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Changing the World With Your Bare Hands

By: Jane Wurwand
Posted: June 25, 2008, from the January 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 4 of 4

I have had the following experience many times and am positive that you, as a skin care professional, have had similar ones, as well. A client—usually a woman—walks into your spa and asks if she can have a treatment. You check the schedule and see that your day is full. You apologize about not being able to fit her in today and offer to reschedule her for tomorrow or the next day. The woman chews her lip and asks if there is an opening for a massage. There isn’t. How about a manicure and pedicure? A blow-out? Maybe a makeup application? A lip wax, even? You explain that there is a huge wedding party here today, and everyone on the team is booked. She reads the menu over and over, asking about each service—even the obscure ones that nobody ever requests. She doesn’t want to leave and seems desperate because she is: desperate to be touched in a nurturing, nonthreatening way.

The tide is turning, and more and more people are realizing that skin care, energy work and body work are not treats, indulgences or pampering, but truly are tools for survival in these touch-phobic times.

As a skin therapist, you must step up to your role as a cultural healer. It is not too grand a mission. You can do it. In fact, you must do it because you are among some of the last people on Earth who are trusted to touch others without facing criminal charges.

It is perfectly fine to be interested in the latest products and the newest technologies. Curiosity is part of being passionate, and you always must seek out what is new in order to understand it and to decide whether it is best for your clientele. But, as the front line in the cultural revolution to make touch safe again, never underestimate your own hands. More than any peptide, enzyme or piece of high-tech hardware, your two hands are wonder-workers. Even in the most secular sense, the “laying on of hands” is a deeply healing experience. The effects go beyond the release of oxytocin to something more mysterious and, ultimately, more important than mere chemistry.

The cultural revolution

Unlike most of the industrial world, straining so as not to innocently bump into or graze the sleeve of a stranger in passing, skin therapists do not have to apologize for touching another person’s skin with their bare hands. In fact, you are paid to touch them. Your clients sigh. Some drowse blissfully under your touch. Some giggle with nervousness, perhaps because they are not touched often or because it has been a long time since they have been. Occasionally, some weep with cathartic relief and release. And they all thank you.