by Jo Ann Benoit, LE, PMA

Perhaps the best way to begin this article is with a disclaimer. What you are about to read has not been proven under any ‘double blind’ study (which physicians love to refer to and quote), nor have I studied this material in any class or read it in any other publication…. it is purely observational on my part, and could possibly fall under the category of professional experience.

 

 Skin Care is fascinating to me. It is my chosen profession, and it is my passion! I look at my profession as an opportunity to help my clients to not only have healthier skin, but also actually be healthier. Sometimes, that includes stress management and lifestyle choices, and it requires my learning more about them as individuals. After practicing professional skin care for several years and getting to know my clients personally, as well as professionally, a strange phenomenon began to emerge.

It all started with Carol, whom I lovingly nicknamed ‘The Sponge’. She was a client that, if it took several treatments for anyone else to obtain results, would only require one or two treatments herself. Her skin soaked up everything, especially it seemed, when something was nourishing; yet, I had to be extremely careful if I did a peeling or exfoliating treatment on her. The treatment time had to be cut down significantly compared to normal standards or “The Sponge”, Carol, would soak in the product at an accelerated rate and peel like crazy. One day it occurred to me that this described Carol’s personaThat is to say, she was someone who absorbed the world around her from concepts, the stock market, conversations, and literature to jokes and, of course, skin care products! This acknowledgment triggered my curiosity and gave birth to my quest to investigate further the possibility of a connection between our skin and ‘who we really are’. Was this an anomaly, or was there some uncanny correlation between a person’s personality and their skin reactions and conditions?

For months when one of my regular clients would come in for a treatment, I would scrutinize the conditions of their skin and their personality to see if there were any connections between them. When I began to ascertain associations between a client’s personality traits and their skin traits, a definite proclivity was significant. I then put my ‘theory” to the test and started to guess, from analyzing a new client’s skin, what their personality traits were. I would ask clients questions, which would link what I was observing in their skin, and what personality characteristic I thought would “match”. On discovery that more often than not I was right, it became a kind of entertaining part of my sessions with new clients (and my skin care students). They would many times ask if I were psychic or if one of their friends or their husband had been talking to me about them. Thus the following is what I have discovered about the personality/skin connection, although my last name is not Freud, Jung or Erikson, and may not be true 100% of the time.

Let’s start with the Sensitive Skin Type(s).

 Although this seems to be a ’no-brainer’, people who have sensitive skin are sensitive people; but it is a little more involved and complicated than it may appear on the surface. When I work on someone’s skin if they:

Get red, but calm down almost immediately: 

This person is one who, although they are a sensitive person and things may affect them, they don’t let it keep them down and get over hurts and emotional sensitivities very quickly. They just move on and they probably are not the type of person to harbor resentment or hold a grudge. They just don’t give it a lot of thought and move on, chalking it up to ‘it’s not worth it’ or something like that….

Do not get red immediately, but get red later:

This is someone who is slow to react to situations. Either they need time to think about it, or just didn’t ‘get it’ until later when they had time to think it over! (I have to be careful here because I fit into this category, and I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not, I’ll need to think about that…)

Have Rosacea and/or red irritated skin:

Rosacea is a skin condition which is red, irritated may have blemishes and is usually located mostly in the center of the face, (but not always). This redness is quite different from the sensitive skin types. The irritation and redness is at a cellular level, and usually looks blotchy. The medical community really does not know ‘what’ causes it. They do know what aggravates it, and one of the main triggers is stress.

I have a theory about the personality type who is more prone to Rosacea and red irritated skin. The “A” type personality I have found is far more likely to have these skin conditions. You know the type, busy, busy, busy. If they have 5 minutes, they fill it. As teenagers, the A type personality will be involved in everything from clubs to sports to pushing themselves to achieve a 4.0 average. These teenagers are more likely to have acne, or some other skin problem. As adults, this behavior doesn’t change and may even get worse. Many times as adults they develop Adult Acne or are prone to breaking out or have a Rosacea flare-up in stressful situations (or all the time). They can often feel agitated and not have a clue as to why. I have a whole other theory on this vicious cycle, because our bodies are very susceptible to a pH balance and someone who is an “A” type personality is already a little too acidic and therefore out of balance. This is a whole other topic within itself…..

People who have skin that has blackheads and lot of ‘congestion’ in the pores…

These are the are clients I call the stuffers.

They may be prone to breaking out because of their congested pores, have white heads and possibly many other skin problems and they also can be sensitive. Their skin is ‘sluggish’ because it does not function well and they tend to hold things ‘in’ their pores and ‘in’ their personal lives. Usually the skin is dull (although the person may not be) and the skin color is sallow.

I worry about these people the most because the skin is the largest organ of the body and part of the elimination system. This means we need it to function well to help eliminate waste, and if the skin is not functioning well I wonder about all elimination, including emotional garbage. This person usually holds EVERYTHING “in”, and their skin reflects that fact. I read somewhere people who do not show their emotions and hold their pain and anger in are more prone to cancer and other diseases.

Consequently, I try to delicately tell these individuals, if they do fit this profile, although you can’t change your ‘natural’ tendencies, it is healthier to eliminate waste, even when, and maybe especially when, it is emotional!

To wrap it up…

we are a sum total of all we do, even what we think and who we really are; who we really are may show up on our skin. Our skin can have many traits just like we do, and perhaps these traits really do match and, surprisingly, can also change with moods, situations and age (wisdom?)! The saying used to be “Only your hairdresser knows for sure”, however; I’ve rewritten that to say, “Only your aesthetician* knows for sure (who you really are)”.

PS Another interesting theory I have (again “client tested”); if you’re pregnant and breakout, you probably are having a boy, if your skin clears up… it’s a girl. (Of course there are exceptions to every rule, stress changes everything and “Only your doctor knows for sure!”)

Where did the saying come from “this person is tough skinned

or “they have a ‘thick’ skin” meaning that not a lot gets to them? I think I know! My clients with tough, thick skin are usually pretty resilient individuals. These people are not usually sensitive, but they can be “stuffers” as well as some other combinations. It has been my experience the thicker someone’s skin is, the more they can take personally and in their skin care treatments.

When someone’s skin doesn’t absorb products well, and even seems to almost repel products,

I know this is someone who is not easy to get close to and know personally. They lead very private lives and have to know you for a while before they will “let you in” and trust you, (just like they won’t let their skin care products in). This person is the antithesis of “the Sponge”, who makes friends at the drop of a hat! Maybe before we get in a relationship with someone, we should do a facial on the person first. (?) Once they are your friend, though, they are make very good and loyal friends.