Intensive, Natural Anti-aging Therapy


With injectables and fillers slowly moving off-trend in Britain, many beauty therapists look for alternatives to deliver anti-aging results. Natural, intensive, evidence-based anti-aging facial massage might be the answer.

In my skin care clinic, clients interested in health and wellbeing demand high performance anti-aging treatments. Professionally, I work with both pharmaceutical and natural brands, and the core of my treatments is facial massage.

Exceptional Aging

Olay, Harvard University and 23andMe conducted a study looking at women aged 20–70 to understand what makes them look ageless. The research identified a unique skin fingerprint (about 2,000 genes) among these “exceptional skin agers.” Although all people have these genes in their skin, they are more strongly expressed in this genetically blessed group.1

These genes may hold the key to successful aging, and selecting the right skin care ingredients to affect these genes may help more women achieve strong anti-aging benefits. The research also found gene expression “tipping points” occurring in each decade as humans age, including: a decline in antioxidant response in the 20s, a decline in skin bioenergy in the 30s, an increase in cellular senescence in the 40s, a decline in skin barrier function in the 50s, and an acceleration of all the above in the 60s.

First: The Actives

“Natural” on a label can mean different things to different people, including: biodegradable, environmentally friendly, produced using low amounts of energy, ethically responsible sourcing, non-animal derived, 100% natural or organically grown.

Natural skin care has to work with the seasons and, where appropriate, provide the client with scientifically substantiated efficacy. If the following natural actives are not in your current products, perhaps they can be added to treatments for excitement and greater efficacy. This year’s trend has embraced healing plants and bacteria living in extreme environments from around the world.

Dragon’s blood: Dragon’s blood extract is sourced from the sap of an Amazonian rain forest tree. Traditionally used to stop bleeding and inflammation, it helps to regenerate the skin, treat eczema and heal insect bites. In skin care, the extract has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Extreme bacteria: Anti-aging ingredients produced by bacteria that thrive in harsh environments are the latest in skin care. The bacteria have adapted their biochemistry to the environment; their metabolism generates a rich source of molecules, which are used as anti-aging cosmetic ingredients.

Thermus thermophilus from the Gulf of California is one of these extremophile bacteria. The bacteria live in deep parts of the ocean, where the conditions include immense pressure, a 2,000 meter depth and cold temperatures (75°C). The ferment has been shown to prevent the visible signs of photo-aging and protect cell structures from UV damage.

The Core: Facial Massage

Emerging science is underpinning the benefits of professional facial massage techniques in fighting the signs of aging. Behind the empirical experience acquired by beauty therapists over time, there is early evidence that facial massage may help penetration of active ingredients, alleviate skin sagging and optimize energetic pathways in the body.

University of California researchers suggested that massaging the skin may influence penetration of active ingredients and should be studied thoroughly to clarify the mechanisms involved. Although early animal studies did not show any effect of massage on the skin, later studies measuring permeation rates through human skin ex vivo reported that rubbing increases the flux of actives, reduced skin impedance and increased active ingredient retention.2 Researchers from a collaboration between Shiseido and Osaka University concluded that impaired function of lymphatic vessels leads to accumulation of subcutaneous fat, which causes skin sagging.3


In my experience, as specific strokes of facial massage facilitate lymphatic flow, regular facial massage might prevent sagging of the cheeks. Finally, the Japanese art of Reiki often represents a part of an anti-aging facial treatment. Reiki has been indicated to improve quality of life in a vulnerable group of cancer patients, lowering their anxiety, depression and fatigue.4 Some of my peri-menopausal clients have stressful lifestyles, allowing this element of professional facial massage to enhance their wellbeing.

A Step-by Step Anti-aging Solution

Intensive anti-ageing therapies are gaining a more prominent status slowly; they are a step-by-step healthy choice rather than a quick fix solution. However, as women start to put more effort into the prevention of premature facial aging with natural solutions, these therapies represent a true potential for an aspirational beauty therapist.



Katerina Steventon, Ph.D., runs FaceWorkshops, an independent consultancy with a focus on innovative insights, education and training. She also works at The University of Hull on projects related to well-being in skin conditions. For more information, visit

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