When it comes to therapy in the skin, massage and beauty industries, it’s easy to consider it as something of a luxury, something that’s only reserved for special moments or times of indulgence. But, it’s important to consider the other side to skincare and beauty treatments, the tactile and therapeutic element that can only be achieved through a visit with a qualified therapist.
There’s a real power in touch and, once you’ve plugged into it, it’s easy to see the true importance of therapists, particularly in western cultures where we’re generally touch-deprived. It’s one of our primary senses, and a pathway to unlocking natural highs, releases and healing powers.
As The Guardian stated in a recent feature on the centrality of touch: ‘Touch is our first sensation. The hand of a two-month-old human foetus will grasp when it feels something in its palm. A new-born baby will instinctively turn its head towards a touch on the cheek. All over the world, children play tag without having to learn how. The earliest forms of medicine drew on this human need to touch and be touched. The practice of healing massage emerged in India, China and southeast Asia by the third millennium BCE, before spreading west.’
Essentially, it’s something we all crave. Skin makes up nearly 20% of our bodies, so the tactile nature of a therapist helping us with skincare is incredibly rewarding. The cortisol lowering effect of having a massage or a therapeutic skin treatment can offer huge healing effects. Cortisol can cause your blood pressure to rise, your inflammatory responses to increase and your body has to work harder to relax and heal. With our faces covered in pressure points that can make our body respond to different reactors, it’s important to see a therapist who can professionally dial into this.
So, we’ve covered the basics, but let’s dive in a little more. What is it about the power of touch that is so important, exactly?
- Physical touch is scientifically proven to alleviate stress and to awaken calming receptors within the body, as the vagus nerve helps to put our bodies into a resting state. The process of a therapist giving you a facial or a massage can be highly beneficial in lowering cortisol levels. According to a study published in the journal Biomedical Research, facial massage by a therapist can activate your sympathetic nervous system. This reduces your anxiety levels and lifts your mood.
- It can also increase the hormone levels of oxytocin (otherwise known as the love hormone), which also works to decrease stress and calm the senses. In a research study for Berkeley, they state: ‘Basic warm touch calms cardiovascular stress. It activates the body’s vagus nerve, which is intimately involved with our compassionate response, and a simple touch can trigger release of oxytocin, aka “the love hormone.
- Touch is also known to boost our immune systems, too. Essentially, it increases ‘killer cells’ which, in turn, strengthen our immune systems.
- Touch has been shown to host the same kind of superpowers as taking a painkiller, as your levels of serotonin increase through human contact. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that can act as the body's natural pain relief and anti-depressant.
- Blood circulation is promoted by touch and we all know how good this is for our skin! It allows our cells to get oxygen and nutrients to travel in the blood, making that post-facial or post-massage glow real.
You know that massage you were thinking about booking into? Well, consider this your reminder…