for an hour inhaling the air. What the experience is touted to do: reduce inflammation, widen nasal airways, remove toxins, strengthen immunity, relieve eczema and acne, lift the mood, reduce stress, and (take a deep breath now) promote better sleep.
Model & Product Photography Vee Chin, assisted by Sherman See-Tho & Angela Guo Model Styling Imran Jalal Product Art Direction Adeline Eng Hair & Makeup Manisa Tan/Paletteinc using La Biosthetique & Urban Decay Model Alexa/Ave Dress Celine Rug La Maison Pierre Frey
This story first appeared in Female’s May 2017 issue.