In building Nutritional Aesthetics™, we’ve had the goal of honoring the work of nutrition and aesthetics pioneers from the very start. There is so much to learn from the rapidly changing climate of the beauty, nutrition and spa industries, and one of the best people to reflect on those changes is longtime journalist, author and current editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Media Rona Berg. Rona is the former Editorial Director of ELLE and Deputy Style Editor for the New York Times Magazine, and she has contributed and been quoted in dozens of publications. She co-chairs the Personal Care Committee of the non-profit Green Spa Network, and is a frequent speaker and guest on radio and television. We’re honored to share her insightful Advisory Board Highlight with you today:

The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance™:

What excites you the most about the Nutritional Aesthetics™ Alliance?

Rona Berg:

Between the founders’ personal integrity and level of knowledge and insight, and the mission of educating consumers and spa and healthcare professionals alike on the connectivity between nutrition and healthy skin, nutritional aesthetics is an idea whose time has come. When I was asked to become a Charter Advisory Board Member of the NAA, I said yes right away!Rona Berg

I love to crunch data, and I love statistics, especially when they support something I believe in. As Editor-in-Chief of Organic Spa Media, a national consumer eco-lifestyle magazine and website, my field of expertise is spa and sustainable lifestyle. And just look at what is happening in the green world!

The natural products industry is poised to grow 51 percent to $226 billion by 2018.  Organic food sales are growing 10 percent annually, McDonald’s revenue is stagnant–which may explain the motivation behind the pending launch of their new antibiotic-free, certified organic hamburger. Sales of soda in the US have fallen (by 25 percent)—and so have rates of juvenile diabetes.

According to industry analysts, natural cosmetics will reach $30 billion in global sales in 2015, an increase of 10.6 percent, due in large part to growing consumer concerns about toxic chemicals in cosmetics. Not only that. Natural and organic beauty and personal care products these days, are sophisticated and elegant, they feel good and smell good. And they don’t contain potentially harmful ingredients. So the question is, ‘Why wouldn’t you use them?’

Consumers are beginning to understand why it is so important to be conscious not only of what we put in our bodies (food and drink) but what we put on our bodies as well. After all, if the molecule is small enough, 80 to 90 percent of we put on our skin penetrates into the body and circulates around the bloodstream, whereas what we eat gets filtered by the liver.

So both are important, but it’s almost more important to choose our beauty products wisely and well!

The NAA:

How has nutritional aesthetics (integrating nutrition and lifestyle changes with skincare and holistic spa treatments) impacted your work?

Rona Berg:

I love it that words like ‘integrative’ and ‘holistic’ are red-hot right now. For me, as a journalist, best-selling author, public speaker and spa and sustainable lifestyle expert, it has always been important to make connections, and when you get down to what words like ‘integrative’ and ‘holistic’  really mean, here it is: Connecting the Dots.

It’s so important to think about the big picture, and make an effort to understand the impact our lifestyle choices make, not only on our bodies, but on our planet.

organic-spa-dec-2015Over the years, I have covered beauty for the New York Times Magazine, and in my two books, Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty: 1000 Quick Fixes, and I’ve gone through stacks of research that reinforce what we already know makes good common sense: that what we put inside our bodies, shows up on the outside. Spas and resorts now know this, which is why we are seeing so many delicious examples of organic farm-to-table ingredients in culinary menus, and farm-to-massage table treatments on spa menus.

As Americans become more aware of the value of eating healthier food–antibiotic-free, hormone-free, non-factory farmed meat; organic, artisanal, locally sourced fruits, veggies, and dairy whenever possible–we understand more deeply the connection between good health and healthy skin. I have seen so many people–and written many stories–on people who have not only cleared up their skin, but turned their health around by taking positive steps to change over to a healthy diet. And to take it one step further, when we eat organic, natural, and locally sourced food, we are not only looking after our own health, but also the health of the planet, i.e. Connecting the Dots.

Think about it: Everything goes somewhere, and our individual choices impact our oceans, our atmosphere, ourselves, and, ultimately, other people. For example, when we use plastic microbeads in exfoliating scrubs, toothpaste, and other personal-care products, they wash into our rivers, lakes and oceans, to be eaten by fish, which are potentially eaten by us. Everything is connected.

Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. When I use my cleanser at night, or wash the bathroom sink with my household cleaning products, what is it that is washing down the drain? When it absorbs into our rivers, soil, lakes, how does it impact on my health and the health of the environment?
  1. When I apply moisturizer, what am I putting on my skin? We know that our products absorb into our skin. That’s been a selling point for the beauty industry for years. If the molecule is small enough, what goes on your body goes in your body.
  1. When I throw our plastic bags away, where is away? There is a trash vortex bigger than the state of Texas in the Pacific, and one in the Atlantic, too, where those plastic bags swirl, choking birds and turtles.

Going green can seem overwhelming. But there is a lot that each of us can do, for our own health and the health of our environment. Take shorter showers. Buy organic and local when you can. Recycle. Walk, bike or use public transportation when you can. Turn down the heat.

Read your ingredient labels and try to avoid synthetic fragrances and preservatives like parabens–among the top 10 leading irritants in cosmetic products, according to the North America Dermatitis Society. Avoid artificial colors–FD&C or D&C colors–which our own Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists as human respiratory toxins.

We all need to start to start thinking about what we can do, and what steps we can take–however small–to connect the dots. It’s good for your health and the health of the environment. The real question is: why wouldn’t we?

The NAA:

Complete the sentence: “For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ____________less_______, and less of ____harsh aggressive treatments_______________.

Rona Berg:

When I am fortunate enough to have people compliment me on my skin and then ask me what I use, here is what I tell them: It’s more about what I don’t use.

I believe in a healthy, gentle approach to skincare, free of pore-clogging petrochemicals (mineral oil; silicones–ingredients that end in “-cone”; ethylene, propylene and butylene glycol; liquid paraffin), irritating sulfates (sodium lauryl-, sodium laureth-, ammonium laureth-, and sodium myreth-sulfate), artificial colors and fragrances, phthalates (DBP, DEP, DMP), and a whole laundry list of others.

I’ve been using plant oils as a moisturizer for decades, and I am thrilled to see that they are finally catching on. After all, when you remove the preservatives, the fragrances and the host of emulsifying ingredients that exist solely to hold the formulation together and prolong the shelf life, what are you left with? Nourishing oil!

It may be tempting to reach for aggressive peels and fast-acting ingredients that create a nice result in the short term, but a consistent, gentle approach is the formula for success over the long haul. And, a simple, healthy, streamlined beauty regimen–supported by a balanced diet of fresh foods–is in sync with the pace of our busy lives.

Remember, the skin holds no secrets. If the eyes are the mirror of the soul the skin is the body’s lie detector. When something isn’t right internally–if you’re stressed, eating poorly, overtired, sick–it will show up on your face. Because it is connected to all bodily systems, the skin tells the world not only about our emotional state, but the health of our circulations, hormones, and nervous system. Rich in nerve endings and touch receptors, the skin transmits exquisite sensations of pleasure and pain to the brain, which, over time, are etched into the map of our faces.

Nothing takes the place of good, gentle, balanced care. Once you realize how easy it is to maintain good skin, you’ll be inspired to keep doing it. When stress overstimulates the oil glands and your skin begins to break out or flake, you’ll want to fix it. And the minute you begin to take care of your skin–keep it clean, pamper it a bit and nourish it inside and out–it will respond with gratitude.

CommentWe want to hear from you!

Do you share Rona’s views on the importance of ‘connecting the dots’ to environmentally-friendly habits as an extension of healthy beauty?

What are your favorite habits for optimal skin health?