In this first in a series of conversations on beauty, health, and wellness with Irene Forte - Wellness Consultant at Rocco Forte Hotels and Founder & CEO of Irene Forte Skincare - she shares her tips on how to prepare for travelling again, what to pack in your carry-on bag, and mindful routines to follow when you reach your holiday destination.
The last year has been one of continual adjustment. As the world starts to emerge from a cocoon of lockdown, the prospect of holidays are back on the horizon.
What are your top tips for preparing for your first holiday abroad for some time?
I keep my fitness regime busy and varied for a couple of weeks before I go on holiday, including Reformer Pilates, yoga, and some high intensity workout sessions.
A few days before departing, I suggest a facial so that your skin is purified, hydrated and glowing. I would either do a personalised Forte Facial at The Spa at Brown’s using Irene Forte Skincare or one of my facials on Skinned app with fantastic facialist Desi Valentine. I would also suggest a body scrub to stimulate and refresh skin and remove dead cells; we have a great Sicilian Scrub at The Spa at Brown's (and at all of our international spas).
If you have time, I recommend weekly Endosphères full-body treatments at Pietro Simone’s clinic in London (or at our Hotel de la Ville spa in Rome or our Verdura Resort spa in Sicily). Endosphères is an amazing non-invasive treatment for body contouring, muscle toning, lymphatic drainage, cellulite reduction and pain relief.
Last but not least, a good manicure and pedicure is a must before you go on holiday!
What do you carry in your hand luggage when travelling?
I always pop some Irene Forte Skincare sachets into my hand luggage. When I get on the plane, I like to clean my face with the Almond Cleansing Milk and some cotton pads. I then use a travel-size hydrating Helichrysum Toner, before applying the Pistachio Face Mask (it's cream based and absorbs quickly so I don't look too silly with it on my face).
As we're landing, I'll spritz some Helichrysum Toner onto a cotton pad, which I use to remove any excess mask. Following this, I apply the Hibiscus Serum and the Prickly Pear Face Cream. This leaves me with perfectly cleansed and hydrated skin for arrival.
I also bring Lugol’s Iodine 15% solution tincture on a flight, adding four drops to water. It staves off air-conditioning germs and supports immunity.
For a healthy snack, I bring an RXBar. I love the Chocolate Chip one, which ensures I'm not hungry, especially on short haul flights, and gives me good energy.
Finally, given COVID, I carry my Irene Forte Skincare cleansing gel. It has a lovely fragrance and leaves my hands hydrated. I also bring a spare mask or two; I like to change my mask at the end of the flight (once I've done my final face product application steps of course).
Do you have tips on staying calm on the plane and in what may be busy, crowded airports?
Preparation is key. It's a bit of a nuisance to travel at the moment, there are so many different forms to complete and COVID tests to do, which can be quite stressful. I suggest reading the airline rules carefully, as well as the regulations for the country you're going to. Many airlines want you to submit COVID tests and forms in advance of the flight – give yourself plenty of time to check the details.
Arriving at the airport on time is also important so that you don't feel stressed or rushed. And bring a good book to distract you, a good playlist/podcast, or even an app like Headspace.
How do you maintain a mindful morning routine while on holiday?
When you're on holiday there are no excuses not to have a 'mindful' morning! I drink a glass of water as soon as I wake up. I used to have hot water and lemon first thing, but since learning about Ayurvedic practices at the Vana Wellness Retreat in northern India, I’ve switched to room-temperature water. I have to say that since doing this, I’ve felt amazing.
I then have a shower and do my morning skincare regime - don't skimp out just because you're on holiday. Applying nicely textured and beautifully smelling skincare can be a really calming ritual.
Unsurprisingly, when I'm on holiday I do my usual morning ritual using my own skincare which has beautiful organoleptic properties. I start the morning with some water and the Almond Cleansing Milk. I then splash the Helichrysum Hyaluronic Toner on and pat my skin to boost circulation and balance its PH. I follow this with the Hibiscus Serum. I never miss the serum step because it’s more potent than a cream and its molecular size allows it to penetrate the skin’s deeper layers. The Almond Eye Cream comes next and then I usually finish with the Prickly Pear Face Cream. I always moisturise my body. The White Wine Body Cream and the Rose Body Oil are amazing.
Next, I do something for me which may be 20 minutes of Vedic meditation or some simple breathing exercises which mindfulness coach Terrence The Teacher taught me. Terrence the Teacher also has some great guided meditations on his website. Or, if this is not for you, you could go for a walk, do some yoga, or write down five things that you're grateful for. It can even be as simple as taking a moment to breathe and consciously slow down.
At which Rocco Forte Spas can we experience some much needed pampering after a year of lockdown?
Well, we have plenty of spas to discover! I think it's worth highlighting our unique wellness programmes in Sicily, available at Verdura and our newly opened, Villa Igiea. These programmes offer a balanced and integrated approach to health, using state-of-the-art techniques, with programmes individualised to every guest.
I can recommend the Healthy Lifestyle programme at both properties designed to help you achieve spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical balance. It helps to break bad habits, and encourages you to pursue activities, choices and a lifestyle that lead to a more holistic state of health.
Before your arrival you are invited to fill out a questionnaire that allows us to tailor your programme. Once at the property, you will receive consultations with our specialists and enjoy Nourish menus created by Chef Fulvio Pierangelini in tandem with our nutritionist. The menus are centred on the Mediterranean diet and contain no refined sugar, red meat, caffeine, or alcohol. Nutritionally balanced food and re-educating the body to crave what is good for it are key to Rocco Forte Wellness. This programme is available for six or more days.
We also have a three-day express programme - perfect for those looking for a quick fix over a long weekend, say. It's designed to speedily help you break bad habits and kick-start a new routine of spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical balance.
Thinking of sun-filled holidays, do you have a favourite sun cream?
I love using the Elta MD Skin UV Daily Facial Sunscreen SPF 40. It is lightly tinted as well as paraben and phthalate-free. I also love the Heliocare SPF 50 oil-free formulation; it's oil-free so it doesn't make my skin greasy. I tend to use this one daily in London. I use a facial sun cream as the final step in my skincare regime, and I use the Irene Forte Skincare SPF30 on my body after moisturising as I like to be uber hydrated.
Post UV exposure, especially after a day at the beach or by the pool, I suggest applying the Irene Forte Skincare Aloe Vera Face Cream to the face, and for the body I suggest the Aloe Vera After Sun.
Do you have any tips or useful products for protecting your hair from sun and seawater?
Yes, there are a few products I love.
In terms of shampoo and conditioner, I highly recommend the Virtue hair products; their travel duo of shampoo and conditioner is fantastic. I also love the Pureology Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner; my hairdresser and friend Jack Ball has got me into these two products more recently, which always leave my hair feeling glossy and smooth.
Pre sun exposure, a little spray to protect the hair against the drying effects of the sun and salt water never harms. Try the Kérastase Soleil Huile Sirène Treatment, which is a leave-in bi-phase oil mist.
To condition the hair properly after sun exposure, I really love the Virtue hair mask, the Fable & Mane Hair Oil, or the Kérastase Nutritive Night Repair - an eight-hour serum to help condition and replenish dry hair.