By Maggie Staszcuk
Blue zones are regions around the world where people have been found to live longer and healthier lives than the average population. These regions are characterized by certain lifestyle and dietary habits that are believed to contribute to their longevity.
The concept of blue zones was first introduced by Dan Buettner, a National Geographic journalist who identified five regions in the world where people lived the longest: Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Nicoya, Cost Rica, Icaria, Greece, and the Seventh-day Adventist community in Loma Linda, California.1
Research has shown that people in these blue zones share common traits, such as a plant-based diet, regular physical activity, a strong sense of purpose, and a strong social support network. They also tend to have lower rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, and stress.2 These lifestyle factors are believed to contribute to longevity by reducing the risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Additionally, these lifestyle factors may also slow down the aging process.
It’s interesting to note that people in blue zones do not bathe daily and when they do, they use very little soap.3 James Hamblin, the author of Clean: The New Science of Skin explains that what actually improves the appearance of your skin includes your level of stress and overall health, whether you are getting enough sleep, and if you are eating a healthy diet, and suggests that topical products including soap should be used in moderation. However, he also points out that if topical products bring you joy, you should use them, which may be in line with the blue zones Power 9, or lifestyle habits that all blue zones have in common. These habits include “downshift,” which refers to intentional and regular destressing; enjoying your skin care routine could certainly play a role in downshifting.2
Overall, the blue zone concept highlights the importance of lifestyle factors that promote health and longevity and provides insight into how people can adopt healthier habits to improve their own health and well-being.
With this growing insight about aging and lifestyle choices, estheticians have an opportunity to adopt some of these blue zone values into their treatment space—practice the “less is more” mentality, focus on holistic and sustainable ingredients that nurture the skin, and provide treatments that relax and destress the client.
1. “History of Blue Zones.” Blue Zones, August 30, 2023. https://www.bluezones.com/about/history/.
2. Buettner, Dan, and Sam Skemp. “Blue Zones: Lessons from the World’s Longest Lived.” American journal of lifestyle medicine, July 7, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6125071/.
3. Buettner, Dan. “Showering Too Much May Be Wrecking Our Skin Microbiome.” Blue Zones, July 5, 2021. https://www.bluezones.com/2020/08/showering-too-much-may-be-wrecking-our...
ASCP's Esty Talk episode 194, Adopting Blue Zone Characteristics In Your Esthetics Practice, is all about how to bring blue zone characteristics into your esthetics practice, or even how to weave them into your own daily rituals.