Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

The Healing Touch November 10, 2010

Quite some time ago I wrote a post called Why You Should Get a Facial ASAP.  In the post I mentioned how important the massage part of the facial was for both your skin and your physical and mental wellbeing.  Recently I was reading my copy of Skin Inc. magazine and came across a piece written by Jane Wurwand called Healing the Industry, the World and Ourselves about the power of skincare and how “professional skin care is a healing force, in more than one sense.”  Personally I read Skin Inc. in order to stay informed about the latest trends, treatments, and innovations in the esthetic world and normally don’t find much personal inspiration in the pages of the magazine.  So I was pleasantly surprised to read Wurwand’s piece.

Before I go into greater detail about the article I’ll briefly explain who Wurwand is.  Jane Wurwand is the founder and owner of the skincare brand Dermalogica which if it isn’t already is on its way to becoming a household name.  Not only does Wurwand develop products for Dermalogica she also oversees the training of skin therapists in 28 countries through the International Dermal Institute which is a center for post-graduate esthetics education.  She has extensive experience both as an esthetician, educator, and leader in the esthetics field so I certainly take what she has to say seriously.

I found quite a few inspirational things in Wurwand’s article:

Through this skin care profession that we love, we can change the world, one person at a time; maybe even save the world, one skin at a time.

No thinking person will deny the fact that the world is in need of healing. But, where to begin? The question and the task are more than merely daunting. The skin, far more so than the eyes, is the window to the soul, or certainly, to the being of a person. Genetics, environment, nutrition, hormonal activity; every aspect of health, every nuance of experience and mood present themselves in the living epidermis.

So my suggestion is that, rather than starting world-healing on the macro level, the micro level needs to be taken care of first. Begin with the skin. My experience of the past three decades suggests that professional skin care is a healing force, in more than one sense.

A client’s skin tells the spa professional a great deal about her world. Consider how the relationship between the spa professional and the client begins; they lay their living skin upon the client’s naked skin—naked hands upon the naked face. This sort of social touching is essential to civilization, in my opinion. It is nonsexual and nonthreatening, but today, is virtually illegal in the industrialized world. For example, any workplace attorney will tell you that a casual touch on the job can land you in court. The most essential component of humanity—touching—has been all but eradicated from a person’s daily identity.

When the skin is touched, the brain responds. Presuming that the touch is favorable, a cascade of feel-good chemicals rushes through the neurons. Endorphins, dopamine and serotonin flood the brain, balancing out cortisol levels—that twitchy, nasty stress hormone. Most powerful in this outpouring is the soothing, grounding brain chemical called oxytocin, the antithesis of cortisol.

Considering that the spa profession is mainly made up of women—female therapists caring for female clients—triggering oxytocin may be much of the reason that women continue to seek out beauty services, regardless of the economy or other circumstances. This is evident in Afghanistan, Rwanda and other places where salons and beauty schools fearlessly spring up out of the rubble of war. Women need, want and demand the reassurance of touch from other women, and this touch is the beginning of the rebuilding of community.

Health and beauty services are some of the few contexts in which touching between strangers is still socially acceptable. Some in the spa community believe that, for hygienic reasons, skin care treatments should be given wearing disposable latex gloves, as though one were working at a chicken-processing factory. This would nearly defeat the purpose.

 

Is it naive to think that facials and haircuts can change the world?  I don’t think so at all and that is why I liked the fact that Wurwand pointed out that both a positive, soothing touch and interactions between two human beings can help change the world on a micro level.  By being empathetic and caring estheticians can help provide their clients with a sanctuary from the real world even if it is only for an hour.  Such positive interactions can only benefit all those involved and yes, that might just help heal the world a little bit.

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One Response to “The Healing Touch”

  1. This Time Now Says:

    A wonderful and an insightful post. Here in Asia, skincare is a top priority. In addition to all the plastic surgery clinics here in the well-to-do areas of town, there is just as plentiful supply of skin clinic, or dermatology offices all over this city. Korean women take pride and special care in maintaining good skin or correcting any disturbances of the skin. The service that they provide is so soothing, consultations are informative and always end on a positive note. I feel relieved and refreshed due to their caring hands. Thank God for all of you!


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