How holistic work fits in a modern world

As an esthetician in LA who has built a business on the premise that I am holistic, I feel like I’m in constantly swimming upstream with the general public about how to treat the skin. So much so that I find myself continuously navigating how holistic work fits in a modern world. From rescheduling clients because of their botox appointments to desperately trying to convince another one that micro-needling will not fix their skin's barrier. It had become inevitable that I would have to find a common ground amongst the sea of modern skincare with the reckless promise of "quick fix" but something happened to me that changed my compliance to this exhausting back and forth. My agreeable filter disappeared and I decided to be honest about the truth behind it all.

Okay, now I’m about to make a bold statement but it’s the truth…are you ready????:

THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN LA GET INJECTIONS.

You knew that though.

But for the few people who are still not in the know about this fact and often feel triggered by the overly perfected complexions of the Hollywood elite and top influencers who take over your social media, I’m here to share the news. Even wellness influencers (not all) but enough to confidently write this. And if it’s not injections, it’s the laser, peel, or micro-needling trend du jour.

None of which I’m a fan of, because they go against my 13 year education on skin health and longevity. I know that I mention how long I’ve been an esthetician in almost every post but it’s to drive the point home. Especially since most bloggers that write similar content are only “skincare experts” and not an actual licensed professional. That’s an assumption with a slight hint of shade, but it’s important for you to understand that I’m writing this because I care that you get the perspective of someone who actually works on skin DAILY. You deserve that insight without worrying that this is a sponsored post or just some googled garbage posted together.

Okay, back to the point…

Most people in LA get the more modern advanced treatments for skin all the while trying to balance a healthy lifestyle with holistic practices to help even it out. This means eating everything organic from Erewhon but then getting their skin slathered with chemically processed skincare and traumatizing their outer organ with harsh procedures. No pain, no gain right? WRONG, it’s more like no flow, no glow. At the end of the day, those procedures might give you a “quick fix” but they are typically very disruptive to the long term health of your skin. They are isolated practices that create a false sense of hope for long term healing. What is long term healing you ask? It’s the consideration holistic practitioners take for future you in your later decades.

It’s no joke when I say that most people start coming to me because I’m their last hope. Those people have tried everything and realized that their immunity can’t handle being triggered by acids and heat light pulses. Especially since we live in a sunny and polluted city where you’ll be sensitized to your environment instead of set up for success long-term.

I remember when I was in a human growth and development class as a community college back when I was 23. I was feeling inspired to learn/go back to school because like many of you I was conditioned to think that a college degree immediately equates to success in life. But who was I fooling? I’m debt-free and run my own business now, so it’s all good. However, something I did learn in the class was that ALL medications have side effects and they only treat a certain problem. This wasn’t necessarily news to me because I’ve been on plenty of medication during my lifetime, and was already an esthetician for 4 years at that point where I could first-hand see the side effects of prescription drugs on my clients skin health. Somehow in this class though, I realized that no matter how you put it, Western medicine has that flaw to it as it only treats the symptom. It’s incredible that the advancements in medicine are creating opportunities for people’s health in ways that weren’t possible decades ago, but do we really know the long term effects of some of these advancements? No, and we won’t for a long time. That’s why I’m skeptical of injections and other advanced modern skin procedures. When I first started in esthetics, there were fewer options and they were not as accessible as they are now. Nowadays there are injections bars like blow dry bars - what kind of favor are we doing for people when we are just making these practices more accessible??? It encourages the mindset that there is safety without side effects long term. Most practitioners who are administering these procedures have a healthy understanding of the immediate effects of their practices, yet they are not considering the dependency that is being created on a human who’s immunity can be ever-changing.

Liability forms and waivers are also sort of a moot point here because people lie about their health care all the time. I can’t tell you the amount of time that I’ve asked people to give me an update on their health and halfway through a treatment they share with me that they are now on some new medication, for their skin or had recently had a trendy procedure done. People who want something done with their skin will find a way to make it happen. If it isn’t with a specific doctor or nurse practitioner, there is a groupon out there waiting to be scooped up by them for a potentially reckless outcome.

I’m not trying to ruin your day if you have had any of the above mentioned procedures done. I respect you if you have found a way to treat your skin with these procedures administered by people you trust and you now consider it a form of your self-care. Who am I to tell you that’s wrong? I’m not here to say that at all because at the end of the day - your body, your choice. And if that choice is based off of ethical practices that elevate you, BY ALL MEANS, go for it.

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What I’m trying to shed a little light on is layered in two points. The first is that I want you to do your research and understand that modern skincare is more of a quick fix that doesn’t necessarily always benefit the long-term health of your skin. The second is that if you mix these two modalities, the modern and the holistic, you could be wasting your money. I want to make sure your hard earned money is well spent because I personally cannot stand when my money is wasted by a misguided decision. And listen, other than injections and micro-needling - I’ve personally experienced it all! I’ve lasered, peeled, and overdid it in the facial department for over a decade because I realized that my body was screaming at me to stop and just let my skin figure itself out. My mindset at the time was that I wanted to change my skin with the most powerful options out there. But who am I to think that I have the authority to change an organ’s functions that have been working for me since before I was even born? From the get-go, my skin has told me the story of my internal health. It’s been there to communicate with me some of my craziest health scares, like when I broke out in full body swollen hives from that penicilin I was given at age 5 (turns out I’m super allergic). Or when I started to get crazy congestion and acne at age 10, also known as the year I moved to a completely different country and got my period (cue the preteen angst music circa 1998). Or when I was hit with a massive rash over my liver aka shingles when I was 27 after years of neglecting the stressors in my life by escaping with weed, alcohol, and binge eating.

Skin communication is a fundamental and healthy part of being human. It’s not predictable and it can’t be disregarded as a “condition” that needs fixing. Your skin does not need to be fixed, it needs to be listened to so you can discover the roadmap it’s leading you on for the bigger issues which are usually layered in several internal imbalances. Which guess what…that is being HUMAN! Our world is constantly evolving and so your skin will be responding differently throughout your entire lifetime. Climate change, excess screen stressors, and the crap companies put in our products and food are part of the reason why some holistic solutions don’t “fix” the problem overnight. The initial purpose of holistic modalities was created for the humans of thousands of years ago that are not dealing with our modern day issues. However what they do has outlasted the test of time though because they are still the safest way to treat depletions and stressors in the skin. Why? Because they nurture the existing functions of the skin instead of trying to override them. They help our body return to a place where it can do what it does best, self-heal.

Here are a few examples to help you see what I mean:

  1. Gua Sha/Facial Massage | Facial massage and Gua Sha can be traced back the to origins of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda. How yummy are these practices right? They make you feel good and look good right away, but they may not last forever or feel like they change your outcome “quick enough”. Well that’s because they don’t. The benefits are endless by unblocking the stagnant flow of the face and neck but the more stress you have, the more time it’ll take to make a longer lasting change. Solution? Get to the root of your stress. Breathe, eat well, sleep more, give up the relationships in your life that are sucking the life out of you, go out in nature more, etc. Only after that is it really necessary for you to think about introducing more products. Working with gua sha and facial massage will be the passive workout your face needs in order to not become sedentary which is what botox is forcing the muscles to do. If you stopped working out any specific muscle in the body, would it look better? Not at all. So why would we think the long term effects of this on the face is ideal? It’s not. The reason you may even want to create a frozen effect is because you’re not realizing the other muscles that are underutilized around the muscles that are overworking. Like any good personal trainer would do, you have to build strength and exercise the full body in order to have optimal function. That’s what these practices can solve for you and help you look more like yourself in the process. Unlike long-term injections and I dare you to argue that point. Less stress and properly exercised muscles in the face will help you feel better in your skin so you recognize your reflection and learn to like it a little bit. Because you deserve to since you are unique and beautiful.

    *If you get injections, you have to wait at least 4 weeks before you can book these treatments.

  2. Reflexology/Manual Lymph Drainage | Reflexology can be traced back hundreds of years and the practice of MLD that I am certified in which was developed by a doctor and has been around since the 1930s. These practices are so holistic that people often wonder if it does anything because there is absolutely no pain involved (not that the gua sha and facial massage do - but they do feel much more useful and relaxing). These practices are so meticulous for professionals to master because we have to think about the full body impact that they can have even with just a single session. Though multiple sessions are usually recommended for optimal results. The lymph is everything to skin health because almost every single condition to the skin can be rooted back to a blockage to the neck, jaw, or somewhere else in the face or even full body. And a 3rd of our lymphatic activity is from the neck up! Think of a drain that is clogged and how no matter the amount of cleaning you do to it, it just still lingers with waste. That’s why unclogging the excess waste by getting the blockages out will get the fluids moving again. From there, that’s when reflexology can work it’s magic by communication through the meridians of the face to balance a roadblock somewhere internally or on the body. For real, I have helped people with ankle injuries but knowing where the meridian points are on the face. I’m basically a magician but not really I’m just a holistic esthetician who wants people to feel better in their whole body. Because guess what? IT’LL REFLECT IN THE FACE!

    *If you get injections, you have to wait at least 4 weeks before you can book these treatments.

  3. Organic Whole Plant Skincare | Plant based medicine and herbalism has been a reliable force of holistic care for centuries now. By now you all must know about my love affair with Laurel Whole Plant Organic Skincare. I gush about it all over social media and have selected them to be my line of choice in my treatments. Why? Because the way these high-vibe formulations work is exactly how whole foods work with your body. They are packed with the existing synergy that nutrients have in the whole plant form so the communication they have with our skin can indicate a lot about our overall immunity. And by doing so, they raise the immunity of our skin where we don’t need a lot of steps and over-treatment. In my opinion, choosing these products over conventional products or prescription skincare can also be a practice in self-care as I discuss in this instagram post.

    *If you use conventional or prescription skincare or oral medication, the results are not guaranteed.

Can holistic treatments and modern modalities co-exist? Absolutely, but it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you just trying everything all at once in order to accelerate the speed of your healing? Letting go of control will be much more effective.

  • Are you choosing one modality vs another because you feel like it’s trendy? It’s totally acceptable to be curious but the professionals who take their craft seriously really invest in your well-being so it’s a lot of extra work for them to alter their services because you’re just trying it all out.

  • How is your immunity? If you don’t immediately know if the answer is healthy, then the modern modalities can be dangerous to navigate since there are no long-term studies done on any of them. The body can only try to heal naturally if you trust it, so stop trying to intervene with forceful treatments.

At the end of the day, do what you want but it’s up to me to share what I am constantly encountering everyday. People want to heal but they are bombarded with options that promise the “quick fix” for their skin. As I mentioned earlier, skin doesn’t need to be fixed. It needs to be trusted to be able to age gracefully and heal itself. Most of what’s going on on your skin is from an imbalance in your neck, a stress-based blockage in your lymph, or it’s an attempt to regulate after self-harm or external abuse. Self-talk is so crucial with any holistic practice because our modern world conditions us to forget that we are individuals with our own unique health story. Think of it this way, if a skincare procedure or product were able to fix all of the people whose “condition” it claims it can fix, why wouldn’t we just stop there? The truth is that your health is far more complex to be able to be fixed that way. 10-year-old Hayley would have found a way with her acne, I can promise you that.

Thanks for reading and comment below with questions/comments on this article. It really should have been a longer but eventually I have to cut myself off before my fingers fall off. Plus, this is an evolving conversation piece. Perhaps a part 2 will come out in the future...we shall only hope so feel free to subscribe to wait and see! Okay peace out my lovely readers, xo - Hayley