I’m a practical person. To me, yoga is a muscle-toning exercise. Meditation, though proven to benefit one’s psyche, remains a luxury for people with time to spare. A retreat? I’m lucky if I can get a few minutes of quiet time.
When it comes to beauty products, I have only two questions: Does it work? And how effective is it? Bonus points if I like the fragrance. Unscented? Good for people with sensitive skin; I’m not fussed. Texture? As long as it isn’t greasy.
So whenever friends talk about how using certain skincare makes them feel very nua (Hokkien for “slack”, or “supremely relaxed”), my brain goes into overdrive. I run through the list of products I’ve tried, and I panic. Have I been paying enough attention to all my senses when using these products?
How can a beauty product bring about inner peace? It has to do more than just smell great and have a sensorial texture. It has to lift your mood and make you feel that everything’s going to be okay – at least for the rest of the day. It has to, dare I say it, make you feel happier – even just a little. It has to give you the feeling that nothing will go wrong – and even if it does, you can deal with it. Better yet if it has such wholesome ingredients that using it makes you feel good – the same way skipping plastic straws helps you feel you’ve done something for the environment.
Why bother with inner peace? Because we’re more stressed, anxious and troubled than before. According to the Singapore General Hospital’s department of psychiatry, one in 10 Singaporeans suffers from anxiety and depressive disorders. So finding peace in everything you do has never been more important.
But can you get inner peace by using a beauty product? You’d be surprised. Scent, of course, is a key factor. This isn’t about candles and room mists, but scent can nevertheless be peace-inducing. As well as mood-enhancing and all-round therapeutic.
Canvas Rose Otto Hydrating Mist, $11.40
Australian skincare brand Canvas, which uses natural and certified-organic ingredients, believes in “the healing power of aromatherapy”. Sophia Chan, founder of Maiko– which distributes the brand in Singapore – and who is also an occupational therapist for stroke patients, calls the products’ scents “uplifting, yet not overpowering”. Its Rose Otto range is a bestseller – the rose scent calms both skin irritation and nerves.
Three Cleansing Oil, $68
Japanese holistic beauty brand Three says the essential oils in its Three Cleansing Oil – laurel leaf and frankincense – encourage deep breathing, which calms the mind and relieves stress.
Zents Oolong Luminous Cashmere Body Oil, $67, from Chi, The Spa, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
US-based body-care brand Zents concocts blends of essential oils that founder Cord Coen calls “liquid memories”. He believes in the associative power of aroma to bring your mental state back to a happy, relaxed one. The Oolong range has lavender, lime and oolong tea, and is supposed to evoke the zen feeling of traditional tea ceremonies.
Dermalogica Sound Sleep Cocoon, $153
Texture is another factor. Dermalogica’s Sound Sleep Cocoon is a night moisturiser that claims to envelop skin without making it feel greasy or sticky. Plus, its French lavender oil, sandalwood and patchouli essential oils are motion-activated, which means the scents are “released” to promote sounder sleep when, say, you rub your face against your pillow.
Nature’s Glory The Blessed Soaps in Peppermint Patience, $15-$105
The organic Blessed Soaps by local brand Nature’s Glory has more than just scent and texture. Its ingredients and processes have received multiple global certifications, and founder Peter Lim describes the wholesomeness of the ingredients as “food to be absorbed by the skin”. Peppermint Patience, one of its five mainstay scents, has peppermint and spearmint to invigorate and energise. It’s that feel-good product to use in the morning when you’re dreading the day ahead.
Kora Organics Turmeric Brightening & Exfoliating Mask 2-in-1, $68
Perhaps no other mass-market brand is more the epitome of inner peace than supermodel-turned-beauty-entreprenuer Miranda Kerr’s Kora Organics. Certified organic and natural, the brand goes further by “energising” all its products with rose quartz, a crystal believed to carry “a soothing energy to encourage love and acceptance of ourselves and others”. This may be a bit hefty to digest, but using its Turmeric Brightening & Exfoliating Mask, did calm and boost my mood. It could be the mild aroma of the turmeric, the shiok feel of the exfoliating beads, or just that it really made my skin glow. I felt a real sense of inner peace and well-being after using it.
Call it a placebo effect if you want, but in the course of identifying and trying these products, my skin became smoother and more glowy.
And I thought I coped with my usual anxiety and stress a little better too.