Human grooming by Daniel Laberge
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Skin tension

The tenser your skin is,
the more folded it is

Healthy skin has amazing elasticity.
It can be pulled and stretched to a great extent without damaging it.
You can observe mothers of various animal species carrying their young by the neck with no adverse effect.

Folds and crossings
solidify the skin

Folding has a hardening effect on skin.
The paths of the folds solidify slowly.
As their crossings grow, they draw more and more cells into them to become firm objects within your skin.
It loses its elasticity.

Fold and crossing evolution

Folds on skin   A crossing appears   The crossing pulls on the skin
First, two
folds appear
  A crossing
is formed
  The crossing pulls in the skin

As more skin is engulfed into them, the pull of each fold crossing on the skin around it augments.
The tension increases.
With time, the skin can become hard like wood with reduced sensibility.

Not tense everywhere;
flabs of sagging skin

When some people look at their skin, they don't realize how tense it is because they focus on the loosely hanging portions of it.

Loose skin between the folds

Loose, hanging skin
between the folds and crossings

Folds and crossings have an anchoring action.
They pin the skin down in some places.
But between those locked positions, the skin may dangle, become stretched and flabs may appear.
It is important to understand that the problem is in the folds and their crossings.
Only groom deeply there.
The stretched or flabby areas should be groomed superficially.


How to read skin tensions
while grooming

One goal of your grooming actions is to remove skin tension wherever you find it.
You are actively looking for tension and trying to make it diminish.
As you do so, your skin repositions itself continuously.
You can feel these skin tension changes evolving beneath your finger.

Estimating skin tension
with your nail

You can evaluate the tension in your skin by simply pressing your nail down anywhere on your body and evaluating how deep it goes.
If the nail penetrates the skin easily, you can conclude that it is only lightly folded.
If, on the other hand, the skin resists the push of your nail, then it is very folded.

Nail depth compared

Your nail can't depress the skin
easily when it is folded

While grooming, you perceive tension as hardness below your nail.
The stiffer the skin is, the more folded it is.

Tensions beneath your nail

When you use movement during your grooming strokes, skin tensions change as you go.
Your passing nail produces a wave of varying pressures.
You can feel three different tensions simultaneously at your fingertip.

Three tensions


•The initial tension

You feel the initial skin tension at the cutting edge of your nail.
It is the one you are chiefly concentrated about because it tells you what direction you should take.
Since tension reduction is your goal, you are actively looking for tense skin.

•The grooming tension

The grooming tension is felt at the part of the nail that is the deepest into your skin.
You often use all your might to dig into a fold crossing.
Your nail creates a depression into the skin, trying to reach as deep as possible.
These efforts result in a diminution of the skin tension right below your nail.

•The residual tension

The residual tension is felt at the tail end of the nail.
As your nail leaves, the skin returns promptly to normal.
It rebounds.
You can feel the skin slap back into position.
The residual tension is always one notch less than the initial tension.
How big the difference is depends on how well you have done your grooming work.


More skin tension evaluation methods

Before you groom, use these methods
to see how tense an area has become.

The skin tension pinch

One simple way to find out your skin tension is to;
•Pinch the skin and pull it away from your body.

Pulling skin up

Is your skin supple?

•Examine how far you can stretch the skin.
•Compare different areas.
Some places, such as your scalp, possibly cannot be pinched.
That’s how tense they have become.

X-Y motion

Still another method of skin tension evaluation;
•Place the tip of you nail on your skin.
•Add a bit of pressure.
•Try to move the nail horizontally and vertically, back and forth.
•See how far the skin will follow it.

Moving left and right

Up to what point
will the skin follow your nail?

Analyze and compare the distances reached on both axes everywhere on your body.


Tension redistribution

Grooming has a considerable effect on skin tension.
It reduces it locally, where you groom.
But the action of grooming any single fold crossing will affect all the others around it.
This principle is called tension redistribution.

Grooming and tension redistribution

Let's figure out what happens when you groom one fold crossing.
To picture this, let's imagine an unreal skin where all crossings would have the same pull.

In this hypothetical skin,
all fold crossings (circles) are equal.
What happens when you groom the red one?

Each fold crossing has formed pulling relationships with its neighbors.

Evenly distributed tensions

Before grooming

Your grooming removes tension on a specific fold crossing and ruins this equilibrium.

Groomed crossing

After grooming,
the tension inside the crossing decreases

The associated crossings will feel a lessening of the pull they receive.
Their tension will decrease until a new balance is found.

Redistribution of tensions

After tension redistribution

The tensions gradually harmonize themselves.
Part of the process takes place rapidly, but it takes at least eight hours to complete.

Remote redistribution

Some folds on your body, like the vertical ones, can be very long and grooming them in one section can affect the tension of other crossings along them.
Sometimes the locations are quite far apart.
Horizontal folds are circular, so grooming one section will obviously influence the rest.

Fold crossings along a circular fold

Fold crossings along a horizontal fold

Moving the pain around

When you groom one fold crossing, you remove part of its supportive structure.
This absence is felt by the other crossing all along the fold.
Another crossing now becomes the biggest problem.
Removing tension from any crossing may shift the pain around.


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