BEAUTY + BEYOND: A Natural Holistic Approach to Skin-Care
A product may be great for a friend, but terrible for YOUR skin. Why is that?! How we personally react to chemicals and products depends on our own biological processes and how our own bodies process and feel their effects. There are so many factors at play when it comes to caring for our skin and our health. We are all so unique and our needs are truly individualized. With that being said, there is no one-size-fits-all skin health diagnosis which means our skin care regimens work best when they are individualized and personalized to suit our own needs. A face cream may be the #1 seller on the market, but if it makes you break-out, gives you an allergic reaction or feels painful when you apply it... then it's not the #1 cream for YOU! This is a major reason why it is so incredibly valuable for us to attempt to get to know ourselves and our bodies so that we have the knowledge and ability to make our own choices and create practices that best serve us. This is the main idea behind a holistic approach to skin care.
A holistically based regimen is employed with the understanding that in order to get at the root of imbalance, we have to widen our aperture and take a look at what is going on in our whole wellness picture (including your background, lifestyle, and diet)! From there, we can begin to choose products and practices that nourish our skin and support our whole body health. The idea of taking our lifestyle choices and other individual patterns into consideration is a holistic approach. This approach is largely about reducing what doesn't serve us: stress, inflammation inducing foods, sedentary lifestyle, etc... ALL THE MAJOR SKIN HEALTH OFFENDERS! We can make better lifestyle choices (diet, habits, mindset) and choose positive and helpful ways of dealing with all the stress that builds throughout our lives.
Some areas to consider when determining your individual skin-health needs and choosing a skin-care regimen :
- Environment + Exposure
- Moral + Ethical Restrictions
- Personal History (injuries, traumas, childhood habits)
- Physical Fitness (weight, strength, energy, flexibility)
- Body Type
- Mental Health (stress levels, mood, disposition)
- Cultural Patterns/Ancestral History
As you can see, so many factors are always at play in any given moment, from age to ethnicity, to environment. For example, fair skin tends to burn quicker and more easily than darker skin tones. Teenage skin tends to be more prone to acne. Older skin is less hydrated and more sensitive. It is important to note that no skin-type is better than another. Each of us requires different routines to manage our individual symptoms of imbalance; some we can influence or change and others we cannot.
We may not be able to directly change our genetic dispositions, but we can perhaps think about our environments, habits, and things within our realm of choice. For instance, where we live plays a role: are we in an urban city which is more densely populated and polluted, leading to inflammation of the skin? Are we in areas of harsh climate which contribute to accelerated damage and aging of the skin via direct sunlight or strong winds? Is our work or home-life barely manageable, leading to loss of sleep, a compromised immune system, disruption in our hormone, cortisol, and blood sugar levels and stress-induced chronic inflammation? Are we surround by toxic relationships that take a toll on our mental health? Is the food we eat nutritious? Do we consistently choose to consume large amounts of sugar, alcohol or caffeine all of which can lead to high levels of inflammation at various sites in the body? Take a moment to be honest and think about these factors. Imbalances in these areas contribute to our skin health and can give us clues about what skin care habits we should adopt. As we can see, one of the main symptoms of imbalance is chronic inflammation which is not so easily reduced by a topical cream!
We all have different symptoms and needs. The best thing that we can do today is to accept ourselves as we are, where we are and with what we have right now. This is a crucial step in working with holistic methods of health and healing. Once there is an acceptance of the present (just as it has come to us), it is easier to identify the best areas of focus for practice and transformation, even when considering skin care. Accepting our shape - our particular body which is our own - can help us ground into the present reality of our situation without judgement and then working to reduce the negative and enhance the positive. Transformation is all about becoming more of who we already are- not trying to reject ourselves to the point that we think we won't be happy until we change or look like somebody else.
With that being said... change and transformation take time and things are unavoidably and continuously in flux. Keep positive and things will move slowly in that direction. Our routines should change and adjust according to our needs at the moment: with the changes of seasons, as we age, when we travel or move. Be lovingly patient with yourself and try to be comfortable with knowing that a lifestyle transformation won't happen overnight.
Over time, as you incorporate positive habits into your daily routines and rituals, you will begin to retrain your body, re-wire the nervous system and regain intuition and proprioception. Listen to the body to understand what it needs. Use the skill of observation to check in on the condition of your skin. Always try to choose what is most nourishing. Skin-care is a form of self-care. If we are constantly being met by stress then meditation, deep breathing or intention setting are all great practices that indirectly improve skin health by reducing stress. Physical activity and exercise not only reduces stress, but also increases blood flow, thus circulating more oxygen and nutrients to skin cells. Physical yoga practices can be an active way to relieve anxiety or chronic stress. Being active every day can (and should be) part of your holistic skin care routine. Find an activity that you enjoy and can commit to on a regular basis. Don't forget to apply sunscreen if you are going outdoors (and re-apply every 2 hours) to protect skin from damaging UV rays. If you're in an urban area, apply an antioxidant protectant to combat city pollution.
- Holistic Health -
on Daily Ritual
- The impact of psychosocial stress on healthy skin
- Stress and the Skin
- Psychoneuroimmunologic aspects of skin diseases
- Response and recovery in the brain may predict well-being
- Epigenetics and Lifestyle
- From inflammaging to healthy aging by dietary lifestyle choices: is epigenetics the key to personalized nutrition?
- Why You Should Pay Attention to Chronic Inflammation
- Mindfulness meditation may relieve chronic inflammation
- Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation
- Foods That Fight Inflammation
- Expression of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in common skin diseases: evidence of its association with stress-related disease activity
Image 1 : "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon," Pablo Picasso
Image 2 : "Drunken courtesans with wine flask and cup," Mewar, c 1820-30
Image 3: "Girl Before A Mirror," Pablo Picasso