Slow Beauty

Rituals and Recipes to Nourish the Body and Feed the Soul


By Shel Pink

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SpaRitual founder Shel Pink’s Slow Beauty is all about carving a few moments out of each day to practice the kind of mindful self-care and wellness that makes us glow.

Slow Beauty works because it’s a lifestyle, not a quick fix. It provides inspiration, support, and tools for working from within toward looking and feeling healthier and more joyful than ever. In this book you’ll find:

  • Ideas on beauty with substance from around the world;
  • Rituals such as finding and designing your own sanctuary, breathing exercises, meditation, and deepening relationships (and inner strength) through women’s gatherings;
  • Recipes for teas, soups, juices, smoothies, scrubs, body oils, and even how to create your own mantra;
  • How to incorporate these practices into daily life in the best way for you.

Filled with inspirational images and a message that’s sustainable for a lifetime, Slow Beauty will harness the power within every woman to physically, mentally, and spiritually nourish their bodies from the inside out.



HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU HEARD some version of the phrase beauty comes from within? My guess is that the answer to this question is something along the lines of “a lot.” Yet, at the same time, social media, magazines, and even newspapers are constantly flooding us with information about antiaging methods, and tips and tricks for enhancing our external beauty. If beauty comes from within, then where is all of this advice and strategy for illuminating our inner beauty?

Well, here it is.

The Slow Beauty practice that you are about to embark upon has nothing to do with creating the perfect smoky eye or combating wrinkles. Instead, it’s about living a life that centers on a philosophy of living better, more wholly, and more truthfully—and having fun in the process! That is where true beauty springs forth: bubbling up from the inside and spilling over to the outside. At the heart of the Slow Beauty philosophy and practice is the idea that the biggest component of any beauty program should be wellness and self-care. To achieve this, we must each regularly find some time to slow down and connect with ourself.

Within the pages that follow, you’ll find inspiration, support, and tools for cultivating that beauty within to the point where it spills over to every aspect of your life, including your physical appearance. Yes, we’ll talk about beauty, but we’ll also focus on general wellness, aging happily and gracefully, and—most important of all—cultivating a truly joyful life from the inside out.

Know that this practice is called Slow Beauty for a reason. It’s what I like to think of as a sustainable beauty alternative. It’s not a quick fix—much better than that, it’s a solution that will last over time. It will become an inextricable part of your life. And, as I’ve seen in both my own life and the lives of the clients I’ve worked with, the ongoing journey of Slow Beauty will be one of the most fulfilling, adventurous, creative, and transformative experiences you’ve ever embarked upon. Rather than a chore or source of stress, this ongoing beauty routine will become a cherished part of your day-to-day life.

Slow Beauty marks a return to our connection with our personal natural rhythms, and ultimately, it brings us back to an unconditional love and acceptance of becoming who we really are. When we live in this sort of manner over a period of time, we naturally and continuously evolve into a more beautiful and timeless version of ourself. Most of all, we find more joy in our life on a moment-by-moment basis. And that is truly beautiful.

Together, we’ll get in touch with the type of beauty that starts from within and emanates outward from there. The type of beauty that defies age. The type of beauty that knows no bounds.

the four pillars of slow beauty

Slow Beauty encapsulates such ideals as inner beauty, self-love, self-care, self-compassion, and joyful living in what is less of a program, and more of an open-source system that will make you look and feel better. This is not a prescriptive program, although I definitely will share tons of ideas for you to incorporate into your own life. Like the Slow Beauty program itself, this book is meant to be playful, iterative, and interactive. With that in mind, there are many ways to enjoy it. There is, of course, the traditional approach of reading it from cover to cover and trying everything in the order in which it is presented. Another option is to engage with it in whatever way feels most natural to you. For example, if you are feeling active, begin with a ritual or a recipe. If you feel as if you need some intellectual stimulation, dive into the Philosophy section. Ready to get creative? Flip to the Mapping section.

With this in mind, Slow Beauty is divided into four distinct sections—the Four Pillars of Slow Beauty, if you will.


What kind of beauty book starts with philosophy of all things, right? At a glance, it might sound a bit odd to correlate beauty and philosophy. But Slow Beauty is all about an elevated type of beauty that comes from the inside and, from there, takes up residency in all aspects of our life. Since Slow Beauty is also, in many ways, a personal program that each of us determines the specifics of ourself, it’s important that it be built upon a foundation and a framework people can understand, get behind, and incorporate into their daily life.

There was a time when philosophy was not only the cornerstone of education, but also of life in general. People had an underlying ethos that informed many facets of their life: the way they thought, what they believed in, and the decisions they made on a moment-by-moment basis.

Over time, philosophy has become a less and less integral part of our system and our life. Look at any college curriculum today and you’ll see a vast difference in how much philosophy is introduced to students, even between now and a couple of decades ago. Our society’s concept of philosophy is now doled out in little nuggets through articles shared on Facebook and Instagram memes. Something may resonate with us, but it is fleeting, and before long, we’ve moved on to the next thing. Most of us don’t have a solid credo to hold on to.

We live in a world that moves quickly, and we’re constantly pulled in different directions. So many of us are wearing this stress; we don’t feel good because of it, and when we don’t feel good, we don’t look good, either. It’s time to slow down and get back in touch with life and ourself. The Slow Beauty philosophy provides us with a touchstone to do that through its belief that it is by making the time to go inward to discover what lights us up and bring us joy—and then honoring that—that we ultimately find true, lasting, timeless beauty. It gives us ideas to marinate on and take with us, and allows these seeds of self-care to continue to grow, even amid all the white noise of our life.

Beauty is multifaceted and inherently simultaneously spiritual and biological. If we care for ourself in deep and meaningful ways, then we are better able to care for others and for the world around us. If we want to slow down, enjoy life, and be well, the Slow Beauty philosophy will help us to discern, engage, and amplify what is a most true and creative process—being our most beautiful, healthy self!

So, how will we know this is working for us? How will we be able to celebrate how we are changing? Or even know we are on the right path? First we need to acknowledge the “new normal”: the frantic, nonstop pace of our life today. We shouldn’t have to merely accept and adapt to this new pace of life. This isn’t about continuing at this insane pace, it’s about challenging that pace. It’s about finding our own pace and grounding ourself in it. It’s a question of pace for inner peace, and from that slower pace the seeds of enlightenment are planted. At the core of the Slow Beauty philosophy is discovering ways to slow down, because it is only then that renewal happens.


One of the primary ways we put the Slow Beauty philosophy into practice is through rituals. As Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow put it, we are currently living in the Age of Practice. He explains, “In the United States, religious life has evolved from a ‘dwelling spirituality’ in the 1950s, when the physical church or synagogue building was the focus of family religious life; to a ‘seeking spirituality’ of the turbulent 1960s, when the individual’s quest for personal meaning and moments of transcendence stood at the center; to our age—an age of meditation practice communities and yoga practice communities.”

Wuthnow points to this trend in an academic sense, but you’ve most likely already noticed it at play in your own life. Maybe you practice yoga yourself; if not, you likely know many others who do or have noticed its increasing prominence in society. The ancient practice of meditation is now becoming mainstream in the same way yoga has in the past decade.

So, what does all of that have to do with Slow Beauty? Slow Beauty is something to be practiced, and a big part of this practice includes meditative techniques, both in the traditional sense and in the terms of rituals that can be meditative in nature when practiced mindfully. Wellness and well-being are big buzzwords, and thankfully there are a ton of options in terms of techniques and tools to live well. But so many choices can also be daunting: Which ones should you choose? When should you integrate them into your life? It can be confusing. This section will help you identify what techniques and tools to use when, and leaves the door open for you to incorporate the wellness practices you are already using.

Just as we practice yoga and meditation on a regular basis for our health and state of mind, with Slow Beauty you will also have the opportunity to practice a fun, healthy, lifestyle throughout your day. Over time, that lifestyle becomes who you are. Slow Beauty will provide you with a host of rituals that can be performed both on a daily and intermittent basis to enhance your life and light you up from the inside. In this section you’ll find a huge variety of ways to do this, including hydration, movement, light therapy (in other words, aligning ourself with our built-in circadian rhythm), and ideas for group gatherings. This diverse menu allows you to go however wide and deep you choose to, and to adjust that scope as you evolve and the various seasons of life come and go.

The ultimate goal with all of this is to better attune yourself with your mind, body, and energy levels on both a day-to-day and a seasonal basis, and to help you live your life in an intentional way. As I’ve seen in my own Slow Beauty practice and in my work with others, once you discover how alive and refreshed you feel from incorporating these rituals and how permissive and accepting you feel when you understand your natural cycles of downtime, you will fall into an easy routine of awareness and self-care that will leave you joyful, enlivened, and brimming with self-acceptance. With these practices incorporated into our daily life, we improve with time, rather than fading away. The passage of time becomes something to celebrate rather than to fear. This, my friends, is true freedom.


Whether we’re ingesting them or applying them, Mother Nature has armed us with all of the ingredients we need to keep our body running like a well-oiled machine. Here, you will learn how to put nature’s bounty to good use through recipes for teas, soups, juices, infused waters, and smoothies, which bolster body, mind, and spirit. When we’re talking about recipes as they pertain to Slow Beauty, though, it includes more than just what we put into our mouth. It also involves being dedicated to ensuring that we put only the best on our body as well so as to promote recovery and vitality.

With that in mind, I’ll also be sharing a variety of deliciously effective recipes, such as sugar scrubs, body oils, mists, and soaks. I love using homemade beauty products not only because they allow us to control and have a greater awareness of what we’re putting on our body, but also because we can cater them to what we need at any given moment in time, whether it’s a bit of hydration during the hot summer months or a soothing concoction to counteract the effects of harsher winter conditions. These treatments will be organized by season so that you can better align yourself with the natural rhythms of the world around you.

We’ll also cover some more intangible recipes. For example, I will lead you through the process of creating your own mantras for the purposes of self-affirmation, a more optimistic outlook, and manifestation. I will also share a variety of physical movements designed for various seasons. While these will help tone and refine the body, they are all, at heart, meditative in nature and will thus enhance your mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness, as well.

The recipes included in this book will not only leave you looking and feeling great, but they will also help you break down the obstacles in your life. I know—sounds like a big promise, right? Here’s why it works: By putting good things on your body and in your body and mind, you will ultimately feel better about yourself and enjoy an improved body image. This will be your greatest protection against the constant barrage of beauty ideals being incessantly hurled at us from every direction. From this wonderful place, you will naturally begin to discover the unique gifts that lie within you, as opposed to wasting your energy striving to become a part of an idealized standard. Obviously, this will leave you feeling great, but it’s also an act of altruism because once you’ve unearthed your gifts, you can contribute them to the world.


Slow Beauty is a philosophy, but how each individual practices it should feel different because we are all different and unique. Beauty is a way of life with countless compositions of varying sizes, shapes, forms, and colors. Just as there is not one catchall variety of outer physical beauty, neither is there one for internal beauty. Sure, there are many universal tips and tricks that I can (and will!) offer you, but it’s also vital that each of us caters our own Slow Beauty routine to the uniquely beautiful creature we are and to those specific things in life that bring us joy and peace.

With all of this in mind, I am especially excited about the final Mapping section of this book because this is really the essence of Slow Beauty and what we’re ultimately striving for. It is here that you will really get in touch with your own path—where you are at right now, where you want to go, and how you will get there. For each of us, those answers are beautifully personal. Through a series of written, artistic, and mental exercises, I will offer you an avenue for digging into that deepest part of yourself to find what specific things you need to realize the full strength, energy, and luminous beauty of your inner core.

you write the slow beauty user’s manual: practice makes process

The ideas in this book are both additive and subtractive—you can build on what you are already doing and you can easily drop anything you find in here that simply isn’t resonating with you. It is through this process of developing your own Slow Beauty practice that you will have the opportunity to get to know yourself better; to get in touch with your inner wisdom; and to shut out all of the outside noise and influences to find that core of what makes you joyful.

Most important, I encourage you to engage with this book. Make it your own! Have a pen by you at all times so that you can circle words that call out to you, make notes, or doodle. Underline, draw in it, dog-ear it, highlight, write in the margins, react, glue things to the pages, add pages—anything goes. This is your book, and your book should have your process all over it. The idea is to transform it into something that is meaningful to you. It’s meant to be referenced again and again, carried around as a companion, and the rituals and recipes tried and tweaked to suit your personal style and taste.

What’s more is that, although you are creating your own program, you don’t have to go it alone! Of course you may do this as a solitary practice if you wish, but Slow Beauty is also set up in such a way that you can build a community around it to support your process, and, through this, you can also support others. (In fact, on here I will show you how to form a group to develop your Slow Beauty practice.) What I want to emphasize is that this book is simultaneously very personal and very communal. But, most of all, it’s whatever works for you. This is in no way a rigid, prescriptive, follow-the-rules-or-else tome. It’s a joyful, living, breathing, and liberating practice; not something to be perfected, but something that is always in process, just like the changing, evolving, human being you are.

part one:


After modernism and postmodernism comes sustainism.


my satori moment

Eight years ago, my son’s class pet, Torti, came to stay at our house for a couple of weeks. At that point in time I, like so many others, was just being immersed in the world of smartphones and social media, and the constant connection that comes with that. It just felt like everything was moving so fast and going nonstop. And then there was Torti. Mesmerized, I would lose time watching that tortoise move about with his slow, deliberate walk. It seemed almost as though he was in a constant state of meditation. He existed fully within each moment and was happy simply to walk, one intentional step at a time. It was beautiful to witness. In Native American medicine, tortoises appropriately represent mindfulness and patience. Torti certainly reminded me of how important those two things are.

I had a revelation during the course of those two weeks with Torti, or what is known as a satori moment in the Zen tradition. As I watched this ancient creature move slowly but purposefully about, I realized that this was exactly what I’d been practicing for my entire life. And, in that moment of solidarity with Torti, I finally had a name for what I’d been doing all along and understood how to bring it into the world: Slow Beauty.

Slow Beauty provides practitioners with a framework for living their life through its rituals and practices. We start slowly, and then build from there. Slow Beauty involves a philosophy and a series of rituals and recipes that guide you through the process of treating yourself well and living your life in such a way that you will flip on that inner light switch. (Actually, I want you to more specifically think of a dimmer switch—a light that has lots of other settings besides just On and Off.) This practice will help you find peace, happiness, contentment, and self-love in the process; nourish your body, mind, and soul; and, as a result, you will look more beautiful and feel more ageless than ever before. Best of all, Slow Beauty allows you to “map” your own well-being regimen, ensuring that your journey is personalized and uniquely caters to you.

the seeds of slow beauty

I had the good fortune of growing up with a mom who marched to the beat of her own drummer. I grew up in the 1970s and ’80s, the height of unnatural shades of makeup, and an abundance of hairspray. As a testament to the era, I remember one particular instance when I put every single color of eye shadow on my eyes at the same time. We had the latest issues of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in the house at all times. But, amid this, my mom engrained in me lessons about more natural modes of health and wellness. This included beauty, but also extended to how we lived in general. My mom was into alternative therapies, such as iridology (studying the eye to determine a patient’s systemic health) and reflexology. She had dairy delivered to our house in glass containers because she was suspicious of plastic. She taught me how to read the ingredient labels on beauty products, showing me both what to look for and what to avoid. The lifestyle my mom promoted in our house was in huge contrast to the chemical warfare that was being quietly waged around us. In fact, the book Silent Spring—an early environmental book that discusses the detrimental effects of pesticides and the chemical industry in general—mentions the pesticide spraying in the Michigan suburb where I grew up. Everyone thought my mom was eccentric at the time, but it turned out she was just several steps ahead of the world at large.

Don’t get me wrong. My mom loved all things beauty and fashion—it’s just that she was conscious about her choices. From a young age, my mom took me with her to the spa, but she stressed its benefits as a tool for health and wellness, rather than for enhancing outer beauty. Her entire ethos was “health is wealth.” “After all,” she would say, “If we don’t have our health, what do we have?”

When the time came for me to go out into the world on my own, I was armed with this sense of health and wellness my mom had instilled in me. When I went to college, I sought out yoga, which, at the time, was far from a mainstream practice. In fact, I had to go off campus to take classes with a lovely group of senior citizens who welcomed me with open arms. After college, I moved to Los Angeles and took up Transcendental Meditation. I found an Ayurvedic doctor at—of all places—a mall in Topanga Canyon. I was constantly seeking new modalities that made me feel more alive and invigorated, and that provided me with better, natural ways of taking care of myself. People often comment about how young I look. I attribute all of this to the fact that it’s simply engrained in me to take good care of myself, working primarily on the inside, and supporting this with holistic external self-care practices. Even after an entire lifetime of living like this, I continue to see myself evolving and growing. So, while some people dread the passage of time, I embrace it. The more time passes, the more deeply I delve into myself. And the more I connect with me, the more beautiful and at peace with myself I feel. This is true for all of us.

flipping the switch on

Turning on your inner light (or enlightenment) is just one term for the effect Slow Beauty will have on you. You might also view it through the lens of growing younger, raising your consciousness, vibrating at a higher energy level, or existing in a state of bliss. All of these feelings are a result of a phenomenon psychologist Abraham Maslow termed self-actualization. You’ve probably heard of self-actualization before. It’s one of those buzzwordy phrases that can be a bit difficult to nail down.

Well, guess what? Maslow also identified some of the signs that self-actualization has happened or is in the process of happening. As you move through the Slow Beauty program, we’ll check in to note if you are experiencing any of these symptoms of self-actualization or awakening—both of which are key steps along the path to enlightenment. Let’s start with where you’re at today to get a baseline. Under each of these markers of self-actualization, determine where you are on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most proficient. But, first, take a deep breath. This is not a test and there are no right or wrong answers. As you move through Slow Beauty you will be amazed to flip back to this and see what has changed and shifted. And, indeed, things will change and shift!

Efficient perception of reality: Are you right here, right now? Or are you living in the past or dreaming of the future?

Acceptance of self, others, and nature: Do you truly understand that there is no such thing as failure? As long as we learn from our mistakes, there are only lessons learned.

Spontaneity: Do you know who you are and are you able to stay focused on what you need? It is through this that you will be able to take immediate action in ways that propel you toward the realization of your goals.

Problem-centering (as opposed to ego-centering): Are you able to focus on the issue at hand at any given moment? Can you refrain from complaining or internalizing situations?

Detachment and the desire for privacy: Do you regularly and consistently create time for solitude to check in with yourself and to recharge your battery?

Autonomy and resistance to enculturation: Do you challenge the norm? Don’t sign on to something just because others have.

Continued freshness of appreciation and richness of emotional reactions and experiences: Are you able to revel in your sensory experiences for a greater appreciation of your environment and of those around you?

Deep interpersonal relationships: Do you experience relationships that are based on psychological trust and elevated communication? How we engage in dialogue with others is a powerful reminder that we are creating our world with our speech and thoughts.

Democratic character structure: Are you able to address and treat the collective mind, body, and spirit? It is in doing this that we experience what it means to be truly beautiful.

Greatly increased creativity: Are you able to clear any energy that is weighing you down? This opens the channels for self-expression.

Certain changes in your value system: Are you working toward more mindful living? Toward a way of life in which you know what you think and feel and are able to express your needs clearly, concisely, and confidently?

As Walter Truett Anderson says in his book The Next Enlightenment, enlightenment is already here, all around us. The problem is that there are obstacles and barriers that keep us from waking up to this enlightenment. If you are experiencing this in your own life, there are some exercises in the Rituals section of this book (beginning on here) that will help you identify and break down the barriers that are keeping you from experiencing life as a blessing.

beauty with substance—it’s an inside job

Enlightenment is a lofty goal. I’m not suggesting that we all strive to walk around like Buddha every day of our life. Beauty is not—and I repeat, not—a pursuit of perfectionism. Anyway, we are already perfect! Slow Beauty isn’t about beauty as we’ve always known it—and it’s certainly not about the Photoshopped perfection that pervades our culture today.

Slow Beauty is a complete revolution to our thinking about and relationship with beauty. Through this practice, we are redefining beauty together, not as media and mainstream advertising tell us it should be. This isn’t to deny that there’s an external element to beauty, either. Of course there is! Who doesn’t love to acknowledge and admire a beautiful face, body, or work of art? Or the awesomeness of a breathtaking display of nature? For some reason, though, we have defined and related to beauty as something that lives only on the surface. And when something doesn’t fit the cultural standard, we ostracize and marginalize it.


  • "Wellness and self-care are at the core of Shel's Slow Beauty reminding and teaching us to put into practice the familiar expression beauty comes from within. Her joyful and inspiring tone make the four pillars of her practice so easy to grasp and work into our daily lives. This is the type of beauty you can't put a label on and one that fits every single body out there. It's the kind of beauty that matters and Shel is here to help guide us along the path of realizing it."

    Kathryn Budig, international yoga teacher, author, and podcast host
  • "Shel Pink's Slow Beauty takes us on a fantastic journey. I love the emphasis on self-care, rituals, and connecting back to our authentic and unique beauty through the ultimate beauty practice: meditation."—Kimberly Snyder, Nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author of Radical Beauty
  • "I love this book. I love the title of this book - it made me take a deep breath before turning the first page. Life has become a rush: a quest for short-cuts and quick fixes. How refreshing, and inspiring, to learn more about nourishing from the inside out. Not just in the sense of your skin, but also your mind, your organs, your body as a whole. We all know one or two women who seem to glow from the inside, and take life at their own pace. I've always wanted to be one of those women! Slow Beauty is a detailed, practical, enlightening guide to that place - no matter who you are."—Louise Roe, TV host, author of Front Roe
  • "Shel Pink is a true beauty pioneer: In a time of quick-fix solutions, she approaches beauty from the inside out in a manner that is not mere lip service. Her truly unique approach to beauty encompasses the mental and spiritual changes we can all make so that we feel better, which is ultimately reflected in the way we look. In Slow Beauty, Shel offers journaling exercises, recipes, and stories meant to enlighten, inspire, and promote personal growth. It is not vanity for vanity's sake, it's wellness for beauty's sake. Read it and reap."—-Didi Gluck, editor, Shape magazine
  • "With great wisdom, warmth and insight, Shel Pink shows us how to slow the pace and quicken our joie de vivre with this thoughtful road map to beauty and well-being."—-Rona Berg, LA Times bestselling author, Beauty: The New Basics, and editor-in-chief, Organic Spa Media
  • "An enchanting storyteller and a powerful proponent of the Slow Beauty movement, Shel Pink has created an engaging, inspiring, and thought-provoking guide designed to help us all slow down, relax, contemplate what is important, and integrate meaningful change into our lives. I've long been inspired by her vision and personal outlook, and it's wonderful to have discovered them both so beautifully communicated in this lovely new book. I encourage you to rush out to get it and then slow down to enjoy it to its fullest."—-Julie Keller Callaghan, editor-in-chief and Publisher, American Spa
  • "This is honestly the most beautiful book I have ever seen! Slow Beauty is the art of turning self care into a self love meditation. This book is filled with the most beautiful recipes to nourish your mind, body and soul and you will want to try every one. Shel redefines what it means to slow down and shows you how to savor and beautify everyday moments. You will want to read it over and over again. "—-Suze Yalof Schwartz, CEO/Founder Unplug Meditation

On Sale
Nov 14, 2017
Page Count
208 pages
Running Press

Shel Pink

About the Author

Shel Pink, who built the SpaRitual brand of self-care products around the Slow Beauty® philosophy and led the industry-wide movement toward green cosmetics, is a leader and educator in the professional beauty care sector. She has written for Organic Spa, LA Yoga,, and other publications both in print and online. Shel lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Learn more about this author