FACE the Facts: The Beauty-Brain Loop

The Emotional Benefits of a Facial

We’ve heard all our lives that beauty is skin-deep, but is it? How many of us feel more confident when we’re having a good hair day or happier when we wake up blemish free? How we look on the outside often reflects our feelings about ourselves on the inside and as time goes on,that reaction becomes cyclical.

Dr. Eva Ritvo, internationally known psychiatrist and co-author of The Beauty Prescription, saw this connection and introduced the concept of “The Beauty-Brain Loop,” a four-stage sequence of inner beauty, health, outer beauty and environment. We recently spoke with Dr. Ritvo regarding this cycle and how it breeds honest-to-goodness benefits through one of our favorite spa services: the facial.

“Skin is the first thing you see,” says Dr. Ritvo. “It shows health. When you look healthy, you look more attractive.” From anti-aging to oxygen facials, the treatment has long been a go-to service on spa menus. As an integral part of maintaining healthy, clear skin while simultaneously providing a way to relax at the spa, ,more often than not, most facials include a consultation, exfoliation, extractions, massage, masks, toners, serums and moisturizers.  According to Dr. Ritvo, from the moment we book the appointment until we have left the spa, we have subsequently activated our “Beauty-Brain Loop.”

“When you activate one part [of The Beauty Brain Loop], you activate all of them,” says Dr. Ritvo. A facial affects all of the parts of the loop:

  1. Our inner beauty is affected because we’ve made a choice to get a facial, to take care of our skin and we start to feel better because we are actively taking care of ourselves.
  2. We affect our health through the act of receiving a facial – when we are touched, we release oxytocin, nature’s bonding chemical, and so we feel a bond with our esthetician and feel safe,  which thereby affects our emotional health.
  3. Our outer beauty is the most obviously affected by a facial; the esthetician cleanses, tones and massages each face into looking its best, and after a facial, we tend to glow and feel better about our skin.
  4. Our environment is stimulated in every way: For 45-60 minutes, we are in a beautiful room, with soft music and dim lighting. “A facial is a win on so many levels,”  Dr. Ritvo says. “It’s an impactful experience way beyond the surface.”

An important point of view to note is that we are the ones who are in control of this experience; we create positivity when we actively seek out and create positive experiences, like booking and subsequently looking forward to a facial. Dr. Ritvo believes that this control of our positivity creates the enabling emotion of empowerment.

“It’s up to us to seek out positive experiences and to believe ‘my appearance is valuable,’” explains Dr. Ritvo. “We are in charge of creating better health.”


Dr. Eva Ritvo is a member of our Wellness Week expert panel. Wellness Week, March 19-25, is your chance to look and feel your best with exclusive spa treatments, private training and more, all at $50 prices or 50% discounts. Learn more at