Puffy Eyes from a Nutritional Aesthetics Perspective

Here's how a Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® (CNAP) might approach a consultation and management of a client who comes to him/her with undereye puffiness: 

Part 1: The consultation

Client: My undereye area has been getting puffy on and off for a few months now. Most often in the morning, but I notice it at different times of the day. Sometimes my eyes even feel a bit swollen. What can I do?

CNAP:  Hmm. Let’s try to rule out some things could be causing you discomfort. From your description, it sounds to me like you could be experiencing a reaction to something external or internal, or both. We can investigate and discover what may be triggering your issue from a few different angles— environmental, lifestyle, and dietary. Have you added in a new product to your routine recently, like makeup or makeup remover, fragrance, eye drops, or laundry detergent?

Client: Not really. I will pay closer attention to the effects of my eye makeup though. I can get a little lazy with that kind of thing.

CNAP: Mascara especially can accumulate bacteria and cause irritation. You might want also want to consider your laundry detergent; chemicals can cause irritation and it’s possible that you could be reacting to your face cloth or pillowcase.

Client: Oh wow, really? I never would have thought about those chemicals in laundry detergent.

CNAP: Are you getting adequate sleep...and do you wear contacts?

Client: No, not really. I have been staying up late...working on my computer. No contacts.

CNAP: Sleep is such an important component for so many bodily functions to perform. You may want to limit your exposure to your devices, at least a couple hours before bed as well. These are all habits you can change by being more mindful; it just takes practice. Also, perhaps you want to get your eyes checked; it’s possible you may need glasses?

Client: You’re right. I should do that…I actually haven’t had my eyes checked in a few years.

CNAP: Your concerns could also be symptoms of an allergy of some type, possibly either environmental or an undiagnosed food allergy. Do you have any known environmental or food allergies?

Client: I do get pretty bloated when I eat carbs, which I eat a lot. I eat late, too. I crave a lot of salt also. I’m actually pretty ‘puffy’ everywhere, now that I think about it.

CNAP: It’s possible you could have an undiagnosed food allergy. There are numerous common foods can trigger responses in the body that are not very obvious, externally- like soy, corn, eggs, nuts, nightshades, wheat, or dairy for instance. You could try to eliminate those foods one-by-one for a couple weeks-and just observe how you feel. Maybe you could keep a food diary and notice when the puffiness seems to be at its worst. This could help you to discover what’s at the core.

Client: Wow-that’s a lot of things to eliminate! I guess I could try it and see what happens. This is really helpful, thank you! You made me think of things I never would have considered. I just thought I could get a cream or something, but it makes sense that it could be internal.

Part 2: The plan

CNAP: Based on what we talked about, what I’d like to do here in the treatment room is help to gently stimulate the eye area to increase circulation and help to release any underlying tension and water retention.

Client: That sounds great! What does that entail?

CNAP: I just want you to lie down, close your eyes, and try to relax. After we cleanse, warm, and exfoliate your skin, I’ll place cool marble stones over your eyes. Then I’ll begin with a gentle acupressure massage around the eye area, as well as on other areas of the face, scalp, and neck to help stimulate the lymphatic system. Then I’ll do another massage using cool jade stones and rollers to continue to help with lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic stimulation combined with the movement and cool temperature of the stones helps reduce the puffy appearance, and will help your eye area look more refreshed and vibrant. After the massage, I’ll apply an eye serum with cooling and anti-inflammatory ingredients including cucumber and calendula, which will continue to tone and de-puff the area.

Client: How long will the effects last?

CNAP: Stimulating the lymphatic system and cooling the tissue is a great start that has topical effects, and also contributes to helping to restore balance below the surface--but until you figure out the underlying cause of the puffiness whether it’s a food allergy or just something in your diet that needs to be adjusted, the puffiness will always return. It’s important to me though, as your nutritional aesthetician, that you feel happy and confident with your appearance when you see your reflection as your body rebalances on the inside, so I recommend coming in for this treatment once a week for a month, while you also follow the recommendations I’m about to give you. After that we’ll reassess and see how much progress we’ve made and decide from there how often to come in for the eye treatment.

Client: That sounds great, thanks!

Part 3: At-home advice for persistent puffy eyes

CNAP: Before you go, I wanted to share a few more things you can do to at home to help eliminate puffy eyes.

Client: That’s great. I’ll do whatever it takes.

CNAP: After this treatment, and going forward, make sure ylemon-water-hydrationou stay hydrated. Getting adequate water in your body, through liquids and water-rich fruits and vegetables, encourages your body to release extra water so you won’t experience puffiness from water retention. Also, you may have heard that reducing the amount of foods that you eat that are very high in sodium— think salty sauces and processed foods— helps prevent water retention too.

Client: I’ll definitely try to do that.

CNAP: Getting enough detoxifying greens and B vitamins in your diet also help prevent puffiness. Good sources of B vitamins are spinach, eggs and wild salmon. And if your puffiness issues persist, I’d recommend seeing a naturopathic doctor who can help you explore the possibility of an allergy, food or otherwise, that could be causing this puffiness.

Client: Got it. I’m definitely going to try being more mindful of my diet and my water, and see if that helps. If not, I know where else I can look for answers. Thank you for the amazing treatment, and all the info. My eyes look the best that they have in months!

When presented with a client’s concern, the right set of questions and answers can really boost your confidence, and cement your clients’ trust in you. Sharing our version that illustrates the different facets within each step allows you to have a deeper understanding of nutritional aesthetics in action!

Do you get certified as a Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner®?

Learn more about our program, and download our syllabus HERE.

photo credit: Lemon via photopin (license)

NAA Advisory Board Highlight: Jaya Savannah

Jaya Savannah is a savvy, soulful, and spirited NAA Advisory Board member with her finger on the pulse of the holistic business and healing arts sector. In addition to her work as a speaker and writer, Jaya is a business strategy coach and the self-proclaimed ‘Chief Inspiration Officer’ of Jaya Savannah International, which provides services for holistic entrepreneurs navigating the changing waters of doing business in the 21st century. We love Jaya’s no-nonsense approach to helping us figure out how to weave through the shifting paradigm and unite wellness and beauty in the emerging field of nutritional aesthetics. We asked Jaya about growing trends in the skincare and nutrition industries, as well as the NAA’s future plans. We love her enthusiasm about the NAA’s goals and hope you also find inspiration in her words!

The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance:

What excites you the most about The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance?

Jaya Savannah:

Jaya-Savannah-imageI’m really excited to see that the NAA is putting holistic principles to work in a professional organization. It’s groundbreaking. On the one hand, we have holistic aestheticians who have been promoting a natural approach to skincare for many years. On the other hand, we have holistic health physicians and nutritionists who bring their considerable expertise to the market. As individuals, both kinds of practitioners have been getting trained and working in cross-disciplinary ways. It’s been a natural evolution of awareness and interest that comes from studying the body in a holistic way. Yet professionally speaking, there has not been a formal integration of these interests within the industry until now. The NAA is acknowledging from an organizational standpoint what we know to be true from a physical one—that health and beauty are one.
While metaphors like that really light me up, I’m also excited about the practical benefits our members will receive. Access to leading edge education. The knowledge bank of the NAA founders and Advisory Board members is extensive and I’m really looking forward to the educational programs ahead. Certification will be adding whole new levels of benefits for members. The competency gained is worthwhile in and of itself, but certification will also serve to advance careers and give members the recognition they deserve. Membership will also serve as a connection point for those who want to network, form alliances, even create companies together. This is so very much needed and I’ve been reading appreciative comments from those who feel at last—they have found their 'tribe.'

The NAA:

In what ways are you already seeing nutritional aesthetics (integrating nutrition and lifestyle changes with skincare and holistic spa treatments) happen in the industry, and how do you see this trend affecting nutrition and aesthetics in the future?

Jaya Savannah:

The trend of nutritional aesthetics is a fairly recent one. Granted, there have been practitioners doing some of this work for a very long time. Yet a trend is the big wave of popularity that comes after the initial surges created by the pioneers. I think it has risen out of the larger trends of healthy eating and using natural beauty products. For example, the natural product market (foods and personal care combined) was $137 billion in 2012. That was a whopping 9% increase compared to the conventional product market that has had under 4% gains. Once you start thinking about what goes in your body, it’s only natural to start thinking about what goes on your body. Considering that aestheticians represent a growing industry (40% job growth rate predicted for 2012-2022 according to the ) then it makes absolute sense that many of them are part of the natural food and beauty product movement, and incorporating those practices into their business. If you’re getting healthy and see proof of it in your skin, of course you want to share that with your clients.

I also have to give credit to the health and beauty bloggers who have gone on to become certified health professionals. There is a sea of misinformation from unqualified people, but there has also been a grassroots uprising of people (mostly women) who started a hobby blog and then advanced themselves into credible professionals. This phenomenon is like nothing the industry has ever seen before. It’s exploded over the past 10 years and we have some bootstrapping business women really helping our communities get healthier.

I’m keen to see where this trend will be going. It’s been somewhat unformed to date in that practitioners need to stay within their scope of practice and licensure. Everyone is trying to find their own way. I think the biggest trend we will see is that nutritional aesthetics will become its own field of practice. NAA certification will help with that, but I think we will also continue to see lots of dual certifications as practitioners pursue specific modalities that interest them. I predict we will see big growth in:

Nutritional aestheticians promoting healthy lifestyle packages. Instead of working one appointment at a time, I think practitioners want to support their clients beyond what happens in the treatment room. I predict more coaching style packages that also include facial services.

Oncology aestheticians working in partnership with Naturopaths or Integrative MD’s. Unfortunately, melanoma rates have been rising an average of 1.4% per year. Patients are seeking alternative treatments that include healthy lifestyle changes.

High performance holistic aestheticians. I know full well that many holistic aestheticians only practice non-invasive procedures. That trend will continue to rise in the industry, but I predict the biggest consumer demand, therefore the biggest trend will be in facial treatments that produce fast results with natural products. While some will not philosophically agree with that, that is where the most money will be made in the future.

The NAA:

Complete the sentence: "For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ___________________, and less of ___________________.” (Feel free to elaborate as much as you wish!)

Jaya Savannah:mirror-reflection-healthy-skin

For optimal skin health, I wish people would:

  • Recognize that what you see on the outside reflects your health on the inside.
  • Look for changes in the health of your skin, not just do a vanity scan for wrinkles.
  • Make the connection between your emotions and skin. That “mystery rash” may teach you something about yourself.
  • Use more natural products whenever possible.
  • Teach these things to your children from an early age.

I wish they would not:

  • Use tanning beds. It’s not the 1980’s and there is no excuse for doing “a little” damage to your skin that way.
  • Go to sleep with makeup on. Yes, even when it’s really late.
  • Think make-up remover wipes are a replacement for facial cleanser. Really, just read the package again. It says “makeup remover.”
  • Use micro-bead exfoliation products. The plastic ends up in our water and if mama earth isn’t healthy then we can’t be either.

We want to publicly thank Jaya for being part of our Advisory Board, and for so generously sharing her passion and perspective with all of us! We so grateful to Jaya and her fellow NAA Advisory Board members for working alongside us and offering their wisdom and guidance as we create quality, curated educational offerings for NAA members. You can learn more about Jaya Savannah and our other Advisory Board members HERE.

The NAA’s mission is all about articulating a shared vision and creating a space for open dialogue and collaboration not only with our Advisory Board, but also with you!

We want to hear from you!

CommentPlease share in the comments below: How does Jaya Savannah’s prediction of the way that nutritional aesthetics will shape the aesthetics industry compare with your own? Please complete the sentence: "For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ___________________, and less of ___________________.”


Mirror image via Acoustic Sky.

pH Balance for Healthy Skin

If your otherwise-healthy skin is prone to dryness, or your complexion has suddenly lost its radiant glow, it could be time to consider pH balance—both inside and out.

The pH scale, from 0 to 14, measures acidity and alkalinity. You used it in science class to test the pH of chemicals, but today you can apply it directly to your beauty and health. On the pH scale, 0 is highly acidic, 7 is neutral, and 14 is highly alkaline. Maintaining a pH level close to optimal (which is a slightly alkaline 7.3 to 7.45 rating in the body, and an acidic 4.5 to 5.5 rating on the skin’s surface) preserves healthy balance. But watch out: many of the products and foods you come into contact with each day disrupt that balance. The following pH primer will help you get your pH back in check, and restore harmony to your skin.

pH on the surface

It’s absolutely essential to choose skincare products and ingredients with a pH that complements the pH of the skin. Unlike the internal pH of the body, the skin’s pH lies on the acidic side. The skin’s slightly acidic environment creates a more hospitable environment for the beneficial microbiota which reside there, while keeping pathogenic microbiota from entering the body. Increasing the alkalinity of the skin even just a small amount inhibits the ability of these beneficial microbiota to ‘stick’ to the surface of the skin. Something as simple as washing your face with water, which has a neutral pH of 7, is enough to disrupt the skin’s delicate pH balance and interfere with its own natural defense system.

pH of your skincareph-scale-healthy-skin

Harsh chemical surfactants like sodium lauryl or sodium laureth sulfate are common foaming agents found in facial cleansers. Since they’re highly alkaline, they’re extremely disruptive to the skin’s acidic pH balance. Foaming agents like these strip the skin’s natural oils, promoting skin dehydration and reactive overproduction of the sebaceous glands. The repeated use of these ingredients makes it nearly impossible for the skin to ever achieve a proper pH balance—which puts it at increased risk for environmental damage and infection.

Facial toners are known to help restore the pH of the skin after cleansing, since they are slightly acidic, like the skin itself. But look closely; many toners also contain high amounts of alcohol and other drying or possibly irritating ingredients that may increase sensitivity and promote dehydration.

Instead of playing the pH balancing act game (we think it’s easier to lose than win!) by using one alkaline product, followed by a more acidic product to balance it out, then a neutral product to balance that out if it’s too acidic, etc., we recommend choosing products containing ingredients that are already close to the natural pH range of the skin. Most hydrosols (also known as hydrolats, flower waters, distillates), as well as aloe vera gel and honey, all lie in the same pH range as the skin. Cleansing oils are also an excellent choice to preserve the skin’s pH and avoid stripping the skin’s oils. While it’s not possible to measure pH in all plant oils, the ones closest in chemical composition to the skin’s sebum (oil) like jojoba are measurable and are in that ideal range.

pH inside your body

While you’re looking into the pH of the products that treat the surface of your skin, take a moment to consider the foods that affect pH balance, and your skin’s radiance, from the inside out. Our internal environment must be slightly alkaline, however the vast majority of the foods in a typical diet—dairy, meat, nuts, processed foods, sugar, caffeine, most grains—are acidic in the body. Your body works hard to preserve your alkaline pH balance, robbing energy and mineral resources that it could otherwise be using to maintain your skin, bones and overall health. skin-internal-ph-balanceAn easy way to support optimal pH balance inside is to add more alkaline foods into your diet, starting with green vegetables, which are highly alkaline. Both lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, two foods that taste acidic on our tongues, actually have a strongly alkaline effect inside the body. Adding lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or both, to water and drinking as an alkaline tonic is a popular way to support healthy pH inside.

So what can you do right now to support your pH balance?  Investigate your products armed with a deeper understanding of pH and how it affects your skin.  All product manufacturers should be able to provide pH information for each product they sell, either on their websites or on their product labels or package inserts. And next time you quench your thirst, opt for water with fresh lemon juice, or a green smoothie filled with alkalizing veggies, keeping your pH, and radiant complexion, in mind.

Image 2 credit: By OpenStax College [CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons Image 3 credit: Sue Salisbury

Local, Seasonal Skin Nutrition

Nourishing healthy, radiant skin means filling your diet with optimal sources of skin nutrition. The summer months offer a perfect opportunity to switch up your regular grocery store routine and fill your reusable shopping bag with food that’s fresher and more nutrient dense than what you’d typically find on store shelves. We love farmer’s markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and co-ops as sources of just-picked, nutrition-packed produce with major skin benefits.

What’s the difference between these three fresh food sources? Farmer’s markets are organized markets where local farmers assemble to sell a variety of produce. You’ll often find locally-produced items like meat, dairy, produce and baked goods here as well. A CSA is a membership program that allows you to subscribe to regularly scheduled shares of harvested produce from a local farm or farms. And a co-op is a member-run business organization that buys a large volume of goods in order to pass along savings to members who purchase those goods.

Skin Benefits

When you recognize that you’re part of a planetary eco-system, eating in season makes perfect sense. Taste, quality, and peak nutritional value are the most obvious reasons to buy in season, but supporting your local farmers also reduces your carbon footprint. Fresh produce contains nourishing micronutrients that feed your skin on a cellular level, so a daily green smoothie provides a burst of oxygen for your blood, making your skin glow. Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, watercress, arugula, and dandelion greens provide fiber, vitamin A, and calcium. Strawberries, cantaloupe, and apricots contain antioxidants and abundant amounts of vitamins C and E to feed the skin, minimize wrinkles and support even skin tone. To see what’s harvested seasonally in your area, go to www.localharvest.org, where you’ll also find farmers’ markets locations and seasonal produce guides.

photo by Rhett Maxwell

Local Farmers

Whether you live in an urban, suburban, or rural area, it’s likely that there’s a farmer’s market, co-op, or CSA near you, possibly even organizations that deliver right to your home or office. If you’re new to eating locally and seasonally or aren’t sure what options you have in your area, check out the USDA’s new Local Food Directories resource to find a nearby farmer’s market or CSA. If you love the idea of a co-op and want to find one locally, search coopdirectory.org.

What about produce that’s not USDA certified organic? While buying food that’s local AND organic is ideal, it’s not always possible. If your farmer’s market or CSA doesn’t offer USDA certified organic produce, ask the grower what type of integrated pest management systems they use. Many traditional farming methods have made a big comeback and don’t include toxic chemical pesticides or GMOs. If you’re purchasing meat or dairy from a farm that’s not USDA certified organic, look for farms that pasture-raise their animals. The website www.eatwild.org is a great resource for local, traditional animal farms. Co-ops often carry foods from different local sources, some certified organic, some not. Ask a working cooperator for more information if you have questions about how the food was grown or raised. You’ll find that most cooperators and farmers are more than happy to get to know you and answer your questions!

Removing Roadblocks

What if you pledge to dive headlong into the green scene of seasonal shopping each summer, but find yourself barely dipping in your toe? Chances are you're being held back by one of these three common blocks:

The block: You fear that a new shopping style will overwhelm you with options and push you outside your culinary comfort zone.

The solution: Start small and specific to avoid overwhelm. Commit to supplying just your family’s fruit each week from the farmer’s market on 5th Street. It won’t be long before you start adding veggies and other gems to your sack. When it comes to your culinary zone, expansion comes through experimentation. Split a CSA share with a friend and swap Pinterest recipes that use your goods. Start a weekly family competition for the most delicious green side dish. Play with your food!

The block: Since you barely have time to stop at the supermarket after work, getting to a farmer’s market is bound to be too time consuming.

The solution: Combine your desire for fresh food with another task on your to-do list. A two-for-one outing feels more efficient. Looking to spend more time with a loved one? Make a standing date at the co-op on Wednesdays. Dog needs more socialization and exercise?  Walk to the farmer’s market with Fido on Saturdays.

The block: You figure that it’s all too expensive, so why bother.

The solution: Have you thoroughly investigated your options?

‘Too expensive’ is a often a judgment call and a prioritization statement more than a statement of fact. We all have different budgets to balance, but we urge you to consider this: You and your skin are worth every delicious, nutrient-rich dime!