To celebrate its 35th birthday, Garnier Ultimate Blends opened up shop in London’s Soho for a weekend immersed in health, beauty and wellbeing.
Inside the pop up, we were introduced to Garnier’s collection of Ultimate Blends hair products containing natural ingredients such as oats, honey, olive oil, shea butter, avocado, argan oil, cranberry or papaya.
After a quick crash course through the Garnier range, we were asked to select our favourite. Considering I’ve been bleaching my hair and turning it all kinds of colours for years, I opted for the Intense Repairer for very damaged hair. It contains castor oil and maple sap, which have nourishing and restorative properties.
Not only does this shampoo smell divine, but it also lathers really nicely – one of my main judging factors for a good shampoo! Then it was on to the braiding room, for a quick hair-over where there were four gorgeous braid styles to choose from.
Kat is a big fan of mindfulness and meditation but I’m pretty sceptical about it, mainly because I find it difficult to stop, sit quietly and clear my mind. I love the idea that it could help me live a more balanced and productive life but my brain somehow tells me that 20 minutes spent frantically making to-do lists is more beneficial.
When Liam from the Will Williams Meditation team started talking about the benefits of Vedic meditation, they almost sounded too good to be true, from reducing stress and anxiety to increasing your creativity and self-awareness. He also claims that regular meditation (twice a day for 20 minutes) can intensify your senses, improve your relationships with others and help you become a calmer, more productive version of yourself. If there was a pill on offer with these side effects, I’d take it, so I decided to give it a go.
We sat with our backs supported by a wall, with hands rested on our knees and palms facing up. The idea is not to go to sleep but to get comfortable and be effortless. As Liam guided us into the meditation, we scanned awareness through various body parts and were asked to focus in on sounds within the room and far away. Then he gave us the mantra SO-HUM, which we repeated silently along with our breath for around 10 minutes. When I came round, I wasn’t sure if it had been 5 minutes or 50 minutes, I’d lost all awareness of time passing, like waking up from a good night’s sleep.
Liam went on to tell us about his journey to finding meditation, from a successful career to burnout, panic attacks and depression. Although I can’t claim to have been so ill, I have come close to being so overwhelmed by life and work pressures that I didn’t know how to cope. I’m hopeful that this simple technique, which can take place anywhere (tube, train or office chair), has the potential to be life-changing.
Should you sign up to a course with Will & co, you’re given your very own mantra based on your body type, age and life stage. The idea is to keep your mantra secret so it acts as your own key to effortless self-practice and allows you to reach deeper levels of meditation. The sceptic in me was scoffing along with the idea, imagining cult-like initiation ceremonies and ancient Sanskrit passwords, but when you think about the science behind it, it makes complete sense…
Simply put, our primal bodies are programmed for fight or flight responses and when stress levels are constantly triggered in modern life by technical meltdowns, financial troubles or constant deadlines, your brain and body go into overdrive trying to deal with perceived threats. Meditation, I’m told, is the antidote to that.
Is there a doctor in the house?
Dr Hazel Wallace, aka The Food Medic, joined The Blends Room to talk about the benefits of a healthy diet when it comes to hair, nails and skin. Considering the controversy surrounding “detoxing” and “clean eating” recently, it was refreshing to hear a qualified expert speak knowledgeably about dietary requirements and vitamins.
Hazel spoke about antioxidants and how they protect us against free radicals which, at high levels, can cause damage to healthy cells. The key messages were to wear SPF to minimise damage from UV radiation; avoid smoking and drugs; and boost your vitamin intake through a varied diet of colourful fruit and veg and other fresh produce:
Vitamin A – found in eggs, oily fish, cheese, yoghurt and milk
Vitamin C – found in oranges, strawberries, blackcurrants, red and green peppers, broccoli and potatoes
Vitamin E – found in nuts, seeds and cereals
So what about The Food Medic’s take on alcohol? Wisely, Hazel pointed out that your alcohol intake should be in line with your goals. If you’re aim is to lose weight, then don’t waste your time consuming empty calories. But, if you’re after a good night out with friends to let your hair down, then why not indulge yourself?
Finally, a realistic approach to healthy living. Cheers to that!