After the uncertainty of 2020, it seems absurd to start predicting the future. But some things we do know.
The big wellbeing trends for 2021 will (of course) be massively influenced by what has happened to the world in 2020, from the necessary boom in tech wearables and wellness apps, to a keener awareness of the environment, systemic racism and Black Lives Matter, and mental wellbeing.
The loneliness and lack of touch we experienced in the epidemic has led to us reaching out in other ways. We want to feel connected, making ourselves feel well and safe again. An element of kindness has crept into the spa market, broadening our understanding of self-care. At the same time, mental health is naturally high on the agenda as is hygiene and immune system awareness.
To stay afloat in this world, we have all had to get super-creative, thinking outside the box in order to survive. We see this enormous creative outburst continuing to grow next year, possibly changing the world as we know it. For the better, we hope.
We Care is the new Self-Care. This is why we added a Best Community Spa category to our 2020 Awards (won by Aqua Sana Whinfell Forest, and sponsored by Natura Bissé). From the pandemic we learned that self-care was more than just a bubble bath and a tub of moisturiser: it’s about feeling connected and caring about others; being able to share openly, to listen non-judgementally and empathically. In 2021 we have to think collectively in order to stay safe. We expect to see larger companies sharing their profits, raising awareness, celebrating diversity and looking after their staff’s wellbeing.
Solo-spaing. Having said that, we think we'll see a rise in solo spa-going as wellness breaks become a vital part of our work calender. No longer just for celebs doing rehab, taking time out, doing a digital detox, taking mindful walks and checking in with ourselves is going mainstream. More people will peel away from their tribes to check in to a sleep retreat, go for some equine therapy or self-improvement weekends. Or just bunk off for an afternoon at their local spa.
Mental Health. Now high on the agenda, it is becoming increasingly obvious that mental health is vital for physical health, and vice versa. Stress-related illnesses, burnout, the loneliness epidemic and trauma have all been 2020 headlines, while mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, bi-polar and depersonalisation are less hidden and more part of everyday speech. Spas have evolved to embrace an emotional wellbeing approach to health, with kinder sleep retreats and mindfulness retreats replacing old school boot camps and detox dieting, plus treatments aimed more at relaxation and balancing than anti-aging.
Tech therapy. Imagine conducting therapy by text instead of having to commute to a small room. Why not? People conduct entire relationships via WhatsApp. Apps can teach us to meditate, track our moods, hormone cycles, and offer life coaching. Tech wearables – bracelets, rings, headbands - track our glucose, heart rates, steps and now calculate our stress-levels. The latest Apple Watch uses a built-in blood monitor to sense quick and shallow breathing to detect panic attacks, while the upcoming Fitbit Sense can track stress through the skin’s electricity (don’t ask us how). Headbands such as Cove vibrate to soothe our brainwaves to encourage sleep.
Alt-luxe.Alternative therapies such as sound baths (below), light therapy, energy healing, Ayurveda and TCM are gaining currency in the high-end spa market largely thanks to GP’s GOOP approach to wellbeing. We have seen spa menus, especially in the luxury end of the market (Bulgari’s Wellness Spa with its Ayurveda inspired Mauli rituals), evolving to embrace what used to be fringe treatments, particularly with the rise of brands such as ILA, Elemental Herbology and Organic Pharmacy, but also CBD oils. We expect to see more out-there treatments on our luxury menus, and it will be interesting to see where the current interest in psychedelic therapy will take us.
Small, ethical brands like tRiBe517 are set to topple the bigger names from spa menus. Maybe it’s a 2020 hangover, but we like things to be environmentally friendly, made with love and close to home. Cardiff based, these products are all handmade using organic UK products and sustainable packaging. Treatments have been known to make people weepy – the name and ethos of the company, as well as the Beautiful Hero Trust charity which donates profits to nominated heros, was inspired by owner Claire Craddock’s best friend who died in an accident aged 41.
Other 2021 trends:
Anti-microbial beauty – it’s official: we totally hate germs on our skin.
Skin microbiome – but we like bacteria – the good kind
Immune system hacks – spas will big up the microbiome (ie gut health), fire and ice treatments and energy healing
Sexual health – If it’s okay for Gwynnie, it’s okay for anyone now to talk about sex toys, reproductive health, fem tech, menopause, periods, hairy bits… you name it, because you can. Expect to see some taboo-breaking treatments and retreats.