SKIN SERIES | Acne, Lymph, & Hayley Wood
I decided to add a breathwork component to my practice because I find the practice truly transformational from a stress management, being fully present in your body place. Though if I am being completely honest, I also crave the added benefit of glowing skin that a breathwork practice offers. When I heard Hayley Wood chatting on Instagram about the breath stimulating lymphatic drainage, it was truly an “aha” moment because at the same time as I was upping my breathwork game, I was also taking facial massage in my nightly cleansing routine seriously. Like really seriously (more on this soon!) And my skin was looking so much more vibrant.
The connection between massage and breathing? Why lymph of course. I had to know more so I tapped Hayley to answer a few of my most burning questions. She is truly a wealth of knowledge so grab a cup of tea and take your time with this post. Enjoy!
1. How does the body's lymphatic system affect the skin?
The lymphatic system affects our skin in that it reflects so many important messages that are meant to trigger a call to action. This system is located directly under the skin where it is meant to help flush away excess waste that is built up due to low immunity and stagnation. Through our blood flow, we get our necessary circulation, nutrients, and oxygen for our cells. The nutrients we need for a healthy immune system can however also lead to excess waste that the cells didn’t absorb through the exchange. If we encourage proper flow to the lymphatic system we can release the excess waste through sweat and excrement, otherwise, it has to push itself out of our system somehow, which can result in an infection in our skin cell structure, causing infected breakouts or stagnation of redness/inflammation. It’s also a full body system so it’s important to focus on how our lymph is affected throughout the whole body and not just how it dumps out excess waste on the skin. Though, for most people, that’s where they experience the most stagnation regardless of their health habits.
2. Are there common signs and symptoms of stagnant lymph that you notice amongst your clients?
Most inflammatory skin conditions can be related back to a stagnation of the lymph. However the most common would be the confusion of “hormonal acne” to a lymphatic blockage. A lot of the time people think that chin and jawline acne is from "hormonal acne" but I don't look at it that way. The way our hormonal cycle works is that it goes from having our highest concentration of hormonal activity to its lowest peak all within 10-14 days before we menstruate. So if we are not concentrating on supporting our immunity during that time we can unintentionally create low-grade infections. Our body is communicating its needs by signaling us to be tired, crampy, or even in cravings - all of these signals will tell you what you are deficient, overusing your resources, and need rest! If we all focused on finding the balance and supporting our full body flow we would eliminate those pesky and painful infections so much more. That is also important if you are on a hormonal medication since your system is interrupted in the first place.
3. What role does the lymph system play with acne?
It's the most crucial part of the condition in my opinion. Acne is a condition in which our immunity is compromised from a variety of factors such as hormonal imbalance, not enough rest, an imbalance in the gut, and overall low immunity due to having strep in the system at any stage of life. If you help eliminate the factors that increase inflammation like poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of rest, and interruptions to your hormone health - you can really solve a lot of your acne issues from there. The rest of the work will just be moving the excess waste out through the lymphatic passageways instead of through the skin’s elimination system. Reducing your chances of getting infections through bacteria overgrowth will help the lymph do its job and flush out dermatoxins.
4. What techniques do you use to boost lymphatic drainage during your sessions with your clients?
As a facial reflexologist and a holistic facialist, I use the power of massage to help nourish the skin’s natural ability to flush waste. Even from the beginning of the treatment I start with a mindful cleanse that begins at your clavicle bone and gentle moves up the face. I then proceed to move everything back down to continue movement through the lymph nodes. I also implement a lot of yin tools that help move any excess yang energy that is typically stuck in the lymphatic system. I then follow up with yang tools to work deeper into the excess stagnant yin energy. There are a few protocols that I can custom tailor to my clients as well with specific points to help encourage every part of your detoxification system to work as it should. I encourage all of my clients to drink a ton of water and reduce any activity after their treatment because to their body, it’s as if they’ve done a full hour workout. Rest is essential afterward as well to allow your body to fully reset during your resting stages. Your skin is working so hard to balance out all the excess toxins, sweat, debris, and just build up from the day while you sleep. A good night’s sleep post-treatment will pretty much guarantee a glow on the skin.
5. If we can't see you in person, is there anything we can do to boost lymphatic drainage at home?
There are so many mindful practices that are easy and highly effective. The first would be to dry brush the body where you use the body brush in soft strokes starting at your feet and working in an upward motion always working towards the heart. I like the Pursoma jute brush but there are so many out there it doesn’t really matter, as long as you do it. You then can hop into the shower and finish your cleansing with a hot and cold flush. I like to finish each shower with a cold flush under my underarms to help move any stagnant toxins, ESPECIALLY if I feel low immunity. After that, you can give yourself a full body massage with an oil of your choice. Otherwise, a sequence of dry brushing, an Epsom salt bath, cold flush to the whole body and especially under the underarms, followed by a self-massage is the ultimate lymph reset. There are also great tools like my multireflex yin and yang roller, a jade or rose quartz roller by Herbivore Botanicals, or gua sha treatment like the Treatment by Lanshin tutorial that works beautifully for at home lymph support. Otherwise, just get moving! I love foam rolling and jumping on a rebounder when I don’t have time to get a full workout in. Yoga is the best for lymphatic support as well as infrared saunas.
Dry brushing, rebounding, and infared saunas? I have never been more excited about lymphatic drainage!
If you want more from Hayley she just launched her Therapeutic Skin Coach Program, a 7 part video series to help you discover your best skin. Who doesn’t want that?