embracing the pro-aging movement

The Pro-Aging Movement: Why the Anti-Aging Industry is Harmful

One of our favorite "trends" that we've been seeing over the past couple of years is the abandonment of the term "anti-aging," and embracing (or re-embracing) of the pro-aging movement. People have simply had enough with trying to look young forever with fad diets, painful procedures, and unrealistic (and unhealthy) beauty standards. The idea behind it is that if you're not aging then you're not living--literally!

The anti-aging movement has become a multi-billion dollar industry, which is great for "Big Cosmetics" and the pharmaceutical companies and doctors behind expensive (and invasive) cosmetic procedures. However, it's not so great for people (mostly women) who are being made to feel like they have to look 25 forever to be attractive, desirable, or worthy in society.

We, at The Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance, are all for the pro-aging movement.

We don't use the term "anti-aging" to market our membership program or CNAP Training Program, and we also encourage our members and students to also stop using the term.

Pro-aging doesn't mean that people should be in a rush to age faster than with the natural passing of time. It certainly doesn't mean that we shouldn't care for our skin or be healthy with good food, hygiene, lifestyle, mindset, movement, and topical skincare choices.

On the contrary! The skin is our largest organ, and we firmly believe that skincare--inside and out--IS a key component of healthcare. It also doesn't mean don't wear makeup or color your hair if you enjoy doing so.

What the pro-aging movement means is that people no longer feel like the pressure of looking young forever is worthwhile. It means celebrating and embracing the natural passage of time, which includes aging. It means normalizing looking your age and not having any sort of negative stigma attached to looking your age.

About judgment and choice...

We don't pass judgment on people who choose to undergo cosmetic procedures such as Botox. While we encourage people to shift their perception of signs of aging like dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles from negative to positive, we recognize that that's not for everyone. Sometimes lines or wrinkles earned from trauma, sadness, or a very hard life ARE something that people would rather not see in the mirror every single day. And we acknowledge that.

Everyone has the right to choice--but choices made under duress (which is what societal pressure is) are not really true choices. No one should feel pressured to use harsh products or get potentially dangerous and painful procedures for the sake of fitting into outdated, sexist standards. Especially since there are so many wonderful holistic and integrative methods to promote your glow healthfully and joyfully.

Choice and non-judgment must be part of the pro-aging movement.

One of our favorite holistic, pro-aging techniques is facial massage.

There are so many different facial massage techniques available now:

  • The standard European-style facial massage
  • Gua sha
  • Facial cupping
  • Facial exercise
  • Face yoga
  • Abhyanga
  • Lymphatic drainage
  • Or any combination of the above!

Learn facial massage with us!

We are so excited to host Holistic Beauty Educator and Entrepreneur, Uma Ghosh, in a webinar on Wednesday, January 19 at 10am EST called "Holistic Facelift with Face Massage and Face Yoga!" Register here.

This webinar will be recorded and made available to NAA members and CNAP students in our Webinar Library after the 48-hour replay expires.

In the end, you've got one life to live and it should be lived fully and joyfully--with or without perfect skin. So let's embrace the pro-aging movement, ditch the anti-aging industry, and live life to the fullest!

What are your thoughts on the pro-aging movement?

Please tell us in the comments below!

3 Ways to Get Seasonal, Fresh, Local Food Near You

One of the most important facets of an overall healthy skin lifestyle is eating well. No matter which dietary theory you follow, the healthiest ones are all centered around eating whole, unprocessed foods. Sadly, the food culture in the United States has centered primarily around processed and convenience foods to the extent that many people even know where to find fresh, local food near them. Eating fresh, seasonal produce and local, traditionally farmed meat can ensure that you are eating healthy and supporting local farmers. Today, we share our favorite local resources for healthy food.

3 ways you can find fresh, local food near you

1. Farmer’s markets

woman shopping at farmer's marketFarmer's markets are organized markets where local farmers assemble to sell a variety of the foods they grow on their farms. You’ll often find locally-produced items like meat, dairy, produce, and baked goods here. Most farmer's markets also feature handmade skincare and personal care products, as well as herbal remedies and teas from local makers and herbalists.

Farmer's markets aren't just in rural areas and in the suburbs. Many farms in the surrounding areas of cities also unite to supply urban farmer's markets with fresh, local foods. They are an excellent opportunity to meet with local farmers, support local vendors, and also connect with like-minded members of your community.

Farmer’s market vendors and shoppers also tend to want to support other local businesses. This is a great opportunity to form networking and cross-promotional relationships for practitioners as well.

Farmer's markets are not always open daily like grocery stores are. Most are only open a few days per week. Be sure to check your local farmer's market's hours, and plan a trip in your weekly schedule.

To find a farmer's market near you, check the USDA’s Farmer’s Market Directory.

2. Community-supported agriculture (CSA)

A CSA is a membership program that allows you to subscribe to regularly scheduled shares of harvested produce from a local farm or farms. Some CSAs provide home delivery or delivery to your local farmer's market. Others allow for you to go to the farm to pick up your shares directly, or even help harvest your produce yourself. CSAs also offer extra goodies during the growing season whenever possible - all at an affordable price!

A share usually includes about 20 lbs of seasonal fruits and vegetables weekly, but it varies by region/season. Most CSAs also offer half or partial shares, the ability to share shares with other members, and drop points in cities for increased accessibility.

What comes in the share is based on what's been harvested, so this is a great way to immerse yourself in local, seasonal eating as well as to try new fruits and vegetables.

To find a CSA near you, check localharvest.org's CSA search listings.

3. Food co-ops

Rachael Pontillo as a working member of a food co-op
NAA President, Rachael Pontillo, is a proud owner/member of a food co-op.

Food co-ops are another local resource for fresh, local food. These member-owned and run business organizations buy a large volume of goods from local and organic farms in order to pass along savings to members who purchase those goods. Many co-ops also offer a small selection of specialty and imported foods, prepared foods, baked goods, and household cleaning products.

While food co-ops may not be as widely available or well-advertised as farmer's markets and CSAs, they are becoming more popular in the suburbs and even in cities. Your local health foods store will usually know where to find them if you ask.

To find a food co-op near you, check localharvest.org's food co-op search listings or healthcoops.net 's map of active food co-ops nationwide.

Farmers’ markets, co-ops and CSAs are not the only way to find fresh, local food near you!

Do your research - ask around in local health or skincare stores about what local resources they recommend for farmers' market locations, organic produce sources, etc., in your area. Many of these places will be able to point you in the right direction with some solid leads on where to begin looking locally for healthy foods at affordable prices that support local growers.

Learning how to find local, fresh foods near you can help you get out of a rut and try new fruits, vegetables, meats, artisan cheeses, raw dairy products (in the states that allow it), and other staples in your diet. Farmer's markets, food co-ops, and CSAs are also usually more affordable than online meal kit delivery services, specialty stores, and chain healthy grocery stores. If you're looking for ways to support local farmers while becoming healthier yourself - this is the way!

Do you want to learn more ways to help your clients with skin-healthy lifestyle choices?

CNAP Syllabus on an iPadCheck out our professionally accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program. We teach you everything you need to know to help your clients look and feel their best in an integrative way.

Learn more, download our syllabus, or enroll today HERE!

7 Ways to Soothe Dry Skin from Winter Washing

Dry, cracked, and flaking hands can be an unfortunate part of winter and the colder months in general. As the weather begins to get cold and dry, your hands will likely be a little drier and more cracked than usual, especially when you take care to wash your hands regularly properly to prevent the spread of germs and illness.

The wintertime is cold and flu season, after all, and it’s important to look after your health first and foremost. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up feeling comfortable in your skin.

Here are our top 7 tips to help you soothe dry skin:

1. Moisturize

soothe dry skin by moisturizingAlmost everybody knows at this point how important it is to moisturize your face and the rest of your body. This can be especially true throughout the wintertime, or any other time when you’re washing your hands regularly. Try to have a lotion handy both in your home near sinks and on the go. That way, you can moisturize whenever you start to feel your hands getting dry.

2. Adjust the shower temperature

Especially when it’s cold outside, you might be constantly fantasizing about that hot shower and not looking forward to stepping out again once you’ve gotten in one. Unfortunately, that can sometimes be detrimental to the health of your skin.

Technically, you should never be taking piping hot showers — warm water is fine, but many people with dry skin find that hot showers can scald the skin and cause damage. Try lowering your shower temperature just a little bit and see you notice a positive change in your skin.

3. Wear gloves when you clean

If you’re somebody who washes your hands a lot, chances are good you also wash the rest of your space frequently, too. Whether you tend to clean with disinfecting sprays, dusters, or brushes, cleaning solutions can be a serious culprit behind dry hands.

Since products like antibacterial and disinfecting wipes tend to disrupt the skin microbiome, it’s important to protect your hands from constant exposure to products that aren’t intended for prolonged, direct skin contact. Make sure that when you are cleaning or even doing the dishes, you put on a pair of gloves to protect your skin.

4. Check the ingredients in your hand sanitizer

look for aloe vera gel in your hand sanitizer to soothe dry skinThough we (and the CDC) recommend handwashing with soap and water over using hand sanitizers to prevent the spread of disease, hand sanitizer usage is still recommended when handwashing is not possible. However, not all hand sanitizers are created equal.

Due to the increased hand sanitizer demand that COVID-19 brought on, for a while, there was a shortage of ethanol, ethyl alcohol, and even high enough strength isopropyl alcohol which caused some manufacturers to use methanol--a toxic form of alcohol--in their sanitizers. The FDA temporarily allowed this, along with other toxic chemicals in order to keep meeting the demand of hand sanitizers. However, the FDA withdrew that allowance on October 12, 2021, since there is no longer a shortage of safer forms of alcohol. On October 4, 2021, the FDA also warned consumers not to use certain hand sanitizers that were found to contain other known toxicants, benzene, acetaldehyde, and acetal contaminants. Not only are these ingredients toxic, but they are also extremely drying and skin irritant.

Aside from making sure the main ingredient in your hand sanitizer is ethanol or ethyl alcohol, also look for humectant ingredients such as vegetable glycerine or aloe vera which are known to soothe dry skin.

5. Avoid synthetic fragrances

Even if you use moisturizer or lotion regularly, you might still notice that your skin isn’t reacting very well to whatever you slather on. If this tends to be the case, check and see if your lotion contains synthetic fragrances.

Even though some people aren’t quite as sensitive to artificial scents and synthetic fragrances, they can often cause a drying effect and unnecessary skin irritation. If you know that you are already sensitive to fragrances, it’s better to be safe than sorry by seeking out fragrance-free products instead. Note: fragrance-free is not the same as "unscented." Believe it or not, unscented is still a synthetic fragrance.

6. Take oatmeal baths

oatmeal baths work really well to soothe dry skinYou might already be familiar with the magic that an Epsom salt bath can work in your life. But did you know that you can use oatmeal to heal your skin in a similar way? Not only can oatmeal baths relax and calm you, but they also introduce a layer of protection and moisture to soothe dry skin.

If you’re looking for that spa experience, an oatmeal bath is definitely the way to go. If you don’t have time to soak your whole body, you can even make a mini bath just for your hands.

7. Get a humidifier

Even if handwashing is the primary culprit of your dry skin, the dryness of the air throughout the winter months definitely doesn’t do you any favors. If you notice that the colder months tend to bring on dry, cracked skin; then you might want to invest in a humidifier for your home.

Humidifiers impact the entirety of a space, but that might be an added bonus if dry air tends to bother you all around. You can even put a drop or two of your favorite essential oil into the water to diffuse it and uplift your space while it nourishes your skin. We recommend a cool-mist humidifier, but be sure you clean it and change the filters as directed to prevent mold growth.

Soothe dry skin in your everyday choices

woman wearing gloves and a mask while cleaningWhether you simply want to prevent dryness or you’re looking to soothe dry and damaged skin, there are so many ways that you can go about it. From moisturizing regularly, to checking your ingredient labels, to wearing gloves when you clean, you can keep your hands soft and smooth this season.

Simple lifestyle upgrades can make a world of difference to your clients' skin

We dedicate a large percentage of our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program (CNAP) curriculum specifically to lifestyle practices that are conducive to healthy skin. You'll also learn how to teach your clients how to implement positive lifestyle changes into their daily lives. Learn more about our professionally accredited CNAP Training Program, download our syllabus, and enroll today!

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.

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 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

Member on A Mission: Jules Annen, PhD

We’re incredibly proud of NAA members and Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner students, and the unique ways that they apply the Nutritional Aesthetics® philosophy in their personal and professional lives. It’s our goal to support them and share their wisdom by highlighting their stories with you in a periodic ‘Member on a Mission’ feature. Our latest featured member is Jules Annen, PhD.

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.

Connect with Jules:

Join our Mission:

Learn more about NAA Membership HERE, and our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program HERE.

We’d love to feature YOU as an upcoming Member on a Mission!

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!

We want to hear from you!

How do you apply Nutritional Aesthetics® principles to your own work? Please share in the comments below!

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.


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