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It’s the most wonderful lazy afternoon. My eyes are closed and I’m basking in a drowsy heat, drifting in and out of sleep. The air around me is filled with a coconut suncream aroma and the sound of waves lapping at the shore.
I’m just slipping into an agreeable dream about the duke from Bridgerton when a shadow looms over to shatter my idyll. “Mummy!” shrieks the shadow. “What ARE you doing?”
I open my mouth to explain, then snap it shut, realising this particular experiment will make little sense to a ten-year-old.
What I’m doing, you see, is indulging in the latest lockdown beauty trend: cocooning.
And I’m on my bed, not a beach.
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With the world closing down all around us, there’s a fresh desire to find comfort within our own four walls. Pinterest has tipped cocooning – the idea of immersive pampering rituals – to be one of the biggest trends of 2021, and that was even before the advent of lockdown 3.0.
Cocooning can take many forms, from mindful bathing rituals to spiritual skincare regimes, but it’s all about taking a breath and finding a moment (or, ideally, an hour) to escape from it all with a little beauty self-care.
Today I’m taking the concept of the cocoon to perhaps its most literal extent. What my daughter has discovered me hiding away in looks like a giant sleeping bag but is actually a sort of high-tech swaddle, flooding my body with relaxing infrared warmth.
The MiHigh Infrared Blanket is basically a sauna in a sack, an at-home version of trendy infra-red salons such as London’s Glow Bar, where women bask inside cabins to sweat out toxins and calories.
The DIY version comes in at a not-entirely restful £399, but it promises a raft of benefits, from collagen and serotonin boosting and a zen-like state of mind to soothed muscles, glowier skin and even a slimmer physique.
Research on infrared saunas has found the increased heart rate and sweating is akin to a brisk walk, and MiHigh claims each session can burn up to 600 calories while you do nothing but lie down.
I’ve been using my sweat sack several times a week for a month, combined with a slightly healthier new year regime, and I’ve started to see a dent in my post-Christmas flab.
Infrared is certainly different from traditional sauna heat, as it warms your tissues directly rather than the air around them, triggering a dam-breaking burst of sweat. A little gross, yes, but it’s strangely relaxing too.
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On a mid-range temperature, I find MiHigh feels uncannily like sunbathing – particularly when teamed with a meditation app crooning beach sounds into my headphones and an evocative spritz of Nuxe Sun perfume into the air.
By the time I unpeel myself from the bag, my gym gear is sodden with sweat (I reckon there’s a good 200 calories-worth to be wrung out of the leggings alone) but the icky laundry is easily outweighed by the euphorically floaty feeling.
My complexion looks healthily flushed and my wound-up shoulder muscles feel unspooled.
If 2021 is the year of the beauty cocoon, just wrap me up and wake me when lockdown’s over…
Fancy more ways to cocoon at home? Try these for size…
Cocoon with… scent
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Scent is the brain’s short-cut to a happier, calmer place, being the most primal and emotional of all the senses. Finding the right scent comfort blanket is very personal but, for instance, if I need to insulate against stress, I’ll use a calming blend like Made For Life Mindful Moments Connect & Nurture, £10 here or just spray a perfume that brings back good memories.
At night, my mind interprets lavender as a snuggly tucking-in cue and I automatically feel drowsier after spritzing Aroma Actives Pillow Spray, £10. It’s also available from £13 with six other wellness products in this month’s OK! Beauty Edit box here.
For an extra cocooning element, I’ll slip on my Holistic Silk lavender-scented velvet eye mask, £55 here, and it’s instantly lights out.
Cocoon with… skincare
Skincare is fusing with self-care in perfect alignment with the cocooning trend. Take, for instance, Alicia Keys’ new Soulcare line, with its harmonious combination of Obsidian Roller, £25 here, and Transformation Cream, £30 here, plus a calming Sage & Oat Milk Scented Candle, £35 here, to meditate by.
Of course, you don’t need to drop £90 to create a skincare cocoon. You can pick up a decent jade roller like Revolution’s for £15 here, and enjoy its calming benefits alongside any moisturiser, serum or oil. To complete my skin cocoon, I like to massage in an eye cream then pop on Sensory Retreats Divine Eyes, a self-heating fabric mask which stays warm for 25 mins while releasing a soothing scent. It’s £3.95 for one or £21 for seven here, and includes an 85-min crystal sound healing relaxation track.
Cocoon with… bathing
According to Pinterest, “spiritual cleansing bath” is a spiking search term, and I’ve certainly found benefits from making each soak more of a therapeutic event. My mindful immersion of choice is Dr Teal’s Coconut Oil Pure Epsom Salt Foaming Bath, £8.99 here, which combines a feelgood scent with muscle-relaxing magnesium salts.
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For a truly cocooning experience, Elizabeth King from Weleda suggests combining bathing with a nourishing body oil – I like Weleda Wild Rose Pampering Body Oil £27.25 here – and moving to a quiet area post-bath to rest for 30 minutes. “Wrap yourself well in a warm gown and blanket. This essential ‘wrapping’ time allows the oil and aromatherapeutic aspects of your bathing ritual to gently permeate all levels of your being,” she says.
Check with your GP before using MiHigh or other infrared saunas if you are insensitive to heat, have recently undergone surgery, are pregnant/breastfeeding, are taking photosensitising medication, suffering headaches/colds, have any implanted device or have any medical conditions, including skin disease, sunburn, heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, blood pressure abnormalities or anhidrosis.
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