Allure: What does self-care mean to you?

Mardini: It’s being surrounded by good people, working on my dreams and goals, and understanding that sometimes you need to take five steps rather than one step to get where you want to be. It’s understanding that I have to work hard and understanding also that I could fail and it’s fine. I’m going to be disappointed, I’m going to be frustrated, but a lot of great things come after that, because sometimes when you’re frustrated the most, you come up with the greatest idea in your life. And it may sound cheesy, but I really, really am a person that believes the closer you are to giving up is when you really have to push one last time to get to where you want to be. You can see that from my story. I mean, I could have given up so many times, but my family taught me to never give up and to try over and over again until I am where I want to be.

Allure: Now that the Olympics are behind you, what does your self-care routine look like today?

Mardini: I try to work out at least four times a week because I’m not a professional swimmer anymore. In general, I have less time to do facials and so on, but I try. Whenever I have a red carpet, I do a cryofacial, which is great before glam and all of that. I have great makeup artists that bring me face masks all the time before they put the makeup on.

I still work out. I tried hot Pilates. You sweat so much and you feel the burn. I do have a very full day with university as well, because I’m a student, too. It’s crazy to say, but it’s been harder to take care of myself now than when I was a professional athlete because I had time. You were forced to have a few hours of recovery between training and now I’m on the go from the morning until the evening. But I always try to take care of my skin and myself. 

Allure: Does your Syrian heritage impact your beauty rituals?

Mardini: Yes, in a positive way. We Arabs have all the secrets. I learned a lot of things from my mom, like using rose water and lemon on your hands to make them brighter and softer. Rose water is very well-known in Damascus. They cook with it, they use it for beauty, they use it for so many things. I feel like [skin care] is simpler there. You do less and you don’t have to care about it as much, but you still have the same results. And women exchange most of those beauty secrets, which I love. As a child, I used to sit down while my family was having their morning coffee and I’d listen because I just wanted to know more. We take care of ourselves a lot and we are taught by our moms to embrace our beauty.

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