These days, “holistic” is a buzzword. It pops up everywhere, from your local veterinarian’s office to your company’s annual team-building conference. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, holistic means “dealing with or treating the whole of something or someone and not just a part.”

In medicine, a holistic approach includes preventative care, such as practicing healthy habits and having annual check-ups, to prevent and catch disease early. When there is a problem, it’s about discovering a solution, rather than treating the symptoms.

Integrative aesthetics is basically a holistic approach to beauty. It’s about understanding that your external appearance reflects your internal situation, and it’s about starting at the root and treating the problem (which may be a nutritional deficiency, a body that holds  toxins, a hormonal imbalance, etc.) that causes the beauty bummer. Essentially, it’s prioritizing the importance of your overall health and framing the beauty bummer that initiated your aesthetic journey as a secondary concern.

When we are mentally and physically healthy, our skin glows, our hair shines, our eyes are clear and bright, and we are confident and energized. Our external appearance is just another lens through which to investigate what’s going on inside our body. Adult acne may indicate a stressful lifestyle, and the solution may be meditation, a weekly sweat in an infrared sauna, and a regular IV of C and B vitamins, to help your body cope. Or it may indicate a more serious hormonal problem that warrants a trip to your internist. The important part is, don’t ignore aesthetic issues or consider them “cosmetic.” A component of integrative aesthetics is to pay attention to your body and the things it’s trying to tell you.

An integrative approach is a better approach to beauty, and it’s catching on. You’ve seen the term “paraben, sulfate and petroleum free” on shampoo, body wash, and lotion bottles? Even mainstream brands are beginning to offer natural products because, given the choice, who wants to screw up their hormones each time they shower? This focus on “all natural” is part of integrative aesthetics, and it’s one of the biggest clues that an integrative approach is truly the future of the beauty industry.

Another integrative choice is to trade cosmetic surgery for minimally invasive options, such as injectables and fillers. We already know that general anesthesia is risky, and the more we learn about the antibiotics used to prevent and treat infection after invasive procedures—about how we are not only bolstering our collective resistance but destroying our (crucial!) gut health—the more we should want to avoid going under the knife. (Not to mention all the inflammation and tissue trauma caused by surgery!)

Integrative aesthetic processes are more customized than traditional aesthetics, because when considering the whole person, we also must consider that each person is unique. The nutritional deficiencies that may be causing your dull complexion and constant fatigue are probably different from the deficiencies causing similar issues for your friend. That’s why, at Elizabeth Adams MD, we do a thorough consultation and often, gut, nutritional, and food allergy testing, with a new client before beginning treatment.

We do testing because integrative aesthetics places a lot of emphasis on gut health and good nutrition. Dr. Adams may ask you to keep a food journal or try an elimination diet, if she suspects an autoimmune reaction to certain foods are causing your beauty issues. Other lifestyle factors to consider when taking an integrative approach to beauty include hydration, exercise, detoxification and rest. (You should never underestimate sleep’s role in detoxing, balancing your hormones, and healing inflammation!)

In upcoming months and years, you’ll be hearing more about integrative aesthetics, from a variety of sources. These sources will likely include companies that sell make-up and personal hygiene products, as well mainstream spas. Do your research, because not everyone who talks the talk will walk the walk. (We find this database helpful when researching the ingredients in beauty products.) And if you want to know more or explore an integrative approach to your own beauty challenges, come and see us! As you’ve probably guessed by now, one thing Elizabeth Adams MD is seriously passionate about is integrative aesthetics!