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Published September 26, 2017
Published September 26, 2017
Austin Neill via Unsplash

Wellness has disrupted the world of beauty almost beyond recognition.

In order to look good, you have to feel good. No longer is the focus only on external measures to enhance beauty. There has been a shift to a more holistic approach; a movement from artificial to organic; from cosmetic repair to ongoing prevention; from topicals to ingestibles—along with scientific validation that beauty changes everything.

Intuitively, we all know beauty and wellness go hand in hand—and that “aspiring to beauty” can be one of the key motivators we have for keeping physically, spiritually, and mentally fit. Last year’s Global Wellness Summit reflected the blurring borders between beauty and wellness. Of the many takeaways from the conference was the staggering size of the nearly $1 trillion “Beauty and Anti-Aging” sector at the center of the now $3.7 trillion global wellness economy. Neuroscientist Dr. Claudia Aguirre helped delegates connect the dots about how our brains perceive beauty, making it clear that beauty and attractiveness are way more than skin deep and affect all of our senses: we don’t just see beauty, but we can also feel, hear, smell, and taste it. And, because “beauty” stimulates our brains in so many ways, Aguirre argued that we need beauty in our lives: it brings hope, connectedness and, ultimately, wellness.

But it’s how we are achieving and thinking about beauty that has evolved so dramatically in recent years. There is a new aesthetic in town, and it’s health and wellness—no matter your shape or size (think Unilever’s Dove Real Beauty campaign vs. traditional fashion spreads in Vogue). The “beauty industry” has been slowly shape-shifting—with social media (Instagram stars, Facebook feeds) leading the way and influencing what we think is beautiful and the best ways to achieve it. A phenomenon that has given rise to new tribes and trends as individuals gravitate to the things that turn them on—whether it’s the latest punishing workout, mindful meditation, ingesting superfoods, eating organic/clean foods, or seeking the latest (miracle) non-invasive anti-aging treatment—there’s a virtual cornucopia of ways wellness is remaking the beauty industry.

And the scientific and medical evidence for the merging of wellness and beauty really stacks up: there’s overwhelming evidence of the positive effects that diet, exercise, sleep and stress reduction, to name just a few, can have on our outward appearance. Exercise alone is a beautifier, oxygenating the blood to give skin a healthful glow. Because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol, exercise has been proven to support the production of collagen, reduce acne, and even make your hair healthier. And, of course, there are extensive studies on the connection between gut health and glowing skin, prompting the explosion of probiotics down almost every aisle of the grocery store.

And, perhaps most importantly, self-esteem and mental well-being soar when we are at our most attractive and fit, and wellness practices and treatments (be they effective age-defying facials, fillers or Botox, daily yoga sessions, or regular massages) help us achieve this, ultimately, making us more attractive to one another.

As the scientific evidence builds, proving that we are “wired” to desire things that are beautiful to us—the brain is flooded with pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters when taking in an object we deem beautiful—society as a whole is becoming less self-conscious in its quest for personal beauty.

At this year’s Global Wellness Summit, we will continue to explore the intersections between neuroscience, beauty, and wellness with three of the leading experts on the neuroscience of beauty:

  • Dr. Anjan Chatterjee, MD, Elliott Professor of Neurology, the University of Pennsylvania and author of “The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art”
  • Nancy Etcoff, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard Medical School and author of “Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty”
  • Dr. Lisa Ishii, MD, Chief Quality Officer for Clinical Best Practices at Johns Hopkins Health System, whose research focus is on facial perception, will present the latest findings on how beauty impacts the brain, which should shake up fundamental perceptions about (and within) the beauty industry

Read the Global Wellness Institute’s 2017 trend prediction on “Wellness Remakes Beauty” here.

Attend this year’s Global Wellness Summit—discuss the business of wellness and explore new business models that consumers will embrace.


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