If you chimed in on our recent discussion of the word ‘holistic,’ you know that we’ve been spending no small amount of time taking a deep look at the NAA’s core values and foundational tenets. What is a ‘holistic’ organization, and who are the practitioners that support that approach? What is an ‘integrative’ organization, and how does that approach differ? In selecting experts for our advisory board, we sought out minds that align with our core belief that skin health is strongly influenced by nutrition, self-care, and the care of our skin with natural or organic products and non-invasive procedures. But we’ve hit a roadblock in our search for a dermatologist.

Does a ‘perfect’ dermatologist exist for the NAA?

We searched for a dermatologist who incorporates nutrition at the core of his or her practice, but who does not recommend cosmetic procedures like injectables and lasers that could potentially compromise the skin or cause health risks or harm. Finding someone who shares our passion to support healthy skin with nutrition foremost, as well as our advocacy of the link between gorgeous skin and non-invasive, natural care of the skin topically, has proved a major challenge. Are we looking for a breed of dermatologist who doesn’t exist yet? We understand that dermatologists are trained in cosmetic procedures, and patients often demand them.

4036024362_8752bea514_bOur expectation was that it would be a natural fit to have a dermatologist on our Advisory Board, since we’re in the business of skin health and dermatologists are largely considered to be the foremost experts in skin health. However, the dermatologists we found that identify as holistic or integrative offer procedures that we worried conflicted with the part of our mission that supports non-invasive procedures. This led us to wonder: Is it the right choice to have a professional on our Advisory Board who has a similar mission to ours but delivers that mission in a different way? How would you weigh in?

An integral part of what the NAA aims to do is provide a safe space for different professionals who share the common goal of helping people improve their skin to dialog and collaborate. We all want the best for our patients and clients, but sometimes we tend to make assumptions surrounding another professionals’ intent, perspective, or practice which may inhibit productive communication and the possibility of collaboration.

Here are some examples of how these limiting assumptions might interfere with what’s most important–the patient or client’s best interest:


  • Health coach point of view:

“My client has acne that’s not responding as quickly as I’d hoped to diet and lifestyle changes, but I’m afraid that a dermatologist will just put them on antibiotics or steroids. What I’ve experienced in my practice is how these medications cause gut dysbiosis and candida overgrowth which can take months to years to recover from. I also worry, because most dermatologists I’ve seen quoted in skin health articles claim that there is no link between nutrition and skin health.”


  • Dermatologist 1 point of view:

“I had a patient come to me after months of following an aesthetician’s treatments and advice for acne, with no improvement. Upon my own examination, I determined that this wasn’t regular acne vulgaris, but instead was the much more severe Lupus miliaris dissaminatus faciei (LMDF), a rare disease affecting the face primarily in young and middle aged adults. Had she come to me when her symptoms first began, we could have saved her time, money, and frustration with the appropriate treatment.”


  • Aesthetician point of view:

retin-A“My client’s acne isn’t responding as fast as I’d like, but I’m really nervous to refer her to a dermatologist because I worry the dermatologist would prescribe drugs like Accutane or Retin-A which would make her skin even more fragile.”


  • Dermatologist 2 point of view:

“Encouraging patients to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables is always a good idea, however, I worry because certain conditions–like LMDF–are associated with specific food triggers that a health coach or nutritionist wouldn’t be familiar with. For instance, garlic–a commonly recommended food because of its natural antibiotic properties–is contraindicated for people with lupus.”

Finding common ground

601Here’s the bottom line. We’re more interested in weaving nutrition into client or patient care than we are in outlining what should or should not be kept out of a healthy beauty routine.

What’s really promising is that the American Academy of Dermatology’s (AAD) mission shares similarities with our own. Both of our organizations value education, research, and advocacy; and reflect the core values of prioritizing the needs of our patients first (we say clients), high standards of professionalism and ethics, curiosity and keeping an open dialog, collaboration, and diversity.

Read the AAD’s full mission statement HERE.

We have faith based on our shared core values that there is a dermatologist out there who believes that an integrative approach to healthy skin is excellence in dermatology, who wants very much to partner with us to get this job done! Instead of splitting hairs over where we disagree, we choose to concentrate on the shared aspects of our respective missions–the common ground.

We’d love to hear from you about your approach to skincare!

Do you feel the NAA needs a dermatologist on our Advisory Board? Have you experienced some of the assumptions listed above? Please sound off in the comments below.

*Image 2 credit: “Botox Injections from Dr. Braun,” Dr. Braun. 2009. Some rights reserved. Image 3 credit: “Mexican Medicine” by Derek Rose. 2007. Some rights reserved. Image 4 courtesy of the ASCP.