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Merck, as a large personal care ingredients manufacturer, aim to be at the forefront of innovation, debating scientific topics that are relevant and on trend.
Their annual forum brings together primarily scientists from the German-speaking world carrying out research in microbiome, pollution and, in my case, touch.
It is a privilege to be invited to Darmstadt, Germany, this Wednesday, to share my clinical expertise in a talk about “The Science of Massage for Different Skin Types”.

We understand that sensory properties of skincare products – the texture, scent and skin feel – enhance the perceived wellbeing that results from their use.
When developing new products, it is therefore important to understand how an individual’s skin type, age and ethnicity can affect their experience.
Different application touch techniques can impact skin biology in different ways and this is where the science of massage is relevant.
For example, the slow and deep techniques relax the brain, bring in more blood flow and stretch the collagen, producing dermal fibroblasts, collagen-making cells that get less active with ageing which leads to skin thinning, more wrinkles and sagging.
By contrast, the light touch techniques refresh and drain the superficial lymphatic system, something which our bodies do less effectively as we get older, causing puffiness and sagging.

Evidence-based facial massage techniques that work well for all skin types are those which can enhance the penetration of active ingredients from the formulation and respect the weak skin barrier function in different facial zones.
In addition, these techniques should stimulate different C-fibres in the brain; those which signal for reward and bonding, originally involved in mother-baby contact and care, reducing stress and making us feel good.

Not all products can be applied with a massage, and considering the product format and specific ingredients is also essential when designing new application techniques.

Cultures around the world approach touch differently, we talk about tactile (the southern) and non-tactile (the northern) societies.
Yet touch techniques need to respect the integrity of the skin barrier in each case to provide overall positive benefits for the human body, strengthen the connection between the skin and the brain, and increase wellbeing.
I am passionate to advocate short facial massage techniques and their physiological benefits in different skin types as an alternative to Botox and fillers.

Further reading: My blog on How Touch Enhances Wellbeing. To learn more about my work and products, watch my YouTube video.


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