assorted vegetables

How to Prepare Vegetables Even Picky Eaters Will Love

If you were to ask just about any client one thing they *should* do to improve their skin (from the inside out) and overall well being, "eat more vegetables" is a likely response. Though more people are now in tune with the many healthy benefits associated with eating vegetables (particularly greens) daily, only about one in 10 adults actually eats enough veggies daily. Why is this? While there is no shortage of vegetables available at every price range (even fast food establishments serve fresh salads), one of the main reasons why people don't eat enough is because they don't know how to properly prepare vegetables for optimal taste and texture.

It's important to know how to prepare vegetables properly to avoid overcooking them!

Another reason why people don't eat enough vegetables is because they don't think they like them. Just about everyone has a story about mushy broccoli or limp green beans.

However, most of the distaste clients express about their worst encounters with vegetables are really not about the vegetable itself. The problem is that the vegetables were either not prepared correctly (overcooking is the most common veggie offense), or they were bland. Fortunately, these two problems--how to prepare vegetables properly, and season them to please any palate--are easy to solve!

Here are our top tips for how to prepare vegetables and season them for maximum taste and texture:

Don't overcook your veggies!

The whole point of eating vegetables every day is to gain the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and other key phytonutrients that only come from plants. In order for those nutrients to be intact, the vegetables need to be prepared properly! Some are better raw (like salad greens, celery, or carrots), while others are more nutritious when gently cooked (beets, sweet potatoes, broccoli, kale).

sautéed kale

Aside from being colorless, tasteless and textureless, overcooked vegetables also have had most of their nutrients destroyed. By eating vegetables raw, steamed, or lightly sautéed, you not only retain the color, flavor, and texture (which is crucial for the pleasure of the meal), but you also retain the nutritional value of the food.

Lightly steaming or sautéing vegetables (in a healthy, heat-safe fat like coconut oil, sesame oil, or ghee) to the point where the vegetables brighten in color and soften a bit, while still retaining their "bite" is what to look for. Lightly grilling or oven-roasting is also a better option than boiling, though it's important to watch the time so you don't over-char or completely dry out the vegetables.

Stock up on herbs, spices, and healthy condiments

Seasoning your vegetables with an assortment of healthy condiments, herbs, and spices is a wonderful way to not only make the veggie taste its best, but also to adjust the flavor profile of the entire meal to keep things interesting.

Assorted healthy condiments

Some of our favorites are low-sodium tamari (a gluten-free fermented soy product like soy sauce), brown miso, umeboshi plum vinegar, dulse flakes (sea vegetable), raw apple cider vinegar, and oils other than olive like coconut, sesame, grapeseed, and flaxseed. Some of our other seasoning staples include mineral-rich pink Himalayan sea salt, black pepper, garlic, parsley, basil, Adobo seasoning (a blend of garlic and different peppers), Borsari (herbs and spices infused in salt), and gomasio (powdered sea vegetables with sesame seeds and sea salt). You can also stick with healthier versions of familiar favorites such as organic ketchup and mustard with no added sugar or hydrogenated fats.

These herbs, spices, and condiments are available in most health food stores, or the ethnic foods aisle in grocery stores. They can be expensive, we recommend buying a different one each week, and grow your collection over time.

Change it up

We all get stuck in food ruts from time to time, where we feel like we are cooking and eating the same types of foods all the time. This happens for many reasons: convenience, comfort level, cooking ability, tradition, etc.; but it is not healthy to keep eating the same things all the time. Eating should be a fun and even adventurous experience, and changing up favorite foods with different seasonings, flavor profiles, and cooking methods is a great way to keep vegetables interesting.

Assorted grilled vegetables

For example, if you're tired of steamed kale--try sautéing it or making kale chips. If you're tired of stir-fried zucchini, throw them on the grill. If you're used to boiling broccoli but don't want to overcook it, try blanching (submerging it in boiling water just for a few seconds) and then shocking (submerging it in ice water promptly after the boiling water) it instead. If you've had just about all you can take of Mediterranean-inspired flavors like olive oil with garlic and basil, try the same vegetables with Asian flavors. Sesame oil, ginger, and cilantro are great substitutes.

The skin-health benefits of vegetables are immeasurable

Consuming large amounts of fresh, organic vegetables (and fruit too) on a daily basis provides you with many of the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs to heal itself, fend off bacterial and viral infections, maintain its optimal weight, and grow healthy and resilient skin cells. By learning how to prepare vegetables and season them so you like them, you'll definitely find it easier to incorporate them into your daily diet in more ways.

Young woman with clear skin holding fresh vegetables

By eating more fresh vegetables daily, you also increasing hydration, and promote an alkaline environment in the gut--which in turn will support healthy digestion, a healthy microbiome, and cellular function. This can help address the root causes of skin issues like acne, as well as rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis flare-ups.

The nutrients you get from these plant foods are more bioavailable than those you would get from supplements as well, meaning they are more easily absorbed and utilized by the body. If you get the majority of your nutrients from food sources, you spend less money on expensive supplements.

Do you want to learn more about how to support your clients with practical nutrition and lifestyle tips like this?

Check out our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program!

sunscreen must be reef-friendly

Why the Snorkeling Captain Wouldn't Let Well-Intentioned Americans Use Their "Reef-Friendly" Sunscreen

Today's blog post is a guest contribution from mom of four, former teacher, and healthy kids cooking advocate, Katie Kimball--who is also a self-professed sunscreen geek. In this post, Katie informs us of the importance of using reef-friendly--not just "natural" sunscreen--and also discusses the problem of greenwashing in the sunscreen industry. Katie's also shared links to more helpful information, including a reef-friendly sunscreen guide. Enjoy, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments!

sunscreen must be reef-friendlyThis February, just in time to avoid having our trip foiled by the stay-at-home orders, 13 family members fulfilled my mother-in-law's dream of 40 years and traveled to Hawaii.

As much as I was in awe of the natural beauty and impossible volcanic landscapes, I got even more jazzed up talking about reef-friendly sunscreen with the owner of the Zodiac snorkeling trip.

You see, my family and I have literally been A-B testing mineral sunscreens for review since 2010. We're up at well over 100 now. It's such a passion of mine, that I've interviewed sunscreen formulators, worked with lawyers close to the sunscreen ingredient ban in Hawaii, and even been cited in a press release from the lab that started the whole process of banning oxybenzone and octinoxate for killing the coral reefs.

Greenwashing is hitting sunscreen hard

I was definitely the sunscreen geek cringing when uninformed vacationers were clearly using conventional sunscreen brands that will be illegal in the great state of Hawaii come 2021.

Greenwashing is hitting the sunscreen industry hard.I started offering my natural sunscreens on every excursion in case people needed something safe for humans AND coral reefs. I was at once proud and devastated when I heard a story from another American mainlander who had the best of intentions.

She said she tried to do the right thing and order “reef-friendly” sunscreen on Amazon.

"I read the label," she said. "It said reef-friendly right there. But then when we went snorkeling yesterday, the captain wouldn't let us put it on. He took one look at the back of the bottle and said it's still not safe enough."

I felt proud that marine-life-loving crusaders have gotten the word out that reef-safe sunscreen is necessary!

But let's be honest: even though the captain of the boat didn't allow all the chemical sunscreens, we all know that most people had already applied their first layer before they even got out there. That meant more coral reef killers floating away on the waves.

I’m angry that it's so easy to walk into Costco or log into Amazon Prime and get completely hoodwinked to the detriment of the environment and our children's future reproductive health!

Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. Greenwashing is bound to happen the moment anything goes into effect that threatens the big brands.

Why use reef-friendly sunscreen

Black woman sunbathing on the beachThe new law in Hawaii, which goes into effect in the summer of 2021, bans the two most dangerous ingredients for the coral reefs: oxybenzone and octinoxate.

Haereticus Labs proved that those two harm the coral reefs, but it’s so much more than that.

They're also absolutely not safe for humans, causing serious endocrine disruption and found in 97% of American urine. They're pervasive in our water supply and environment, and they really need to go. (Read more about the FDA’s proposed ban on sunscreen ingredients.)

Another study by Haereticus Labs proved that these ingredients “cause endocrine disruption to reproductive physiology, such as reduced sperm density, reduced prostate in juveniles, changes in the estrous cycle, and reduction in immunity. In one clinical study, boys who were exposed to oxybenzone exhibited lower testosterone levels. Oxybenzone exposure has also been linked to increases in endometriosis, alters lactation expression, as well as some birth defects.” Press release

What does reef-safe sunscreen mean?

We don’t need these toxicants on our skin or in the environment, and it shouldn’t be so hard to avoid them.

There are already hundreds of brands of sunscreen using safe, natural, mineral active ingredients that are 100% safe for coral reefs.

Person snorkeling in coral reefUnfortunately, the big brands have looked at this new law and are following it to the letter.

They’re only getting rid of those two offensive ingredients and slapping “reef-friendly” on the label so travelers can go to Hawaii with their products.

They're still leaving in other chemical actives, which carry with them most of the same problems, just not quite as well proven (yet). That's why the snorkel captain flipped over the tube and immediately told the travelers it wasn't enough. He's so close to the devastation of the coral reefs--we've lost half of the Great Barrier Reef since 2016 alone! Source: National Geographic

Experts know that all of the chemical sunscreen actives are wreaking havoc on marine life, not just the coral reefs. These ingredients, like octocrylene, avobenzone, homosalate, parabens and more can also damage the reproduction and other systems in green algae, dolphins, mussels, fish, and sea urchins. Source

So what can you look for so that you aren't greenwashed by the new "reef-friendly" sunscreen that only follows the letter of the law?

It's actually ridiculously simple. Under the "active ingredients," you want only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

Why zinc oxide only for safe sunscreen

I encourage you to choose zinc oxide only, for a few reasons:

  • There are some potential risks to titanium dioxide being a heavy metal.
  • Zinc oxide is fully broad spectrum all by itself.
  • Zinc oxide is also the only active sunscreen ingredient rated safe for babies under six months old. You may recognize it as the active ingredient in diaper cream as well.

Don’t worry, that doesn't mean you'll look like you've applied diaper cream to your face! The zinc percentage is lower in sunscreen than diaper cream, and formulators are getting pretty good at getting it to blend in clearly or they add tints so that you can't see the white cast on your skin.

Bottom line: good for the environment, safe for humans

For me, there's no contest. Ocean life and my future grandchildren win out every day over a sunscreen that's potentially a little easier to apply.

Don't get greenwashed! Hop on over and I'll share the best zinc oxide, reef-safe sunscreens out there out of 100 brands that my kids have had to endure for the last 10 years.

We know what works! We know what goes on smoothly.

And we can help you cut through all the greenwashed labeling that’s so confusing, whether you get to travel to Hawaii or are just hanging out in your backyard, trying have some safe fun in the sun.

Author bio:

Katie Kimball, expert on reef-friendly sunscreenKatie Kimball, the national voice of healthy kids cooking, is a blogger, former teacher, and mom of 4 kids who founded the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. Her blog, Kitchen Stewardship helps families stay healthy without going crazy, and she’s on a mission to connect families around healthy food and teach every child in America to cook. She also happens to be a total sunscreen geek, having tested over 100 natural mineral formulas on her hapless children and pale husband.

Was this information about reef-friendly sunscreen new to you?

Did any of the information in today's post surprise you? Or were you already a pro with using zinc oxide-based, reef-safe sunscreen? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Natural skin care products

Member on A Mission: Theresa Tambos

We’re incredibly proud of NAA members and Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner students, and the unique ways that they apply the Nutritional Aesthetics® philosophy in their personal and professional lives. It’s our goal to support them and share their wisdom by highlighting their stories with you in a periodic ‘Member on a Mission’ feature. Our latest featured member, Theresa Tambos, of Glowgirl Skincare has successfully brought together her passion for Mother Earth with holistic nutrition and integrative aesthetics.

As a Culinary school graduate and mom of four, Theresa spent years making everything from scratch, trying to raise the kids on healthy nutritious food. 

Being an avid reader, it didn’t take long to find nutrition books, which led her to going back to school to study nutrition, and change her family's diet to natural, alive, organic foods. Her skin changed too, all thanks to her clean diet. 

Theresa loves walking on the beach, and developed hyperpigmentation as a result of the constant sun exposure. She tried every spa treatment, and it just wouldn’t fade so she enrolled in aesthetics school to learn about the skin and how to treat it. She quickly discovered I had a real passion for the skin too.

After graduating, she decided to put her two passions together and open Glowgirl Skincare in Newmarket, Ontario. She use very few modalities, and includes nutrition in her home-care plan. She's real with people and they respect that. She tells them that healthy skin will come if they are committed to what it takes to get there. 

We spoke to Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner student, Theresa Tambos, about the role that Nutritional Aesthetics® plays in her business and her approach to skin health:

Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance:

What excites you the most about the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance?

Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner student, Theresa Tambos

Theresa Tambos

What excites me about the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance is that the access to information is endless. I know I can trust the information to be sourced, up to date, and relevant. Clients like to be informed; they find information on the Internet and always ask a lot questions. It's important for me to have the most up-to-date information available, to answer questions and be viewed as a professional who can be trusted. 


How do you apply Nutritional Aesthetics® principles to your work?

Theresa Tambos

Incorporating the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance principles is very easy for me because, I already ‘walk the talk.’ My passion for nutrition and skincare is strong. My clients can see that I believe every word I say, and that I’m not just regurgitating someone else’s words. At Glowgirl Skincare, I  advise my clients that the key to healthy skin is not just skincare treatments and topicals; it’s also dependent on a nutrient rich diet. I think it’s an exciting time to be a part of this industry!


Please complete this sentence, and elaborate as much as you wish: “For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ___________________, and less of ___________________.”

Theresa Tambos:

For optimal skin health, I wish people would would understand that no amount of skincare topicals or treatments can replace a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. I wish people would do less of letting the Internet or skincare “influencers” sell them on the next trend to healthy skin or diet. Healthy skin is a lifestyle choice--not a quick fix.

We are so grateful to Theresa Tambos for being a dedicated Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® student, and member of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance!

Connect with Glowgirl Skincare:

Learn more about NAA Membership HERE, and our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program HERE. We’d love to feature YOU as an upcoming Member on a Mission!

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!

We want to hear from you!

How do you apply Nutritional Aesthetics® principles to your own work? Please share in the comments below!

Luxury spa setting

Member on A Mission: Tara Swagger

We’re incredibly proud of NAA members and CNAP students, and the unique ways that they apply Nutritional Aesthetics® in their personal and professional lives. It’s our goal to support them and share their wisdom by highlighting their stories with you in a periodic ‘Member on a Mission’ feature. Our latest featured member, Tara Swagger, of Taraesthetics has successfully brought together her passion for a multitude of different modalities including aesthetics, brow artistry, permanent makeup, massage, reflexology, and wellness.

Tara has been in the spa industry for for over 20 years and is dedicated to providing the highest quality services for those who are looking to have treatments that provide results. She is a Licensed and Certified Nail Technician, Aesthetician, Massage Therapist, Reflexologist, Lash and Brow Artist, and CT Licensed tattoo artist offering permanent cosmetics. She is the owner of Taraesthetics in the beautiful and historic Downtown Putnam, Connecticut.

We spoke to Member on a Mission, Tara Swagger, about the role that Nutritional Aesthetics® plays in her business and her approach to skin health:

CNAP Student and Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance Member on a Mission, Tara Swagger, of Taraesthetics.

Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance:

What excites you the most about the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance?

Tara Swagger:

What excites me about the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance is the support it can provide for those in the industry that are working hard to help their clients achieve their skin health goals. I have worked more than 20 years in this industry, and it occurred to me very early on how important and valuable diet and lifestyle is in reaching those goals.

For years I worked in tandem with this concept, really spending hours and hours researching this on my own. The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance is really cultivating a place for practitioners to learn this fundamental concept in one place, and support you through new concepts in the field of holistic skin health.


How do you apply Nutritional Aesthetics® principles to your work?

Tara Swagger:

I utilize Nutritional Aesthetics® principles in my work with every single skincare client. It is essential to discuss their diet and lifestyle habits regarding their health, to truly assist them in the skincare goals as we move forward.

Many people experience inflammation that is signaled through their skin as really a response of something greater occurring in their overall health. Sometimes simple changes in this category can be the exact remedy they need to achieve their goal.


Please complete this sentence, and elaborate as much as you wish: “For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ___________________, and less of ___________________.”

Tara Swagger:

For optimal skin health, I wish people would spend more time seeking health from within to achieve their goals as opposed to scouring the planet for “the miracle product” that’ll give them all their skin answers. 

We are so grateful to Tara Swagger for being a dedicated Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® student, and member of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance!

Connect with Taraesthetics:

Learn more about NAA Membership HERE, and our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program HERE. We’d love to feature YOU as an upcoming Member on a Mission!

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!

We want to hear from you!

How do you apply Nutritional Aesthetics® principles to your own work? Please share in the comments below!

Woman thinking about toxic mold

Is Toxic Mold Responsible for Your Skin Problems?

All skin problems, be it acne, rosacea, eczema, hyperpigmentation, premature lines and wrinkles, and even more advanced conditions have a root cause. Sometimes that root cause is the person using topical skincare products with the wrong ingredients for their skin. Other extrinsic causes include sun damage and overexposure to environmental pollutants and irritant substances. Internally, the root cause might be due to poor gut health, dysbiosis, or liver dysfunction.

But what happens if a person cleans up their diet, protects their skin from the sun, and takes additional measures to address these factors; yet STILL struggles with skin symptoms? This is when we have to look at the potential root causes that often stay hidden, or go unnoticed in one's day to day life. One common, overlooked potential cause is fluoride in water. Another that is equally as problematic and may be even more hidden is toxic mold.

Mold exists everywhere--in our homes and offices, in our outdoor environments, in foods we eat, and even inside our bodies. If we maintain a healthy and diverse microbiome, and take measures to make our home and work environments less habitable to toxic mold, it doesn't have to be problematic. However for many people--especially people who struggle with high stress, chronic illness, or autoimmune disease--that is not the case.

Molds and other fungi produce mycotoxins.

Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites produced by microfungi that are capable of causing disease and death in humans and other animals. Some mycotoxins or mycotoxin derivatives have been found to have useful properties, and are used as antibiotics and other kinds of drugs. Others, however, are the opposite of helpful, and have even been implicated as chemical warfare agents. On people, mycotoxins can cause local skin infections such as athlete's foot or jock itch. However mycotoxins can cause spread systemically, causing more serious infections and conditions when it enters the body either via the respiratory tract, or through direct contact with the skin.

Toxic mold on the ceiling and wall

In addition to causing local and systemic infections, mold exposure also affects the appearance of the skin. According to mold expert and naturopathic physician, Dr. Jill Crista, mold mycotoxins stop our bodies from making all of our youth-preserving proteins, like keratin and elastin for skin and hair; and actin and myosin for muscles.

Toxic mold prematurely ages the skin.

Mycotoxins can also trigger rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and eczema flares, as well as certain types of acne. If you have persistent skin or health issues check to see if you’ve been exposed to a water-damaged, damp, or a musty smelling building. If you have, mold could be the culprit, and mold treatment could eradicate the problem for good.

Want to learn more about how toxic mold affects the skin, and what you can do about it?

The Appearance of Mold webinar

Dr. Crista is presenting a live webinar called The "Appearance" of Mold to the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance community on Wednesday, 3/18/2020 at 1pm EDT. The live presentation is free and is open to the public.

Register HERE to attend.

About Dr. Jill Crista:

Break the Mold by Dr Jill Crista

Dr. Jill Crista is a naturopathic doctor, bestselling author, and nationally recognized health educator on mold-related illness. She helps people recover their health after exposure to toxic mold.

Her book, Break The Mold, provides tools for anyone wanting actionable steps to conquer health challenges related to mold exposure.


Has your skin or health suffered due to toxic mold exposure?

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!

Please share your experience in the comments below!

Please note:

Only the live webinar presentation is free and open to the public. The recording is available exclusively to Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance members and Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® students.

* "IMG_0992" by nusitegroup is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 

**This post contains affiliate links.


Jennifer Fugo

NAA Advisory Board Highlight: Jennifer Fugo

We are so excited to welcome Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS to the NAA Advisory Board! Not only is Jennifer an incredibly knowledgeable and experienced nutritionist, but she also has specialized knowledge on helping people reclaim healthy skin by overcoming chronic skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis in a truly integrative way.

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is a clinical nutritionist empowering women who’ve been failed by conventional medicine to beat chronic skin and unending gut challenges. Because she’s overcome a long history of gut issues and eczema, Jennifer has empathy and insight to help her clients discover missing pieces and create doable integrative plans.

She has a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport and is a Certified Nutrition Specialist. Her work has been featured on Dr. Oz, Reuters, Yahoo!, CNN, and many podcasts and summits. Jennifer is an Amazon best-selling author and the host of the Healthy Skin Show.

As we do with all our Advisory Board members, we asked Jennifer to share why she wanted to be part of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance:

The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance:

What excites you the most about The Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance?

Jennifer Fugo:

I'm incredibly excited to be a part of an organization that is pairing the much-needed conversation connecting skin quality and issues with deeper parts of health.

Jennifer Fugo

Nutrition plays such a HUGE role in the body's ability to build healthy skin, yet it's often ignored. Instead, topical products have been the go-to options because of convenience and a lack of knowledge about how we truly support healthy skin throughout the ages.

Ultimately I believe the NAA is a changemaker in an industry awash in toxic ingredients and quick fixes to move the conversation away from beauty for beauty's sake and towards the idea that true health is mirrored through our skin from the inside out. 

The NAA:

How has Nutritional Aesthetics® (integrating nutrition and lifestyle changes with skincare and self-care) impacted your practice and/or work?

Jennifer Fugo:

I really take a deep dive into people's skin stories and journeys because I work with a clientele dealing with chronic skin rash conditions like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dandruff, lichen sclerosus, and tinea versicolor. The standard "here's another steroid cream" isn't cutting it and these people have a deep desire to look beyond just the topical options to see what disturbances are lurking under the surface. I consider sixteen different root causes in my clinical practice which helps me better (and more holistically) meet someone where they are AND to take meaningful steps forward.

Skin is ultimately connected to so many other organs and systems in the body, and when things are off, it's not surprising that you end up with blemished, problem, or rashed skin. I literally learned this the hard way when I ended up with eczema during grad school that seemed to come out of nowhere! Though I initially tried the conventional route (which really only gave me steroid creams), even the "natural remedies" failed to truly fix my skin. As I read more and more, I began to realize that there had to be something else I was missing. 

The Healthy Skin Show with Jennifer Fugo

Applying these principles literally changed my life and gave me back healthy clear skin, so I know all too well how important this work is!

I began my podcast The Healthy Skin Show, because I agree that we collectively need to pool our knowledge and research from all different fields. This way we can help people who are struggling with skin issues find answers that impact their skin, but also their health as a whole.

The NAA:

Complete the sentence: “For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more of ___________________, and less of ___________________.”

Jennifer Fugo:

For optimal skin health, I wish people would do more critical thinking and less assuming that information online is correct and accurate. That's truly how the "coconut oil is good for skin" came into being. It was written about on big websites without much expert opinion and data shared about it. Thanks to the work of Rachael Pontillo and the NAA, we know that isn't true.

When someone writes an article, we need to ask for reference and then take the time to look at that before sharing something as #truth because it's on a website with 100,000 followers. There is plenty of junk science out there used to prop up ideas (and even some trends in the health and wellness industry) that do not hold water at the end of the day. But unless you really take the time to look at WHERE the idea is coming from and consider the angles, you can end up believing that something like coconut oil is magical when that's simply not the case. 

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!

We could not agree more!

We'd love to hear from you too! What do you wish people would do more of and less of in pursuit of clear, smooth, healthy skin? Please share in the comments!

Connect with Jennifer:

Health supplements

Do Skincare Supplements Really Work?

Although the skin is one of the only organs visible on the outside of the body, it shouldn’t be nourished only from the outside. More than ever, science supports the fact that nutrition has a lot to do with the health and appearance of skin. The reason is that all skin cells are formed with nutrients that are obtained far beneath the surface. To remain in top shape, your skin needs the right nutrients: antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C, E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and other key nutrients.

Most nutrients can be obtained sufficiently from the food you eat. However, due to factors such as busyness or some other reason, sometimes it's hard to regularly feed your skin the way you should. Supplements should never be considered a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet. However, they may help support our nutritional needs when our bodies need a little extra support. There is a lot of discussion about the validity of skincare supplements, and whether they're really necessary. Just how safe are they, and do they work? Let’s find out.

What are skincare supplements?

Various skincare supplements spilling from bottle and in blister pack

Vitamins, minerals, and other supplements are taken as a dietary boost to improve overall health or to support a specific organ or system. Beauty or skincare supplements contain the vitamins and minerals, and other micronutrients that are known to specifically benefit skin health.

While many beauty and skincare supplement companies claim that their products are more potent because they are "nutricosmetics" or "nutriceuticals." Know that these two terms are marketing terms only--they have no meaning in terms of actual efficacy, and are not recognized by the FDA. So, if you’re already taking supplements that contain the nutrients found in products marketed for skin health, you don’t probably don't need to replace it with “beauty pills.” 

Do skincare supplements work?

This is the question you came to see answered. However, the answer is not that simple. 

There are many factors to consider in order to understand how supplements affect your health and appearance. Most skincare supplements on the market can be split into two main categories: those intended to reduce or improve visible signs of skin aging, and those intended to improve the appearance of acne. Though all skincare supplements claim to make your skin more youthful and clear, some products are superior to others in terms of quality.

There are some things you should look for to determine whether or not the supplement is safe and effective:

  • Bioavailability – the factor determining the how well the nutrients from the supplement are able to be absorbed and utilized by the body after ingestion
  • The stability of the compounds--they must be properly formulated in order to prevent degradation or oxidation
  • Delivery system--some nutrients are better in liquid form, others powdered, and others are fine as pressed tablets or in capsules
  • Third-party GMP (good manufacturing practice) certification
  • Evidence-based research behind the nutrients
Skincare supplements should be formulated correctly and in the correct delivery system for maximum bioavailability.

All of this means that you need to read labels very carefully--not only the main vitamins listed on the front, but also all the other ingredients and information on the back.

Unless the supplement contains whole food ingredients or drugs, they do not qualify for FDA approval. Similar to cosmetics, the FDA requires that supplement manufacturers ensure product safety and that the products are not adulterated. However, they do not oversee them or have an approval process like they do with food and drugs.

Because supplement safety can be hard to determine, many people decide to use capsule fillers to make supplements at home using herbs and other natural ingredients. While this can be a very affordable and convenient option, it is important to know what you're doing if you do decide to go this route.

Skincare supplement ingredients to look for

Here are some of the micronutrients you are likely to see in a product marketed as a skincare supplement or beauty pill:

  • Beta carotene and other carotenoid antioxidants. Vitamin A is an essential skin vitamin because it boosts cell and collagen production. However, Vitamin A itself can be harmful to overall health when taken in its final form, in large amounts. Therefore, its precursors are safer and more effective, since they can be stored and converted by the body when needed.
  • Even though many skincare companies are trying to convince you that vitamin E is the best ingredient for youthful skin, we recommend caution when taking it in supplements. Since Vitamin E is so abundant in the foods we eat, supplementation with it is often unnecessary. Over-supplementing with Vitamin E may cause issues with blood clotting and other health risks, so be cautious with how much you take.
  • Biotin (Vitamin B7) is usually found in traditional hair, nails, and skincare supplements, but it can be bought as a stand-alone pill as well. There is evidence of Biotin’s effectiveness. Studies suggest that this ingredient can promote hair growth and strengthen nails. However, too much can lead to reactions like skin rashes, digestive distress, insulin release and kidney problems, and other health issues.
  • Hyaluronic acid is often used for topical application, but it can also be taken in the form of a pill. Although it’s getting quite a lot of buzz lately, and is well researched for overall connective tissue support, quality and bioavailability can be an issue. Most hyaluronic acid on the supplement market is derived from GMO sugar beets, which is not as bioavailable as the pharmaceutical grade version, which is derived from rooster combs.
  • Collagen has made quite a name for itself when it comes to products intended to promote a youthful appearance. Some studies show that it improves laxity in aged skin, however the jury is still out with how effective supplementing with collagen actually is for helping the body actually produce more collagen on its own. We recommend choosing collagen sourced from organic, grass-fed cows whenever possible, and taking it with a high quality Vitamin C.
Sardines and other small wild caught fish are preferred sources for fish oil supplements.
  • Fish oil seems to be the champion of skincare supplements, with research linking it to improved skin hydration, which leads to a glowing complexion. There is also evidence that it helps with acne management. Be sure the supplement you choose is sourced from wild caught small fish such as anchovies and sardines, rather than farmed salmon or other larger fish. You also want to check that the supplement contains a healthy essential fatty acid balance. (Learn more about this as a NAA Member or CNAP Student)
  • Coenzyme Q10 is believed to have positive effects on the skin. A 2005 study has shown it helps reduce the signs of aging, while a 2011 research concluded that it combats free radicals and plays a significant role in preventing damage to proteins, lipids, and DNA.

Bottom line

Skin is an organ of equal relevance as any other, and it needs to be taken care of just as seriously as you'd care for your heart or other internal organs. That’s why you can’t just apply any product or take any skincare supplement to nourish it. Look beyond the marketing buzzwords and do your due diligence when shopping for skincare supplements.

Skincare supplements are not a substitute for fresh fruits and veggies!

And always remember--skincare supplements are NOT a substitute for a healthy diet, rich with fresh fruits and vegetables and other whole foods!

It's also always best to consult with your licensed natural health provider before adding supplements to your regimen, and for personalized recommendations.

Do you want more education on how to talk to your clients about nutrition topics like this (and still stay within your scope of practice)?

Our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program teaches you just that. Learn more about the structure and curriculum, and start today here.

About the author:

Guest author Caitlin Evans

Caitlin Evans is a bookworm, writer and recreational dancer. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and the Universe, Cate is researching and writing about various health and well-being related topics. Connect with Caitlin on Twitter


*Photo sources: and unsplash (free to use and share)



Nutritious Food

Nutrition and Skin Inflammation: What to Eat and What to Avoid

The skin is the largest organ of the body and deserves just as much care and attention as your heart, kidneys, liver, and other internal organs. The skin can also acts as a "magic mirror" (as NAA Advisory Board member, Dr. Trevor Cates likes to say--watch her webinar about this in our NAA Membership's Webinar Library) into the internal state of your being. Visible changes on the skin in the form of redness, breakouts, or discoloration often imply the need to restore balance or function to an organ or system on the inside. Skin inflammation is often considered to be the cause of these visible cues on the skin, however, this isn't the case. Skin inflammation is just another symptom. Identifying and eliminating its root cause is the way to improve what we see on the surface.

What is skin inflammation?

Skin inflammation is often an immune system response that manifests as a rash, redness, and swelling. Different cells of your immune system react differently to various triggers. Once triggered, immune cells release substances that widen the blood vessels.

Skin inflammation may also be the result of an allergic reaction, internal disease, or infections. Your skin may react with redness and other symptoms because your immune system is weakened. One common example is people with Celiac disease, who experience skin inflammation (such as dermatitis herpetiformis) when they eat gluten. Skin inflammation also may be result of overexposure to sunlight, heat, stress, hormone imbalances, and pathogens.

Genetics are also a contributing factor. Some people are born with convenient genes that make them less susceptible to visible signs of skin inflammation. Even those people need to take care so that bad lifestyle habits don’t catch up with them later.

Many of these causes of skin inflammation, particularly those related to immunity, can be traced back to the food you eat.

But first, let’s talk a little bit about the factors that lead to skin inflammation. Habits such as living a sedentary lifestyle will lead to visible changes to your skin as a result of its adverse effects general health.

Certain foods can also trigger a negative skin reaction. For example, have you noticed that sometimes when you eat chocolate or fried food you end up with a breakout the day after? Hint: it's not the chocolate itself that caused that breakout; it's the presence of unhealthy fats, sugar, and dairy.

It's always best practice to check with your licensed healthcare provider or dermatologist if you notice any new or changed dark spots, have a lesion that isn't clearing up, or is getting worse. For minor skin rashes, breakouts, and discoloration, however, simple changes to your eating habits can make huge impact.

Foods that potentially trigger skin inflammation

Foods that potentially trigger skin inflammation
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There are some foods that are among the most common culprits for skin inflammation.

Many of them are harmful by nature, so you won’t lose anything by eliminating them from your diet.

  • Refined carbohydrates: While your body needs a certain dose of carbohydrates to produce energy, refined carbs are simply bad. Consuming them often causes inflammation, clogs the pores, and raises blood sugar levels. These “bad carbs” are found in pasta, bread, candy, cookies, sugary soft drinks, and processed foods with added sugar.
  • Artificial trans fats: These are produced by adding hydrogen to certain oils and fats. They are known to cause inflammation, not only on your skin but in your body as well. Sunflower and palm oils, in particular, trigger an inflammatory response. Foods high in trans fats include microwave popcorn, french-fries, baked goods, etc. Artificial trans fats have been officially banned by the FDA, and are supposed to be gone from the food system by January 2, 2020. In reality, it will likely take longer than that.
  • Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS): These two main types of added sugar in the Western diet increase inflammation. In many people, they lead to acne breakouts, rashes, premature skin aging, and other health problems.
  • Processed meat: Cured meats, bacon, and some sausages contain high amounts of sodium, which leads to water retention. That’s why your face looks puffy the morning after indulging in these foods. Furthermore, toxic preservatives added to processed foods like these can raise body burden, increasing skin inflammation, and risk of premature skin aging. 

Dietary theories that can help reduce skin inflammation

Foods that can help reduce skin inflammation
Source: (free to use and share)

Many modern diets eliminate potential skin inflammation triggers. They offer a blueprint that can help you build a comprehensive plan to make your skin healthier.

  • Paleo: If you go through a paleo food recommendation list, you will see that this diet excludes the above-mentioned triggers and includes skin-healthy nutrients contained in fish, fresh vegetables, healthy oils, fresh fruits, and grass-fed meats. This is because this nutritional approach is specifically designed to fight inflammation, both internal and external.
  • Vegan or vegetarian: While it doesn’t eliminate all the inflammatory foods, a meatless diet is lower in fat and cholesterol, which helps reduce acne breakouts. Just make sure your food choices are whole, real foods, not processed or packaged food products. There are far too many vegan and vegetarian junk foods that are extremely high in sugar, sodium, bad fats, and unhealthy protein substitutes.
  • Gluten-free: Gluten is one of the most frequent triggers for skin inflammation, particularly for people with celiac disease. A gluten-free diet is highly recommended for a clear, glowing complexion. 
  • Dairy-free: Dairy products can also be linked to breakouts, so you can try living without them for some time and see if they are causing the skin redness. 

Bottom line

Source: (free to use and share)

There can be many factors making your skin red, puffy, and spotty. Whether alone or in combination with them, nutrition can make things better or worse.

Some foods can cause skin issues only for a few people while being generally healthy, while others are bad for your entire body. Try to eliminate the latter ones first, and you will help not only your skin, but your overall wellbeing as well. 

To identify possible causes of skin inflammation in your diet, eliminate common triggers one by one and observe how your skin reacts to each change in your diet. This will help you determine the foods that suit you well, which you can then gradually reintroduce. 

Do you want to learn more about skin inflammation and other ways nutrition affects the skin?

We take a deep dive into the connection between nutrition and skin health in our Certified Nutritional Aesthetics Practitioner® Training Program.

Click HERE to learn more and start working towards your certification today!

About the author:

Guest author Caitlin Evans

Caitlin Evans is a bookworm, writer and recreational dancer. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and the Universe, Cate is researching and writing about various health and well-being related topics. Connect with Caitlin on Twitter

Woman receiving facial

Post-Facial Care: What to Do and What Not to Do

The daily stresses and fast-paced lifestyle often leave us feeling in need of a break. What better way to treat yourself to a well-deserved “me time” than to schedule a facial at a local salon? It’s understandable why skin experts recommend facial treatments – they have the ability to rejuvenate our skin and reduce our stress levels, ultimately leaving us feeling like new. While there’s little that can beat this feeling, many of us aren’t exactly sure what to do next. Post-facial care is very important for maintaining the intended results of the treatment, and the wrong kind of care can do more harm than good.

Here are our favorite post-facial care do's and don'ts to help your skin maintain that glow as long as possible:

Do keep your skin well-hydrated...

The importance of proper skin hydration can not be emphasized enough, both through daily water intake and topical hydration. Use gentle, humectant-rich skincare products that hydrate your skin, and also contain natural oils and butters to help seal in moisture. Be careful with moisturizers that list certain types of alcohol on their ingredient lists as they can dry out your skin. High concentrations of bad alcohol can interfere with the skin's barrier function, and prevent skin from keeping moisture in. On the other hand, good, fatty alcohols have the opposite effect – they help lock the moisture in, protect the skin, and don’t dry it out. By properly hydrating your skin, you’ll maximize the effects of your facial treatment and ensure a healthy, radiant post-facial glow.

Do steer clear of saunas and gyms

Do steer clear of saunas and gyms after a facial

If you’ve been planning on visiting the sauna as a part of your pamper routine, you’re better off doing it some other time. Your skin has already been steamed or warmed with a compress during the facial, and the heat from the sauna can do more harm than good. It may even cause broken capillaries and skin irritation, so your safe bet would be to avoid the sauna, hot yoga, and the steam room.

The same goes for physical activities at the gym. Freshly exfoliated skin may get irritated from sweat, which can lead to inflammation and redness. Save it for some other time, or do it before going for a facial.

Do book your next appointment right away!

Although it’s important to practice proper post-facial care and do all you can to keep it looking fresh and energized at home, the best results are achieved by combining professional facial treatments with at-home skincare. However, you want to make sure that you only book appointments with skilled, highly-trained licensed aestheticians to ensure you get a safe, high-quality service. Choose a reputable beauty clinic in your area so that you know you’re in good hands. A good aesthetician (preferably one with Nutritional Aesthetics® training!) will make sure that the treatment is appropriate for your skin and fits into your lifestyle, ensuring a beautiful, healthy, rejuvenated skin. Booking your next appointment at the time of your facial means you won't forget due to life getting in the way.

Do avoid at-home peels and retinol

Use only gentle skincare products at home

After a facial, your skin may be sensitive for some time, so it’s best to leave it alone for a week and let it heal, using simple natural products. Steer clear of at-home peels, microdermabrasion treatments, spinning brushes, and harsh scrubs.

We also recommend avoiding retinol-based products during the first week post-facial (if you use them at all), because they could cause irritation and inflammation. Have in mind that less is more! Your aesthetician has already applied products that will protect your skin and help it regain balance, so follow their post-facial care instructions thoroughly.

Do be careful with exfoliation.

Here at the NAA, we have a conservative approach to exfoliation, and believe that less is more. We do not recommended exfoliating at home during the first week following your facial treatment, because it may harm your skin’s lipid barrier, and potentially cause inflammation. Opt instead for a gentle cleanser. If you choose to exfoliate after the first week, we recommend doing so only with non-abrasive exfoliants such as gommage, clay, or jojoba beads.

Don't sunbathe, wax, or shave

Avoid sunbathing, waxing, or shaving after a facial.

While it might be tempting to schedule both hair removal and facial treatments for the same day, it’s best not to mix these two together. Your skin is delicate and sensitive after a facial. Waxing, dermaplaning, or other facial hair removal techniques may cause burns and over-exfoliation, which could lead to scarring and hyperpigmentation. Therefore, it’s best to make these appointments for at least a week to 10 days before or after your facial.

In case you were planning on spending time in the sun, or getting a facial on a cruise ship or resort spa, protecting your skin is a must. We love wide brim hats, big sunglasses, and religiously applied broad spectrum sunscreen. This will help protect your freshly treated skin and prevent sun damage.

Proper post-facial care keeps that skin glowing!

Use these post-facial care tips to prolong the effects of your facial, instead of reversing its benefits. This will ensure a healthy, radiant skin until your next facial treatment.

About the author:

This article was contributed by guest author, Sophia Smith. Sophia Smith is a beauty and style blogger, an eco-lifestyle lover, graphic designer, and food enthusiast. She is very passionate about natural skincare, minimalist wardrobe, yoga, and mindful living. Sophia writes mostly about beauty-related topics in her articles. She has contributed to a number of publications including Finer Minds, Blog Sivana Spirit, Bad Yogi, How to Simplify and Carousel. You can find out more about her writing by following her on: Facebook  Twitter  Google +


Coffee beans and cup of coffee

Caffeine and Skin Health: Truths, Myths, and Everything in Between

In spite of ample blog posts, as well as overall steady coverage about coffee and, more specifically, caffeine in the media, the public’s thirst for knowledge about this compound still isn’t satiated. Is caffeine good for the skin or not? If you’re under the impression that the great caffeine debate isn’t showing signs of subsiding, you’re right. There's a lot of confusion and conflicting data about caffeine and skin health. Let's try to navigate our way through.

Why caffeine has a bad rep

There are two simple explanations as to why caffeine has a bad rep. First of all, people tend to be reserved about substances that give us the mildest energy kick, even if they naturally appear in common plants or foods. Secondly, it seems that there are as many downsides as there are upsides attached to caffeine.

The less obvious reason for caffeine's constant presence in "is it good for you or not" debates has less to do with nutrition or science, and more to do with marketing. Keeping the buzz alive for caffeine and other controversial ingredients in fields such as the skincare industry keeps it relevant, and at the top of the search results in online searches.

(Bulletproof® Coffee, anyone? NAA Membership offers a resource card that answers the question, "does buttering your coffee make it better for your skin?" Become a member HERE. )

After all, considering how many myths and blatant exaggerations appear on the talk shows, in magazines, and in blog posts around skincare, you really can’t blame them. 

Caffeine and health: positives and negatives

Caffeine and skin health--positives and negatives

How a cup of joe in the morning, and maybe even another one in the afternoon affects overall health and specific organs and systems, is a topic one could write an entire textbook about. While there are certainly detrimental affects associated with overconsumption of caffeine, there are some known benefits. For instance, many detox protocols utilize coffee to encourage natural colon and liver cleansing.

Furthermore, one of the most lauded benefits of caffeine intake on a regular basis is the reduced chance of developing dementia in later stages of life. Overall, it promises a better outlook for efficient memory retention and cognitive performance for many people.

On the flip side, too much coffee or caffeine may contribute to digestive or adrenal dysfunction.

In the realm of topical skincare, caffeine is a double-edged sword.

The positive

Firstly, caffeine is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, which make it an effective ingredient for reducing puffiness. Caffeine-based moisturizers can be a welcome addition to skincare for active people as well as anyone whose skin needs a refreshing antioxidant boost.  

Caffeine is also vasoconstrictive, which when topically applied, can temporarily help to reduce the appearance of redness from dilated capillaries as one might see in rosacea or general telangiectasia. Caffeine also stimulates adipose cells and tissue, which may help improve the appearance of cellulite.

The negative

Caffe late

On the other hand, caffeine's vasoconstrictive property means that it decreases circulation. This might not be ideal internally, because it causes the heart to work harder to circulate bloodflow, which can actually slow nutrient delivery to the dermis.

Caffeine is also a well-known stimulant and a diuretic. After drinking a cup of coffee, green tea, or black tea in the morning, people tend to need to visit the lavatory shortly after. This excessive urination may mean bad news for the skin, since it promotes dehydration.

When it comes to caffeine and skin health, you also have to consider its stimulating properties. Sure enough, caffeine doesn’t affect your skin directly when ingested through a beverage, but it does affect your ability to reach REM sleep if you overindulge--especially later in the day. Inadequate or poor quality sleep directly affects your skin’s ability to regenerate and rejuvenate.

Discerning between fact and myth

Ultimately, drawing a clear line between facts and myths will put you in the right frame of mind when it comes to thinking critically about caffeine and its effects on your skin.

Caffeine offers a range of benefits when consumed in drinks or foods such as dark chocolate. It aids in colon and liver cleansing, may reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, promotes better memory, and even boasts some anti-cancer properties.

As an ingredient in skincare products, caffeine soothes inflammation, may improve the appearance of dark blotches, fights free radicals, and even helps reduce the appearance cellulite beneath the skin. However, it can be dehydrating, so it might not be the best choice for people who have dry skin.

Overall, caffeine is just like any other natural compound that occurs in widely consumed ingredients: the benefits are there, but they are limited, and too much of anything can lead to undesirable results.

Leave a comment about aromatherapy in the spa!

What have you noticed about caffeine and skin health either personally or in your practice?

Please share in the comments below!

About the author:

Guest author Caitlin Evans

Caitlin Evans is a bookworm, writer and recreational dancer. When she is not trying to find the meaning of life and the Universe, Cate is researching and writing about various health and well-being related topics. Connect with Caitlin on Twitter

*Images via unsplash