The primary mission of the Nutritional Aesthetics® Alliance is to advance an integrative approach to healthy skin by honoring the skin-health link. This skin-health link combines healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices with natural skincare products and non-invasive aesthetic treatments, which builds a strong and sustainable foundation for optimum beauty, skin health, and longevity. Practitioners on both the nutrition and aesthetics side have observed positive skin results by focusing solely on nutrition (healthy skin from within) or topical products and treatments (healthy skin on the outside). However, what the NAA co-founders, Advisory Board members, and members have observed is that while focusing on one side might provide some visible results and alleviation of symptoms, it’s the integration of skin-health link that produces the most sustainable results.
The NAA’s approach also honors the belief that no “result” is worth causing additional harm to the person’s mind, body, or spirit. We believe in the body’s innate intelligence, and ability to self-regulate and heal when it is given what it needs.
We are grateful that we live in a time where so many practitioners, writers, and influencers are visibly embracing a healthier lifestyle overall. Because of this, more people than ever are becoming aware of the importance of treating skin common skin conditions like acne, rosacea, puffy eyes and visible signs of aging from the inside out with proper nutrition, hydration, and supplementation; not just from the outside in with topical skincare products.
More and more skincare and health professionals, even dermatologists and other MDs, now consider diet and lifestyle choices as likely causes of these disorders as well, and recommend simple diet and lifestyle changes to their clients and patients.
From the inside out
Healthy skin cells are created inside the body–by the time they are visible on the surface, they have gone through a complete metamorphosis, and serve as protection for the delicate, still changing cells in the layers below. After they have done their job, they slough off, and are replaced with the ones who have just completed the cell turnover cycle, and have now risen to the surface. It’s like solders who have just completed their training, and are ready to serve. These cells are still important, and have a very important job to perform–but their performance will only be as strong as the cell was when it first formed, and as it migrated. Healthy cells are formed with micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants), plus amino acids, water, and essential fatty acids (in addition to other nutrients). These required nutrients do not come from topically applied products–they come from balanced nutrition, hydration, and supplementation with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Whole foods are the best source of these vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but most people do not get enough of them in their diets, so certain herbs and dietary supplements may be helpful.
The health of the skin cells is also affected by the amount of stress in the body.
Hidden stressors don’t just pertain to mental and emotional stress from an overbooked schedule, nasty boss, or strained relationship. They also include physical stress caused by poor nutrition, food sensitivities (learn more about food sensitivities in the NAA’s Membership Program), and under-or over-exercising–all which can interfere with healthy cell formation and migration. While it’s not always possible to eliminate certain stressors completely, it is imperative to identify and remove those that are possible to remove, and find healthy ways to manage the rest.
Those with high amounts of stress need even more high quality nutrients and antioxidants, because stress allows more free radicals to invade the body. These nutrients help the immune system fight these free radicals and reduce inflammation, so the body can focus more on growing and regenerating healthy cells.
From the outside in
Treating the skin on the inside is only half the battle. Nutrients taken internally are distributed and absorbed first by all of the body’s internal organs and systems. The skin is the last in line, so it does not receive as much of the nutrition or hydration. While nutrients that are topically applied often cannot penetrate deeply enough into the skin to the basal layer or dermal layers, where many of the key cell forming functions occur (despite what the manufacturers want you to believe), they do play a necessary role on the surface.
On the surface, products absolutely have the ability to affect the skin’s hydration levels and barrier function. Hydrating ingredients such as aloe vera gel, hydrosols, herbal infusions, honey, glycerin, and other aqueous ingredients are key in boosting the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF). They do this by and helping the follicles and receptors stay soft and ready to absorb oil soluble nutrients, and depending on how the product was formulated, some water soluble nutrients too.
Natural emollients such as cold pressed oils, butters, and waxes are also extremely important, as oil soluble nutrients are more likely to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin, since they are more compatible with the skin’s lipid barrier. While lipids themselves don’t hydrate since they don’t bring any water into the skin, they are essential in helping maintain skin hydration, because they help keep moisture and nutrients in and prevent trans-epidermal water loss.
Plant-based topical products also help nourish and fortify the skin’s microbiome, by delivering natural sugars and fibers that beneficial microbes feed on. This helps them to do their job of maintaining a system of checks and balances amongst their own population; helping to prevent certain strains from becoming too prominent or dominant, and helping to defend against unwelcome exogenous strains.
Dr. Maya Shetreat-Klein discusses this important aspect of the skin-health link in her Herbal Skincare Summit session (which you can purchase here), as well as in her bestselling book, The Dirt Cure.
You can also learn more about biodiversity, probiotics, probiotics, and the microbiome in the NAA Membership Program.
When the cells in the outer layers of the skin become dehydrated and malnourished, and there is no moisture to pull from the environment, they have no choice but to pull the nutrients they need to perform their functions from the dermis; and thus, leave fewer nutrients from which new cells can be built. When someone’s topical skincare regimen consists primarily of water, nutrient-lacking synthetic ingredients, and functional ingredients with no therapeutic value, neither the microbiome nor upper layers of the skin receive usable nutrients. Further, many ingredients found in these mass produced, synthetic products have been linked to inflammatory responses in the skin and other negative health outcomes.
If the diet is right, but the topical skincare is wrong, results will be compromised. If the topical skincare is right, but the diet is wrong, results will be compromised.
When you honor the skin-health link and treat your skin both from the inside out and the outside in, you will notice a huge difference in your not only in your skin, but in entire body. You will have more energy, be happier, possibly lose weight, and be less likely to get sick. And your skin will simply glow.
How do you honor the skin-health link in your own regimen or practice?
Please share your favorite skincare tips, inside and out, in the comments below!