News & Features

By Evelyn Heims

Can Pleasure Make you Beautiful?

Indulging in your life’s pleasures is what life is all about. Be it shopping, relaxing, food, sex or even just gorging yourself senseless on chocolate; these are all things that can make us feel fantastic. It’s sometimes said that pleasure can make you beautiful, and whilst perhaps not in such a significant way as our creams, potions, powders, treatments and cosmetic surgeries might do; does experiencing pleasure really have any impact on the way we look?

It makes sense to look at the other side of the coin first. As anyone knows, stress can be detrimental to your appearance, particularly when it comes to a fundamental part of personal beauty – the skin. So closely are the skin and mental health interlinked, that it’s quite common for stress to manifest itself in the form of skin conditions, either on a person’s face or elsewhere on the body.

Still a relatively new field, psychodermatology as the name suggests is the practice of treating skin conditions via the mind, often with the use of meditation, psychotherapy and medications such as mood elevators and anti-depressants – which can be hugely beneficial when emotional troubles are the root cause of a patient’s skin complaint. Conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea to name a few, can all be triggered and exacerbated by stress hormones. As such, logic would suggest that having the opposite mental state would have a positive effect on our complexions. But when it comes to beauty, how significant would that be?

Perhaps the answer can be found in endorphins. Endorphins are released into the body heightening pleasure during certain activities; the one everyone knows about is of course exercise (though that’s debatably pleasurable) but there are many other more enjoyable endorphin releasing activities too; such as listening to music, socializing, smiling, laughing, shopping, getting a massage, eating dark chocolate and having sex. It’s also been suggested that deep levels of relaxation can also release this wonderful hormone into the body.

Secreted within the brain and nervous system, the primary purpose of endorphins is to act as a natural pain killer, but they also make a welcome appearance when your brain’s pleasure pathway is stimulated - increasing happiness and a natural sense of well being. Research suggests that these clever little things can also promote the growth of epithelial cells. These cells are responsible for aiding the production of new skin cells and boost collagen production - consequently improving the skin!

But is it really all down to science? When we feel our best, we usually look our best too – and that isn’t merely coincidence. From that ‘in love’ glow, to the just-had-a-vacation glow, it seems a general sense of well being is perhaps the biggest catalyst when it comes to looking as good as nature (on it’s own) will allow. Perhaps this sense of well being positively counters the potential beauty-ravaging stresses of everyday life.

Be as indulgent as your life sensibly allows and go get some pleasure! Shop til you drop, laugh with friends until you cry, have sex with your man until his hips snap and do everything you can to take that vacation. Take time for yourself. Go to a spa, listen to music, do a little exercise, and always, always treat yourself. It’s easy to lead a life of self-deprivation in these times, when some people struggle with just getting the necessities in place. However, there’s always an outlet when it comes to treating yourself. Whether that’s simply buying yourself a gorgeous pair shoes once a month, or living a life of princess cruises and champagne; there’s an outlet out there bring a little pleasure into everyone’s lives – and what it’ll do for you as a person far surpasses any beauty benefits noted above. Pleasure is what makes life worth living and so many people don’t permit themselves enough.

So can pleasure make you beautiful? Well, not entirely on it’s own but it can certainly help – if it only makes you frown less at the very least. That in part is what creating your own physical beauty is all about; it’s a culmination of lifestyle choices, self-improvements and cosmetics. Anything that contributes further to that and gives you a sense of well being can’t be a bad thing – least of all pleasure, something we all need and deserve in our lives.

Evelyn Heims is a journalist graduate who enjoys the finer things in life and pampers herself wherever possible (although she's still working very hard on the 'beautiful' thing!)

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