Thursday, September 21, 2023

Facials Aren’t Just Great for Skin, They Reduce Stress, Study Finds


According to a recent study, a one-hour facial has relaxation-inducing benefits that can improve your well-being.

The die-hards will tell you that a good facial is crucial for healthy skin. But according to new research, it may also be an essential go-to for wellness enthusiasts.

That’s according to findings published in the International Journal of Cosmetics Science, which looked at various forms of relaxation markers in women following a one-hour facial or a one-hour resting session.

The findings

The researchers conducted the study on 63 healthy women aged between 25-47 years. They divided the participants into two groups, with one group receiving a one-hour skin care facial and the other group subjected to a one-hour resting condition.

The researchers monitored the activity of diverse peripheral organs, including heart rate and cardiac response, respiratory changes, muscular tension, and brain wave patterns during the facial. They used a system of feeling characterization called EmoChar to decipher perceived discrete positive emotions.

woman outside with eyes closed
Courtesy Thatselby | Unsplash

According to the findings, a one-hour facial induced 42 percent more cerebral relaxation, 13 percent more cardiac relaxation, 12 percent more respiratory relaxation, and 17 percent more muscular relaxation than resting.

Non-verbal and verbal assessments showed that the participants who received the facial experienced more positive emotions than those who were resting.

The study also revealed that the emotions most associated with higher scores amongst participants who received the facial were ‘relax’ and ‘pleasure,’ while lower scores were associated with ‘awakening’ in both groups.

The researchers noted that well-being is a complex state with multiple dimensions, as identified by the World Health Organization. Well-being has two components: the hedonic aspect, which refers to the emotional tone of the subject as experienced immediately, and the eudemonic aspect, which results from a self-reflective and representational process.

In the case of a skincare facial, the researchers said it was the first aspect of well-being that was mostly experienced, as it affected the feeling of a person subject to a punctual pleasant emotion. Emotional well-being is not a one-dimensional state, but rather manifests in three forms of expression: verbal, non-verbal, and physiological, they added.

Skin stress

This study was the first to highlight the specific signature of well-being induced by facial skin care, as it established an extensive physiological profile, completed with emotional characterization.

“Our results have shown that facial skincare has both physiological and psychological benefits,” the researchers wrote.

A woman in a bath
A woman in a bath, courtesy Aleksander Fajtek | Unsplash

Gallup research published last year found stress levels were at an all-time global high — with much of that attributable to the pandemic. But other factors are at play including financial uncertainty amid unstable markets, climate change, and an aging millennial population that’s begun to experience life-limiting health issues.

The research found 40 percent of adults said they experience a lot of worry or stress while more than 30 percent said they were experiencing high levels of physical pain. More than 25 percent said they experience sadness, and nearly as many expressed feeling anger.

Skin can be a key indicator of high stress levels, showing up as dark or puffy eyes, breakouts, increased fine lines and wrinkles, and uneven complexion, among other issues.

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