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Viewpoint: Healing the Industry, the World and Ourselves

By: Jane Wurwand
Posted: August 23, 2010, from the September 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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.