cells and microbes in the immune system

The Connection Between A Healthy Immune System and Healthy Skin

Taking care of your skin isn't just for vanity--it is also a key part of taking care of your immune system. The fact is that our skin is the largest organ in our body and it impacts every aspect of how we live. From fighting off invaders like bugs or bacteria, but also controlling inflammation by producing its own anti-inflammatory cytokines. If you want to improve your skin health, you may want to boost your immune system.

Here are six examples of the connections between your immune system and your skin:

1. Bacteria

skin microbiomeYou might already know that many places inside your body house a wide variety of bacteria and other microflora. Just as it is important for gut health, there needs to be an even balance, and biodiversity of micro-organisms living on or near our skin's surface layer so we can maintain protection from outside forces.

Specifically, those with dry skin or those who suffer from eczema are particularly at risk for things like bacterial infections and imbalances, as dryness can compromise the protective barrier that keeps bad bacteria out. If you want to boost your immune system in this way, adding probiotic supplements or eating probiotic foods like yogurt and kombucha might help. Be sure to talk to your licensed healthcare provider before making changes to your diet or supplement routine.

2. Breakouts

Your immune system can actually keep you from breaking out and keep your skin clear. This is because acne is often an inflammatory response to external stimuli such as dirt, grime, and overgrowth of the p.acnes bacteria. Of course, acne can come from a variety of sources, so your immune system might not be completely at the root of the issue, but having solid support can absolutely help, regardless of the situation.

However, acne that’s related to things like hormones or natural body cycles might be a bit more complex than improving your immune system.

3. Nutrients

definition of nutrientsAnother way in which the immune system can impact your skin is through the nutrients you consume and therefore pass along to all of the systems in your body. Eating nutritious foods like small, fatty fish; fruits, vegetables, and foods rich in essential fatty acids, probiotics and antioxidants can improve your skin’s health and your immune health. When the immune system is supported by healthy nourishment, it can pass along those nutrients all over the body so they can do their jobs.

Even though they feed into one another, the nutrients that support your immune system also support the health of your skin all over your body, not just on your face!

4. Hydration

One of the things that your immune system also supports is skin hydration. When your immune system is thriving and healthy, the hydration that supports the rest of your body will support your skin as well. This can be highly important, as hydrated skin is crucial to its texture, coloration, and even how fast it exhibits visible signs of aging.

If you tend to have dry skin, aging spots, or even if you are simply looking to avoid signs of aging, staying hydrated both for your immune system and for your skin can go hand in hand. Keep in mind though, that the amount of hydration that comes from your diet and drinking water is not enough to keep skin hydrated for people with dry or compromised skin--topical hydration is also a must.

5. Protection

Along with hydration, a healthy immune system can also help prevent transepidermal water loss from taking place, specifically on your face. People with both dry and oily skin should pay attention to the moisture barriers of their skin, and that involves nourishing your immune system to provide protection against damage and dehydration.

6. Resilience

Black woman with glowing skinOne of the primary ways that your immune system can influence the rest of your body, including your skin, is its ability to heal the various illnesses, infections, and injuries that occur in daily life. A large concern within skincare, especially as people age or go through hormonal changes, is the skin’s ability to bounce back and heal from damage.

From sun damage to acne scarring and discoloration, the skin can accrue a variety of types of damage just by living life. When your immune system is healthy and prepared, you are much more likely to heal from injuries and infections quickly and fully. And that includes things like acne and other skin damage.

A healthy immune system and skincare

Even though supporting the immune system might not be the very first thing you think of when adding a step to your skin care routine, it can actually be one of the best things you can do. Health works from the inside out, and that includes fostering the body‘s natural connection from one system to another. 

Do you want to learn more about how to help your clients support healthy skin from the inside out?

Our accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program takes a deep dive into topics such as the microbiome, how stress affects the skin (and how to minimize its effects), hormones and skin health, digestion and gut function, and more. You will not only learn about these topics, but you'll also learn how to educate your clients about these topics and how to incorporate skin-healthy changes in their daily lives.

Click HERE to learn more, download our syllabus, and enroll today!

About the author:

Kara ReynoldsKara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Momish Magazine. Mom and stepmom living her best life while managing anxiety and normalizing blended families. She enjoys pilates, podcasts, and a nice pinot grigio.


Serotonin and Melatonin: The Real Culprits Behind Seasonal Skin Changes?

Do you ever wonder if our ancestors felt the same effects of seasonal change as we do. As they eased into Autumn, did they notice a change in their sleep schedule? Mood? Appetite? Sex drive? Skin? If so, what did they attribute these changes to? The lack of food? Warmth? Sunlight? 

autumn sunsetFrom September 22 (autumn equinox) to December 21 (winter solstice), we lose around three minutes of sunlight each day.

Three minutes may seem insignificant, but any lack of sunlight dramatically affects our body’s natural production of serotonin and melatonin. An imbalance of these hormones can lead to unwanted breakouts, premature aging, and more severe conditions such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, seborrheic eczema. On the flip side, when these hormones are balanced, clear, radiant, healthy skin emerges.

About serotonin and melatonin:

What is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter hormone (which is actually a precursor to melatonin) that’s produced by the brain and the intestines. It’s medically referred to as 5-hydroxytryptamine. Serotonin plays a role in regulating our mood, appetite, sleep, digestion, and skin health.

The body makes serotonin naturally by using sunlight. The light enters our eyes and activates the parts of our retina that signal our brain to produce serotonin. 

foods to help support serotonin productionNatural ways to support healthy serotonin production:

  • Exercise- motor activity increases serotonin neurons' firing rates, which results in increased synthesis and release of serotonin.
  • Tryptophan- is an amino acid that gets converted to serotonin in our brain. Tryptophan is found primarily in high-protein foods, including free-range turkey and wild-caught salmon. Chickpeas, bananas, and oats are also good sources of tryptophan. The US Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 250-425 tryptophan milligrams per day (but always discuss your personal diet and how much of each nutrient you need with your physician, dietitian, or licensed nutritionist)
  • Balanced gut microbes - scientists have found that intestinal bacteria help to produce serotonin. The greatest amount of the body’s supply of serotonin is found in the intestines and the lining of the stomach. Its presence helps move food through our intestines.
  • Aromatherapy- inhaling aromas like cedarwood triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, which converts to melatonin. This essential oil is known for its soothing qualities and encourages relaxation.
  • Lightbox therapy-as a supplement to natural sunlight, especially in the winter, a lightbox can be used. It’s essential to make sure the lightbox is safe and effective. The Center for Environmental Therapeutics is dedicated to education and research on safe environmental therapies. 
  • Far infrared therapy- the gentle heat of far infrared light is known to increase serotonin in the skin, which is then circulated throughout the body.

What is melatonin?

Melatonin is another hormone our body naturally produces. It is made in the mainly "in the pineal gland and a small portion in the retina. It can be found in the skin as well as in the body and is stimulated by darkness. Melatonin (not to be confused with melanin) is our primary skin protectant - blocking free radicals, protecting our collagen, and repairing oxidative damage to the skin.

melatoninOur bodies require serotonin to produce melatonin. Our pineal gland, located deep in our brain, chemically alters serotonin to make melatonin. Our body’s sleep-wake cycle is affected by how much light we take in through our eyes, and the related production of these hormones. That’s why it's recommended to dim the lights as we approach bedtime and avoid exposure to the green and blue-toned light that smartphones, computers, smartphones, and TV monitors produce. The dim lights activate our melatonin for a restful sleep.

Other ways to increase melatonin production is through:

  • Food- Tart cherries, goji berries, oily fish, and nuts like pistachios and almonds contain melatonin.
  • Dietary supplements- The Sleep Foundation asserts, "it’s best to start a melatonin supplement with the lowest recommended melatonin dosage for your age. From there, you can gradually increase your dosage until you find a dose that helps you fall asleep without causing any side effects. A safe starting dose for adults is between 0.5 milligram and 5 milligrams of melatonin. Older adults may find lower doses, starting with 0.1 milligrams, to be safe and effective. Children should not take melatonin unless recommended by a physician," and adults should consult with their physician to determine the right amount for their personal needs.
  • Meditation- Meditating can help relax the muscles and joints, reduce anxiety, and lower nervous system stimulation, which helps promote melatonin release.
  • Aromatherapy- A research study The effect of aromatherapy with lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) on serum melatonin levels found that “blood melatonin levels significantly increased in the total population after the intervention with aromatherapy.”
  • Topical products- Applying melatonin topically can trigger our skin into antioxidant behavior that would otherwise occur during sleep. Melatonin works synergistically with antioxidants such as Vitamin C, beta carotene, and other Pro Vitamin A carotenoid antioxidants. It also works well with cross-linked forms of hyaluronic acid in improving skin elasticity. Caution: Using topical melatonin on your skin may may darken the skin. Those treating hyperpigmentation may want to skip using melatonin topically.

How serotonin and melatonin affect the "Brain-Skin Connection"

stressed skinSince serotonin contributes to sufficient sleep and balanced moods, we’re less likely to experience stress hormone surges that can lead to breakouts and cause skin cell damage. Research shows that abnormal serotonin receptors may exacerbate psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and seborrheic eczema – just further evidence that a balanced brain means balanced skin. The brain—skin connection helps explain why emotional and mental stress can cause unwanted skin conditions.

At night, our skin converts from a mode of protection into repair. Somatotropin or human growth hormone (HGH) production and melatonin are boosted within the brain, which accelerates skin regeneration and production of antioxidant enzymes. Since melatonin helps us reach sleep cycle 3, the most restorative phase, this brain—skin connection explains why we look our best when we are well-rested.

Note from author, Jules Annen, PhD:

Jules AnnenWhile writing this post, I looked into how our ancestors handled seasonal change. My research led to countless articles about beautiful ceremonies, rituals, and celebrations of life and very few articles about their struggle. Our ancestors adapted through seasonal change. They passed down the wisdom of how to boost our mood, balance our skin, and achieve restorative sleep just by keeping serotonin and melatonin in check. Learn more about Jules Annen, PhD here.

Do you want to learn more about how hormones affect the skin?

We dedicate an entire month's worth of curriculum about hormones and skin health in our professionally accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program! We also teach you how to educate your clients about topics like this, while staying safely within your scope of practice.

Learn more about our program, download our syllabus, and enroll HERE!

Advisory Board Highlight: Rakhi Roy

We are so excited to welcome Rakhi Roy, MS, RD, LDN to the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance’s Advisory Board! We have been searching for a dietitian for the Board, who not only shares our passion for advancing an integrative approach to healthy skin, but also who has a deep connection and understanding of how food and digestion affect the skin. Rakhi certainly fit that bill!

About Rakhi Roy, MS, RD, LDN:

Rakhi is an actress-turned Registered Dietitian who holds a Bachelor’s in Anthropology and Theatre, and a Master’s in Dietetics & Nutrition. Her own skin struggles with eczema on- and off-camera led to her passion to help others with chronic skin conditions, find food freedom, and support their skin from within through an integrative approach.

Rakhi believes that there is no one diet that fits all. She helps guide her clients on how to reintroduce foods back in safely instead of focusing on long-term food eliminations. Rakhi also writes, educates, and speaks for various health online outlets in the dietary & nutrition health community. She has been featured on Healthline.com and the National Eczema Association.

Rakhi's past work includes corporate wellness, Food Network & Cooking Channel SOBE WFF Festival, consulting as a clinical dietitian in VA long-term care, the Department of Health, Miami Children’s Hospital, eating disorders, and detox substance abuse patients in behavioral health psychiatric hospitals.

Rakhi Roy, Registered Dietitian joins the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance's Advisory BoardRakhi currently sees eczema, psoriasis, and TSW (Topical Steroid Withdrawal) clients via phone and video conference as a licensed Dietitian and internationally as a nutrition coach.

We love Rakhi's story, and we are honored to welcome her to our Advisory Board!

As we do with all our Advisory Board members, we asked Rakhi to share why she wanted to be part of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance:

The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance:

What excites you the most about The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance?

Rakhi Roy:

Skin health is so much more than just what we put on our skin topically but also what we put in our body internally. It’s so rare to see both modalities integrated into one platform so I love that the NAA does that.

The NAA:

How has Nutritional Aesthetics® (integrating nutrition and lifestyle changes with skincare and self-care) impacted your practice and/or work?

Rakhi Roy:

Being a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist, my wheelhouse of practice is in nutrition and gut health, so I love to collaborate with aestheticians to help serve my clients holistically. I learn something from my aesthetician colleagues every time. In turn, I teach them about nutrition, supplements, and even the psychological relationship one has with food can impact our overall health. Knowledge is power when it’s shared.

The NAA:

Complete the sentence: “For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ___________________, and less of ___________________.”

Rakhi Roy:

For optimal skin health, I wish people would adopt mindful eating practices everyday: something as simple as eating out in nature, slowing down to chew your food, drinking enough water, including at least 2 colors on your plate, and less stress eating.

We are so grateful to have Rakhi Roy on our Advisory Board!

We already have a webinar planned--stay tuned for that!

Connect with Rakhi Roy:




8 Fall Foods for Healthier Skin as the Season Changes

The arrival of cooler weather means that you might not have to worry as much about sweat-induced pimples. However, that fact doesn’t mean your skin is home-free. For many, the transition between warm and cold weather brings other skin issues. Fall is the perfect time to prepare for winter’s dry skin challenges. One way to prep your skin for the coming cold is through your diet. Though the eight fall foods for healthier skin we list in this post aren't all harvested in the fall, they all share a combination of soothing antioxidants, nourishing healthy fats, and lots of science backing their skin-health benefits during this transitional time of year.

Here are eight fall foods for healthier skin as the season changes: 

1. Pumpkin

Pumpkin and squash are excellent fall foods for healthier skin.The onset of Fall brings pumpkin spice everything. While the sugary "pumpkin spice" flavors leave much to be desired in terms of nutrition, science supports that pumpkin itself is very skin-healthy. The “meat” is high in antioxidants like vitamin A or C that help fight oxidative stress and prevent free radicals from causing cellular damage and death. 

Pumpkin, and other types of squash, is useful topically to treat dry skin, too. Mix a teaspoon of raw honey, a teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar, and two teaspoons of pureed pumpkin and slather the substance on your skin. The honey adds extra antimicrobial, humectant, and enzymatic goodness to help you glow. For added emollient protection, add 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin seed oil to the mix.

2. Berries

Another fabulous food source of antioxidants for healthier skin as the season changes comes from berries. These tiny wonders contain high levels of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that gives fruits and vegetables their deep blue and purple hues. 

Sprinkle some blueberries into your morning cereal, toss some organic frozen berries into a smoothie, or add some dried ones to your salad.  If you have a sweet tooth, a bowl of berries with a dollop of stevia-sweetened cream makes a delicious dessert. 

3. Seafood

salmon up closeFatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, and sardines are chock-full of nutrients designed to make your skin glow. It’s as if Mother Nature hid her beauty cream in the ocean. You’ll get a heaping serving of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E to keep your complexion supple and silky. 

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant for your skin’s cells. Some people slather it on before going to bed and let it absorb overnight — see if this trick helps you ease red spots and soften fine wrinkles. Likewise, omega-3s keep skin supple and protect it from UV rays. Some research suggests omega-3s can even help reduce the prevalence of acne.

4. Nuts and Seeds

What if you want the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet? You can still reap the perks of this nutrient by adding chia, flax, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds to your diet. They’re a snap to sprinkle in salads and soup, adding texture without impacting the overall flavor much. 

Another benefit of sprinkling your salad with pepitas or opting for almonds over salty chips is that you enjoy a healthy dose of highly bioavailable zinc. This nutrient works as an anti-inflammatory and may help to ease the redness associated with acne. Altering your diet might work better than creams if you have combination skin and have to use care not to let topical products stray into the wrong zone. 

5. Avocados

Avocado, aloe and natural skin care ingredientsThey might not look like it, but avocados are a type of berry. Did you know that? They also have unique health benefits for your skin, so don’t put that guac away simply because summer salsa season is drawing to a close. 

Avocados also work well when applied topically as well, because they’re rich in oils that moisturize your complexion. You can rub the raw fruit directly on your skin, leaving it on for a few minutes before rinsing or mix it with Greek yogurt and raw honey for extra oomph. You can also try cleansing or moisturizing with cold pressed avocado oil.

6. Peppers, Hot and Mild

If you think of salsa as a summer treat only, please change your mindset. The spicy stuff can help you sweat toxins out of your skin. You’ll also get a rosy glow from a bit of picante sauce in your diet. 

Peppers contain tons of antioxidants to prevent oxidative stress on your skin. For example, a single red bell pepper contains three times the vitamin C than an orange does. 

7. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil has tons of heart-healthy benefits, but it’s also beneficial for your skin, as any smooth skinned Italian nonna will tell you. If you aren’t acne-prone, you can use it as an oil cleanser or moisturizer. Simply add a few drops to your fingertips and rub them into dry areas — like your elbows. 

Olive oil works best on low heat or at room temperature--you should not cook with it at medium or high temperatures. In your diet, find ways to add it to salads, as a dip (with fresh herbs, salt, and pepper) for sourdough bread, on popcorn instead of butter, or as a finishing touch on your stir fry or bowl dishes.

8. Herbal Tea

chamomile teaMany herbal teas also contain high antioxidant levels. These substances keep redness at bay and prevent oxidative stress from killing excess skin cells and leaving them to accumulate, creating an ashy appearance. 

Chamomile is an excellent choice because it contains quercetin. This antioxidant may prevent some of the itchiness that often occurs with dry winter skin. 

Which of these fall foods for healthier skin are your favorites?

The seasonal changes mean switching up your skincare routine. Try these eight fall foods for a healthier glow as the weather cools, and tell us your favorite in the comments below! For more seasonal skincare advice, sign up for our Integrative Guide to Healthy Skin.

About the author:

Mia Barnes is the Managing Editor of Body+Mind and an online writer on all things beauty and wellness. Her favorite topics to cover include sustainable skincare and nutrition.


Heathy lymph close up

The Importance of Healthy Lymph for Glowing Skin

The skin is the largest organ in the human body, and it's also one of its most important. It protects us from environmental factors that can damage our bodies or cause illness, while at the same time providing a barrier against moisture loss. But what you may not know about your skin is that it doesn't work alone. Underneath the surface, the lymphatic system works closely with the circulatory system to filter out toxins and fluid buildup before they can do any real damage to your organs or other tissues. If there are problems with either of these systems, such as inflammation or clogging due to excess fluids, then this will show up on your skin first! Today, we explore the connection between healthy lymph and healthy skin.  

What is lymph?

diagram of lymphatic systemLymph is the fluid that flows through the lymphatic system, a sophisticated network of tissue and organs made up of lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and lymph. The lymphatic system is designed to maintain a healthy immune system, protecting against infection and disease by absorbing and metabolizing waste. 

The lymphatic system also acts as our body's primary drainage system, helping to deliver nutrients and filter out damaged proteins, water, waste products, and other cellular debris. It does this by transporting the toxins away from the tissues and into the bloodstream, where they are purified by the spleen, the largest lymphatic tissue in the body.

It's important to note that the lymphatic system is seldom an isolated actor; rather it works in tandem with other organs and systems such as the circulatory system, kidneys, and liver to help clear and remove waste.

Why should we care about lymph?

The connection between healthy lymph and healthy skin is significant. Lymphatic drainage encourages the circulation of lymph in the subcutaneous tissue (the layer of fat--or adipose tissue--just below the dermis). When toxins and waste beneath the skin are frequently and adequately drained, it's easier for the body to expel them.

However, a slow or stagnant system can create “clogging” and trap the toxins within the body and, in turn, can trigger inflammation. Acute inflammation can cause dull, puffy, and tired-looking skin. If the congestion is left unaddressed, acute inflammation will turn into chronic inflammation, which may cause unwanted skin conditions like:

  • Acne
  • Eczema or psoriasis
  • Loss of elasticity
  • Premature aging
  • Skin dryness and flaking

Healthy lymph can prevent clogged pores--woman with pore strip on noseAnd a host of internal health disturbances like:

  • Brain fog
  • Digestive issues
  • Sinus infections
  • Constipation
  • Allergies
  • Food sensitivities
  • Increased colds and flu

Get moving!

Unlike blood circulation, which moves because of the heart’s pumping action, lymphatic drainage is a passive system- it relies on our muscles and joints to get it moving. 

Exercise is the most efficient way to keep the lymph in motion. Regular muscle contraction excites the movement of our lymphatic fluid.

The most stimulating exercise for the lymphatic system is jumping on a mini-trampoline. Rebounding on a mini-trampoline may appear to be high-impact but is considered to be low-impact plyometrics. Regular yoga practice is also great to keep healthy lymph flowing.

Integrative therapies to support healthy lymph:

Lymphatic Massage

Because the lymphatic system relies on the movement of muscles to transport fluid through the lymph vessels, massage is a great way to assist in this process. 


Acupuncture is an effective East Asian Medicine practice treatment that uses thin needles in strategic points on the body that may help stimulate healthy lymph flow and remove toxins.

Dry Body Brushing

Dry brushing has been an integral self-care staple of many ancient civilizations for more than one thousand years. Dry brushing your skin may help support detoxification by increasing blood circulation and promoting lymph drainage. Read more about dry brushing here.


"Garshana" is an ancient Sanskrit word that translates to ‘friction by rubbing.’ With silk gloves, this Ayurvedic practice involves stimulating specific body areas that may facilitate the removal of toxins, support lymphatic flow, and revitalize all body systems.

Facial Gua Sha

woman practicing facial gua shaGua Sha is an East Asian Medicine practice that translates to “scraping the pain away”. Traditionally performed on the body, new facial Gua Sha protocols have been adopted over recent years, and have become very popular among holistic aestheticians and in the wellness community alike.

Small, palm-sized tools carved from stones such as jade are gently stroked across the skin to increase lymphatic flow, increase blood circulation, and support collagen production.

Facial Ice Globes

Ice globes utilize the cold for something akin to a ‘cryo’ facial that may stimulate lymph and blood circulation, relieve sore facial muscles, decrease puffiness, and give a face “lifted” effect.

Purified Water

Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day to further cleanse your system of toxins. For example, if you are 150 lbs., drink 75 ounces of water (can include herbal tea).

Pranayama Breathing

The pressure from deep, diaphragmatic breathing effectively moves the lymph into the blood before the liver detoxifies them.

Our bodies have three times more lymph than blood, so pranayama breathing many times during the day helps stimulates lymph and restores the body to a calm and peaceful state. We recommend starting with simple techniques such as Nadi Shodhana Pranayam, or 4-7-8 Breathing.


There's something to the common phrase, "laughter is the best medicine!" Laughter contracts and expands the diaphragm and abdominal muscles that help push lymph through the vessels.

Herbal teas

Many herbs can be beneficial for the lymphatic system. Use the following herbs to prepare teas that promote lymph health (always consult with your healthcare provider or a trained herbalist first):

  • Echinacea
  • Astragalus
  • Red Root
  • Cleavers 
  • Goldenseal
  • Dandelion

Foods that promote lymph flow

Rainbow vegetablesThe naturally occurring bioflavonoids and enzymes in raw fruits and vegetables help break down the overload of toxins in the body.

Nutrient-dense foods that promote a healthy lymphatic system include:

  • Seeds: Chia, flax, sunflower, pumpkin, hemp
  • Unrefined oils: Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil
  • Garlic, onions and spices like turmeric
  • Nuts: Brazil, almonds, walnuts, cashews
  • Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables

Whether raw cauliflower, laughter, ice globes, or any of the other above items are your thing, all have the ability to support the lymph--our body’s natural cleanser for clearer, healthier skin. Start with one or two that you know you can easily remember to do on a daily basis, and then add more as you get used to having them in your routine. Your skin--and overall health--will thank you!

Are you interested in learning more about how the internal organs and systems of the body affect the skin?

We teach this extensively in our accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program. Click HERE to learn more, download our syllabus, and enroll today.

About the author:

Today's post was written by our Director of Education Outreach, Jules Annen, PhD. Learn more about Jules HERE.


Natural skin care products on blue pastel background, flat lay. Zero waste, eco friendly bathroom and spa accessories

NAA Staff Spotlight: Jules Annen, PhD

We are so excited to welcome Jules Annen, PhD as the new Director of Education Outreach of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance! The NAA has grown exponentially over the past two years, since the premier launch of our now professionally accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner Training Program. We are excited for continued growth--but we knew we needed more hands on deck as we continue to advance our integrative approach to healthy skin. Jules' like-minded philosophy, years of professional experience, and educational background fits right in, and we are so happy to have her on board to help us continue grow above and beyond! 

Meet Jules Annen, PhD--our new Director of Education Outreach

Jules Annen, PhD, is a Licensed Cosmetologist and a Board Certified Nutrition Coach and Natural Health Practitioner. With more than 30 years of salon and spa experience, Jules is a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.

Jules AnnenShe is the author of the Beauty in Balance book series with a complementing line of self-care products and supplements. She is a professional member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP). Jules also holds additional certificates in Reiki, Herbal Medicine, Aromatherapy, Yoga, Sleep Science, and Trichology (hair loss).

As we do with all our Advisory Board members and Members on a Mission, we asked Jules to share why she wanted to be part of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance:

The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance:

What excites you the most about The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance?

Jules Annen, PhD:

The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance (NAA) is creating a new field of practice for our industry with an integrative approach to healthy skin, and I'm here for it! With so many people looking to optimize their health and well-being (and seeking out additional practitioners), the NAA's vision and mission is on point and on time.

The NAA:

How has Nutritional Aesthetics (integrating nutrition and lifestyle changes with skincare and self-care) impacted your practice and/or work?

Jules Annen:

Currently I coach clients on lifestyle habits for healthy skin such as sleep hygiene, plant-focused nutrition and supplementation, "lympha-cise", and integrative therapies such as cupping, gua sha, and guided meditation.

The NAA:

Complete the sentence: “For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ___________________, and less of ___________________.”

Jules Annen:

For optimal skin health, I wish people would do detox rituals, and less negative self-talk.

We are so grateful to welcome Jules Annen as our new Director of Education Outreach!

Connect with Jules:

Why Managing Anxiety is Key for Clear Skin

You can use all the best products, have the most thorough skincare routine and still get blemishes. Yep, that’s right. Pimples, dry, itchy skin and chronic conditions can still flare up, regardless of how well you treat your skin. Sometimes, these annoying and even painful imperfections are a result of diet, genetics, or environmental factors. However, if you’re unable to determine the cause, anxiety might have something to do with it. 

How does anxiety affect your skin?

anxiety and words to describe anxietyAnxiety can do a number on your skin. The most obvious and immediate effects include lines from frowning or furrowing your brow. However, some people might also develop behavioral problems like excessive itching and skin picking, which can damage the skin and even cause infections. Breaking these habits often requires the help of a medical professional or psychiatrist. 

Meanwhile, those with chronic skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema may experience disease flare-ups when dealing with high anxiety. These episodes can be incredibly debilitating and affect their self-esteem, which only causes more stress and anxiety.  

Of course, most people are likely to experience more common symptoms like oily skin and acne when anxiety levels rise. That’s because anxiety and emotional distress trigger your body into releasing cortisol. This stress hormone delays healing and disrupts your skin’s natural barrier, leaving it more susceptible to bruises, wrinkles, pigmentation, dullness and other issues. 

Cortisol also increases oil production, which can clog up your pores and cause pimples. While applying medicated cleansers and serums may help you heal quicker, managing your anxiety is a much more effective way to prevent future breakouts.  

A vicious cycle 

Today’s society would have you believe that you need flawless skin to be worthy of admiration — or thousands of Instagram followers. Only perfect faces end up on the cover of magazines, right? Well, not exactly. Now that everyone has access to face filters and editing tools, anyone can alter their body and remove blemishes. This only contributes to unrealistic expectations and impossible standards, which can leave you feeling inadequate and, quite frankly, a little ugly. 

split image of unretouched vs retouched photoNow, when you experience a breakout or flare-up, you’ll likely encounter even higher levels of anxiety because you don’t fit social media’s perfect mold of what you’re “supposed” to look like. As your stress levels rise, your symptoms may worsen and leave your skin in even worse condition. This vicious cycle will continue indefinitely until you let go of impossible expectations and fully embrace who you are, acne and all. 

Of course, this is much easier said than done, so if you need help realigning your standards with reality, talk to a licensed therapist or other mental health professional. They’ll be able to pinpoint the root cause of your insecurities so you can work on letting them go. More importantly, they’ll help you find ways to manage your anxiety so you can finally fall in love with the skin you’re in. 

3 ways to manage anxiety 

Are you ready to kick your worries — and blemishes — to the curb? Minimize breakouts and banish flare-ups with these three tips for managing anxiety. 

1. Break the cycle

You’ll probably feel less anxious if you aren’t so worried about your skin, and deleting social media can certainly help with that. Break the cycle and kiss fake beauty standards goodbye by signing off or logging out. Alternatively, you can unfollow anyone who makes you feel inadequate or frequently posts edited selfies. Replace those accounts with body-positive ones that encourage you to adopt positive self-talk and a healthier self-image. 

2. Nourish your body

assorted vegetablesYour diet plays an important role in how you feel and, if you have anxiety, there are a few foods you should avoid, including refined cereals, fried food and high-fat dairy products. These items can exacerbate your symptoms and even cause skin problems all by themselves. You might also consider giving up alcohol. While it may seem to reduce stress, the effects are temporary and, once they wear off, your anxiety will return with a vengeance. 

3. Get your beauty sleep

Anxiety can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. At the same time, getting less shuteye can lead to more breakouts and even mounting stress, which doesn’t do your skin or your anxiety any favors. Break the cycle by developing a nighttime routine that helps you wind down and fall asleep. Melatonin supplements and other natural sleep aids may also prove useful--be sure to consult with your healthcare professional about that. You should notice differences in your sleep and skin a few weeks after implementing these coping mechanisms. 

When to find a professional 

Sometimes, it’s impossible to manage anxiety on your own. In this case, it may be best to consult a licensed physician or therapist. They can prescribe medication or coping mechanisms that are specific to your particular skin conditions and mental health symptoms. These tools are your best bet for lowering stress levels and clearing up your skin.

What do you do if you suspect your client is struggling with anxiety?

It's not within the scope of practice for aestheticians, health coaches, nutritionists, or other skin wellness practitioners who are not licensed medical or mental health providers to diagnose or treat anxiety--or any other health condition. However, because many skin wellness practitioners create safe, intimate environments for their clients, many clients feel safe to express certain struggles during sessions. While this is generally a good thing, sometimes professional and scope of practice boundaries may become blurred if one party construes helpful advice as a professional recommendation.

If you feel that a conversation, or advice that you are being asked to provide is uncomfortable, inappropriate, or out of your scope--then it probably is. It's one thing to empathize with the client, and another to offer advice that might not be appropriate to offer. If you find yourself in this situation, you can change the subject, validate the client's concern by saying something like "it sounds like this is challenging for you--do you feel like you have enough support?" If the client says no, then it might be a good idea to refer them to a mental health professional.

In our professionally accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® (CNAP) Training Program, we address scope of practice situations that might come up like this, and educate you on how to safely handle them. We also teach you about the importance of establishing a strong referral network, and discuss how and when it is right to refer.

Learn more about the CNAP Training Program HERE.

Kara ReynoldsAbout the author:

Kara Reynolds is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Momish Magazine, an inclusive parenting magazine filled with parenting hacks, advice and more to keep your beautiful family thriving.


minimalist skincare products

Minimalist Skincare: What, Why, and How to Do It

The beauty industry is booming. Statistics show that by the end of 2021, the global beauty market is expected to reach a market value of more than $805 billion. This staggering number is only going to grow in the coming years as more and more people are spending their money on cosmetics, skincare, hair care and other related products.

This industry growth is supported by more skincare professionals, influencers, beauty bloggers, and advertisements touting "benefits" elaborate, multi-step, and multi-product routines. But who does this really benefit? Hint: usually not the person using all the products, and definitely not the environment.

Do you know what else is booming, and not in a good way?

Skin, eye, and anaphylactic skin allergic reactions. A 2021 survey examined specific allergic reactions within the percentage of surveyed adults in the United States with allergies. Of the surveyed population, 67% reported allergic or irritant reactions of the eyes; 46% reported skin allergies specifically (rashes, hives, blistering, itching, swelling).

There are many potential reasons for these high incidences of allergic reactions, including autoimmune disease, chronic illness, or low immune function; stress, and environmental factors. However, we cannot ignore the fact that many ingredients used in skincare products, color cosmetics, hair products, and other personal care products are known allergens. Specifically, concerns of heavy metals like lead and nickel, synthetic fragrance compounds, certain sunscreen ingredients, dyes and colorants, and certain preservatives (parabens, imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, phenoxyethanol, methylchloroisothiazolinone) have all been linked to skin allergies.

For these reasons, many aestheticians, dermatologists, herbalists, and other skin wellness practitioners now recommend a minimalist skincare approach. Today, guest author, Andrea Endres (host of the Skin Body Spirit Summit) delves into what minimalist skincare is, why it's a good idea, and how to get started.

What is minimalist skincare, really?

Minimalist skincare is supposed to be all about using fewer products with fewer ingredients, and less packaging.

But let's be honest: with all the beautiful and temptatious brands out there, our good intentions easily turn into bathroom shelves filled with "minimalist" products that target all kinds of meticulous skin issues. Yet, we still experience various skin concerns. It sounds contradictory but are too many minimalist products the cause?

The skin is a self sufficient organ. It knows what to do to function optimally, just like all your other organs do. Are we causing many of the skin problems we experience because we use skincare products?

Fifteen minimalist products are still a lot to process for the skin and maybe it simply needs a break. When was the last time we just let our skin be? When was the last time it went weeks without undergoing several steps and layers of targeted, so called minimalist products and actives?

Is our skin the problem or how we treat it?

Our skin is truly amazing at taking care of itself, but it is not given a fair chance to do so. We are very quick to add new products, even so called minimalist ones, boasting with irresistible claims specifically addressing that very particular issue at hand. The more we try to fix something, the more products we buy; and the less of a chance the skin has to function on its own. 

minimalist skincare productsThe biggest challenge is to wrap our heads around the fact that using less products overall can be very effective--and not to mention, the best environmental choice we can make. Adapting the mindset of less is more and having patience for, and trust in our skin’s various healing stages, is mostly a mental challenge rather than a purely skincare product challenge. Let’s be honest, we simply love shiny new objects and it feels way easier to hope the next product will fix what we may have caused ourselves by years of over-processing our skin. 


A truly minimalist skincare approach

This very simple regimen gives the skin a chance to bounce back to it's unique status quo and lets us discover and experience it’s baseline. Give this very minimalist--or rather essentialist--skincare regimen a try: 

  1. Deep cleanse: OCM (Oil Cleansing Method)
  2. Hydrate and balance the skin's pH with hydrosols
  3. Use a couple of drops of protective, nutrient rich cold pressed, organic plant oil
  4. And give yourself an intuitive and intentional facial massage

This almost sounds too easy, too affordable and too unspectacular, doesn't it?

But it will truly give the skin a chance to just re-balance itself and exercise its natural organ functions without counteracting irritations from products. During the time the skin has overcome some initial imbalances--usually one to two weeks--you will have learned to tune in, get to know your skin; and have patience, trust and compassion for this hardworking organ.

Whatever concerns might still endure, you can then address with whole, high quality natural ingredients. You can even craft your own personalized natural skincare products that will support the skin, and strengthen its barrier and ecosystem. Think about it. This makes much more sense than constantly washing off and then replacing the skin's natural components, and trying to imitate its functions.

We cannot forget that a topical regimen is just a small part of the whole picture.

If we really want lasting results and vibrant, healthy skin, we also have to recognize the impact of our lifestyle choices. No skincare routine--minimalist or maximalist--can replace good sleep. No serum can hydrate as much as colorful and juicy fruits and vegetables. No minimalist skincare product can achieve what a balanced life can. 

Want to learn how to support your clients with minimalist skincare?

If you are an aesthetician, health coach, or skin wellness practitioner, we can teach you how to help your clients integrate skin-healthy food and lifestyle choices into their busy lives. Our professionally accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program teaches you all you need to know to do that, while also staying within your scope of practice.

You can download our syllabus, learn more and enroll HERE.

About the author:

Andrea Endres started her natural self-care journey in 2004 after attending one lecture that changed her life forever. She became a Holistic Skincare Therapist at Axelsons Institute, Scandinavia's oldest and largest school for complementary and alternative medicine under Lena Losciale, Sweden's pioneer of Professional Education and Expertise in Botany, Dermatology and Plant-based Skincare and holds two nutritionist certifications. She founded the Skin Body Spirit Summit where she connects holistic skin health and wellness experts with conscious women looking for individualized practices in skin, body and self care.

Andrea ran her own restaurant in Cambodia, is a Plant Based Chef and full-time traveler spreading the fascinating and empowering world of holistic skin health while passionately volunteering at a local nonprofit working towards sustainable tourism. Her mission is to help women to become confident in their skin, really owning their choices, their bodies, their worth. Natural and holistic skincare and nutrition were her doorstep to a journey of true empowerment and that is what she wants to pay forward.

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Carrier Oil Close-Up: Cranberry Seed Oil

Have you heard that having balanced omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids in your diet is beneficial for your overall health? Guess what? They are also beneficial for your skin. It is important to make sure your internal intake contains an appropriate ratio of all omegas due to their demonstrated benefits on health such as improved moods and reduced inflammation among other things. For smooth, resilient skin, It's not enough to get your omega fatty acids through food; you need them topically as well. The best way for this is though carrier oils that can penetrate the skin and deliver these micronutrients. While it's important to know that different carrier oils have slightly different compositions, we love cranberry seed oil for topical skincare, because of how balanced its own unique fatty acid profile is.

Why is it important to have the correct balance of Omegas-3, 6, and 9 in your skincare?

For those who are curious why omega-3s (ex: alpha-Linolenic acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid) are essential for skin health: these fatty acids help reduce inflammation, and support skin elasticity. Omega-6 (gamma linoleic acid is the most common one) keeps nutrients flowing throughout cells, which is so important to support healthy skin function as we age. And finally, omega-9 helps to protect us against free radical damage caused by pollution and sun exposure. Omega-9 (most commonly oleic and erucic acids) also touts anti-inflammatory benefits.

When properly balanced in an oil like cranberry seed oil, these fatty acids promote a healthy inflammation response.

About skin inflammation:

While it's not the sole root cause of every skin concern, inflammation is at least partially linked to issues like acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and even premature skin aging. Some causes of skin inflammation itself have to do with internal factors like diet and stress, many are external such as pollution, sunburn, excessive cleansing, and harsh exfoliation.

Inflammation also has an adverse effect on the skin's barrier, which makes the skin more susceptible to sensitivity, irritation, flare-ups, breakouts, and hyperpigmentation. It is primarily a lipid barrier, comprised mainly of fatty acids.

Here's a little analogy from CNAP student Vicki Parra to help you explain the importance of barrier function to your clients:

Think about a fence meant to keep nosy neighbors out. In order to have an effective fence, it needs to be continuous, with no holes or gaps. Your skin is like that too. Its various cells arrange themselves in a way that their cell membranes essentially put up a “fence” to keep either allow or deny entrance into the body. In order for this "skin barrier fence" to function optimally, it can't have gaps.

If your cell membranes are lacking (this is typically due to poor diet, dehydration, stress), that means your skin barrier isn't as strong as it should be. There may be gaps or weakness in the membrane. While we need to improve cellular growth and function from the inside out with food, we can also help fortify our cells on the surface by applying balanced carrier oils like cranberry seed oil.

More about the skin benefits of cranberry seed oil:

Cranberry seed oil is pressed from the seeds of the Vaccinium macrocarpon fruit. It is a mildly-scented oil, with a golden to greenish-gold color, and is known as the only carrier oil with the correct ratio of Omegas 3, 6, and 9. In addition to the above mentioned benefits, this also means that cranberry seed oil absorbs quickly and moisturizes efficiently for most skin types.

Cranberry seed oil is also rich in organic acids such as benzoic acid and ursolic acid, which add to its anti-inflammatory benefits. It's also rich with polyphenols--including Pro-Vitamin A carotenoid antioxidants (the specific group of antioxidants that convert to retinol)--phytosterols, Vitamin E (both tocopherols and tocotrienols), and Vitamin K.

Fun fact about cranberry seed oil:

cranberry seed oil is pressed from the seeds of cranberriesCranberry seed oil is considered a "newer" carrier oil. "Previously, cranberry seeds were treated as the leftovers of cranberry fruit production, but in 1992, Bernard Lager developed a method to cold-press the oil from the tiny seeds of the tart berries. It takes approximately 31 pounds of cranberries to produce one half ounce of cranberry seed oil."

Are you interested in learning more about how micronutrients like fatty acids affect the skin's function?

We teach about topics like these, and MUCH MORE, extensively in our professionally accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program! Click HERE to learn more and start your journey to becoming a CNAP today!

summer makeup assortment

5 Summer Makeup Do’s and Don’ts

Summer is upon us and that can mean many things. Aestheticians and other skin wellness practitioners know that it’s not a time to neglect beauty routines and makeup care. Summer comes with its own beauty considerations that your clients might not be aware of! If you read our last article, “9 Essential Summer Skincare Tips,” you’ll know that summer skincare is still a priority. Along with skincare, which is the base for healthy and glowing skin, summer makeup needs can also change due to humidity, more sunshine, and a switch in your daily routine. 

There are several factors to keep in mind to get the best out of your cosmetics. Before we take the plunge into our ‘do’s and don’ts’ of summer makeup, we want to address clean beauty. Everyday Health goes over a ‘comprehensive guide’ for clean beauty. They point out how “many ingredients used in [skincare] products may affect our health.” This is due to the fact that we “use about 10 personal-care products a day” which amounts “to 126 different ingredients.” Not only is it beneficial to recognize how many products we put on our faces every day, but also to choose products that don't cause health issues, but rather are good for your health. 

Below are 5 summer makeup do’s and don’ts to give you and your clients the best results:

1. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen

sunscreen shown on different skin tonesMany people are eager to enjoy longer and brighter days outside which is great for mental health, but it also means more risk of sunburns. It’s natural for skin to tan in the summer months, but tans actually indicate damaged skin. It can take less than half an hour “for UV rays to damage your skin,” even though “the effects may not be visible for up to 12 hours.” Properly applying and regularly reapplying sunscreen is vital, especially during the summer months when skin needs added protection. Damaged skin could become skin cancer over time.

Several cosmetic brands have foundations and powders with SPF protection built in, so that this type of makeup gives consumers extra coverage. It’s best to guide clients toward tinted moisturizers, foundations, and other products marketed as sunscreen products. However, be sure to remind your clients about the importance of re-applying sunscreen regularly for it to stay effective. One of the most common summer makeup mistakes is applying SPF sunscreen or powder just once, and thinking it's enough to protect you all day--it is not.

2. Do be careful with talc cosmetic products

Hot, humid weather leads to more sweat and and sebum production. Because of this, many people tend to pack on powders to cut down on the shine. The problem is that many powder-based products contain talc as an ingredient. Talcum produces that matte, powdery consistency that people love. However, in past testing of various products, like setting powders, eyeshadow and makeup palettes, researchers discovered asbestos in various talc cosmetics. 

If makeup does have asbestos, it could lead to asbestos-related diseases, including cancer. This is one example of a type of hidden toxicant that could slip into makeup. Understanding how this happens and paying attention to what products clients and patients buy can reduce these risks. Read those labels!

3. Don’t wear mascara 

mascara shown with water droplets What we really mean is don’t wear just any mascara. As mentioned before, humid and sticky weather can ruin makeup, and it’s not always recommended to constantly wear pore-blocking and thickly applied layers.

Waterproof mascara can alleviate any fears of raccoon eyes--but it can be hard to find clean formulations. It’s part of switching to a lighter makeup that can prepare the skin for a lasting look. Two the cleaner waterproof mascara brands we like are Mineral Fusion Waterproof Mascara in Raven, and Ere Perez Avocado Waterproof Mascara.

4. Do try a light makeup look

Lighter makeup for summer works well. As with waterproof mascara, exchanging some heavier cosmetic products for ones that perform better in the summer is ideal. Tinted moisturizers can easily replace heavier foundations. For example, lip stains are preferred for hotter days over sticky lip glosses or thick lipsticks. The summer months are also a time to focus more on skincare. Clean beauty is one of the primary ways to start this. 

5. Don’t be afraid to switch up your routine

It’s clear that clean beauty and summer provide a compelling reason to switch up makeup routines. Asbestos is not the only lingering concern in beauty. Other toxicants in conventional makeup lines could be a reason for a summer switch. Parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, sulfates, triclosan, irritants, and potential carcinogens are all ingredients that could go undetected if we ignore beauty labels.

How to you switch up your summer makeup and skincare routine?

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!Do you go for a more minimalist summer makeup look? How do you change your spa offerings for summer? Please tell us in the comments below!



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