Beauty goes beyond how many trips around the sun you’ve completed, it’s more about how you’ve been spending those days – because balance is the key to bliss at any age.
The pursuit of beauty is an endless one, and has changed – and will continue to change – over the years. Each new decade brings with it new trends for an ideal look, only now that ideal look seems to change yearly and sometimes monthly, courtesy of fashion and beauty influencers. According to Forbes, the beauty industry is worth 532 billion dollars and on a growing path. Experts say that it has resisted the recession – not even the pandemic was able to put a damper on its bright future. A lot of people consider cosmetic products to be essential and, despite being price-conscious during these times, customers don’t stop buying them.
We all want a younger-looking face and flawless complexion and, somewhere between the products and treatments on offer, makeup tricks, and lots of selfdiscipline, these goals might be achievable. However, it’s impossible to guarantee that you will look young forever, even if you go down the invasive procedures route. The cosmetic and body treatments universe is vast, while and the cosmetic surgery landscape – be it micro or macro – stretches the possibilities even further.
Yes, you will probably succeed in achieving a porcelain face, but the effects aren’t eternal, and you’ll have to dedicate your life to keeping it updated. Not everyone’s cup of tea. But we can’t deny that we like beautiful things and secretly love hearing, “Oh honey, you don’t look 40, you look like you are 35 maximum.” And then you think, wow, 40 minutes of layering product over product, night after night, for all those years is finally paying off.
Ageing is something that will come to us all and how we deal with this certainty is what really matters. And the ageing aspect doesn’t happen only to our faces, but also in our bodies as a whole. We believe that there are two main aspects to growing older in harmony: our bodies and our minds. They are not two separate parts of us, but one big mechanism, and they have to work together for better functionality. “Our bodies are magical; they are very simple yet incredibly complicated. Everything is intertwined, each and every part participates in this very meticulous dance,” says Ouiam El Hassani, a holistic nutritionist who specialises in women’s health and happens to be a tai chi and qigong teacher.
Your diet is directly related to what your body needs and if it is receiving the right nourishment, then it will function well. Otherwise, it will send signals to warn you, your skin being the first to sound the alarm. “Hormones are a significant component in the equation. I would go as far as to say that they are actually a deal-breaker when it comes to skin condition,” says Ouiam. “They are also the cause of unhealthy hair and nails, so if you want glowing skin, hair, and nails, your primary focus should be your hormones. The most effective way to regulate them is through what you eat.”
To balance your hormones, you have to take your gut health in consideration. To do so, Ouiam offers a word of advice:
– Focus on food high in fatty acids
– Have plenty of fibre
– Ingest foods high in fat-soluble vitamins (beef liver, kale, spinach, carrots, cantaloupe)
– Opt for food rich in antioxidants and minerals (berries, cacao)
– Pick foods with silica (banana, oats, raisins, green beans, leeks, brown rice)
– Eat food with astaxanthin (salmon, rainbow trout, shrimp, krill)
– Have meals rich in vitamin A (liver, eggs, sweet potatoes), vitamin E (sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach), and copper (oyster, dark chocolate, mushrooms)
– Get plenty of zinc (miso, beans, nutritional yeast, broccoli)
The phrase mens sana in corpore sano was coined at the end of the 1st century by Roman poet Juvenal and means ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’. Even back then, the poet understood the link between these two parts of who we are. “I believe that the body and mind have a symbiotic relationship. Solely giving attention to one over the other won’t generate the best result,” emphasises Louise O’Loan, a yoga teacher and trained remedial masseuse who graduated in psychology and sociology, and post-graduated in human nutrition.
Meditation is one way to create a flowing channel between body and mind. However, a true state of introspection and contemplation might be hard to achieve as it needs hours and hours of practising. But don’t feel discouraged – the path is a long one, but possible to be trailed. Nevertheless, there are plenty of other techniques that don’t require as much time or dedication. “Look at it this way: any activity that brings joy to your life is a way of meditating. Coffee with a friend, reading a book, taking a walk, having a good meal, and so on. Anything that makes you happy is going to do well,” explains Ouiam.
Louise takes a similar approach when it comes to mental health. She uses these four main pillars: sleeping/resting, socialising, movement, and acceptance in order to find balance. She believes that we need plenty of sleep and rest, the latter in the form of doing a puzzle or spending time with pets. The socialising happens when taking time to see or talk to friends, share a meal, or play a game.
Also, move! Heavy exercise aside, gardening and housework also count as they keep the blood flowing. And finally, make peace with yourself. You’ll be full of energy on some days, and struggle to find enthusiasm on others – either way, don’t be too hard on yourself. Ouiam adds to that, saying that even your hormones will synchronise better when your mind is at peace and your thoughts are controlled. However, when you are stressed, your body produces more cortisol (a hormone that helps the body respond to stress) and your brain stops signalising the need of other hormones, thereby resulting in irregular production.
Our bodies aren’t wired to be seated the whole day – we need to move! Muscles have to be stretched and blood needs to circulate. But not all of us find exercising so thrilling and the aphorism that we need to exercise regularly doesn’t do much to motivate. But there are a few tricks that can make you move. “Put the cutlery in the bottom drawer and use the moment to squat, hamstring stretch, or hip hinge every time you reach for it,” suggests Louise. “Alternatively, place often-used items on top shelves to simply stretch.” But if you’re looking for something different to get you started, Ouiam proposes two Chinese practices: qigong and tai chi. The first is an old healing system of coordinated body posture, movement, and breathing methods. Qigong claims to increase the supply and flow of energy with a variety of rejuvenating effects and is believed to expand longevity. Tai chi, meanwhile, is an ancient form of martial arts and best described as ‘meditation in motion’. The slow-motion exercises are done without pausing, while focusing on your breath. It can improve lower and upper body strength as well as boost flexibility.
At the end of the day, what really matters is what makes you happy. And the goal is to look ageless, an adjective used to describe a person or thing whose age cannot be defined nor appears to change. Ageless is a combination of looking and feeling young and, when you find this equilibrium, age is just a number.
• PRACTICE GRATITUDE
• BE KIND TO YOURSELF
• LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
• NURTURE YOUR MIND
• CREATE A SKINCARE ROUTINE
For more information, you can connect with Ouiam El Hassani (@healthandhomeschool.bh) and Louise O’Loan (@ifeellikeivebeenherbivore) via Instagram.