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Interview: Samantha Story on Taking the Mystery Out of Wellness

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What do you do? How would you describe your acupuncture and facial practice? 

Samantha: I've been an acupuncturist for about 6 years now and a few years ago I was drawn to take a facial acupuncture class.  Since then it's been building and building and it's become something I keep learning more about and it has become an increased passion. A big idea for me as I'm getting older, too, is how we think about working out our bodies and getting our bodies massaged but we don't ever really think 'Let me massage my face' or 'How do I take care of my face when most of the solutions seem to be really abrasive or really intrusive?' 

On skin rejuvenation, face lifts, botox, etc.: I was really drawn to giving women (because they're usually the ones targeted) but really anyone, options other than really extreme invasive ones. And I don't think those are bad. I just don't think they're the only thing that should be pushed on people. Women in their 30's come to me and have been told by their dermatologists that they should get fillers.  I don't think that's necessarily a first go-to, you know? So what I like about the facial acupuncture and gua sha is it feels more like a longevity practice: keeping your skin healthy for the long haul and not just the short payoff. It's about inner health and feeling good.

We teach a home ritual gua sha class here. I have a home practice and at the end of the night it's about making peace with myself, with my day, taking care of myself. There's nothing wrong with having a beautiful ritual. I think those things make you feel good and calm your nervous system, which is where health begins. We only get well in a state of relaxation. We're constantly in our 'fight or flight' mode. We're rarely in our parasympathetic, so that's the approach I'm drawn to. I like these modalities (acupuncture and gua sha) because they drop you deep into your parasympathetic nervous system and they have good results. I want people to leave feeling 'Ooh I look different!'

Obviously it's not like a facelift [laughs] it's not that extreme, but the effects build the more you do it and that's what's so nice about empowering people and giving people tools like home care gua sha. The more you do it yourself, the more change you're gonna see. And then you can come and get treatments that A) feel amazing and B) have someone else working on you so it's a little bit different than working on yourself. Someone else can work on you in a way you kinda can't work on yourself but at the same time you're able to take care of yourself. I think giving those tools back to people is huge; taking the mystery out of wellness. LAPS founder, Lauren, receiving facial acupuncture from Samantha                LAPS founder, Lauren, receiving facial acupuncture from Samantha.

What are the top one or two reasons people come to see you for the facial work?

SS: Some people just want to try it-- they saw it on social media, are into trying products or really into face care but it's usually either people who are getting older and don't necessarily want to do botox or who want to compliment it or feel better about how they're aging. Or it's people with acne who are looking for solutions for scarring or reducing the inflammation in their face.

What kind of products do you recommend to your clients if at all?

I love products: my cupboards are kind of crazy. We sell some stuff at Lanshin and the way we choose what we sell is that we all try it. Everyone has to like it and use it or we're not going to sell it. Because we're not really a store; we're more of a wellness center. So that means we're not necessarily going to carry a whole line just because one item seems to work. So usually if I'm using something, I believe in it. So that's the starting point. And we're big believers in oils, and everything is natural. So I say to start with less, and then you can build. 

Do you have advice you normally tell people when they ask what they should do with their face?

A big one is hydration. People don't hydrate enough and they don't sleep enough. These are little things we all need to be doing. But the other thing is that the face is super suggestive. If you apply your face oil and you're going up (Samantha strokes her face from the chin to the temple), your face goes up. And it's the same way that if you smile then hormones are released that make you super happy. The body is really responsive. You don't ever want to pull down [on your face]. You want to pull up. It's a lift and we all want a lift. We all want to go up!