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The fluffy therapist

Nicole McKinnon says beauty therapy needs to get back to relaxing a client’s mind and body, rather than the transactional approach that some therapists now take
Photographed by Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels
December 20, 2021/20.33

There is nothing quite as decadent as walking into a well appointed beauty studio knowing that the next hour or so is totally about you and your self-care; a beautifully arranged room set up just for you, the smell of elegant and all-consuming fragrances of skin care, soft linen, hot steam towels, soothing sounds and the best yet, the healing hands and skilled touch of a beauty therapist. Each massage movement is precise and intentional.

When I trained as a beauty therapist 25 years ago, these things were of the height of importance. Our treatments were literally a total sensory experience encapsulating all things beautiful. It was about people, not just stroking their egos but giving them the space to unwind and re-become again.

In recent years the tide has turned to one that is more transactional—get the bodies in the book and out again in swift time ready for the next. The treatment protocol has changed from one of relaxation to one of the illusions of beauty—fillers, false eye lashes, Botox, tattooed eyebrows, intense and short treatments, sometimes stress-inducing and painful.

There is a derogatory term sometimes used in the beauty industry that refers to a therapist that does mainly relaxation treatments: ‘fluffy therapist’. With stress being one of the main contributors to the ageing process, why is “fluff” so unpopular with beauty professionals? I personally would love to see the beauty industry flip on its head again and swing back to what was once important—activating our senses and relaxing our mind and body. It really goes without saying that we have all had it a bit rough in the last couple of years. Imagine if women could embrace their unique beauty through this time. I’d love to see women feel pride for the lines etched on their faces as they depict their story rather than feel the need to fill them in or smooth them over. I am content that my face reflects the challenges and joys I have experienced throughout my life.

The very act of self-care, reducing your heart rate, soothing nerve endings, feeling the centre of attention and taking time from the tumultuous world we find ourselves in at the moment is a healthy form of escapism and totally one I would like to encourage.

I think in some way reducing stress makes you look better too. What is the point in having false eyelashes if you have bags under your eyes?—Nicole McKinnon
Nicole McKinnon is the owner of Ritual Beauty Therapy, and the creator of the natural skin care line Kokulu. She first wrote for Lucire in 2006.

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