Shel Pink wants to change the way we think and talk about beauty.
Nodding to the exploding popularity of a movement that started with Slow Food and has reached into design, homes and cities, Pink’s notion of Slow Beauty stems from the urgent need to address the effects of overscheduled, overworked lifestyles on our minds and bodies. “Slow Beauty offers a respite from the drudgery of the fast track, an opportunity to reconnect with the self,” says the SpaRitual founder. “When you look to a beauty product, you’re looking for immediate results, and it’s very focused — for example, reducing wrinkles. It’s just too narrow of a focus for a discussion on beauty and well-being.”
Slow Beauty’s seven basic tenets pay homage to Pink’s mother—who inspired her to create and maintain calm by embracing the spa tradition—and her son’s class pet, a tortoise, who stayed in her home during a break. “We lived with this tortoise for two weeks, and I observed him and researched the tortoise animal totem,” Pink says. “I just embraced slow, and that kind of solidified it for me.”
“Slow Beauty is about so much more than better hair,
better nails and better skin, although that’s a part of it.”
—In Praise of Slowness author Carl Honore
Modeled after the Slow Food movement, which links the pleasure of eating well with a commitment to sustaining communities and the environment, Slow Beauty can transform your lifestyle from the inside out. “With Slow Food, people all over the world are having discussions and sharing recipes and talking about food in a different way,” Pink says. “I see the Slow Beauty movement happening the same way. It’s about changing our metaphors in how we discuss and perceive beauty.”
One way to change the dialogue is to think of beauty’s connection to physical and emotional health, says Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slowness (HarperCollins), which has been translated into more than 30 languages. Honoré sees an opportunity for the holistic ideals behind Slow Beauty to spread rapidly among a population that yearns for a deeper, more meaningful escape from a culture drowning in fast.
“Slow Beauty is about so much more than better hair, better nails and better skin, although that’s a part of it,” Honoré says. “Those are side benefits that come from shifting the focus and asking, ‘How can we become better people leading better lives in a better world?’”
Pink wants to open the Slow Beauty discussion with that question. Instead of focusing on stopping the clock and quickly fixing signs of aging, Slow Beauty savors every second and celebrates the beauty of a body adorned with signs of life.
“Slow Beauty is about changing perceptions and metaphors on how we approach beauty and aging,” Pink says. “It’s not about quick fixes, and it’s not product-centric. It’s a lifestyle about the gracefulness of aging and honoring your true self.”
Beauty Products Editor Kim Wallace clears her mind and slows down with a warm bath and a fragrant candle at least one night a week.
Shel’s Slow Rituals
SpaRitual founder Shel Pink holds dear the simple acts that she performs every morning and evening. “These things are so part of my beauty routine, they’re like brushing or flossing my teeth,” she says.
Pre-Shower: Dry brush the body to stimulate nerves, open pores and exfoliate skin.
Post-Shower: Apply sesame seed oil in long strokes all over the body for an abhyanga massage.
Slow Everything, From Cities to Sex
Slow Food: connecting how we grow, buy, consume and dispose of food with the environment and the community
Slow Cities: improving and enjoying land by encouraging fewer vehicles, local producing and shopping, and hospitality
Slow Design: urges designers to use socially and environmentally responsible materials and enjoy the creative process
Slow Home: encourages thoughtful building or rebuilding of homes using sustainable materials in walkable neighborhoods
Slow Gardening: follows seasonal cycles, uses indigenous plants, promotes patience and pleasure in the growing process
Slow Travel: promotes travel that allows journeyers to participate in the community and appreciate the local culture
Slow Parenting: gives children time to explore and learn without the pressure to achieve goals immediately
Slow Fashion: long-lasting pieces, garments made from sustainable fabrics, vintage clothing
Slow Sex: calls upon meditation techniques to improve pleasure
Slow Beauty’s 7 Outposts
“These are places we can visit when we need to reconnect with ourselves, when we’ve lost touch, when we’ve become mindless,” Shel Pink says.
1. Honor the spa tradition.
Spa, Latin for “health through water,” provides a safe haven to reconnect to ancient healing traditions.
2. Consume mindfully.
Base purchasing decisions on safer ingredients, better work conditions, environmental stewardship, giving back, authenticity and transparency.
Live in your natural rhythm through seasonal cleanses, down time and good nights’ sleep.
4. Rediscover rituals.
Look to ancient cultural traditions such as Ayurveda and homeopathy, to enhance your beauty routine from the inside out.
A regular meditation practice strengthens the immune system, helps maintain a youthful appearance, calms the nervous system and builds gray matter.
6. Express yourself.
Self-expression’s natural byproducts are confidence, a greater sense of freedom, increased creativity and joy.
7. Never stop learning.
Every time you learn something new, you expand your relationship with yourself in the world.
The tortoise—a turtle known for persistence
and patience—is a powerful animal totem. It has
long been a symbol for Mother Earth, longevity and
awakening heightened sensibilities.
Tortoises’ slow metabolisms are a reminder to
take time for ourselves and “recognize that there
is an abundance out there for you,” Ted Andrews
writes in Animal Speak: The Spiritual and
Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small
(Llewellyn). “It doesn’t have to be gotten quickly
and immediately. Take your time and let the
natural flow work for you.”