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Whole Remedies for Holistic Skin Care

Jimm Harrison July 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
woman in facial mask

Author’s note: This is the second installment in a three-part series running in the June, July and September issues of Skin Inc. magazine. The series introduces a total holistic concept to skin care, addressing issues that go beyond the limited common suggestions of mind, body and spirit. An expanded view and definition of holistic was presented in Part I of this series, “How Whole is Holistic?,” in the June issue, and this installment will look at potential services, ingredients, formulas and business models that may be used to address the holistic categories introduced in Part I.

Think holistic and you can create powerful, unique and successful skin care and beauty treatments. It all begins with a clear definition and concept of holism and what it means to be fully holistic.

The holistic consultation

The consultation is an important feature of any skin care service, and a thorough holistic consultation, expanding far beyond a general consultation, will uncover areas of potential treatment that will result in much greater success and client satisfaction. A well-thought-out holistic consultation will enhance your professional image, demonstrate personalized value, provide the client with skilled knowledge, and show you care about who the person is.

As an alternative to the added cost and time of a full holistic consultation, conduct an ongoing consultation where specific information is gathered naturally in conversation during each visit and documented as you would in a standard consultation. The following groupings may serve as a guide to the information needed,1 each requiring several questions for a detailed analysis:

  • personal information;
  • medical profile;
  • diet;
  • emotions, philosophy and relationships;
  • lifestyle, exercise and environment;
  • history of alternative and natural therapies;
  • skin analysis.

The holistic beauty-health connection

A healthy body and mind is a beautiful thing. Health and beauty are now seen as synonymous. Your holistic focus in skin and body care treatments should do as much as possible to bring about whole body balance. The medical profile from your consultation will lead to knowledge of physical imbalances that may affect your client’s skin condition, and your professional licensing and expertise in the use of topical herbs, oils, essential oils and nutrients that penetrate the skin and support other systems should guide how you treat medical issues.

Topicals that provide overall benefits to whole body health with skin protective and rejuvenating properties, as well as contain powerful antioxidant and immune-stimulating effects, include:

  • green tea extract;
  • rosehip seed and berry seed oils;
  • olive and argan oil;
  • vitamin C—using the fat-soluble form, ascorbyl palmitate, for topical use;
  • lavender, geranium and tea tree essential oils.

Holistic remedies for emotions and skin

Essential oils are ideal ingredients for holistic treatment, especially when focused on emotional balance. An aromatherapy blend can simultaneously attend to stress relief, autonomic nervous system balance and a variety of physical symptoms.

There are many good essential oils for emotionally related skin conditions. South African cape chamomile is calming, reducing anxiety, stress and the accompanying inflammatory response. Cedrol, found in cedarwood, was studied for its effect in bringing balance to the autonomic nervous system, which may help reduce heart palpitations, a nervous stomach and anxiety-related conditions of the skin, and neroli is also good for anxiety-related conditions, as well as sensitive skin. Clary sage is emotionally calming and soothing, and it contains a phytoestrogen for the balance of hormonally related skin conditions. Ingredients containing flavonoids and carotenoids, such as extracts of pomegranate, sea buckthorn and acai, help to reduce stress-induced inflammation and free radical damage.

Also important to note, high amounts of polyphenolic compounds found in green tea and supercritical carbon dioxide extracts of rosemary, ginger, turmeric and astaxanthin have properties known to inhibit COX-2,2,3 which may cause many stress-related inflammatory conditions of the skin. Also, the stress-activated neuropeptide Substance-P, which is related to acneic skin, can be effectively reduced with ingredients that contain quercetin4 in extracts of green or black tea, apples and red grapes.

Environmental turnaround

The most direct approach to holistically addressing a person’s environment in support of health, skin and well-being—beyond suggestions for altering and adjusting the environment where possible—is to increase immunity and support detoxification. High amounts of antioxidants, already a general recommendation for health and skin care, are best for protection against environmental damage, and a topical formula designed to build immunity and protect against environmental damage may include:

  • olive oil,
  • shea butter,
  • green tea ,
  • eucalyptus globulus essential oil for detoxification,
  • lavender essential oil for emotional balance,
  • MQV* essential oil for detoxification,
  • tocotrienol.**

A green-minded business could provide retail items such as essential oil diffusers and stand-alone home or office air purification systems. Also, to protect the body from electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs), there are bracelets, necklaces and other wearable retail items designed to offset harmful EMFs.

Support and balance

When dealing with issues of personality and thought, your best choices are plant extracts known for their energetic properties. Leading the list of energetic extracts are essential oils, homeopathic remedies, flower essences and plant hydrosols.

There are many ways to diagnose a personality. For instance, you could use the Hippocratic temperaments or ayurvedic doshas mentioned in Part I of this series, each requiring, at minimum, a strong introductory course to properly utilize them in analysis. When choosing your remedies for personalities, you’ll find essential oils and hydrosols lend themselves to more lenient guidelines. Homeopathy and flower essence therapy have specific guidelines and require direction through reference books and courses.

These energetic remedies can be used to support a healthy philosophy or counteract an unhealthy outlook. A person’s philosophical outlook—positive, negative, realist or spiritualist—quite often will coincide with their emotional state.

Suggestions for a person who tends to be anxious, jumpy, oversensitive and has a doom-and-gloom worldview may include neroli essential oil, heart-centered rose hydroso, and the flower essence mimulus. A self-assured type-A personality who is dominant and inflexible would do well with flower remedy vine, the lighten-up attitude of orange essential oil and spiritually infectious frankincense hydrosol.

Lifestyle changes

For skin-damaging lifestyles, diets, work habits and social habits, there’s only so much a practitioner can do beyond educating the client about the skin-harming effects of these actions. There are no remedies that will truly correct a skin condition that results from a poor lifestyle, making it a challenge to skin care professionals when a client is resistant to change.

Your best bet for skin therapy is detoxification, antioxidants, and a focus on emotional or personality issues that influence a reckless lifestyle or poor diet. Your business model should demonstrate healthy lifestyle choices through example and offer healthy lifestyle services and literature.

Holistic remedies for a stressful world

An area of holistic concern often overlooked is the effect conditions of the world have on skin. This is a speculative issue using recently introduced theories of the interconnected behavior of all things, suggesting that with world harmony there would be less stress in people’s mind, body and spirit. World chaos has the opposite effect, creating a negative influence on the energetic body.

Remedies for a stressful world correspond to the apparent emotional impact on the individual. It helps to uncover individual concerns—whether they be economic, which can be treated with the homeopathic remedy aconitum, or patchouli essential oil; sadness due to world strife, which may be helped with rose hydrosol or borage flower essence; or a fear of political dangers, which can be aided by mandarin essential oil and aspen flower remedy. Your business also may want to provide services and programs to promote harmony and a positive worldview, such as meditation, reading groups, chakra balance therapy and volunteer programs.

Subatomic, quantum healing

Identifying remedies for actions at the quantum or subatomic level is as mysterious as the subject of subatomic behavior itself. This is a level of information sometimes viewed synonymously with consciousness or spirituality. It may be logical to use techniques that find their support from a quantum interpretation such as Reiki and other forms of energy work. In homeopathy, the action of the remedies is sometimes said to come from the healing information carried by the subatomic particles. Utilizing your own positive thoughts and focus, believed to influence healing, is a means of treatment for any condition, and ingredient choices will likely correspond with emotional or physical symptoms.

Your business also may support healing by buying products that have a positive subatomic imprint. Fair trade products are a good example of products with a positive imprint, with the company that does not allow workers in a bad mood to pick rose petals as an extreme example of protecting a product from negative imprints. Additionally, camaraderie among management and staff, complimentary actions, and the reinforcement of positive behavior all create a positive imprint, which will then be transferred to your clients and their skin.

Holistic remedies

Research and clinical experience will continue to guide you in your holistic treatments. The body-mind-energetic spirit is complex and never offers a clear path, so a good philosophy in developing holistic treatment is to address every aspect of healing with a full-spectrum of physical, emotional, energetic and spiritual diversity. Additionally, your ingredients must also be holistic, a point that will be further discussed in Part III of this series, “Adapting A Whole Food Philosophy to Beauty Treatments.”


1. J Harrison, Global Healthy Aging Consultation and Analysis, Phytotherapy Institute for Healthy Aging and Holistic Beauty (2000)

2. T Nemark and P Schulick, Beyond Aspirin, Hohm Press, Prescott, AZ (2000)

3. S Lee, S Bai, K Lee, S Namkoong, H Na, K Ha, J Han, S Yim, K Chang, Y Kwon, SK Lee and Y Kim, “Astaxanthin Inhibits Nitric Oxide Production and Inflammatory Gene Expression by Suppressing IκB Kinase-dependent NF-κB Activation,” Mol. Cells, 16(1) 97–105 (2003)

4. M Nicolau, SS Dovichi and G Cuttle, “Pro-inflammatory effect of quercetin by dual blockade of angiotensin converting-enzyme and neutral endopeptidase in vivo.,” Nutr Neurosci, Oct 6(5) 309–16 (2003)