At a certain point in the healing process, a person’s mindset shifts from desperation and confusion to laser-sharp focus. There’s blood in the water and you’re now a shark in hot pursuit.
This is where Ashley was and she was ready to teach her oily skin a lesson.
Despite our hero’s initial skepticism, Star had given Ashley a blast of confidence that she’d never had before.
She’d actually experienced what it was like to be normal, and instead of dismissing the feeling as a quick tease like she would have in the past, Ashley believed this was really going to work. The periods of being normal had given her a glimpse of what it was like to feel centered; now a “good fats” meal led to normal skin and the serene sensation of balance that came with it, it was like gold to her and she’d watch like a hawk for anything that pulled her away from the feeling:
Is this hair product causing my body stress?
Do certain people stress me out more than they should?
Did this meal have hidden
PUFAs that were causing me trouble?
Did I get enough sleep last night?
These were the types of questions she’d be vigilantly asking herself to help keep her body and mind centered.
And then there was the wedding right around the corner. Despite her success, Ashley was feeling more and more pressure, so when Jessica chipped in during a late night phone conversation with some info about the negative effects of hot showers and using hot water to wash her face, Ashley was more than happy to listen:
“I’m telling you, hot water strips away your precious skin barrier,” Jessica told her as the sound of a spoon scraping the inside of a frozen yogurt container hit Ashley’s ear.
Whether her friend was buzzed up on strawberry-banana or not, Ashley was keen to take her advice and punched it into her phone:
Oily Skin Detox Rule #10: Avoid hot water on skin.
Ashley was on a roll and every day the picture got clearer.
The clearer things got, the longer she was able to sustain normality.
Then on Thursday, Ashley got a call from her sister.
“So, I was chatting with my future husband about his peppermint hair,” Laura’s perky voice chirped through the line, “and he started laughing and told me that peppermint was only a small part of a technique he’d learned. He said the real magic came from the daily head massages he’d been giving himself.”
“Really, head massages? Ashley asked.
“Yep, I told him it sounded a lot like work and asked if it was worth it?”
Ashley’s curiosity peaked, “What’d he say?”
“He said once he got the excess oil out of his scalp, things got really good. I don’t know what getting oil out of your scalp really means, but I thought it might be some info you’d be interested in.”
“Yeah, it actually is, Laura.”
“Massage, Ash… that could be the secret!”
“Hmm… maybe.” Ashley wasn’t exactly thrilled by the idea, in fact, in the old days she’d have ignored it completely since her skin was the real issue, not her hair, however, she now knew it was the little things you did do to support your body that added up to breakthroughs and she wasn’t going to dismiss the idea of giving her head a good rub.
They chatted a bit longer and when Ashley got off the phone she jumped online to see what google had to say about the oily skin /massage connection.
“Come on, give me something good,” she said typing “oily skin and massage” into the search box.
But nothing much came up – just the same generic positive results that popped up for most queries: ‘This is awesome!’ ‘You’ll be cured!’ Stuff like that.
Ashley knew she’d have to search a little harder to uncover the deeper truths, and with the internet not doing a lot to help right now, she decided to try a little hands-on experience and give her scalp a quick massage before she went to bed.
Ashley woke up the next day on a mission. After going straight to the computer, she typed in “massage” and “hair loss”, clicked on the first blog that popped up and saw the terms, “DHT” and “5AR”.
Hmm, I’ve seen these before…
As Ashley read the article the wheels started to turn. She called her sister back up.
“I need more info on the hair loss massage technique,” she told Laura.
Laura yelled out to her fiancé, Ian, about the massage, who yelled back that it wasn’t just a massage, but something based on a study called Detumescence Therapy.
Ashley moved over to her desk and scribbled the name of the therapy on a post-it.
“Basically,” Laura’s fiancé had taken the phone from her, “it’s the concept of acute wound healing. Massages, as we know them, are a great way to relax but they’re not in and of themselves going to get you results with hair loss.”
“I see…” Ashley said.
“Are you dealing with hair loss?” he asked.
“No,” Ashley laughed, “just trying to see if this information has a place in my oily skin world.”
“Ah, gotcha. Well, acute wound healing is the act of creating a wound that’s easy for your body to heal – in fact, you’re making the wound so simple to repair that your body will heal it perfectly every time. Now here’s the magic, if you do it right, you body uses the healing process to reform connections that bring blood flow, oxygen and nutrients to the area, making the area being treated behave like normal.”
“And that’s what you’re doing for you hair,” Ashley said.
“You got it. But it’s not what you’d call a fast solution, it takes time.”
It’s never a fast solution, Ashley thought to herself.
“This is all great stuff, thanks for taking the time future bro-in-law.”
This had to be something Tommy knew about and she called him next.
“Ash, this is what we talked about last time!” her brother said like she’d asked him what her own name was.
“Right, what was that…?”
“The adaptive state. It’s the state that manages your body’s stress! I told you how it’s a tug of war that goes on and that stress pulls you close to exhaustion.”
“Sis, sis, sis. Okay, right now you’re trying to figure out what stressors pull you towards exhaustion. By the way, are you using those adaptogenic herbs to support your body?”
“Good. Well, if the level of stress you deal with is manageable, your body will be able to handle it and return to normal.
Ashley still had no idea how this related to what her sister’s fiancé had told her. “Okay…”
“Well, once your body can easily get back to a normal state, you can use 'acute wound healing' to make it better than normal.”
“Better than normal… I like the sound of that.”
“Yeah, certain parts of your body respond really well to a little bit of controlled stress. Think about muscle building; you lift weights, your muscles break down through controlled stress and then build themselves back up stronger than before.”
“And that’s what a head massage will do?”
“Well, it won’t build muscle, but I’d bet that stimulating the area would have some sort of similar effect. Just massage the area enough to cause a wound-like reaction, like some redness, without it being too difficult to heal and some good things should happen.
“Wow, you’re the best, Tommy. Thanks!”
For the rest of the day, Ashley kicked around the latest info she’d been given and later that afternoon came up with a plan.
She’d give her head a deep massage every night for a week, then based on the results, reassess and go from there. She did like the idea of not having oily hair by the end of each long day.
A few minutes later she was driving to pick up the kids from school and she got hit with another idea, if the massage was supposed to help with an oily scalp, wouldn’t it be helpful for her oily forehead and nose too?
Later that night after she’d put the kids to bed and her husband was downstairs watching TV, Ashley went into the bathroom and looked at her face in the mirror.
How the world turns, 20 years of being told not to touch your face and now I’m giving it a wound-causing massage!
Beginning her nightly regimen of applying the green tea serum while, she then firmly pressed her finger tips against her face. A bit of sebum got wrestled out of her skin when she pushed into the oiliest areas and before she finished, she dabbed a bit more serum on her nose and cheeks just to be thorough.
Next was the scalp massage.
Ashley started rubbing her head and halfway through it, looked down to see her old friend, peppermint oil, sitting on the counter. “Well, hello there,” she said picking it up.
“If Ian can do it, so can I.”
Ashley squeezed a few drops onto her hands and rubbed it into her scalp, being careful to keep it away from her eyes.
“All right, that wasn’t too bad.I should probably wear the shower cap to sleep,” she said as she took the cap off the hook on the door. She slipped it on, went back into her bedroom and grabbed her phone off the nightstand:
Oily Skin Detox Rule #11: Deep Massages To Expel Sebum.
As the next few days went by, Ashley swore she noticed her hair being less oily. In fact, when she went over to Jessica’s to update her on everything, her friend nodded and showed Ashley her phone.
“That’s a derma-roller. It works by causing exactly what your sister’s finance talked about, acute wound healing – you just have to be careful not to use it too often.”
Ashley made a mental note and decided to make a trip out that afternoon to get one.
But first it was time to pay Star a visit.
“So my sister’s husband told me about scalp massages and acute wound healing and I’ve added that into my regimen – I’m also mixing in facial massages too. I’m actually going to pick up a derma-roller after I leave here.”
Star gave her a tight lipped smile and nodded, “touch can be a great thing for your skin, but you don’t need a derma-roller.”
“Really, I heard it’s great for the skin though?”
“Oh, it might be, but it’s still just a gimmick meant to distract you from the main point.”
Here we go again, Ashley thought to herself.
“The key is in what you release from your face.”
“Okay, so hands are just as good as a derma-roller?”
“Maybe, maybe not. What I’m saying is that even though a derma-roller probably has scientific evidence backing it up, we’re not calculus equations or chemistry experiments - we’re not just scientific beings, we're emotional beings as well. You carry so much stress in your face, terrified to touch it. It's a lifetime of emotions, and you're scare to release it without a tool.”
“But wouldn’t the derma-roller help with that?”
“Again,” Star took a deep breath and released it, “it might and it might not. But the point, is that it’s not necessary,” Star grabbed Ashley’s hands, “these two things are all you need to get all that oil out. Now get out of here and go work out those emotions…”
Ashley had stopped questioning a while back whether or not Star knew her stuff, but she wasn’t completely satisfied with the granola answer. When she got home she wandered over to her desk and saw the note she’d made while talking to Laura’s fiancé about Detumescence Therapy. She decided to take one more shot with google.
And this time something came up.
“Hmm, okay… Detumescence Therapy involves a combination of pinching but not breaking the skin, stretching the skin and deep massage. All of these techniques influence gene expression in a different yet positive way,” Ashley whispered to herself, “oh, and look at that, all using hands… Star wins again!”
Ashley then read back over a part about gene expression, hair loss is not a death sentence, it only comes into play if your genes for hair loss are expressed.
She sat back and thought about the thousands of times she’d heard that oily skin is genetic and there was nothing you could do about it. Gently pulling at her cheek, the lightbulb clicked on and she realized that by the same logic, her oily skin would only come into play if her genes were expressed that way.
I think my genes are trying to tell me what I need to do to prevent oily skin for good…
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