The term holistic, sometimes referred to as wholistic, is the philosophy and practice of healing that has to do with constantly keeping the whole body (meaning the physical body, the mind and the spirit) at the highest level of total wellness. This concept draws from the universal natural laws that state a whole is made up of the sum of all of its parts and that the parts cannot function properly if the whole is not functioning properly. Conversely, if there is a problem with one of the parts, the entire whole is affected.1 Pertaining to skin care, this concept implies that one cannot treat the skin as a separate entity from the entire body. The skin (being the largest organ of the body) performs many functions, all of which either work in partnership with or depend upon the functions of the internal vital organs. While many in the industry consider holistic skin care to simply be the practice of using non-invasive treatments and products containing mostly natural and organic ingredients, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The concept of holistic skin care must go deeper than just the skin if sustainable results are to be achieved.
In holistic skin care, as well as traditional holistic healing modalities such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, a person’s skin is a reflection of his or her inner health. These philosophies, as well as others like homeopathy and naturopathy, state that conditions such as rosacea, acne, seborrhea, eczema, keratosis pilaris, psoriasis, loss of collagen and elastin, et cetera all begin inside of the body, like the digestive tract, or due to other issues like stress. Simply treating the skin itself as a separate unit from the whole might make short-term improvements, but without addressing the cause of the problem, true resolution will never occur. Depending on his or her education, an aesthetician might be able to treat the skin in this way, she might need to draw on the expertise of a certified or licensed nutritionist, TCM/acupuncturist, Ayurvedic, naturopathic or other type of holistic practitioner.
In terms of skin care products, holistic might refer to topical products or internal supplements termed nutriceuticals. Topical products that claim to be holistic are characterized by containing almost 100 percent natural ingredients such as herbs, plant extracts, phytonutrients and antioxidants, and essential oils. They are often preserved by using ingredients that have fewer associations with toxic reactions than more commonly used and controversial parabens. More holistic preservatives might include specific essential oils, colloidal silver, Geogard® Ultra (a proprietary blend of sodium benzoate and gluconolactone)2, ethylhexylglycerine or potassium sorbate. Internal supplements might include nutrients that are known to benefit the skin, such as collagen, hyaluronic acid and antioxidants such as green tea, grape seed extract, vitamin C, Resveratrol or Pycnogenol®. Ingredients for holistic products, whether topical or internal, aim to be sourced from all-natural, organic, cruelty-free, wildcrafted, sustainably grown/processed, and often vegan origins.
While this may seem rather straightforward, the truth is that terms organic and all-natural are really quite vague in the skin care industry since there is little to no government regulation on these types of ingredients or products. Other types of products containing active ingredients considered to be over-the-counter drugs might have more government intervention.
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