There are different paths to healing in massage therapy and skincare. I wanted to take a moment to talk about the difference between a reductionist approach and a whole person/whole plant approach.
"We are not separate from the beauty we seek. It is already here, now, in front of us. Pared down to the barest essence is where real beauty lies. Authentic beauty is never perfect, nor elusive, but lies in the cracks and crevices of our lives every minute of the day"
I like to approach both my massages and my facials from a whole person philosophy. It is very important to me when working with clients to really listen to what each person wants on that particular day and then zoom out a bit. It is possible to work on what is happening today and also look at what is happening in general. Healing is never linear. Our bodies are always changing and shifting. We can have fluctuations in how we are feeling seasonally, monthly, daily. How we feel in our bodies and our skin can change based on how well we have slept, what we have eaten, how depleted we are, hormonal shifts, the weather, exercise, our level of stress and how long we have been under stress and any other myriad things. Taking all these factors into account is to take that of the whole person.
A whole person/whole plant approach looks at more than isolates and pieces, it takes a holistic approach to skin, chronic pain, and the products we use. It looks at nature and ourselves as part of a supportive matrix where the pieces of the whole are designed to work together and not be pulled apart.
I believe a whole plant/whole person philosophy of holistic healing therapy works well for addressing the pain we carry in our bodies (emotional, physical, spiritual). For example, the tension we carry in our faces, our necks, our throats and our jaws is all connected to the way blood stagnates and lymph gets trapped which can cause puffiness, headaches, and skin irritations. From our feet up through our hips to our shoulders and into our heads is all connected. It is nearly impossible to isolate symptoms and ignore the whole. How we use active and living skincare products to nourish and support our largest organ - our skin - is also part of this whole-istic approach.
An example of looking at the whole plant approach in skincare is to look towards Vitamin C. One ingredient I use is a rosehip compound. Rosehips are rich in Vitamin C. They contain L-ascorbic acid (the biologically available isomer of vitamin C) and can range from 0.3 to 1.3% vitamin C by mass. L-ascorbic acid will oxidize quickly and so using powdered rosehips allows the vitamin C to be delivered to the skin in its bioavailable form and safely. It is highly unlikely to create irritation on the skin when using the whole rosehip. Vitamin C is incredibly hard to stabilize when used as an isolate. So often, when you see it in skincare as an isolate, you end up with something with little nutritive value or an inert ingredient all together.
While much of our culture wants to isolate our symptoms, pull apart our bodies and break us into pieces and parts, we are whole human beings. Our Earth is a whole system. The vitamins in plants all work in synergy. We are all deeply interconnected. Therapeutic massage and holistic skincare is an opportunity to sit with the whole and begin to listen. It is an opportunity to tune in and holistically connect with the skin, the spirit and the body. It is a grounding experience and part of healing journey.