BRAND NEW RETRO
It’s time to embrace your inner hippy.
One grey morning a couple weeks back, I was added to a WhatsApp group of discerning London women. Was it an easy way to make evening plans? Perhaps an urgent cat-sitting request? The opening message explained that it was a place “for wellness, beauty and literature” – so far, so good. But nothing could have prepared me for the profusion of holistic health advice that these faceless women – I knew only one – would bestow upon the group. The information was endless.
Who knew that raw charcoal could be used as a hangover cure or mixed into clay as a facemask? Then the household tips came as we discussed finding the right cheese plant for your lounge and a succulent for each bedroom. As the days passed, women were accessing the thread 24/7: “Making tumeric bath milk at home this weekend? I got you!’”
Aside from the camaraderie, something else stuck out. All these trends were ‘70s-style, bohemian living personified.
Weren’t we laughing at people who carried crystals five years ago? And when did it become okay to ask advice on the best dry sage to burn as an energy cleanser? In the wake of grim facts about paraben-laden beauty products and the impact of environmentally unsound packaging, we appeared to be returning to the more simplistic wellness rituals of yesteryear.
As any modern-day hippy worth their collection of vintage Woodstock photos knows, Zen cannot be packaged up. However, building a home of mellow-inducing paraphernalia is a good place to start. Crystal enthusiasts can place a rose quartz between theirs palms during a bath, then drench it in midday sunlight to recharge. If that doesn’t appeal, there’s sage smudging. Once a peculiar add-on suggested when you bought herbal oils on Amazon, this small bundle of dried herbs is now an essential ritual for any aspiring holistic health practitioner. The premise, like most bohemian trends, is rooted in ancient spiritual teachings; derived from Native American custom, the smoke of air-dried sage is said to clear negative energy from a space. Official proof that it’s gone mainstream was provided when Into the Gloss, the site of beauty magnate Emily Weiss, including it in an online giveaway alongside the more conventional face masks and moisturizers.
And what if you’re partial to plants? Succulents and cacti become popular in the late 1970s, thanks in large part to the hazy allure of California’s Joshua Tree and the wild folk that inhabited it. Back then, bulbous plastic structures housed miniature cacti gardens. These days, terrariums have taken their place, although the connotations of alternative living still remain.
Aztec healing clay, mustard bath powder, bentonite clay used by Peruvians – the more obscure, raw and unbranded the product, the better. Which brings us back to charcoal. In its many guises, charcoal is a companion for life: it brightens your skin, quashes hangovers and, as I discovered via a 4 a.m. WhatsApp message, purifies your water for six whole months with one tiny, $4 stick. It doesn’t get much hippier – or hipper – than that.
–Grace Elena Banks