Woman wondering if her hormone imbalance is a root cause or symptom

Hormone Imbalance: Root Cause or Symptom?

Skin changes such as acne, rosacea, and melasma are common during times of hormonal fluctuations for people of all ages. Many conventional practitioners point to hormone imbalances as the cause of skin symptoms. While hormone changes are inevitable during certain stages of life, outside of those (and even during those stages, if the symptoms are extreme), hormone-related symptoms are not the norm. Many hormone imbalances are in fact symptoms themselves, not the root cause of skin issues. If the cause itself is not addressed, the symptoms will persist.


A young woman at home in a white hoodie on the couch sits peacefully, enjoys loneliness, comfort, alone, in a calm mood

What are some potential root causes of hormone imbalance?

There are many different factors that can contribute to hormone imbalance, including stress, diet, and certain medications. Identifying and addressing the underlying cause of hormone imbalance is essential for restoring balance and improving overall health.

According to scientist and longevity expert Raymond Francis, there are only two causes of any disease or condition--deficiency or toxicity. Simply, if the body is not getting the full spectrum of nutrients it needs, it cannot perform its functions optimally. Nutrients are best absorbed through the consumption of fresh, whole foods.

Processed, junk, and fast foods are devoid of high-quality, bioavailable nutrients and will not give the body what it needs. Processed, junk, and fast foods also introduce the second cause of disease into the body--toxicity. These food-like substances are not easily recognized, digested, or eliminated by the body. Toxicants tend to bioaccumulate, leading to an inflammatory state and an imbalanced microbiome.


Healthy food for balanced flexitarian mediterranean diet concept

What if someone is eating a healthy, fresh diet but still has symptoms?

Proper absorption of nutrients is as important as digestion. Some reasons for inadequate absorption are inflamed or flattened intestinal villi due to a condition like Celiac, leaky gut syndrome, or extreme inflammation. Infestation by a pathogen such as h.pylori, or a parasite like blastocystitis hominis may also interfere. Other potential reasons include weight loss surgery, food sensitivities, SIBO, or inadequate methylation due to genetic variants.

All that aside, one of the biggest causes of hormone imbalance is stress. Stress can be physical, mental, or emotional. It can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). When the body is in a state of stress, it releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are designed to help us deal with emergency situations. However, when they are continuously released, they can lead to imbalances in other hormone systems.

Man-made or xenoestrogens and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) from pesticides, synthetic fragrances, skincare and personal care products, and household cleaning products are also leading causes of hormone imbalance. These synthetic chemicals including BPA, phthalates, and parabens disrupt the endocrine system and interfere with hormone production, metabolism, and detoxification.


Tree roots in forest

While genetic reasons for hormone imbalance exist, most of the time hormone imbalance itself is just another symptom, which could have multiple root causes.

Addressing the underlying causes of hormone imbalance is essential for restoring balance and improving hormone-related skin issues and overall health. In many cases, simple food, lifestyle, and purchasing changes can make a big difference. Our accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program teaches you how to educate your clients about the importance of topics like this. You will also learn how to help them make simple, yet significant changes to their lifestyles that will make it easier for them to achieve lasting skin results.

Click HERE to learn more about the CNAP Training Program, download our syllabus, and start your path to certification today!

time management for solo estheticians

6 Time Management Tips for Solo Estheticians and Wellness Pros

Are you a solo esthetician or wellness professional who struggles to find enough time in your day for everything on your plate? Do you feel overwhelmed with all you need to grow your practice, and like you can't seem to get ahead because you're busy serving your current clientele? If so, you're not alone. It can be tough to manage all the moving parts in an aesthetics or wellness practice--especially if you're the boss or a solopreneur. But don't worry – we've got some great tips for you! In this blog post, we'll share some of our favorite time management tips for skincare and wellness professionals. These tips will help you streamline your routine and make the most of your time. So read on – your sanity (and your business) will thank you!

Having your own practice can be one of the most freeing and empowering things you'll do. However, all responsibility and accountability fall upon you. When you're an employee and are told when to show up, when your appointments are, when to take breaks, and when to go home; time management skills aren't always an issue--especially if your only responsibility is to show up on time and provide excellent service to your clients.

time management stressWhen you have your own practice, however, you're responsible for everything on the front end AND everything behind the scenes. Finding the time to work on your business to help it grow and consistently attract new (and the right) clients, retain your current ones, and work in your business directly with your clients can be a challenge. Beyond client work and marketing, there also has to be time for things like bookkeeping, scheduling, preparing client protocols, client follow-up, transitioning your space and time from one client to the next, team training and management, networking, continuing education, etc.

To be successful as an entrepreneur, you need to spend as much time working on your business as it is working directly with clients--if not more. Excellent time management skills are a must to fit it all in.

Here are 6 time management strategies every solo esthetician or wellness entrepreneur should master:

1. Set daily working hours that include scheduled client appointments and time for behind-the-scenes tasks and projects.

Make sure to schedule time for things like administrative work, marketing, bookkeeping, etc. Just as you would schedule an appointment with a client, make sure to schedule these tasks into your day so that they actually get done. Break down large projects into smaller tasks that can be completed in shorter timeframes. This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by a project, and will help you to better see your progress as you complete each smaller task.

2. Plan ahead.

Quarterly business plans are often more effective and less overwhelming than annual ones. Use a daily or weekly planner to keep track of your appointments and tasks. This will help you to see everything you need to do in one place, and will help you to avoid double booking yourself or forgetting about important tasks.

3. Raise your prices.

Most solo estheticians and wellness professionals have no problem charging enough to cover concrete operating costs or tangible retail products, but few charge enough to cover time and labor behind-the-scenes. You need to be compensated for working on your business and in your business. Often feeling stressed about time means an imbalance between the output and the compensation. You may need to raise your prices to create more time to work on business growth tasks.

Try this test: calculate the amount of hours per week that you actually work. Include hours on all behind-the-scenes tasks and projects you do to attract new clients, operate the business itself, and follow-up with current clients in addition to the hours you spend working directly with clients. Then, divide that number into your total gross weekly revenue. That number is your actual hourly rate, before taxes, operating expenses, etc. How do you feel about that number? Does it make you feel fulfilled and adequately compensated for all your efforts? Or does it leave you wondering what the point of doing all this work if this is all you make is? If your answer is the latter, then it's time to raise your prices or add a new revenue stream to your business.

4. Put systems and automations to work.

Programs that streamline project management, contact management, money management, and scheduling seriously save time. Automate where possible to make room in your day for more important tasks. For example, if you find yourself spending too much time on administrative tasks like scheduling and client follow-up, consider investing in quality scheduling software. This can automate many of these tasks for you, freeing up your time to work on other areas of your business.

5. Outsource.

Paying someone to do a task that takes you forever is more cost-effective than trying to do it yourself. When you feel you can't keep up with the demand, it may be time to hire some help. This could be in the form of an assistant, a virtual assistant, or even just a part-time employee. Even if you don't have any employees, you can still delegate tasks to independent contractors (even virtually) that specialize in tasks that aren't strong suits or that you find yourself avoiding because they're not your favorite things to do. This will free up your time to focus on other areas of your business that only you can do.

6. Track how you honestly spend your time.

If you're unsure how you spend your time each week, try tracking it or keeping a detailed diary for a week. But have to be honest with yourself and prepare that the truth of how you really spend your time each week might not be what you actually thought. You might think you're looking at social media sites for a few minutes each day, when in truth it's hours a day. Once you have an accurate picture of where your time goes, finding ways to cut back and become more efficient will be easier. Eliminate distractions. This is easier said than done, but it's important to try. Turn off your phone or put it in another room so you aren't tempted to check it during every few minutes of downtime. And if you can't resist the urge to check social media sites or play games, there are software programs that will block them for a set amount of time so you can get your work done.

good time managementThese are just a few of the many time management strategies solo estheticians and wellness professionals can use to help them streamline their businesses.

By using even just a few of these tips, you'll likely find yourself with more time to work on growing your business and attracting new clients. And best of all, you'll feel less stressed and more fulfilled. And isn't that what we all want?

Do you have any time management tips that have worked well for you and your business?

We'd love to hear from you in the comments below! 'Til next time…



The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance Receives Approval as a CE Provider!

We are so excited to announce that The Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance has been approved as an official continuing education (CE) provider by the

National Coalition of Estheticians Coalition (NCEA)'s Commission on Accreditation! What this means is that starting in September 2022, any licensed (a)esthetician in the United States who is pursuing national certification as an NCEA certified esthetician--or who is already NCEA certified and needs to fulfill their requirements for re-certification--will have the opportunity to study with the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance and earn up to 10 CE hours towards NCEA certification or re-certification. This CE opportunity is also now included with tuition for our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program.*

We are honored to be part of the NCEA's continuing education family, and proudly add this industry-specific accreditation alongside our existing professional accreditation with the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP).

NCEA Accreditation

In today’s virtual world, there are many opportunities to pursue continuing education online.

Unfortunately, not many organizations oversee the quality of continuing education provided outside of traditional colleges and universities.

It can be especially difficult in industries as niche as ours (we literally wrote the textbook on Nutritional Aesthetics®), where each state has different requirements in terms of licensure and hours. We could have opted for one of the umbrella “distance learning” accreditations. Instead, we preferred to seek accreditation from an organization that is familiar with the aesthetics industry and has been setting and maintaining high-quality standards for many years.

The NCEA met those criteria since they have been overseeing wellness education since 2000–long before the influx of online courses began.

About the NCEA:

The NCEA was founded by Susanne S. Warfield in January 2000. At the time, the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) Allied Health Committee was looking to liaise with the skin care industry. Its mission is simple: helping estheticians raise standards with national credentialing and continuing education accreditation.

Through growth and transformation the NCEA has maintained (+/-) 18 association members (many of the original 22 no longer exist or have merged) and has grown its corporate members to include manufacturers/distributors, schools, and post-graduate training facilities. Individual memberships were an added membership category in 2002 to further represent the growing need for the representation of esthetic professionals to state regulatory boards.

The NAA is accredited as an NCEA continuing education providerThe development of the “Commission on Accreditation (COA)” in 2009 was to aid further NCEA’s goal of standardizing continuing education on a national basis. Continuing Education (CE) units must be maintained by NCEA Certified professionals, and some state regulatory boards also require CEs for relicensure.

The NCEA COA's goals

  • Provide educational activities that will increase knowledge, skills, and competency.
  • Provide local, regional, national, and international accredited educational activities
  • Raise the standard of educational delivery methods. (in-person, online activities)
  • Utilize faculty disclosure(s) to improve the quality of educational activities.
  • Provide state regulatory boards with a quality accreditor for their licensee’s needs.

Read more about the NCEA's history here.

What NCEA accreditation means for CNAP students and graduates:

Higher EducationOur Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program graduates will be eligible to test for up to 10 NCEA CE hours, starting in September 2022. Current NCEA Certified estheticians will also have access to continuing education offerings worth up to 10 CE hours, starting in September 2022--and those who are not already CNAP students will also receive CNAP tuition vouchers upon successfully completing those CE offerings.

Whether or not you decide to pursue NCEA certification after earning your CNAP, you can be proud and assured that you received a quality education from a professionally accredited institution of higher learning.

We are proud of our program, students, and graduates. We have dedicated a substantial amount of time, money, and resources into creating a high-quality, unique curriculum, with the opportunities to attend classes and get support in a live virtual format. We are honored to have those efforts recognized, with this new accreditation from the NCEA and our professional accreditation from the AADP.

Start your CNAP journey today!

open enrollment for the CNAP Training ProgramLearn more about our program, download our detailed syllabus, and enroll HERE.

We offer open, rolling enrollment, self-pacing, and live calls throughout the year--so you can begin your path to becoming a Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® education today!


*Testing and administrative fees may apply.


woman with puffy eyes under-eye bags

Integrative Relief for Puffy Eyes

Puffy eyes are one of the most common symptoms that bring people to seek services from an aesthetician, makeup artist, or other beauty professional. They can be caused by many things, from allergies to lack of sleep. But no matter what the cause, puffy eyes can be a real hassle – they make you look tired and older than you are, and they’re often accompanied by a headache or sinus pressure. If you’re looking for an integrative approach to help your clients relieve puffy eyes, you’ve come to the right place.

Recently, NAA President, Rachael Pontillo was interviewed for Consumer Reports on the subject of under-eye puffiness--what some of the causes are, and what changes can be made in one's skincare routine and lifestyle to improve the problem. The writer, Laura Murphy, got so much information from Rachael, as well as dermatologist, Dr. Jennifer David, that Consumer Reports split it into two full articles! In this blog post, we’ll share an overview of different holistic and integrative strategies for dealing with under-eye bags, including dietary changes, acupressure points, and herbal remedies, and link to those articles so you can get more information. So whether your clients' puffy eyes are caused by allergies, a late night out, or something else entirely, help is on the way!

Potential causes of puffy eyes


puffy eyes due to infection or allergiesDr. Jennifer David states that "puffy under eyes (also known as under-eye “bags”) is most often caused by an accumulation of fluid (edema) under the skin which is precipitated by aging." She also adds that "sometimes puffy under eyes are not caused by fluid, but from hereditary factors. Some people will be prone to a puffy appearance of their eyes due to a protrusion of fat from the eye socket." Dr. David adds that "there’s a difference between eye puffiness and eye swelling from an infection or medical condition"--allergies, eye infections, or even certain health conditions like Graves Disease (an autoimmune form of hyperthyroidism) might be the cause.

Rachael Pontillo added some integrative perspectives on the potential causes of under-eye puffiness: "In Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, under-eye puffiness is associated with weakness or some sort of blockage in the kidneys—due to genetics, eating too many of the wrong kinds of foods, or diabetes/chronic kidney disease...In functional medicine or naturopathic medicine, they would look at the root cause in terms of nutrient deficiency such as B12 or K, as well as eating the wrong kinds of fats, too much sodium, etc."

Read more about what factors contribute to under-eye puffiness, and get Rachael's top lifestyle changes to help remedy the condition in the Consumer Reports article "Prevent Puffy Eyes with These Expert Tips."

Natural remedies for under-eye puffiness and eye bags

cucumbers to relieve puffy eyesIn the second Consumer Reports article, Rachael Pontillo teams up again with Dr. Jennifer David and writer, Laura Murphy to focus more on remedies to improve the appearance of puffiness and under-eye bags. From additional lifestyle factors like hydration and movement, Rachael also discusses certain facial massage techniques and tools, as well as naturally astringent botanicals to apply topically either as single remedies, or to look for in lightweight skincare products (as long as they are safe to use in the eye area).

Read the full Consumer Reports article, "Expert Tips to Get Rid of Bags Under Your Eyes" here.

For more information on how a Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® might address puffy eyes with a client, read our blog post: "Puffy Eyes from A Nutritional Aesthetics® Perspective."

Would you like to become a Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® (CNAP) so you can more effectively serve your clients using integrative skin wellness practices?

Learn more about our professionally accredited CNAP Training Program and download our syllabus HERE. You can start earning your certification today!


Hair cosmetics. Chamomile flowers and cosmetic bottles of essential oil and extract on white wooden background.

The Benefits of Plant Oils for Scalp and Hair Health

Do you want healthy, shiny hair and a scalp that's free from dandruff and itchiness? If so, you should consider using plant oils in your haircare routine. Plant oils are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can nourish your scalp and hair, similar to how they nourish the skin. In this blog post, we'll discuss the benefits of plant oils for scalp and hair health. We'll also provide tips on how to use plant oils to improve your scalp and hair health.

So if your scalp is dry, itchy, or flaky--or your hair is dry, brittle, frizzy, chemically treated, or prone to split ends, then a hot oil treatment may be your saving grace. Keep reading to learn more!


Pine essential oil with wood hair comb

What do we mean by plant oils?

Simply, plant oils--also known as vegetable oils or carrier oils--are lipids that are cold-pressed, expelled, or otherwise extracted from the seeds, nuts, or kernels of plants. Plant oils vary greatly in their lipid chemistry and fatty acid composition, so some will be very light and have a dry feel, while others will be heavier, with a more oily feel. Some them work from the inside out, and others work from the outside in. Because of this variety, you can be sure there's an oil for you.


Essential oils for hair with comb and leaves

What are the benefits of plant oils for scalp and hair health?

Hot oil can swell the hair strand and slightly raise the outer layer of the hair shaft to allow for better penetration and absorption. When it cools, it closes and seals the hair cuticle, helping to protect your hair from damage.

If you have dry, porous, or medium-coarse hair texture, your hair may like the “penetrating” and “coating” oils.

If you have fine hair which tends to get weighed down by oils, your hair may like a blend of penetrating and coating oils.


Natural cosmetics, coconut oil hair treatments concept, view from above

The difference between penetrating oils and coating oils for the hair and scalp:


“Penetrating” oils can lock in moisture from the inside out. Moisture is one of the critical elements needed to strengthen hair and prevent breakage.

Coconut, sunflower, and Babassu oils are ideal penetrating oils.

Coconut oil has the ability to penetrate the hair shaft deeply. Studies have shown that coconut oil is also capable of reducing protein loss in the hair. Protein is what gives hair its fullness, bounce, and sheen. Coconut oil also helps improve blood circulation, thereby supporting hair growth.

Sunflower oil can help undol hair damage from friction. Hair friction occurs when the hair strands rub against each other during aggressive manipulation (combing, brushing, styling, heat exposure, and over-washing). Sunflower oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, which may relieve an itchy scalp.

Babassu oil is a Brazilian oil that contains a high amount of vitamin E and other antioxidants, which help the scalp and hair repair damage from external toxicants and free radicals. Babassu oil also has anti-microbial properties that protect sensitive and irritated scalps from harmful pathogens.


Dropper bottles with fresh ripe avocado and essential oil on white table flat lay


While penetrating oils can seep inside your hair shaft, “coating” oils sit on top of your hair strands and lock in moisture from the outside in. This provides an additional layer of protection against hot tools and Earthly elements like humidity and UV rays.

Castor, olive, avocado, and sweet almond oil are ideal coating oils.

Cold-pressed castor oil contains ricinoleic acid that helps lock in moisture while creating an optimal environment for hair growth. Please note that while castor oil great for hair, those prone to dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis should not apply it to the scalp. Castor oil’s fatty acid composition has the ability to “feed” fungal conditions and make them worse.

Olive oil is full of oleic acid, which is an emollient with softening and nourishing properties. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to it, which can help calm down inflammation on your scalp.

Avocado oil has a potent mix of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, C, and E, forming a protective barrier that coats hair strands, making them more flexible and much stronger. It also may help stimulate blood flow and unclog congested follicles.

Sweet Almond oil is packed with vitamin E, proteins, and antioxidants which help protect hair from environmental damage such as air pollution, and contains magnesium, which reduces hair breakage.


grape seed oil in a small jar. Selective focus. nature.


For more delicate hair strands, lighter-weight argan, grapeseed, and marula oils are ideal coating oils.

Argan oil, also known as Moroccan oil, is rich in essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins A and E, which work together to heal split ends, smooth hair, and tamps down frizz. Argan can also help to manage sebum (body's natural oil) production, as well as nourish the scalp.

Grapeseed oil is odorless and incredibly lightweight. Its high levels of essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamin E can help strengthen brittle, fragile hair. Grapeseed also can help loosen dead skin and restore moisture.

Marula oil is an African oil that is rich in fatty acids, vitamins C and E, antioxidants, and flavonoids. Marula oil assists in moisture retention, increases hair elasticity, and imparts a natural shine. Marula oil also is a great choice as a leave-on oil because it is pH balanced and is known to be non-comedogenic, meaning it will not clog your hair follicles.

If you have an inflammatory skin condition such as psoriasis or eczema, always consult your licensed healthcare practitioner or dermatologist if a hot oil treatment is safe to use on your scalp.

If you have sensitive scalp/skin sensitivities, give yourself a patch test to see if you react adversely to the oil (give it 24 hours to respond).


dermatologist sitting at table examining skin of patient in clinic

Do you want to learn more about how to help your clients look and feel their best with an integrative approach?

Check out our professionally accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® (CNAP) Training Program! In this program, you will gain solid foundational knowledge about our integrative approach to healthy skin. We also teach you how to create programs and packages that will educate your clients, and help them implement lasting changes to their lifestyle that will help them achieve significant improvements to their skin and overall wellbeing. Learn more, download our syllabus, and enroll today HERE!

About the author:

Today’s post was written by our Advisory Board member, Jules Annen, PhD. Learn more about Jules HERE.

Woman thinking about her skin condition

Is H. Pylori Behind Your Chronic Skin Condition?

If you're struggling with chronic skin issues, it's important to try to find the root cause of what's causing them. Could it be your diet? Your cosmetics? An imbalanced microbiome?

One of the largest responsibilities of the gut microbiome is to keep pathogenic bacteria, yeasts, and other malevolent microbes at bay. However, even a strong, biodiverse microbiome might be compromised should a powerful pathogen come in. One possible culprit is H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori), a pathogenic bacterium that can infect the stomach and small intestine, and cause a number of different health problems. Though H. pylori is usually associated with digestive issues, it can also affect the skin.

Woman wondering what causes an H. Pylori infection

What causes an H. pylori infection?

It is estimated that more than 50 to 75% of the world’s population has an undetected, long-term H. pylori infection. It may take months, or even years for symptoms to appear, and some people never experience symptoms at all--it's estimated that only 20% of people living with H. pylori will experience symptoms. This is troublesome because many people who experience chronic skin issues wouldn't necessarily link that to something internal like an H. pylori infection.

H. pylori is highly contagious (primarily via saliva), and anyone can get it.

H. pylori has been linked to peptic ulcer disease, gastric lymphoma, and gastric carcinoma (the pathogen itself is classified as a class 1 carcinogen). It has also been reported to cause diseases affecting the cardiovascular and immune systems, the liver, as well the skin. Skin issues such as idiopathic urticaria (presence of wheals, and erythema), pruritis, acne rosacea, alopecia areata, eczema, psoriasis, and some types of dermatitis have also been linked to its presence.

Though studies have not yet definitely named H. pylori as a cause of the aforementioned skin diseases, multiple reports have shown "epidemiological and experimental evidence for a possible role of H. pylori infection in skin autoimmune diseases," as well as an association between the pathogen's presence and presence of acne rosacea, and multiple other conditions and diseases of the skin. It's also been observed that for many patients who experienced a chronic or autoimmune skin disorder alongside an H. pylori infection, eradication of the infection significantly improved the skin disorder.

Woman look at and touching her skin

How does H. pylori affect the skin?

It is already well established that the health of the gastrointestinal tract is directly linked to diseases and symptoms of the skin, via the gut-skin axis. "H. pylori multiply in the mucus layer of the stomach lining and duodenum. The bacteria secrete an enzyme called urease that converts urea to ammonia. This ammonia protects the bacteria from stomach acid. As H. pylori multiply, it eats into the tissue," which weakens the mucosal barrier of the intestines, which allows the lining to be directly in contact with bile and other digestive acids. This leads to a chronic state of inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, and gut dysbiosis--all of which contribute to the development of inflammatory skin conditions. 

Blood test for H. Pylori

How do you know if H. pylori is behind your skin condition?

For many people who have tried everything from a holistic perspective but are still not seeing positive results--or are experiencing worsening or additional topical or internal symptoms--H.pylori infection might be the root cause. Fortunately, it is simple to test for using blood antibody, urea breath, stool antigen, or when needed, stomach biopsy tests. Most of these tests can be ordered through conventional primary care or GI specialist doctors and are covered by insurance. However, the stool antigen tests (such as the GI Map or GI Effects) are not always offered by conventional doctors, and need to be ordered through and interpreted by a doctor or nutritionist with functional or naturopathic specialties. These tests might or might not be covered by insurance.

Doctor holds a blister with an antibiotic.

How is H. pylori treated?

Treatment options vary and range from conventional antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors to biofilm disruptors and strong antimicrobial herbal supplements on the holistic side. What type of treatment each person needs varies, as not everyone is a candidate for herbal antimicrobials, and sometimes combination therapy is needed. H. pylori is a stubborn and resilient pathogen and can be difficult to completely eradicate. Re-infection is also possible, especially if the person's immune function is low, or additional pathogenic or parasitic microorganisms are present in the gut microbiome. Often, H. pylori is not the only microbial culprit!

If you or your client suspects an H. pylori infection--or if a stubborn skin issue just won't clear in spite of using proper skincare and eating clean, a visit to a naturopathic or functional medicine doctor or functional nutrition practitioner is in order.

Woman learning about skin conditions on computer

Do you want to learn additional possible root causes of common skin issues?

So there you have it. A quick roundup of H. pylori and how it might be impacting your skin health (or the health of someone you know). We hope this was helpful! If you’d like more information on potential root causes of skin issues, and how to help your clients, we’ve got a course for that.

Enrollment is open for our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program! Learn more, download our syllabus, and enroll HERE.


*Disclaimer: The information in this post is for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice and is not intended to prevent, diagnose, or treat any health or skin condition. Please consult with your licensed healthcare provider for advice and information about your own skin or health.

Woman pushing large tire in CrossFit gym

The Role Testosterone Plays in Women's Skin Health

Many people mistakenly believe that testosterone is a hormone that exclusively impacts men. But, in reality, testosterone levels influence everyone’s health, and women need to ensure that they have a healthy balance of testosterone and estrogen, too. Unfortunately, spotting a testosterone imbalance can be difficult. But, as with all hormonal irregularities, if you have an imbalance, you may notice skin conditions like acne or melasma first. 

So, how does testosterone impact women’s skin health? And what can women do to support healthy testosterone levels?

Woman standing with heavy barbell on shoulders

Testosterone in women

When most people hear “testosterone,” they think of bodybuilders and NFL athletes. However, in reality, testosterone is a hormone we all have in abundance, as it helps with normal daily functions and keeps us feeling focused and energized. 

For women, testosterone is secreted through the ovaries and the adrenal gland. Some of this testosterone is converted into dihydrotestosterone or estrogen. However, normal blood testosterone levels for women are around 15-70 nanograms per deciliter. This “normal” level is likely to change during a woman’s life and naturally declines as you age. 

Testosterone has many different functions in the body. It maintains your libido, combats the onset of conditions like osteoporosis, and helps modulate your mood. In addition, testosterone, like all hormones, plays a crucial role in ensuring that your skin looks healthy and happy. 

tired woman sleeping on office table at night

Hormonal imbalances and skin

There are plenty of reasons why you might experience a skin condition or pimple flare-up. Anything from allergens, genes, or autoimmune diseases can cause skin conditions like acne, rosacea, or psoriasis; and poor hygiene may make issues worse. For most conditions, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor as soon as possible (we recommend an integrative, functional, or naturopathic doctor), as they may be able to spot underlying issues and can usually get you on track to improve your skin health. 

However, it’s also possible that hormonal imbalances are at the root of your skin condition. That’s because hormones do more than cause hot flashes or mood swings. They regulate our day-to-day behavior and determine things like our sleep cycles, appetite, stress responses, and libido. 

Your hormones are also influenced by environmental factors, and imbalances may be caused by things like poor diets, an overdose of caffeine, too much alcohol or sugar, or a lack of sleep. Unfortunately, these are all things that we are predisposed to in modern society, which can mean getting your hormones back in balance can be difficult and stressful. 

Testosterone imbalance in women can lead to acne

Hormonal acne

Let’s talk about acne for a moment. Acne is a condition that impacts 50% of women between the ages of 20-29 and can continue to impact women in their 40s. While researchers aren’t entirely sure about what causes acne, hormonal acne may flare up during menstruation or menopause, as your testosterone levels are in flux during this time. 

There are natural treatments for hormonal acne, but first and foremost, you must understand that acne is a normal part of life — even if the beauty industry says otherwise. Holding unrealistic beauty standards won’t help your acne go away and may even worsen the flare-up as stress is one of the root causes of acne. So, before you start reaching for harsh chemicals or popping pimples, try to think of your acne as a normal part of life rather than a blemish to be embarrassed about. 

natural protein food on table

Handling testosterone

Your testosterone levels naturally change throughout your life. As such, there’s no universal remedy to a testosterone imbalance: women going through menopause may benefit from bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, while women with high testosterone may need other treatments to rebalance their levels. The key is to speak to a qualified, licensed medical professional who can help you get the treatment you need and ensure that you aren’t at risk from other underlying conditions. 

That said, there are also a few natural remedies to testosterone-induced skincare issues — most of which involve making lifestyle changes. You can boost your testosterone naturally by engaging in exercise and weightlifting and ensuring that you eat a diet founded on whole foods with plenty of protein and carbs. You also need to keep your sleep schedule in check and ensure that you aren’t drinking too much alcohol, as this can dampen your body's ability to produce testosterone. 

It’s also possible that you’re being exposed to xenoestrogens that mimic the effect of estrogen. Estrogen and testosterone work in unison with one another, so staying away from xenoestrogens could be the answer to your testosterone imbalance. 

Female doctor using laptop at work


Hormones play a vital role in women’s health and skincare. However, our hormones are always in flux, as environmental changes and genetic predispositions influence the amount of testosterone we produce. If you’re concerned about your testosterone levels, or just want to get a better understanding of how hormones are impacting your skin, then you should get in touch with a medical professional who can figure out if and why your testosterone is irregular and create a treatment plan to help you live a healthier, happier life with fewer acne flare-ups. 

Do you want to learn more about the role of hormones in skin health?

We devote an entire month to studying this topic in our professionally accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program. Learn more, download our syllabus, and enroll here.

Probiotics food background. Korean carrot, kimchi, beetroot, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers in glass jars. Winter fermented and canning food concept.

Fermented Foods: Do They Really Help Clear Up Skin Issues?

Though fermented foods like raw sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and sourdough bread have been staples in traditional menus of various cultures throughout the world for centuries, they are new to most who eat the Standard American Diet. In recent years, as information about the microbiome continues to spread--as well as the connection between gut health and skin health--fermented foods have made a comeback for many people looking to improve their gut health and clear up skin issues. But do fermented foods really help clear up skin issues? Are there any contraindications?

The connection between gut health and skin health is well-established. In fact, the gut microbiome is now considered a "new organ" by many scientists and medical professionals, as it plays such a vital role in our overall health. The gut microbiome consists of trillions of microbes--bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa--that live in our intestines, and it has a huge impact on our immune system, metabolism, and inflammation levels. When the gut microbiome is out of balance, it can lead to a host of health problems, including skin issues.

Fermented foods are a great way to increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut, which can help to restore balance and improve gut health. In addition, fermented foods are high in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that have been shown to improve gut health, skin health, and overall immune function.

Fermented foods concept. Fermented, pickled, marinated preserved vegetarian food. Organic vegetables and fruits in jars with spice and herbs on white kitchen.

What are fermented foods?

Fermented foods are foods that have been fermented with bacteria, yeast, or a combination of both. During the fermentation process, these microorganisms break down the carbohydrates, proteins, and fiber in the food into lactic acid, alcohol, and carbon dioxide. This not only makes the food more digestible but also increases its nutrient content and helps to preserve it.

During the fermentation process, bacteria feed on natural sugars and starches in foods to develop acid, gas, or alcohol. Fermentation typically preserves food while increasing its digestibility and content of vitamins, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria.  The beneficial, or probiotic, bacteria found in fermented foods support the health of your digestion and inner ecosystem.

Depending on the particular food or beverage being fermented, the fermentation process may take days, weeks, or months. Fermentation was originally used as a means of food preservation to prevent spoilage before refrigeration was common. Today, it is widely recognized that fermented foods offer unique health benefits due to their natural and varied content of beneficial bacteria, which develops as food ferments.

fermented foods in glass jars

What cultures include fermented foods in their diets?

Fermented foods are a staple in many traditional diets around the world. In Asia, fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut are popular condiments used in cuisines from China to Germany. In Africa, fermented dairy products such as yogurt and kefir are common, as well as fermented grains like sourdough bread. In Latin America, fermented beverages like chicha and pulque are popular, as well as fermented meats like chorizo.

Today, you’ll find those foods becoming widely available regardless of geographic location. Look for fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kombucha, miso, natto, tempeh, and kefir as examples of fermented foods.

Assortment of various fermented and pickled foods

Make sure your foods are actually fermented--not pickled for best results.

Though fermented and pickled foods are both preserved with vinegar or brine, there is a big difference between the two. Pickled foods are cucumbers, peppers, onions, and other vegetables that have been soaked in vinegar or brine for a short period of time (usually less than 24 hours). Fermented foods are made by fermenting the food for a longer period of time (usually several days to weeks) with bacteria or yeast. As a result, fermented foods are lower in vinegar and have a more sour taste than pickled foods.

Figuring out which foods are truly fermented, as opposed to pickled in vinegar or pasteurized to remain shelf-stable, takes a little examination. Look for pickled foods that have been fermented in a salt water brine rather than vinegar, and choose products that are stored in the refrigerated section of your market to sustain their living bacteria. On the label of these products, you may see words like, ‘active,’ ‘live,’ ‘fermented,’ ‘cultured,’ and ‘probiotic.’

Fermented preserved vegetarian food concept. Sour sauerkraut, pickled carrots, pickles, pickled celery glass jars on a wooden kitchen table.

Can fermented foods really clear up skin issues?

"A diet rich in fermented foods enhances the diversity of gut microbes and decreases molecular signs of inflammation, according to researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine." Regularly eating fermented foods can boost the health of your digestive system and positively affect your immunity, absorption of nutrients, weight, moods, and skin. 

There is a growing body of evidence to support the skin and health benefits of fermented foods. Fermented foods have been shown to improve gut health, skin health, and immunity. They can also help to reduce inflammation and protect against harmful bacteria. If you're looking to improve your gut health and clear up your skin, fermented foods are a great place to start!

Probiotics food background. Korean carrot, kimchi, beetroot, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers in glass jars. Top view.

Are fermented and pickled foods safe for everybody?

Though fermented foods are generally safe and healthy, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, fermented foods can be high in sodium, so if you are on a low-sodium diet, you may want to limit or avoid them. Second, fermented foods can sometimes cause digestive issues like gas and bloating in some people. If you experience these symptoms, try eating fermented foods in small amounts and gradually increasing your intake. Finally, if you have a weakened immune system or are pregnant, it's important to talk to your doctor before eating fermented foods, as they can sometimes do more harm than good.

People with mold sensitivities, or known or suspected overgrowth of candida or other pathogenic or opportunistic microbes (or who have SIBO--small intestine bacterial overgrowth or SIFO--small intestine fungal overgrowth) should avoid fermented foods, as the high levels of yeast in these foods can aggravate their conditions. People with histamine sensitivity should also avoid fermented foods.

If you have any symptoms of gut dysbiosis or experience chronic digestive distress or aren't sure if fermented foods are right for you, it's a good idea to consult with a naturopathic or functional medicine doctor or nutritionist who can best advise you on your diet.

Probiotics food background. Korean carrot, kimchi, beetroot, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers in glass jars.

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

Do you want to learn strategies to educate your clients about topics like this, and integrate healthy food choices into their diets? Check out our professionally accredited Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program! 

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 our favorite facial massage techniques

We were 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!"

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

We are also excited to share with you that Uma's Pro-Age Aesthetics Academy now offers an accredited professional training on this modality, called Neolifting®. We love their holistic, non-invasive, and EFFECTIVE approach!

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!