A Holistic Esthetician's Tools for Combating Skin Stress

I first met Carson of C & The Moon a year ago under circumstances I’m unfortunately getting used to as a holistic esthetician in L.A. Around each fall, as the leaves turn to beautiful deep reds and bright oranges in other parts of the world, California is faced with its most dangerous season full of fires, displaced communities, and air so smoky it’s hard to escape regardless of your neighborhood in this vast city. 

Carson was referred to me in the hopes that I could help her navigate the root of an inflammatory skin imbalance that was occurring while Carson was in the midst of transition and high stress during the aftermath of last years Woolsey fire.


We know dry weather can be cause for skin imbalance, but we rarely associate our skin issues with the emotional stress that comes with extreme weather events. 

Even the most health conscious person can feel helpless when they are flaring up due to unforeseen circumstances. It can feel like their skin is working against them while they are already in a high stress state. Smoke-stressed skin is a condition I never thought I’d have to treat. The reality is that the extremely contaminated air, increased stress and no place to get grounded can create a big inflammatory response in the system. The last thing anyone needs is a rash-like complexion when our survival instincts have to kick in.

When I met Carson, who was doing everything “right” in her routine and still experiencing uncomfortable inflammation, it was all about following the intuitive instincts that I have cultivated in my 13 year esthetician career. Carson needed nurturing without harsh cosmetic intervention. She needed a space to breathe and get grounded in between her doula work and hand-crafting her now wildly popular, cult-favorite body scrub

Similar to the principles behind the formulation of the body scrub, the remedy for dry skin is not found in harsh and hasteful interventions, but rather in allowing the simplicity of natural ingredients to nourish stressed skin cells. A blend of soothing ingredients that benefit the skin overtime is key to the long-term healing of any inflammation, but the healing process is also about taking a moment to indulge in a ritual that nurtures our nervous system. The following three steps can be achieved anywhere, anytime, and are suitable for anyone looking to soothe their skin after exposure to a hazardous environment that rattles the nervous system. 

Breathing - A breathwork practice is essential when we need to regain connection to our nervous system. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs correlate so much to grief and they are also the window to our skin health. Excessive lung congestion can lead to a grey tone in the skin, dark circles, and congestion on the cheek areas. Lack of clean oxygen will slow down our natural detoxification and flow of lymph which creates a sluggishness bringing down our usual vitality. If you find yourself having difficulty breathing, short of breath, or even hyper-ventaliting due to sudden increase stress, the following steps can be helpful.

1. Start by pushing out old air in a deep audible sigh and imagine your lung space emptying out like a deflated balloon.

2. Slowly inhale through your nose and imagine your root chakra filling up with beautiful red light.

3. Take a five count to fill the entire space of your lungs and taking another five count exhale audibly through your mouth.

You can continue to do this for all seven chakras with what is called color meditation breathwork. This cleanses each chakra to help you identify which areas need tending to. The intentional nose inhale and mouth exhale activates your parasympathetic nervous system so you can calm your survival instincts. You can incorporate this technique as needed or intentionally before your skincare routine in order to breathe a little life into the stagnated flow of your lymph. This is an immediately calming and supportive practice that the skin responds to in times of stress and grief.  

Grounding - If you’re unable to meditate through breathwork, grounding is a way to come back to yourself for a mindful presence. When you’re in survival mode, it’s common to lose your footing because you have to think five steps ahead but that can be incredibly depleting to our energy. 

Grounding is as simple as shutting off external notifications and finding presence in the current moment. I do this daily as part of my skincare ritual so I can connect with what my skin is communicating with me. It’s basically taking a moment to tune into your senses by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What do I see?
  • What do I feel?
  • What do I taste?
  • What do I smell?
  • What do I hear?

  • Without judgement of your answers, this allows you to snap back into the moment so you can be in your body instead of five steps ahead. Grounding allows you to hear the messaging that your body is sharing, which could be that you feel dehydrated, that you have feel tension in your shoulders, or that you may need some quiet time. All of these messages are simply a guide towards finding homeostasis within yourself. Let this exercise be your guide throughout the day so that when your skin is telling you something, you don’t have to judge or fear it. Instead you can listen and respond with love.

    Simplifying - When we’re in times of stress, our natural instinct is to want to do more to control our situation. But in reality, our bodies are working beautifully for us that a certain level of trust needs to be had so we can surrender a little bit of the control. It’s so difficult to obtain it but one key way to do so is by simplifying your care. The best way to surrender to this is to see our skin as we would any other organ, such as the heart or the stomach. If your stomach was inflamed, would you interfere by eating a bunch of inflammatory foods for a quick fix? Probably not. Just as with diet, It’s best to simplify your skin care routine when you are having external and internal inflammation. 

    In reality, the stress of intervening harshly on the skin without addressing the root imbalance of the nervous system is way more catastrophic for your long-term health. Stick to organic ingredients like the ones found in the C & The Moon Scrub to care for your outermost organ. Our skin is breathing all the elements of our environment in so allow your chosen products to be sourced with integrity. This will promote a calming effect to naturally regulate your PH balance. 

    Whether you’re experiencing skin stress from the California fires, seasons changing, excessive travel, or any other life transition, these three steps will not only help you find relief within your skin, but they will also bring peace into your energetic field. Allow yourself to experiment with what feels best for you and don’t hesitate to reach out to your community for support, whether it’s from a holistic esthetician like myself, an acupuncturist, cognitive behavioral therapist or yoga teacher. The messaging is the same so find whatever helps you tune into you so that you can thrive and glow again. 

    Hayley Wood is a Los Angeles-based licensed esthetician and mentor, who started an intuitive holistic skincare practice Therapeutic Skin Coach in 2014 after toxic conventional skincare practices left her with chronic illness affecting her nervous, endocrine, reproductive, and detoxification system. After 13 years as an esthetician, Hayley views the skin as a portal to internal health and well-being. The whole self can be nurtured by listening to the communication our skin is having with us. This Canadian-born Virgo loves empowering others to strengthen their intuitive skincare muscle as a guide to their best skin and best self. 

    The content provided in this article(s) is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Neither Carson Meyer nor C & The Moon LLC are liable for claims arising from the use of or reliance on information contained in this article.