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Consoling Stressed Skin

By: Rebecca James Gadberry
Posted: June 29, 2009, from the July 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
woman with painful neck

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Last year, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem discovered psychoactive effects from incensole acetate, a constituent in frankincense used for several millennia in religious ceremonies throughout the world.10 The chemical lowers anxiety and causes antidepressive behavior in mice by activating a neural protein that is also present in the human brain. Although its effects have yet to be proven in humans, the researchers are hopeful their findings will lead to a new class of drugs to treat anxiety and depression. In the meantime, burning a little incense from time to time might be a gentle way to relieve stress.

Also, if you use a particular essential oil or blend in your treatments, you may have anchored an oxytocin release response in your clients. Sending the scent home with your clients will help them relax by simply smelling the oil. You can also try a little sensory marketing using the essential oil to lightly scent postcards reminding your clients to schedule an appointment. If a client is anchored to the oil, they might be more likely to call and schedule an appointment.

Build in more touch

In this stress-filled world, clients need skin care professionals to keep them pulled together so they can go out and tackle the challenges in their lives. Review all points of interaction you have with your clients, from the initial greeting to each treatment on your menu to the way your clients end their spa experience. Look for opportunities to build in more touch time, more ways of expressing care, more chances to communicate calm via all the senses. By reviewing each element of the spa experience, you’ll be able to layer small but meaningful touches that will deepen the stress-reduction dynamic for even the most stressed-out clients.


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  2. A Weschler, The Mind-Body Connection: 9 Days to Reverse Stress Aging and Reveal More Youthful Beautiful Skin, Simon & Schuster, New York (2008)
  3. SE Taylor, LC Lewis, BP Gruenewald, TL Grung, JA Updergraff, Female Response to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight, Psychological Review 107(3) 41–42
  4. UCLA Researchers Identify Key Biobehavioral Pattern Used by Women to Manage Stress, Science Daily (May 22, 2000)
  5. Stressed Mice Quicker to Get Skin Cancer, Johns Hopkins Medicine press release (Dec 8, 2004)
  6. Stress Substantially Slows Human Body’s Ability to Heal, Archives of General Psychiatry (Dec 5, 2005)
  7. Use of aromatherapy with hospice patients to decrease pain, anxiety and depression and to promote an increased sense of well-being, Am J of Hosp and Pall Med 19(6) 381–386
  8. SR Scantling, Is There a Fragrant Solution to Low Sexual Desire? Intimacy, Sex & Relationship (Oct 14, 2007)
  9. Fragrance administration to reduce anxiety during MR imaging, Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging 4(4) 623–626 (2005)
  10. Burning Incense is Psychoactive: New Class of Antidepressants Might be Right Under Our Noses, Science Daily (May 20, 2008)