by Camilla Ridley
Ridley London's made to measure silk dresses are not the only thing out there that's sustainable and tailor-made. In fact, a consciousness movement is now sweeping through the health and beauty world. We caught up with beauty expert Karen Cummings-Palmer to discover the ways it's set to change the way you look, feel, and shop...forever.
Conscious beauty champion Karen Cummings-Palmer wearing a beautiful Ridley London printed floral silk maxi dress
In our new series of conversations, I caught up with beauty expert Karen Cummings-Palmer to talk about the innovative new health, beauty and lifestyle movement that’s emerging after lockdown. If you haven’t come across Karen yet, I’m almost certain you’ve probably read or heard about the conscious beauty movement she’s championing. In fact, it seems to be everywhere right now, and I was so impressed by a recent zoom talk she gave that I thought I would invite her along to introduce the concept to you and explain how you can leave lockdown looking and feeling younger, fresher, healthier and happier by making some simple adjustments to your daily routine. Karen has also agreed to host an instagram live session for our Ridley Subscribers and followers on Thursday morning, 30th July at 11:45 which can be accessed on our instagram: @ridleylondon
Thanks so much for getting involved in this post Karen and for sharing your expertise and insights with our Ridley subscribers. From chatting with you and looking around, there appears to be a lot of emphases right now on this idea of health, beauty, and wellbeing post lockdown. Is this just the latest cynical marketing ploy or has the Coronavirus created a watershed moment? And can things really be that different?
Hi Camilla, thanks so much for getting me involved in this post and I’m really looking forward to running an IGTV for your followers and subscribers on Thursday. In answer to your question, I’m very positive that long term, this time will be seen as a watershed moment with so many positive benefits for all of us. And no more so than for our health, wellbeing, and how we celebrate beauty going forwards. Apart from the terrible loss of life and economic impact, the Coronavirus has also given us a much-needed pause and chance to press our collective reset buttons. Pre-lockdown the common complaint I heard was to do with lack of time, people feeling tired and stressed. Everyone seemed to be caught in an endless spin cycle, rushing from one place to the next. And this seemed to be especially prevalent with women who were juggling busy careers a commute and travel, with family and a social life, while trying to stay healthy and looking youthful. Not to mention being the most glamorous and interesting person on social media. In reality, this is virtually impossible and the level of neurosis this creates can also have a very damaging effect. But there’s this idea that we have to have it all to feel successful and fulfilled. As we get older and our natural metabolism changes this frenetic lifestyle and the toxins we take on board each day, like the pollutants we’re surrounded with, plus our inability to properly re-charge, has an increasingly pronounced effect on how we feel, our underlying health and the way we age. The solution seems to be yet another miracle beauty product, fad diet, or other quick fixes like a glass of wine or sugar at the end of a busy day. When what we really need is greater balance, more time to consider how we live our lives and to understand what works for each one of us, as well as time to properly re-charge. A lot of people I have spoken to recently have suddenly seen the benefits of a far simpler, less hectic way of life during lockdown, and with more people now working from home, I sense that positive change could be here to stay.
That certainly sounds somewhat familiar and I think a few of our subscribers will probably also recognise themselves in your description! I understand you’re saying that essentially everything is interlinked and our diet and lifestyles have a huge impact on our health, how we look, feel, and age. But sometimes women have limited choices. They’re having to work hard to support their families and their careers have evolved into demanding and busy roles. So are there things that can be prioritised?
Absolutely. The important thing to take on board here is that we’re all individuals. Everyone’s combination of genetic make-up, circumstances, and personalities is entirely unique. And as you’ve so rightly mentioned, often there are certain commitments we can’t completely alter, however much we’d like to. But we can make small, incremental changes in other places that together can deliver profoundly positive outcomes, especially in terms of aging. And the core of aging and all dis-ease is inflammation, which manifests itself in both visibly and internally, from premature lines and excess weight gain to long term conditions including diabetes and arthritis.
This is a major way our body responds to toxins we take on board, like sugar and alcohol or preservatives in mass-produced food like ready meals or crisps. Now I’m not advocating cutting out alcohol or snacking all-together, but simply reducing one's intake or switching to more natural food options, will lower the toxins and our body’s ability to cleanse itself. In fact, more extreme interventions, like going entirely vegan or endlessly fasting might be trendy or seem like such a great idea, won’t work in the long term. Or forcing yourself into the gym or to run if it’s just not you. This is just too inflexible and rule-based and you are actually increasing neurosis and having cortisol, the stress hormone soaring around the body is going to cause a lot of harm. Essentially it’s about being kind to ourselves and working in harmony with ourselves and sustaining this approach going forwards. The right solutions nourish on both a physical and psychological level. Ultimately, the most powerful tool we all have is our minds and our consciousness. We all instinctively know when we’re not looking after ourselves, or feel when something is clearly not working. The most positive step we can all take is to understand and listen to ourselves more, rather than grasping for off the shelf, quick fix solutions that everyone else is.
Ok so it’s a bit like our approach to fashion here at Ridley. It’s about taking the time to find the right solution that works for each customer and tailoring it to fit.
Yes exactly. That’s a really great synergy. I also love the way that you use beautiful natural materials and local craftsmanship. Your dresses have a real authenticity to them and you’re working in conjunction with the environment. Environmental toxins have a huge impact on our systems, and the more we damage our planet, the worse this will get. Likewise with food, provenance is so crucial. The more we can reduce the food chain and processing, and the more direct and natural we can make our food the better. I also start the process with a consultation, and like you, it’s about the journey rather than selling an off the shelf product. Which is so twentieth century, and will become an increasingly outdated and irrelevant approach.
Purchasing organic or locally sourced produce aren’t new things though. What’s so revolutionary about the conscious approach to beauty?
You’re right, a lot of the ideas behind the conscious beauty movement, like a healthier more natural diet have been around for ages. The difference this time is all that knowledge across areas like nutrition, exercise, and natural beauty treatments is being brought together and then personalised for each individual. And I certainly don’t think many of the previous solutions around took our mental wellbeing and happiness into account enough, which really is so vital to how we all look, feel, and age. So much of beauty about accepting who we are, where we are, and understanding how we look after and make the most of ourselves. Rather than buying into an impossible, photoshopped ideal touted by enormous corporations and ultimately being neurotic and miserable.
I’m really excited about the Instagram Live event and I know you’re going to talk more about the personalisation of beauty, as well as some great treatments for summer and autumn. And you're also going to be answering specific questions and coming up with lots of positive ideas and suggestions for everyone who takes part. I look forward to seeing you on Thursday!