One of my favourite areas of interest in skin science is how touch can have a beneficial effect in a person’s skincare regime and on their wellbeing.
The effectiveness of a product goes beyond simply the ingredients and how beneficial they are for the individual’s skin type – how is the skincare applied is crucial for reasons much deeper than you might think.
When I talk about “touch”, I mean the pressure, the direction and style of the strokes, and whether a product is applied with the hands or a tool of some kind.
It is quite incredible how many different approaches there are to facial massage. It varies from one culture to another, such as French Jacquet massage and the Japanese art of Kobido, for example. I have believed for a long time that the right type of touch can boost skincare product efficacy and generate a wave of positive emotions to make people look and feel well. Now, advanced research techniques can detect changes in brain wave patterns and different brain area activation. For the first time, the science provides evidence of the effect touch can have on the whole body.
Skin is the largest sensory organ. New research has shown that skin senses external information in the same way that the brain does; it can assess the strength of sound, colour and light. In my view, the health and wellbeing of the body starts with skin barrier integrity – the healthy state of the outermost layer of our skin – linking our physical and emotional worlds.
The right techniques of applying anti-ageing products help the body to release wellbeing hormones (such as endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin), thereby improving mental health, as well as benefitting specific skin types and concerns. The application of skincare products creates a connection with our mind and body through touch.
Even gentle touch employed during daily skin care routines makes people feel better.
This is due to the deep-seated skin and brain connection, which comes from their development in the same layers of cells, the ectoderm, in the embryo only a few weeks after conception. The state of the mind of people massaging their faces, or when they are having a professional facial massage, also determines the quality and results of a treatment.
Touch has to be applied so as to strengthen our physical and emotional skin barrier in order to deliver wellbeing to our whole body. It is a fundamental part of any skincare regime but how many of us really consider this when we are rubbing in our face cream in the morning?
- In future blogs, I will go into more detail about specific touch techniques and their effects. My piece on the science of skin ageing is a good place to start.