We are so excited to announce the launch of The Skin Wellness Pro Show: The Official Podcast of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance!

Watch (or listen to) the first episode of The Skin Wellness Pro Show, “Understanding Skin Wellness,” below:

Or read the edited transcript here:

Rachael Pontillo (00:04):

Hello everyone. Welcome to the first episode of the Skin Wellness Pro Show, which is the official podcast of the Nutritional Aesthetics© Alliance. I am your host Rachael Pontillo, and I’m the President and co-founder of the Nutritional Aesthetics© Alliance. I’m also an aesthetician, health coach, skincare formulator, and business owner, and I am really excited to be here with you all today. And I also want to introduce my co-host, Tara Swagger, who is our Education Specialist at the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance. Tara, how are you?

Tara Swagger (00:41):

Hi. Good, Rachael. So excited to be here. I’m a nationally certified licensed aesthetician. I am a Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® and business owner as well. I operate my own practice and we’re both really excited to be here because we have so much to offer wellness professionals, aestheticians, and people that are seeing clients every day in their businesses, and working through some of the challenges that we see. We specialize in skin and align with health coaching, and we’re dealing with so many issues today, not just with the clients but also as professionals. It’s really exciting to be able to bring the chats that we get to have behind the scenes yes to people, as we start to unravel so many of these things that we think are going to be really great discussion topics for professionals and clients alike.

Rachael Pontillo (01:51):

Yeah, I agree. So many times when you and I are having our weekly calls for planning things for the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance, I’m like, you know what, that would be such a great podcast episode because you and I both get into, I don’t wanna say rants, but we, go off on tangents sometimes of things that we see on social media, or that we see people asking for support within groups. And we realize that the support they sometimes get in the groups is maybe not so helpful.

But you know, I also want to point out that even though you and I have both been in the industry for probably around the same time, because I know we’re similar in age, the way we practice is very different because you are practicing hands-on in the treatment room as an aesthetician and you also have a store; whereas my work has been virtual almost entirely the entire time that I’ve been licensed. I was in hands-on practice for a very short amount of time, and then I really focused solely on more of the skin wellness or skin-health coaching side of things rather than the hands-on treatments. Then I became more of an entrepreneur.

I think that the benefit for our audience of having both of us here is that we are showing what’s possible in practice for practitioners in the world of Nutritional Aesthetics, and we’re also able to share perspectives on things that we see, you know, you in your in-person treatment room and in your store and me, on the virtual side of things. I work with clients with skin issues on the coaching side, but I also do consult with business owners to help them with practice management, practice growth, and skincare formulation issues. So we’re really covering a wide gamut of the entire industry just by putting our two heads together.

Tara Swagger (03:47):

Yeah, well, I mean, I think every time we talk, we always touch upon all of these pieces to the pie with our industry between beauty and wellness that have gaps; whether it’s gaps in education or gaps in places for people to get information. And you know, I’ve been in a lot of different Facebook groups over the years and I hear and see a lot of people mentoring other people that are not giving good information and it’s kind of difficult because, you know, while social media is really great for so many things, I think that there’s such a plethora of people who think that they have answers for people. And a lot of times I think they’re perpetuating bad information. Our industries are becoming so multi-layered. If you’re in this industry and you’re an esthetician, maybe your practice is really just waxing or lashes, or something more strictly to the beauty end, it doesn’t mean that you’re not having clients come in with other issues where you could provide them with great information that can help them.

If you’re in the health and wellness field singularly and you’re not in skin, you might get clients that come in with skin issues like psoriasis or eczema, and while you’re dealing with their health from the coaching perspective, which is great, there’s also knowledge to be shared in the middle there.

So I think what’s really fun between the two of us when we chat is always that there’s so much that we see going on out there, especially between the experience that we have. I think there are so many gaps in the conversation for most, and a lot of what I’m seeing too with social media is that things are not as realistically portrayed as I think most people in our industry are dealing with or working with, you know?

I think it’s wonderful when you’re an aesthetician, and you’re on a vacation, showing pics of that; or showing very upscale fancy spa images, or things like that. That’s great. It’s wonderful. We want to see our industry thriving and growing, and it’s wonderful that social media is giving a lot of people space to do that. But I think there’s lots and lots of people that are working in this industry, either one-on-one, virtually,  or you’re working hands-on–you’re a single aesthetician or a single health coach and that’s not what your business really looks like.

So I think we’re looking to get something brewing here with our conversations that give people a space to come where they’re going to hear some real-world information, and not feel like this isn’t about the glitz and the glam. I mean, there are a lot of things that we deal with that are difficult to maneuver in our practices with ourselves, with our clients. And I think this will be a really great space for us to chat about what it looks like in practice and from the perspective of maybe what doesn’t seem as fancy on Instagram, but in the real trenches of the kind of work that we’re doing.

Rachael Pontillo (07:12):

Yeah. And look, we’re not knocking people who have gorgeous spaces, and really nice cameras, and who are great with their lighting, and have learned the skill of beautiful social media photography–because that is a skill for sure–and it takes time. But, you know, it’s not a reality for so many practitioners, whether you’re on the aesthetics side or the skincare side. I mean, I’m in a basement home office that I’ve decorated to look professional. It’s been through multiple iterations, but this is certainly not, you know, some swanky high-rise corporate office building where I have a conference room, and all these things available to me. This is stuff that I’ve pieced together over the years because I started my businesses when my children were in, I think, kindergarten and early preschool. So I was just able to do little bits at a time, invest little bits at a time as money started coming in.

And it grows. I mean, if you look at videos that I do nowadays versus videos that I did back in 2011, 2012, <laugh>, let’s just say, I don’t even like to look at them because <laugh>, the lighting is awful. And it’s not even perfect now, but it’s better now. And that’s the really cool thing about being in business today with technology on our side. There’s always a version 1.2 or 1.4 or 2.0. We can always improve. And I think letting the idea that it has to look a certain way, hold you back from getting yourself out there, is something that I really want to help our students and other professionals in our community to overcome. Because just like having a baby or buying a house, there’s maybe an ideal time that you might plan, but usually there’s never the right time or the perfect time.

If you keep waiting for when it’s going to look perfect or when you’re going to be fully ready, then that day sometimes just never comes. And then you’re missing out on all of the amazing benefits that you could be having by being in practice. And your clients–people who need you–are also missing out because they don’t know how to find you since you’re not putting yourself out there for them. So I also hope that this show will help our skin wellness pros feel confident that they can get out there, and they should be talking about topics that are important to their clients so that their clients–current and future–can find them, and see them as a resource.

Tara Swagger (10:08):

Yeah. It’s funny because, I mean, I’ve been in practice for 25 years, and it wasn’t until right before Covid that I had to get on the computer in a way that I wasn’t before. I always had a website and I had some social media. I had a successful practice. So from that perspective, for most aestheticians in this industry and maybe probably from our age group that have been working all this time, social media wasn’t the thing. That wasn’t how you built your clientele. I mean, mine was built on my referrals, my clients, and recommendations. And certainly, after 25 years, it’s been a while. So I’ve created a reputation, but you know, right before Covid,  things were already shifting, and now the perspective of everybody’s business has changed.

There’s no doubt about that. If you’re an aesthetician, health coach–if you’re doing any kind of health and wellness work–even if you were hands-on in a different part of the wellness industry, that all changed very dramatically. Covid meant that people were doing classes virtually, and that launched my virtual class program with my business. And I went virtual with my consultations, which never really was something I needed to do before with the way my business was. But when, when we were closed, I had to sort of pivot and really take a look at what that was going to be like. I mean, I, I bought some lights, but I was filming actually, in a beautiful camper we had at the time. So I was out there to get quiet, away from my children <laugh>.

When I was filming out there, it was all very new and very nerve-wracking. I am not a social media expert in any way, shape, or form, but we both know our industries really well and we know the ups and downs and challenges it has. And I think there are a lot more people in the field of working in these industries that might even be actually in our age group, sort of in that in-between space. As we look at these social media profiles where people are having more, you know, glamorous-looking stuff, I think it seems intimidating to people because they feel like that’s the kind of practitioner they need to be these days.

And like you said, that’s great for them that their stuff is beautiful. I’m happy for them that they’re having beautiful vacations or are growing great, beautiful spas. But I don’t think that’s the majority. What we really want to share here is a perspective for clients and professionals alike to learn about things that we do, how we work with clients in the form of nutritional and holistic aesthetics; how we manage our clientele through wellness; and how we do that both virtually and in person. Sort of the real talk, right?

What we’re we’re hoping is that the audience will really enjoy this kind of content, sharing about our practices even as different as they are. We’re looking to expand the conversation where people can get some professional advice that comes from two people in the industry that have been in here for a very long time, as opposed to maybe a Facebook group where, you know, 25 people weigh in on something, with a lot of different answers. People have to be leery about where they’re getting their advice from too, and it’s easy with the Internet because it’s everywhere–but you need to get advice from people that have solid backgrounds in this industry when you’re making changes to your business or you know, talking about things like insurance, or scope of practice. And there’s a lot of misinformation out there. So I think these conversations are just going to be so great for us to have in a way that hopefully really helps other people.

Rachael Pontillo (14:29):

And I also wanted to address that when it comes to misinformation spreading, or people giving advice that’s maybe not great in the groups, it’s almost always never intentional. It’s, unfortunately, the truth that there are gaps in education because every state has different requirements. There’s no way an aesthetician is going to get as much education in 250 hours as they would in a state where they have to have a thousand hours, for example. There, there’s just no way. And it’s the same thing with so many different health coaching programs, so many different nutrition programs; and even levels of practice that might have a higher scope of practice such as dietitians and even some doctors. They’re still being trained in very specific modalities where they’re not going to necessarily have all of the information about a complimentary modality, simply because they haven’t trained in it. So we’re not here to say that one way is better than another way.

We believe that beautiful skin and health and confidence–that’s the top of the mountain, and there are multiple paths to get there. We all want our clients to look and feel their best and live a good quality of life. But it absolutely is true that the way that education is delivered in these different philosophies and methods of practice is very different, and there’s no way for it to be completely inclusive otherwise, everybody would be practicing in a fully holistic way incorporating all sorts of integrative modalities.

Usually, that’s not what happens. You get licensed in one thing, you start working, you’re making money, and that’s going well. And usually, you don’t go for something else until, maybe the numbers start plateauing, and you’re not growing anymore. Or maybe you get bored and you want to learn something new to add to it.

We want to make sure that, you know, when the audience comes to us with questions, we give answers from a very integrative background that’s cited and valid, and not just based on opinion–but because we do both practice in different ways, we also want to share our experience so that hopefully those of you who might be unclear or struggling with a particular topic can get not only the textbook answer but also the real-world perspective on how people who are working in this field are actually handling these challenges with clients.

Tara Swagger (17:21):

Well, and business too. I think everybody’s practice is so different and unique. What I always tell people when we do classes with students is that my practice isn’t gonna look like yours. So you can ask me, and I can give you suggestions based on what I do, or what I’ve seen, or what I’ve learned, or what I’ve experienced. But it’s never a matter of trying to mimic what I do because you have your own package of skills, and you have your own package of things that make you special as a, as a practitioner. And that’s the beauty of our industry too–throughout health, wellness, and skincare–is that people gravitate towards their practitioner for a lot of reasons. And most of those reasons really have to do with you as a person.

We see so many different layers of what different people bring to the table in our field. We’re seeing a lot more energy work in health and wellness, and even incorporated into skincare, which is great. Stone medicine is really becoming a movement. And of course, in skincare there are tons of modalities and machines that people say are the best ever. We aren’t here to tell you which one’s the best. We want you to cultivate your own best practice, and your own relationship with how you deliver your treatment.

I’ve changed my treatment and my menu plan many, many, many, many times. As a matter of fact, there are always shifts and changes to it yearly in some capacity. And that’s based on my continuing education. We wanna talk to talk about the things that are challenging in your environment or in your practice, or with clients that you’re seeing in real-time that we have experience with, or we can bring on guests that have experience in those things.

But it’s really about how can you cultivate the best practice for you? It’s an organic ebbing and flowing thing that continues to happen. So what’s great about these conversations is as things change in our industry we can continue to bring forth that information in terms of how it relates to how people are working in their fields, in real-time. You know?  In your practice, you might be a single aesthetician, a single health coach, only virtual, only hands-on, maybe you want to do a mix, or you don’t want to do a mix. You love machines, you don’t love machines, you like stones, you don’t. There are just so many things that I feel are great conversations to be had here on the Skin Wellness Pro Show.

Rachael Pontillo (20:26):

Yes. So that is a nutshell of why we are here, why we decided to launch The Skin Wellness Pro Show, and even have a podcast under the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance’s umbrella. We kind of switched from talking about Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioners® to simplifying it to skin wellness professionals to skin wellness pros. The background of why that happened, at least on our side of things is because Facebook decided it didn’t like the word “nutritional” in our url. So it started blocking any blog posts that we would try posting. So instead of trying to argue with Facebook for them to allow us to post our blog posts again, which was a futile effort since they don’t respond <laugh>, we just changed the our url to skinwellnesspro.com for our Alliance.

It just made me start to think of how we really are skin wellness pros because, at the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, our mission overall is to advance an integrative approach to healthy skin. And that means from the inside out, it means from the outside in, it’s the whole big picture.

We chose the word “integrative” instead of “holistic” because the word integrative we just felt was a little bit more inclusive of people who practice in different ways. Whereas if we went with the word holistic, we might not have reached people who are working in the medical aesthetics world, and want to incorporate more natural or holistic things into the more clinical side of things–because there is room for all of it and they can work together.

So for me, a skin wellness pro is a professional, and you don’t have to be an aesthetician. You can be a health coach or a body worker or someone else who supports clients with skin issues or who helps clients maintain their outer glow by helping them with mindset, lifestyle, nutrition, and all of that. It’s basically any professional who is helping their clients have amazing skin and overall well-being for life in a sustainable way, and in a way that does no harm, and seeks to support the skin and support the body that so that it can do what it was designed to do.

That’s my definition of it. But Tara, I would love it if you could share your definition or, how you’ve come to understand the term “skin wellness,” or “skin wellness pro.”

Tara Swagger (23:09):

Yeah. Well, I think you really covered a lot of it there too. Just like as a professional, where you have your own very particular bag of tricks, and way about you that’s special and unique from every other practitioner; so is your client, right?

We have a world filled with a lot of different things today. There are a lot of different clinical approaches to skin. There are a lot of medical approaches to skin. And when you see clients, whether it’s for health, nutrition, wellness, bodywork, whatever, they’re all doing an intake. And these intakes are coming with a lot more information today than they used to. More people are taking different medications, there are nuances with different laser treatments that they might be getting with their skin, or chemical peels, or injections.

When I started in the industry, it was rare to see somebody with injections. I worked with a dermatologist and that was sort of the beginning of Botox being easier and more affordable for the average person; and not just for celebrities or for the very rich. I remember those days with that clientele, but that was sort of new, right? And now more and more people are seeing that.

Even if you’re a wellness professional or a bodyworker like you said, you might have somebody come in that has had certain work done, and some of that might even be you know, tummy tucks and different types of surgeries that have scar tissue, or things that might change how you’re working with the body, or how you’re working with the client because of their mindset as well.

And so there’s the psychology of your client. This approach is about becoming a more informed professional on the nuances of our businesses; they’re so layered these days. They’re layered, layered, layered, layered, layered. And quite honestly, I think you can put a lot of these pieces together and never come up with the same outfit twice, right? Because there are so many different kinds of people out there.

These conversations are really important because what we really want to hit upon is all of those nuances. You’re gonna see so many different people, and it’s good to have conversations about what that looks like for your client. Because your clients are very special in the way that they come to you, and you want to be able to serve them in the way that suits them, right?

I mean, suit yourself too, because that’s important. You know, we have to kind of cultivate what kind of practitioner we want to be, but also being able to meet your client where they’re at and help them attain small successes is just as important as the client that wants to dive deep and wants to do all the things and all the things at once right now, <laugh>, right?

It’s just important that we have these types of conversations as we start to target different topics together where people can come and listen to how they’re being handled in the industry, and what that looks like in real-time.

We want to reach people who are maybe new to the industry and don’t have a lot of experience, who aren’t going to have a lot of stories to tell or learn from yet. So this is a great place for new aestheticians as well, to hear conversations about what those topics might look like in the treatment room with your client. And hopefully, you can pick up some things that help you feel more confident when you are; when you meet a client and you’re like, “oh, I remember them talking about this on The Skin Wellness Pro Show. And so I think I can apply some of these, this advice that they were giving in.”

Or you might hear something that’s new to you about, maybe, a side effect of a medication that might be causing an issue with skin or with someone’s health.

Hearing topics like that get discussed as they’re coming up, and as things continue to change in the industry, will be helpful for aestheticians and wellness workers alike to hear these conversations, and maybe grab some insight into what they’re seeing in their practice. And so it’s really exciting to start working together in this capacity. Yay.

Rachael Pontillo (28:18):

Yeah, I’m really excited. So that’s pretty much what you can expect from The Skin Wellness Pro Show. We’re just gonna have real conversations. We’ll talk about some issues that are currently affecting practitioners, as well as clients. You might see some guests joining us from time to time.

We love talking with our Advisory Board members, as well as our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program graduates and our members, so you might see some of them drop by from time to time.

And we also want to invite you into the conversation. We are brand new with this show, and we want to make sure that what we cover serves you as practitioners. Or if you’re not a practitioner, but you’re someone who’s looking for advice that is valid and credible about skin or skin wellness issues, we would love to hear from you too.

So if you have any questions that you would like us to answer, or topics of conversation that you would love to see featured in an episode of The Skin Wellness Pro Show, we would love for you to let us know by either commenting under the video on YouTube or our social media platforms. Or you can DM us or contact us through our website, which is skinwellnesspro.com. And while you’re there, make you check out our blog. There are several hundred articles on skin wellness topics, and if you are a practitioner looking for a new modality of practice or some continuing education credits, we have classes for you to check out on our website as well.

So I think that’s it for our very first introductory episode!

All right. Well, you know, we are such a new show. We don’t have a fancy sign-off for you yet, but we’re working on it. So between now and when we see you again, we hope you have a beautiful day and gorgeous skin. Something like that. There you go. Yay, <laugh>. Stay well. All right. Thanks everyone. We’ll be back again soon with another episode.

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What does “skin wellness” mean to you? What topics would you love to see featured on The Skin Wellness Pro Show? Tell us in the comments below.