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While 2019 saw a whole host of treatments, experiences and approaches arrive in London, the new decade brings with it an influx of even fresher wellness trends. This year, we’re set to encounter therapies and events that delve even deeper into self-worth, as well as those that focus on returning to nature and concentrate on previously overlooked areas of the body and transitions in our lives. From forest bathing to ear seeding, here’s what’s to come in 2020.
While forest bathing may sound like it requires a warm climate, swimwear and possibly a bath pillow, all you really need to do is take off your shoes and socks. The big new mindfulness movement for 2020, forest bathing derives from Japanese culture, where it is called shinrin-yoku. Directly translated, this simply means to ‘take in the forest atmosphere’. Turn off your phone, take yourself off to the woods, and take it all in. Forest bathing encourages us to focus on our senses (including the act of walking barefoot), and to enjoy simple pleasures. The craze has been found to decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and is hailed as a brilliantly simple yet effective act of self-care. And if you need any further proof it’s going to be a hit, just remember that forest bathing has been given the royal seal of approval: the Duchess of Cambridge is already a fan, and co-designed her Chelsea Flower Show garden with shinrin-yoku in mind this year.
Part of the practice of auriculotherapy, ear seeding is rooted in Chinese medicine. The traditional technique was picked up by a French neurologist in the 1950s, and has made its way over to Western culture in the decades since, with queues to learn more snaking around the In Goop Health summit in early 2019. Ear seeds ‘are used by acupuncturists to stimulate areas in the ear that are thought to have a therapeutic effect on the body,’ explains Goop wellness director Kiki Koroshetz. ‘The practitioner will place the ear seeds on different spots on your ear – they look like small beads, almost like stud earrings. They can be very beautiful.’ Expect to see plenty of them outside your local Goop summit in 2020.
The trend for treatments that work on both body and mind is only going to gain in popularity, according to London wellness destination Gazelli House. The epitome of this fusion is undoubtedly the hypnotherapy massage, which is a ‘simultaneously physical and mental experience’ that soothes muscles and releases physical tensions, as well as ‘leaving you feeling positive, lighter and recharged,’ says Alexandra Lisiecka, head of wellbeing at Gazelli House. It uses flowing techniques and deep pressures that are choreographed in time with the rhythm of a meditative voice recording.
Sound massage has been slowly creeping into popular wellness culture, and last year the trend saw a 285 per cent increase in online searches, according to a report by Yelp. It’s a fairly new phenomenon, but one that’s rooted in ancient knowledge relating to the positive effects of sound. During treatments, sound bowls are placed on parts of the body and are made to vibrate at different frequencies, to alleviate tensions and redirect energy. ‘Sound massage indicates that wellness is becoming more spiritual,’ says Gazelli House’s Alexandra Lisiecka. ‘People are looking for lasting change rather than a new fad, and understand that they are responsible for their own transformation.’
The importance of keeping pelvic floor muscles strong and healthy is the focus of an entirely new type of wellness trend for 2020. The Kegel Throne at The Light Salon in Harvey Nichols was designed to give women a fuss-free, walk-in, walk-out option that will strengthen their pelvic floor muscles with minimum effort, and aims to remove the taboo attached to the subject. It uses HIFEM (High Intensity Focused Electro-Magnetic) Technology, and a single session there (which lasts 28 minutes), is the equivalent of doing 11,000 Kegel exercises, say Light Salon co-founders Laura Ferguson and Hannah Measures.
Our obsession with nail art and all things shellac is about to undergo a clean makeover in 2020, as the popularity of non-toxic manicures continues to grow. Non-toxic manis – which eliminate up to 15 of the most harmful ingredients in traditional nail polishes – are particularly appealing for pregnant women and those undergoing certain medical treatments. ‘When you enter a conventional nail salon you’re usually hit with the heavy smell of acetone and chemicals,’ says Shelly Elson, founder of non-toxic salon Still London. ‘This is not a healthy or relaxing environment for either the client or the nail technician.’ With sustainability and eco-friendliness increasingly at the front of our minds, Elson predicts a non-toxic explosion for 2020. ‘We’ve had such a great reception this year. I believe we will continue to see a huge increase in vegan and non-toxic products going forward.’
AI skin technology
The fourth quarter of 2019 saw many brands dabbling in AI skin technology, from Vichy to La Roche Posay, which has developed its own wearable tech piece named My Skin Track UV. The device measures the wearer’s personal exposure to UV, pollution, heat, humidity and pollen, and is connected to an app to help you take care of your skin. Other at-home technology includes online systems such as Olay’s Skin Advisor, and apps such as TroveSkin, both of which allow users to capture images of their skin in order to get to the bottom of any issues, before suggesting which course of action to take next. AI facial recognition apps also have the potential to expand as part of accessible, reasonably affordable in-store services.
Stepping away from the traditional spa/gym sauna set-up we know and love, the infrared sauna is relatively affordable and convenient for those with busy schedules. Designed to help decrease stress levels, detoxing infrared saunas will only become more popular this year, according to Sasha Sabapathy, founder of London’s Glow Bar. ‘The main difference between a traditional sauna and an infrared sauna is that you are literally being heated from within. This in turn stimulates collagen production, releases endorphins and helps to reset your sleep patterns,’ she says, noting that Glow Bar saw bookings double in 2019. In terms of what’s next for the trend, Sabapathy predicts an increase of at-home infrared saunas, making it even more accessible.
2019 was all about the breath; be it through yoga practice or meditation, we learnt the importance of doing it right. This year will see our focus on our lungs elevated one step further, with clean breathing hitting the mainstream. But what exactly is it? Basically, like clean eating, clean breathing is about filtering what we put into our bodies. ‘Clean breathing is enjoying the purest, best air quality in the world; air that’s not contaminated by polluted particles found in exhausts and fossil fuel emissions,’ explains Sarah Jackson, Scandinavia expert at Scott Dunn. Benefits include a reduced risk of stroke, heart attacks and asthma attacks, as well as increased concentration and relaxation, and skin that looks more ‘glowy’, according to Jackson. A good excuse for a wilderness escape if ever we heard one.
A blue mind
In keeping with this year’s wellness odes to nature, breathing and the senses, the blue mind trend will see us taking comfort in water. Inspired in part by Wallace J Nichols’ book and Ted Talk Blue Mind, this is another example of wellness that emphasies the importance of nature in our modern lives. The charge to protect our oceans in recent years has allowed us to appreciate their importance, both on a global scale and in terms of our own health and sense of calm. Being by the water, be that swimming, surfing, sailing or just sitting by a lake or the ocean, can help to reduce stress in our busy lives. And the colour of water? All you have to do is look at Pantone’s colour of the year (Classic Blue) to understand its reliably soothing nature in full.
Try it out: Watch Wallace J Nichols’ Ted Talk before heading down to your nearest stretch of water or going for a swim. An open-air swimming pool in London (such as Hampstead Heath or London Fields) will be doubly effective. Like this? Now read: The 15 most wonderful spas in England
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