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What is Wellness?

By: Lila Shanti Pettyjohn
Posted: September 28, 2012, from the October 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

“Wellness” is a word most have become accustomed to reading, hearing and even saying. “Holistic wellness” is rapidly becoming a well-known phrase, as well, but these are both vague terms that can cause confusion. So, what is wellness anyway? Wellness, as defined by, is “The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.” Wellness refers to a person’s overall state of being; holistic wellness implies that everything affects everything else. So smoking a cigarette, for example, not only affects lung function—but also skin function.

There are many components of holistic wellness. A client’s lifestyle affects the skin and her overall health. It is well known that the skin is the body’s largest organ and that any problems a client is experiencing internally usually show up on the skin first. Skin often indicates that something is out of balance. Although the selection and appropriate use of skin care products are crucial for optimum skin health, it is also important to look more closely at what is occurring externally and internally. Along with topical products, nutrition, stress levels and sleep patterns also play a role in a client’s health. (See Business-building Wellness Ideas.)

Natural skin care products

Professional and retail natural skin care products abound these days as a result of increasing consumer desire. Natural skin care products were hidden among a sea of traditional products 10–15 years ago. Educate your clients to look for products that contain ingredients such as salts and sugars; beneficial oils, such as olive, coconut and almond; cocoa and shea butters; and pure essential oils. Even better, choose a natural line of professional products to use in the backbar and retail area of your skin care facility.


Nutrition is critical to skin and overall health. The human body is a well-oiled machine, and feeding it nutritionally dense foods is extremely important. Eating a diet that mostly comes from nature is a surefire way to ensure health and, when clients are healthy from the inside, it shows on the outside through radiant skin. The most nutritional benefit comes from natural ingredients because they are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants, all which contribute to well-being. An easy-to-remember general rule of thumb is: If it comes from a plant, eat it; if it is made in a plant, don’t. Consider your client’s habitual diet during her skin care analysis and encourage the consumption of a diet rich in fruits; vegetables; whole grains; nuts; seeds; legumes; healthy fats, such as olive and coconut oils; and naturally occurring proteins. Even when eating a healthy diet, there can be holes in nutritional intake, so it is advisable to look into supplementation of digestive enzymes, amino acids, trace minerals and vitamins. Encourage your client to work with her physician in order to identify the best supplement options for her.

Another key component of nutrition is water consumption. People usually think of water as separate from nutrition, but it is actually part of the complete nutritional picture. Proper hydration is critical for skin function, health and vitality. The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake of fluid for men is about 13 cups of total beverages a day and about nine cups of total beverages a day for women. A key question during your skin care analysis should be how much water your client drinks each day.