Embrace slow beauty for a happier, natural, more conscious you

A spin-off from the slow movement, slow beauty advocates being kind to yourself and kind to the earth

24 October 2021 - 00:01
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'Slow beauty is all about creating moments ... to practise the kind of meaningful wellness that makes us glow,' says slow beauty advocate Shel Pink.
'Slow beauty is all about creating moments ... to practise the kind of meaningful wellness that makes us glow,' says slow beauty advocate Shel Pink.
Image: Siphu Gqwetha

With rather poetic flair, the slow movement has been gaining a steady following over the years, and now seems on the brink of explosion — perhaps in part due to a surfeit of mass burnout and introspection in the face of a global pandemic.

It’s evident in the trends that emerged during lockdown: people turning to baking their own sourdough bread, becoming avid gardeners, and placing more of a focus on mental health and wellbeing.

The slow movement, which advocates a shift to a slower pace of life, started with a small spark in 1986 when Italian Carlo Petrini protested against a McDonald’s franchise opening near the Spanish Steps in Rome to “defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life”, according to the slow food website.  

Over time, it’s become less “alternative” and more sought-after and has branched out into other slow approaches, such as slow cities — in which entire cities have adopted the slow movement — slow homes, and a very popular one at the moment: slow fashion.


The term “slow beauty” is widely attributed to Shel Pink, the founder of SpaRitual, a sustainable, vegan beauty brand focused on self-care.

In 2017 Pink published a book titled Slow Beauty: Rituals and Recipes to Nourish the Body and Feed the Soul in which she describes the ideals of slow beauty through advocating self-care and wellness.

“Slow beauty is all about creating moments within each day, week, month, season and year to practise the kind of meaningful wellness that makes us glow,” Pink writes on her website, The Slow Beauty Journal.

“When practised over time, these small rituals add up to manifest results — not only feeling healthier and more joyful, but in realising true beauty and timeless ageing. Slow beauty works because it’s a way of life and not a quick fix.”

Among the ideas she encourages as part of her philosophy are embracing “growing young” over anti-ageing, deepening our understanding of beauty beyond the physical, drawing from nature, conscious consumption, and sustainability.


A big part of applying slow beauty to your life is looking at the beauty products you use — and how kind they are to both your body and the earth.

In 2014 Hannah Rubin started local beauty brand Skin Creamery when she set out to create a single product: a versatile everyday cream that can be used on both your face and body.

“When I started the brand it was a philosophy that we aligned to in terms of what and how I feel about beauty specifically and the bigger picture of the beauty industry as a whole. I wanted our brand to encompass everything that the slow beauty movement stood for,” Rubin says.

As someone with an insider’s view of the industry, Rubin says local, clean beauty has taken off in the past five years.

We’re getting there. When we started there were very few natural, local beauty brands around. This suggests that there is demand. Consumers are definitely becoming more conscious.”


“Slow beauty has been around for a while but as more people want to take an approach, especially in SA, of locally made products, looking at the ingredients, carbon footprints, where the ingredients are coming from, how sustainable the ingredients are — all of that ties into this slow beauty movement, Rubin says.

The downside for consumers looking to turn to more natural and sustainable products is often the pricing, as the more clean and sustainable products can come at a higher price point — much like healthy, organic eating is often more expensive.

But, according to Rubin, we’re in one of the best positions geographically in terms of approaching the slow beauty philosophy because we have so many indigenous botanical herbs and ingredients on our doorstep.

A number of foundations have been set up around the country to promote a sustainable way of harvesting these ingredients and giving back to local communities.

And as a holistic philosophy, it’s about being kind to your body and making the mind shift of embracing ageing instead of trying to “fix it” or finding temporary solutions.

In a world where people often have unrealistic ideals of what they feel they need to look like, slow beauty promotes healthier ideas about the way you look and being comfortable in your own skin.

As Rubin sums up: “It’s really about embracing the skin that you’re in, embracing the time of your life that you’re in and adopting your own natural beauty.”


Slow sex is, as it sounds, sex slowed down to better enjoy the experience with your partner. This means focusing on sensations rather than performance and may result in more erotic pleasure and better, if not more frequent, orgasms.

Slow gardening places the focus on nurturing your plants and even growing your own food instead of attaining the perfect garden. It also has a longer-term outlook across all seasons and is meant to foster a connection with nature.

Slow parenting places an emphasis on spending quality time over quantity time with your children and opening yourself up as a parent to a natural flow of things and allowing your children to explore the world and who they are rather than planning every aspect of your child’s life.

Slow travel is all about connection to a place, its people, and their culture. The idea of slow travel is to spend more time in one place, living rather than staying in your destination. On a practical level, it can also mean opting for a leisurely train ride rather than a quick flight to take in the scenery along the way. 

Slow décor focuses on paying attention to buying sustainably, putting more consideration into your purchases, opting for multifunctional furniture, and allowing the space to grow and change over time.

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